Mini + Vice – All the Wrong Places does Tokyo

Mini has struck up a great collaboration with youth lifestyle publisher/digital brand VICE.  A great example of a brand that ‘gets’ the need to create cool cultural content for youth.

They’ve created an a web content series called ALL THE WRONG PLACES comprised of 5 mini doco’s showing adventures in culturally cool places around the world. The narratives dip into diverse subcultures, the first being in Tokyo, looking at the Dekotora Trucks subculture. The stories are mission based requiring the help of a Mini and  Co-pilots are being  selected via the Facebook page. Wiht 2.5m FB fans, engagement levels should be high.

I like this idea, I think it definitely taps into Mini’s target audience of ‘ independent free spirited travellers with an appetite for creativity and cultural’.

Episode 1 is pretty cool, great production values although I was kinda hoping for a little more. Will be interesting to see the social media engagement on the Facebook page unfold. Reminds me a bit of the Telstra Sushi Plane idea we created in 2010 whereby we sent 14 Aussie teens/20 somethings to Tokyo on cultural and digital adventure, using Tokyo as a live test environment for the new HTC smartphones.



Five key shifts driving social ideas

There have been countless slideshare presentations highlighting the changing consumer landscape and the impact that social platforms have had on how we build brands. So, I’m not going to create another slideshare presentation. Rather I thought I’d highlight five key shifts I’ve noticed in the way brands need to behave in the ever changing socialscape. Some of these shifts are not new, I hope to share my perspective on them.


Communication is no longer about manufacturing an image around a brand. This is not to say that lifestyle branding is dead, however  it’s now far more about being authentic and truly transparent in all aspects of a brands behaviour. We used to use advertising to shift image perceptions with the hope buyers would shift their purchase behaviour. Now, it’s about crafting new realities for consumers by creating open and transparent brands. We’re also seeing brands CSR initiatives being scrutinised far more closely. My old boss David Jones, CEO of Havas talks passionately about this shift here.  It’s true to say you can’t get away with anything in the social world. This shift is making brands far more accountable for their actions.


Propositions are dead. Yelling at people hoping they’ll latch onto a brand benefit or attribute is pretty much over. Unless you’re Apple and have truly remarkable product innovation. Sure you need to build out from a brand truth, but I believe it’s as much about brand behaviour in media as well as brand messages. It’s all about how we can inspire behaviour change through creating brand behaviours which deliver value. Whether it be through a thoughtful gesture, a branded utility, or entertainment. Every brand essence or brand truth should be a VERB  not a noun. Social objects which are based around doing something and which have their own reverberation. We’re already seeing brands now focus on creating ‘experiences’ and then turning those experiences into the content for advertising. Attention is scarce, we need to drive engagement via doing stuff for our audiences which add value to their lives.


Marketing in a black box is dead, as are matrices where we put segments and consumers into boxes thinking that they are anticipating our messages. Marketers need to relinquish control of their brands.  Open up and allow for collaboration. Apply a ‘beta marketing’ approach whereby you collaborate with your fans constantly in crafting and recrafting your marketing strategy. I’m not talking about crowdsourcing new product design which is so 2009, I’m talking about genuinely involving your fans and advocates in the brands story. A recent research report suggest that 84% of brand fans on Facebook are actually customers, so it’s clear people want to collaborate with brands. You just need to work out what sort of collaboration that is. Whether it’s a ‘digital fling’ as Saneel Radia calls it or more of an ongoing ‘Digital Marriage’ eg: Nike + platform. I believe great flings like Intel Museum of Me are still critical to spark a reconnection with a brand.


We need to shift our marketing strategies to think about the ‘networked community’. Understand how the ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ links between people are created and how brands can be relevant within these communities. That’s the key to unlocking virality of an idea. Social seeding is now an artform within the communications planning skillset. Planners who understand how to create ‘influence’ and spark virality (assuming you’ve got a great idea) are worth their wait in gold. How many great pieces of content do you see with 500 views on YouTube.?


Marketing has sped up. We now expect ideas and narratives to play out in real time. Brands which spend 6 months bringing out a campaign will struggle for relevancy. The brands which will succeed will be super responsive to culture and allow fans to take ownership of ideas in real time. I’m talking about far more spontaneous ideation and creation of ideas. This requires complete shift in how we bring creativity to market in agencies. Urgent Genius is an example of this philosophy as is the highly awarded Old Spice Responses campaign. When I worked on McDonald’s we used to plan launch campaigns 15months out. I think those days are short lived. Brands now need to be super reactive as culture moves at lightning speed and the brands who can keep up with it and even inspire culture will be the brands which win.

There are many other implications of what’s happening to communications as a result of social media, these are just a few  thoughts based on observations as well as what I’ve learnt from others.

Interview with a Digital Native

A short interview I did a while back with Harry, a super connected digital native here in Sydney who had an interesting perspective on connectivity, digital culture, brands and how social media fits into his life. Pretty amazing that a 16yr old has such a strong POV on brands in the digital age.

Is crowdsourcing getting old? Coke’s 24hr live session w/ Maroon 5

Coke’s on the crowdsourcing bandwagon.

Last week, Coke in collaboration with Maroon 5 and peeps of the world embarked on a social experiment around music. Maroon 5 were tasked with creating a song within 24hrs with the help of you, the consumer, facilitated by Coke.  The idea was called Coca C0la Maroon 5 24hr Session

The idea was highly interactive driven via Facebook, Cokes youtube channel and twitter. Clearly, I like the idea of collaborating with consumers around the creation of a song, it taps into Gen C’s need to be involved with the brand story in real time and obviously taps into Coke’s key content pillar around music.

An example of some of the tweets they received from the Coke community

 They’ve cleverly weaved in a charitable outcome of the song creation as  for the first 100,000 downloads of the new track from April 1, Coke will be making donations to RAIN (provision of clean drinking water to African nations), however i think they need to be more transparent on how much they’re donating.

For those who knew about it, Coke did a great job of driving real time follow factor of the idea, you could follow the band in real time ove rthe 24hr period and vote on things they were doing via hashtags eg: should they take a ‘#break’ or  ‘#song’ to keep them singing/writing.. See here.

The big question for me is whether crowdsourcing has been done to death? Is there anything original here? Are consumers over it? Or are the low levels of engagement due to the fact Maroon 5 are on the way out?

 It’s not as innovative as Old Spice’s ‘ask Mustafa to do something & we’ll create content’ twitter campaign, but I think it’s a pretty good attempt to foster collaboration between Coke fans and Maroon 5’s fan base.

The big question will be how much participation did this social experiment drive on a global scale? The videos on youtube all have very low levels in interaction & given Coke’s got 23million facebook fans and I was expecting far greater global engagement.

All comes down to great content driving high levels of interaction. Unfortunately, unless you’re a hardcore Maroon 5 fan, there’s nothing really interesting here.

Insights into Gen Y: We all want to be young

Came across this cool video by Brazilian research agency Box 1824 on Millenials/Gen Y. It’s a 9minute long mood video which talks through how youth culture has evolved from Baby Boomers being ‘liberated youth’, Gen X’ers being ‘competitive youth’ to Gen Y being ‘global youth’.

It was great to see the video cover several key topics i’ve been talking about for a while.

See my post here on ‘I share therefore I am‘ which talks to the point of youth today having to choose the right filters to organise all the content in their world.

Gen Y are the CHANGE generation and are empowered by their collective conscience to make a difference.

The other major point was around Gen Y living PLURAL lives and the fact it’s cool to be multidimensional. I’ve spoken about this theme alot in my posts on Gen C being CHAMELEONS and their splintered personas driving their self expression.

Well done to the guys at Box 1824 for creating a great mood video.

‘I share, therefore I am’ – creating content to get into ‘My World’

Young people outwardly like to see themselves as individuals, however we all know that ‘belonging’ to a tribe or subculture, or indeed belonging to many at one time – is the key way  young people create their  identity.

Today, young people are more than just connected, they are hyper connected on a digital planet. They can all control, create and distribute content. They can all have their opinion spread, shared and discussed. They now have remarkable influence over  brands.

Today, YOUNG PEOPLE ARE THE MEDIA and brands need to respect their social influence.

They’re evolved to copy and now brand decision making very much happens amongst the ‘swarm’ within social networks. Gen C prefer brands they hear about from friends or social networks.

Their constant exposure to status updates occur independent of face to face interaction. The rapid fire nature of these updates,  provides almost constant exposure to new ‘news’. Their response is to filter the information they receive, and prioritise what they pay attention to – what matter to them. They start to prioritise ‘my world’ over ‘the world’.

Put simply, youth view the world as ‘Me, My World, The World’ (a concept first introduced by Peter Fisk a few years back in a presentation called ‘The Consumer Agenda)

‘My World’ is a representation of who I am, and also adds meaning to my life by connecting ‘Me’ to the things I care about or want.

‘The World’ is everything outside of ‘My World’ that does not have immediate meaning to ‘Me’. The vast majority of advertising operates in ‘The World’.

I gain and maintain credibility in my friends worlds’ by expressing opinions, sharing ideas, observations and thoughts. ‘My’ influence within my friends world is based on what I share, and how frequently.

The new youth mantra is ‘I share, therefore I am’.

Gen C ‘The Connected Collective’ rely on social networks to ‘protect’ themselves from info overload. As a result, info that comes to ‘Me’ through ‘My World’ will be prioritised, receive more attention and go ‘viral’ so to speak.

Brands today looking to engage Gen C have to create content that has ‘conversational capital’.

Content that is relevant, useful and entertaining.

Content they can actively spread through ‘My World’. That content could be anything from film, to games to online experiences to applications and utilities.

Content that begs a reaction and has a fun social interface.

Content that connects them with each other, not just with a brand.

Content that they can participate in, play with or produce themselves and pass on.

Content which enhances their social status within ‘My World’ and says something about who they are and which tribe they belong to.

That’s how you get into ‘My World’

Big thanks to my old DDB colleague, PC  (now Digital Planning Director at Saatchi & Saatchi Auckland) who authored the descriptions and insights above on  ‘Me, My World, The World’  from a DDB Yellow Paper he co wrote with Brent Annells earlier this year.

10 Shifts Youth Marketers need to know


Uploading my image to the 'Hero' interactive trailer

I put together a presentation the other day for an internal meeting which looked at 10 shifts in the way marketers look to engage young people through communication and media.  Many of these thoughts originate from great thinkers in the media space, namely Faris Yakob, Neil Perkin and Helge Tenno. I’ve just consolidated some of them and added a few others. The overarching theme here is the acknowledgement that ‘people are our most powerful media’ and ideas and strategies need to be far more social and have inherent share value in them to create brand engagement.

  1. ‘Me’ TO  ‘We’ culture where the power of brands lie  in their social exchange
  2. One Way Messages TO  Collaborative Creativity
  3. Individual insight TO Collective Intelligence
  4. Target Audiences TO Partners in Production
  5. Campaigns TO  Continuous Conversations
  6. Linear static ideas TO Agile and Evolving Narratives
  7. Interruption TO Utility
  8. Advertising To Culture Creation
  9. 360° to 6° thinking
  10. Channels TO Arenas

Thoughts welcome.