Step Inside the Circuit: with Lewis and Jenson

Our latest work for global client Johnnie Walker’s sponsorship of the Vodafone McLaren F1 team.  ‘Step Inside the Circuit’ is a branded content platform following Lewis and Hamilton as they give us a glimpse into the amazing world of F1 and the rockstar lifestyle attached. What I’m really proud of is the fact that we release this content within 24hrs of the actual race – ensuring it’s contextually relevant and exciting. Well done Grant Hunter, Paul Gage and team at Iris Worldwide, Singapore. Onwards and upwards

#GagaMarketing: Lessons from a brand phenom

Last week my colleague Karen and I were looking at Lady Gaga and the lessons marketers can learn from her. As a master marketer, she has cleverly cultivated a following of die hard fans. There are numerous presentations on slideshare covering her as a marketing phenom, so we thought we’d add our POV on what brands can learn from Lady Gaga:

  • BE PROVOCATIVE– don’t be scared to have a unique point of view on the world and stick to it
    • I’m obsessively opposed to the typical’ Lady Gaga
  • BE TIMELY – pick the optimum moment to connect and the right context
  • BE INCLUSIVE– leverage social media so your fans feel as though they’re genuinely part of your brand
    • Gaga has branded her followers as ‘Little Monsters’ making them feel connected to her and each other
  • BE GENEROUS– acknowledge and reward loyalists with real value
    • Lady Gaga gives her Little Monsters exclusive first release access to content, songs
  • BE DISTINCTIVE – take risks to get noticed
  • BE OPEN – your fans’ WOM is the best marketing tool you have, but you can’t control it
  • BE FRIENDLY– they can open doors to new audiences you’d never reach alone
    • Lady Gaga’s association with Google has broadened her reach and given her fans even more of a voice
    • Hooking up with Oprah and Perez Hilton has broadened her reach beyond teens
    • Limit idea distribution to the best of your content
  • BE A CULTURE CREATOR – infuse your belief system across other aspects of culture your fans are into eg: fashion, activism, gay rights
  • BE REAL – let your fans feel like they are having a real conversation


Youth want tribal ideas – tips on how to create a movement around your brand

The fundamental emotional need of youth is and always will be BELONGING. It’s hardwired from birth, a primal need to belong to a community, to a tribe. It’s a fundamental form of self expression that is at the core of the human psyche. The growth of social media has turbo charged young peoples ability to connect and be part of global tribes.

The best youth brands understand that youth are desperate to connect with each other, so youth marketing is not about pushing messages onto a target audience of disparate individuals, it’s about inspiring the TRIBE, so they connect with each other. It’s about talking to the WE, not necessarily the ME.

 Tribal marketing in 2009 is about leading and connecting Gen C ‘The Connected Collective’ with ideas and each other, it’s about finding something worth changing and mobilizing a group of likeminded people around it.

Think the Red Bull energy tribe, Apple’s creative tribe, Nike + running tribe, Zoo York’s mischievous skater tribe, Lego’s imagination tribe, Axe’s player tribe,  Roxy’s chic surfer tribe, Wii’s playful tribe,  Threadless’ design tribe – just a few examples of brands that have inspired people to come together and form a tribe around their brand, a community with shared passions, interests.

So, how do you create a tribe around your brand? Here are a handful of thoughts

1. You have to have the balls to create ideas that polarize, ideally AGITATING and DISRUPTING the  STATUS QUO. You have to be a little subversive and not scared to create CHANGE. Unless you spark an interesting conversation, you won’t spark a movement. The biggest mistake youth brands make is trying to appeal to everyone, they end up standing for nothing and falling for everything. Think less about your proposition, and more about your brand point of view or your call to arms.

 2. Gen C are the ‘CONNECTED COLLECTIVE‘, they join tribes for the CONNECTIONS.  They’re dying to mobilize around something interesting.   Think about how you’re letting them connect via web 2.0 platforms and how they can work together around a cause/idea. It’s all about making it easy for youth to find each other and connect. Music festivals have been tapping into these shared ‘connections’ for the last decade and now the gaming world is doing the same with MMORPG’s. 

 3. It’s about leveraging PEOPLE POWER.  Done successfully, the collective becomes your most powerful asset, they’re empowered to spread your idea, to create the movement. Your job is to help facilitate the interactions amongst the tribe and give them something worth talking about, something worth changing, something worth believing in. Politicians and activists have been doing it well the past few years, think Obama, think Al Gore, think One Young World.

 4. Find your brands TRUE BELIEVERS, listen to them then, create utility for them, provide value in the experience and your brand will become magnetic. You only need a 1,000 or so, look at T-Mobile with their flash mobs. Virgin are the kings of seeking out their true believers and always giving them utility, no matter what category then enter.

 5. LEAD THEM, all the great tribes have great charismatic leaders, you create your own brand charisma by showing leadership attitude and staying true to a belief system, committing to a cause. People mobilize around strong people/brands who believe. Red Bull, Nike are the archetype leaders in their respective youth cultures, always appealing to the fringes, but not alienating the masses.

 6. CREATE CULTURE for the tribe. Create something that matters to youth, don’t try and mimic what’s happening now, give them a lens into something new. Create a new sport, create a new way of doing something, EXPERIMENT and don’t be afraid to fail. You’ll get credit for having a go.

 7. TRIBAL IDENTIFICATION is important, you have to create a way of knowing if you’re in or out. Whether it’s badging yourself or an internal point of association, it’s extremely important as tribal brands have followers, not customers. I witnessed this first hand in Austria last week, with Austrian teens plastering their bedrooms with the stickers of their favourite brands, Aussie kids brand their mobiles with stickers of their favourite surf brands.

 8. CONSTANT CONTENT CREATION  – This takes ingenuity and effort over pure big scale production budgets.  Youth brands have to think of their marketing calendars not in quarterly installments, but as an ONGOING STORYTELLING PLATFORM.  It’s less about discrete uniform evolutions of ad campaigns, but about creating interesting narratives youth can follow – think youtube channels that are constantly update with new content, whether that be experiential type stuff or raw stuff. The surf brands are the kings of this, as they see themselves as media businesses, not just surfwear sellers.

Remember tribes exist, your job as a marketer is to help organize and connect these people. Find something worth changing, then create an interesting point of view on it, something fresh, something worth believing in that they’ll want to talk about and belong to.. See, easy?

Great Aussie branded content – 6 Beers of Separation

This is a nice piece of branded content coming out of Australia. It’s for Tooheys Extra Dry – who was  famous for the ‘tongue’ ad of a few years back. This idea is called ‘6 beers of separation‘ – basically, 4 Aussies are chosen to try and meet their heroes through 6 beers of’s kind of like a watered down version of the Amazing race. It’s well shot and the trailer looks pretty interesting, interesting enough for me to want to check it out further. Like all decent brand content, branding isn’t rammed down your throat, but is there and play a role in the storylines.  I think it will engage the interest of 18-25yr old it has a nice indie feel to it.6 Beers of Separation is underway

Word has it, that it will culminate in a 60 minute doco on Foxtel, we’ll see – definitely feels right for the MTV crowd. Well done TED for putting out something interesting, albeit not completely original.