Forget what you know about luxury marketing

A little bit blingy???

A little bit blingy???

I was recently asked by Marketing Magazine Australia to write about the new codes of luxury marketing. Here’s my viewpoint on how luxury brands need to think about engaging the neo luxury consumer.

How do you be exclusive, sell the dream, retain the magic and mystique, craft the message in an area of transparency, open access and democratic sharing? These are the fundamental issues facing luxury marketers today.

The next generation of younger multi-channel luxury consumers are rising in influence, seeking demonstrations of discernment rather than badges of bling. Luxury is no longer about outward displays of wealth, it’s a state of mind, with self-fulfillment trumping traditional status symbols. Here are my emerging codes of luxury marketing worth thinking about:

  1. Provocation over poise

Whilst superlative storytelling has always been the bread and butter to create desire for luxury goods, brands now need to look to new more provocative brand archetype to cut through and engage. Jaguar’s latest ‘Villains’ #GoodToBeBad campaign has successfully positioned Jaguar as an alternative Anti Hero in a stuffy luxury car world.

  1. Timely beats timeless

Luxury brands need to think about how they are offering cultural value in real time. Thomas Pink in the UK recently launched their ’90 minute service delivery in London’ to fix dressing woes. 

  1. Making exclusive inclusive

More than ever, people want to help craft the narrative of a luxury brand. Brands need to think about hey they involve people in interactive stories at all stages of the product and marketing process. Burberry’s famous Art of the Trench project and Mont Blanc’s Beauty of a Second are best practice here.

  1. Living is more than owning

The era of Experiential Luxury means status and social currency is derived through engaging in unique and rare experiences often powered my immersive technology. Innovative examples include the Mercedes Benz Travel program in China and our Johnnie Walker Blue Label Gallery .

  1. Personalisation over conformity

Luxury consumers are craving hyper personalisation at every touch point, so luxury brands need to think about how their products and experiences are delivering more personal moments for people.

So luxury marketers need to tear up the traditional marketing toolkit, cleverly leveraging the myriad of digital channels and tools at their disposal to demonstrate discernment rather than blast them with bling.

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How brands can avoid #festivalfail this Summer: #youthmarketing

I recently wrote an article for AdNews here on what brands need to think about when activating at music festivals this Summer. Had a little help from my good buddy, Benny Barnett who is an absolute expert on all things festivals. Thanks Benny…

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Festival season is almost upon us, and everyone wants a piece of the action. With a stacked calendar and a continued blurring-of-the-line when it comes to offerings and audiences (IDM vs EDM? Phoenix playing Future Music? Who the hell knows what’s going on anymore) it’s harder than ever for brands to stand out and drive engagement. Conservatively, 80% of brands activating at festivals are wasting their money and creating marketing pollution. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the music festival circuit is the highlight of the Gen Y social calendar and marketers see it as a massive opportunity to get their products and brands in front of this illusive group, en masse. However, approach with caution, as festivalgoers are the most cynical consumers in Australia when brands get it wrong. One negative Tweet, Facebook post or Insta photo can spread like wildfire. .  The kids are there to tune in, turn on, drop out and pick up…and will savage any brand that makes a ham-fisted attempt to horn in on their action in the name of ewmarketing.

So how do you avoid your brand making it on the #festivalfail Instagram feed this summer? How do you appeal to the right audience in the right way when not even the promoters are sure who their actual audience is anymore? Here are some tips to get you on the right track:

 Ensure there’s a genuine value exchange

Brands who think that sticking up a tent, putting your logo on some scrim will keep you top of mind, need to think again. What’s the value exchange? A big bright logo is clearly not enough. At Coachella this Year, Heineken offered free cold storage for your Heineken 6 pack which punters could you access anytime via fingerprint – keeping your beers cold in the scorching heat, #festivalwin.  For Sony Xperia’s sponsorship of Swedish House Mafia’s farewell tour earlier this year, at Iris we created the #together experience, bringing the crowd together like never before. Pre concert, fans downloaded the free Lisnr app and were able to synch their phones with the light show in real time. 50,000 phones lighting up with the main stage. Happy fans.

Don’t try and own the big moments

 Brands trying to ‘own’ the big festival moment or spectacle are destined to fail. Festival promoters and the bands themselves don’t want brands to overshadow their show. Work out what the punters want and do something to enhance their experience. How can you give fans social currency without distracting them? Or how about, hell, creating your own spontaneous moment. In 2011 a bunch of kids laid down dozens of garbage bags and turned the Woodford campground into a giant slip’n’slide. It was miles away from the live stages, but people came a-running. And all the brands were up at the festival because that’s where the action was, right guys? Guys? Buller? Buller?

Understand the varying festival needstates

Creating a one size fits all activation program is a recipe for disaster. Putting your bar, tent or stall up at Big Day Out doesn’t mean it will work at Laneway or Field Day. Status Seekers hit Field Day and Good Vibes. Get those tatts out and singlets off, lads. Remember when Harbourlife banned dudes with no shirts, and how happy that made us all? Expressives hit up Laneway, Young Explorers make the pilgrimmage to Splendour and Falls, and Blokeys get their (mid-strength) bourbon on at Big Day and Groovin’ The Moo. (Note: labels above are my descriptors, not common lingo amongst kids). But why are these kids going – for the tunes? To get off their chops, dress up, have a road trip, tell cool stories, build myth and legend amongst mates? Brands better know before they go.  

Focus on the many, not just the few

Music festivals are the ultimate melting pot, where socioeconomic divides go out the window and the experience is king.  Crews from the Shire party along with kids from the inner west, the North Shore, the Penny basin, and anywhere else you can think of.  Mainstream brands creating VIP experiences do so at a big risk. Oh look, Telco X is doing VIP dunnies? But wait, why can’t I get in there and that guy can? Screw you Telco X. It might look good on a boardroom presentation to say you gave 500 youth a special brand experience, but if the other 20,000 reckon you’re elitist, it’s a #festivalfail. Virgin Mobile got around this at Splendour a couple of years back by giving free tents to its customers, but they had to get them from a secret warehouse outside the festival. Great way to get your brand talked about pre festival.

 Forget influencers at festivals, every single festivalgoer has a massive social voice once they leave the precinct. At Singapore Night Festival, Yelp gave out thousands of glowsticks – people were fighting to get their hands on them. Now imagine a sea of glowing Heineken green at Stereosonic. Yep. 

Be an enabler of self expression

Festivals represent the ultimate opportunity for self-expression. It’s a moment of freedom where you can escape the real world and express who you really are, or would like to be. Brands who create opportunities for fans to be rewarded or celebrated for their individual creativity are the ones that win. Remember, every selfie is an opportunity for stardom within their social networks. Those at home following the festival hashtag feed expect epic pics from their mates. Punters at Burning Man paint each others’ faces with elaborate animal designs – everyone wants in, and they have the living hell photographed out of them wherever they go. And those photos spread online like Chlamydia. Fun with an animal theme? Can’t imagine a brand that would want to get on board with that *cough* Optus.   Beware though, hijacking a meme can be borderline unauthentic if you get it wrong.

Enhance their experience through simple tools

Brands are looking left and right to innovate at festivals with technology such as RFID, as we saw at Coachella festival in the States this year or the Tupac hologram in 2011. The reality is that the best experiences brands can deliver are based on being super useful. Understanding context, environment and mindset is critical. Every year Splendour is a mudbath. You can put money on it. Festivalgoers without gumboots can buy them on site for $50 and up. Bargain, right? A brand giving out cheap branded gumboots would get amazing traction at the event. Or ponchos. Or cheese toasties. Or freaking water balloons! Everyone’s wet anyway, right?

Avoid the on ground social media trap

 Forget trying to do some media activations/promotions at festivals in real time. Punters aren’t checking your Facebook page. Sorry.  Despite ongoing attempts by promoters, mobile coverage is typically rubbish, yes they are taking loads of selfies, but they aren’t actually updating their Instagram and Facebook profiles in real time.  They’re waiting till the next day when they can curate, filter their pics and create highlight packages. #nofilter doesn’t exist in festival world. Which brings me to my last point.

 

Focus social amplification on the anticipation phase and festival aftermath, not during the festival

Brands should focus their content and social media strategy on the lead up to the festival, driving anticipation of their brands involvement. Use your social channels, particularly Instagram (the music festival goers channel of choice) to excite festival-goers as to what you’re going to be doing at the festival.  Generate conversations with behind the scenes footage where punters can learn more about the acts. It’s about staking your claim beforehand so that you’re top of mind when they do get to the festival. Unless your brand is sponsoring the headline act on the main stage, the whole ‘lets broadcast this 3rd tier act on a backstage on our YouTube channel’ play is a waste of money. And, if you’re going to create a wrap up hype video or picture gallery of your brands festival activation, make sure you do it within 24 hours. No on will watch a vid that comes out 3 weeks after the fact. They’ve moved on.

 So, bring on the music, fun and frivolities and hopefully this article will save a few unsuspecting brands from #festivalfail this Summer. 

 

The death of marketing? Not likely: Becoming a #participationbrand

A little thought piece I wrote for Adnews here on my views on what it takes to be a great participation brand in todays social economy. See below:

There are a lot of marketers on both client and agency side talking about the death of branding, marketing and strategy. Kevin Roberts most notably leading the charge.  Plenty of conversation has been generated promoting the ‘don’t think, just do it’ approach at Cannes and Spikes Asia this year. This kind of thinking led to the vast microsite graveyard and I don’t buy it.

We still need good brand strategy and big thinking.  We just need to change the rules by which brands are imagined and behave.

The most loved and effective brands are an intrinsic part of culture – stimulating interest, involvement and advocacy without constant media support. We call them participation brands. Unfortunately in Australia, 80% of brands create disposable interactions, let’s call them passive brands.

Participation brands put participation at the heart of the brand experience – not as an add-on. They involve customers, stakeholders and fans through immersive and interactive initiatives allowing people to join in, connect, converse, co-create and advocate. They create a gravitational pull enabling them to outsell without having to necessarily outspend their competition.

Rather than being closed, static systems defined by generic words on a brand onion, they’re open, dynamic, evolving and collaborative systems embedded into the operational DNA of the organisation.

Being a participation brand means operating at the speed of culture, not the speed of research.  Being in a constant state of beta mode and letting each and every person leave a bit of their DNA on an idea.

A word of caution though.  Participation branding isn’t just doing ‘more digital and social’.  Genuine participation brands think content, context, experience and conversations not just how many screens you can get on.

Participation branding doesn’t mean trying to get everyone to get deeply involved at all times. That’s unrealistic. Understanding different motivations for participating and sharing ideas is critical. Being useful, driving belonging, promoting achievement, enhancing one’s status, rewarding and recognising my contribution.

So how do you start behaving like a participation brand? Where do you start? Asking these six basic questions is a great starting point:

1. What’s our PASSIONATE PURPOSE that makes the world better?

2. What are we doing to PROTOTYPE new business models, new initiatives, and new ways of consumer interaction?

3. What games are we asking people to PLAY with us and the community?

4. How can we help people PROPAGATE their story whether they’re advocates, adorers or the passive massive?

5. What’s our 365 day PRESENCE PLAN mapping when, where, why and how people want to participate with us? How can we be ‘Always on’?

6. How are we PIVOTING to ensure we stay ahead of culture and relevant to our communities’ needs and interests?

So who’s doing it well?  Of course the titans and icons of Nike, Adidas, Coke, Apple, Johnnie Walker, Heineken, Google, Red Bull, Mini and Lego all have participation baked in.

What about Australia?

Recent campaigns like Google ‘Build with Chrome’,  ‘Share a Coke and a song’, ‘The Perfect Lager Project’ for Arvo beer, ‘BYO Cup Day’ for 7 Eleven,  ‘Mobile’ Medic’ for the Australian Defence Force and our Christchurch ‘Discovery Stream’ and Adidas NEO ‘Find my Gold Shoes’ Bieber collaboration  – all initiatives with participation baked into the DNA of the idea. All with amazing results.

So, no I don’t think we’re living through the death of marketing, but rather an amazingly exciting time for brands. It’s time for planners to leave our ivory towers, dump Google as our primary source of insight, banish our brand onions and get involved with the real world.  It’s time for strategy to participate.

5 ways to #Outsell the competition #Outsellers

At Iris Worldwide, we recently put together a global study on the latest retail innovation. Word to my fellow planners at Iris Worldwide in the USA and UK. Titled ‘The Outsellers’ it looks at the key principles and trends that marketers are deploying to enhance the shopping experience and build customer value throughout the customer journey.These are the 5 trends we identified and below are a few quick links to brands & ideas that are delivering on the trend. Hit us up if you’re keen to find out more.

Friction Free Shopping

New Balance ‘The Line up’

Sportsgirl mobile shopping

Lancome Taxi Shops

Perx

Aisle 411

Real Time Value

ThinkNear

Fopping.com

Service Based Selling

Taxi Treats vending machine

C&A Fashion ‘Like’

Brayola.com

The Power of Inspiration

Pano – Plaza

Perch Displays

Ted Bakers Drawing Room

Pave Bicycle Store

Branding the Value Proposition

Starbucks Rembrandt Square

365 Ecobar Indonesia