How to improve your outdoor campaign with Virgin Media WiFi on the Underground

Example one (real)

The Look for Longer campaign is a neat little competition from CBS Outdoor to encourage interaction with outdoor advertising. The game itself is quite cute, there’s 75 different tube stations hidden on a poster and you have to guess them all. Simple, right? Perfect brain fodder for London’s challenge-hungry commuters.

You can see the full poster on the campaign website, the version that I’m showing above however highlights quite a nice piece of joined-up thinking from the chaps behind the activity. Conversations around this sort of thing would normally go like this:

‘OK, so we’ve got our posters’

‘Yup!’

‘Do they have a clear call to action? Something like, ‘Text us on this number now!’ or similar?’

‘Yup!’

‘OK, so where are these posters going again?’

‘On the Underground.’

‘OK. Then make sure we add a QR code too…’

‘Straight away!’

—- I’m not kidding.

But not this time ’round, oh no. This time the copywriters and creatives have actually applied context to their work and seeing this kind of relevant and in situ call to action actually put a smile on my face. Smart thinking tends to have that affect on me.

More of this please.

Example two (not real)

Walking onto the platform at Maida Vale back in July earlier this year, I was greeted with this fairly awesome poster for The Amazing Spider-Man. Now while the film wasn’t exactly awesome, the outdoor campaign really could’ve been.

Literally the first thing I thought when I saw this poster was ‘How cool would it be if this was an augmented reality (AR) execution?’. I walk onto the platform and the poster is exactly how you see it now except there’s no Spider-Man in it.

Instead, you download the AR app, hold up your cameraphone and voila, there’s Spidey, crawling around the other side of the platform on the underground.

Wouldn’t be ace if the call to action was something like ‘Seen The Amazing Spider-Man yet? Connect to Virgin Wifi and download app X to see him on this poster right now’ or, better yet, have the app on the Virgin Wi-Fi splash page.

I know a little bit about a little bit when it comes to AR markers (and marker-less markers too) and I’ve always thought you could do something cool with the actual tracks themselves (health and safety, what?) but now there’s internet down there, a whole new world of integrated marketing is wide open.

WiFi on the Underground is free until the end of this year.

Who’s going to innovate next?

 

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When does Batman sleep? – Part 2

This has been a long time coming…

A few months ago I posted Part One to discuss this question and its relation to the ‘always on’ generation that we seem to live in today. If like many others who find themselves working in this field, you are expected to be on call at every hour of the day…

Well no, let’s stop right there. Is it actually expected?

Or is it the case that you simply feel obliged?
You assume that that the expectation in there, when in fact it isn’t.

See?

I have written at length about the importance of humanity being at the heart of everything you do. The onus being placed on the term ‘being human‘ throughout my work is on purpose people.
The question asked above is not about the duality of Batman’s psyche, moreover about his pig-headedness about asking for help and his lack of self-forgiveness when he gets it wrong.

He is after all only human.
As are we all.

When things got tough the Bat brought in Robin and then soon after that, the Justice League. His skills, unique and awesome on their own, work considerably better when placed into a team of similar, like minded people (sharing an equal goal).

The point is, that developer guy that I mentioned?
He who I quoted way back when:

Sometimes, I find myself stuck in front of the laptop at like 10pm on a Sunday night. The kids are in bed, the wife isn’t far behind and there I am answering customer care questions over Twitter with some guy in Geneva! This isn’t my day job. I’m a developer. My question to you is Sir; when does Batman sleep?

This man, he cared about his company’s brand and (online) reputation so much that he took it upon himself to make things better on his own.

Much like the Caped Crusader, he fixed it himself, working solo and acting independently from his own company’s PR team and, just as Batman did with the Gotham City Police Department (GPD), both sides became infuriated.

However, it is written than the Dark Knight works best when he works with his friend and ‘colleague’, Commissioner Gordon, coordinating strategies that incorporate traditional routes & methods (like the GPD) as well as the new found tools of our erstwhile hero.

More things get done.

When I first started in this job, within weeks I was at loggerheads with the Director of Communications. Our very own Jim Gordon if you will. He wanted to vet every single message and blog post that was to be written and sent out. A stand up argument ensued which ended with me simply saying:

Invent a box of words…
Put in everything I can use and take out everything I can’t.


Then leave the box with me.

It took some time, but we got there in the end.
There are laws and rules as well as traditional ways of enforcing or adhering to them.

However, these days there are ways to play, push up against and generally find new parameters to work within these rules.
Call it operating under the radar if you will.

Batman doesn’t kill.
Something which he is continually pushed on.
He doesn’t go looking for trouble (at least not in the traditional sense of the word), but instead works within rules.
First those he sets himself, then later within those set by others.

It is at this point where our super hero can pause, his allies know his work and can defend it in his absence.
Yes that’s right, his absence.

I started this post with the intention of highlighting the often over-looked ideal of humanity on both sides of the coin.

Corporations can be human but so can consumers.

Yes, it’s great to be on call 24hrs a day, seven days a week, but your customers are not robots. If you don’t get back to them on a Sunday night, they’ll understand.

It’s all well and good being human, but never forget everyone else is too.

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Madrid: Being Human

Sitting on the plane to Spain, listening to Frightened Rabbit, a colleague sleeping to my left and, what can only be described as some kind of Spanish martial arts ninja of the old world, (and yet barely 17) to my right…

I ponder.

See this is another work trip… I’ve been all over the place this year, and now I’m in Madrid to meet with Journalists and Bloggers to discuss the future; Where is blogging going and what Web 2.0 learnings am I able to share with the local geeks etc.

There’s been a massive explosion in Europe within the blogging scene of late with over 2million Spaniards creating blogs, getting online and consuming content etc..

Reading the ‘Briefing Document’ …(all of this is still so new and alien to me y’know, I mean – ‘Briefing Documents’ – What?! Really?! It’s like an actual episode of Mission Impossible)… Anyway, reading the ‘Briefing Document’ just now there was a great quote from a well known Spanish Blogger called ‘Enrique Dans’ that goes as follows:

Companies are basically divided into two types, those that have had a problem with their image as a result of blogs and those that will encounter this problem in the future…

I chuckled when I read this.

It’s pretty much spot on.. for 95% of all companies.

The remaining 5% (and some may argue this number may be larger or smaller with equal vigor) have a presence in this space because they genuinely want to engage with their users and customers in a meaningful way. This doesn’t have to be some kind of ‘preemptive strike’ to head off any untoward conversation/posts that may happen online, it can really manifest itself from a deep yearning to truly understand your consumer.

Zappos are a fantastic a fantastic example of this. Yes, we’re a brand. Yes, we’re a company but also, and ultimately, we’re Human too.
Their strapline being “Powered by Service”… and their Wikipedia entry pointing out their use of ‘Relationship Marketing‘.

I’m a passionate believer in Social Media and all of that which comes along with it (I’ve wrtten about it before) but something that I will always ALWAYS come back to is:

This stuff ain’t rocket science. It’s merely about doing things right.

Recently, when I spoke at Nokia Open Lab, I talked around how the internet (and with that, Social Media), is the great amplifier. So the kind of person that you are, once expressed digitally in the online space, is magnified tenfold, depending on the platform you use and the strength of voice you have/pertain to use..

I think the exact wordage was:

To me, that’s what Social Media does, it amplifies the good things. There are alot of good people in the room and if you’re a nice person and it amplifies, amplifies out onto the internet, you’ll meet other people like yourself, other nice people…

So following that thought through further – but tying it back to the lack of rocket scientists required for this ideology – You could feasibly propose that those who would/will do best in this space are… Good People.

Humans are, by nature, social creatures…

What is Social Media then, if not an extension of this primitive need to connect?

Offline and/or online you’ll always find those who are more social than others; the party people, the polite people the rude people and the rankling people…

S’funny, at this point I’m reminded of an old school friend who, without fail, every Christmas and Birthday would send a thank you note to all that sent her a gift or a card. I’ve never had the patience, time or inclination to place such a high priority on this level of communication, (but I’ll always try and call or something, I’m not that bad).

But that’s not the point.

The point is, this friend, I think she’d be great at implementing Social Media into her place of work. I always thought she was a good person for doing this whole thank you note thing and well…

Social Media isn’t about Technology, it isn’t about being online or offline…

It’s simply about being Human.

….

Published at 17:22 Friday afternoon in Madrid.
Originially written at 10:15 Thursday morning, somewhere over Spain.

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Having a think…

There’s nothing to see here, move along…
Move along :)

It’s Sunday – Blogathon continues… Cheating slightly, but like I said, it’s the weekend.

No major content today, although I am having a good think about the stuff that I’ll post in the week…
Monday is when the fun begins.

That’ll be tomorrow then.

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Social Tool, Tool!

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There I was, on the train, on the way into work this morning and I’m listening to a couple of chaps in the next seat talk about plans for a new online marketing strategy…

Yes. That’s right. ON A TRAIN.

So before we even GET to the whole ‘Social’ thing that I’m about to rant about, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the stupidity… or maybe even the complete lack of joined-up thinking that goes hand-in-hand with talking about this kind of stuff on PUBLIC transport…

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Done that? Goooooooood.
Idiots.

Anyway – so here they were, these two suits fellas, talking about ‘Social Networking’ and how they ‘really need to get involved’ to make this campaign really work.
Well I say ‘they’ it was more like just the older bloke telling the younger bloke, what he needed to get their new campaign off the ground…
The older chap opens:

“Look, I need you to tell me about what you can do with YouTube?”

“I can upload videos…”

“Yes. I’ve seen that. But what can we do with YouTube?”

“Aside from upload the videos, well…er…”

“WE NEED YOUTUBE!”

“We have…er…”

“Listen, we’ve got to hit millions of people! Millions. We won’t do it without YouTube.”

And so the conversation carried on, covering such things like MySpace, Facebook and even Flickr but all the while keeping the same familiar pattern, (I’m actually quite surprised I didn’t hear the classic phrase ‘Right, we need a viral’… I may’ve said something at that point)

Anyway, this whole thing got me thinking. I wrote a post about Mobile Advertising for Mobile Industry Review, (then SMS Text News), a few months back outlining the need for complete alignment when dipping your toe into the mobile ad space.
This one was easy, at least this time round they had some kind of idea as to what they were doing…
These two guys on the 9:53 out of Paddington however? Not a hope.

YouTube, to use the example given, is not something you ‘do’, it’s something you use, (like a tool, see).

The best way for me to illustrate this is with cups.

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If your boss turns to you one day and says “I want to do something with YouTube”, what do you say back?

Well look, you’re clearly happy to put anything into the cup as it were; be it lemonade, orange juice, blackcurrant or whatever – But your boss, or whoever’s running the marketing team needs to tell you what that is. The cup is another way of presenting your content. It will speak to different people in different ways. I would not use a cup for anything other than what it is good for… and that is drinking, nay – consuming!

On top of that you also need to ensure that the same blackcurrant you’re using in your cups is being used in the other dispensers that you have at your disposal. I mean, you have other cups right? Right?!
Yeah you do… The banner ads, the traditional print, the skyscrapers, the tv/radio spots etc…
Them. Yeah. They’re cups too.

So when asked, “…like flickr, like YouTube”…etc, they’re just a variation on the cup.

You can help them hold it, you can help others drink from it but what you can’t do is fill it.
Give people some cool stuff inside the cup, don’t just give them the cup.
On it’s own, the cup is nothing.

With planning, time and effort from all parties – the cup can become an integral part of a much larger picnic.

Social Cups, Hugh would be proud.

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