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Archive for the ‘Brands’ Category

  • Commercial Karma

    21st May 12

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands, culture

    Author: Jim Carroll, Chairman, BBH London

    Memories light the corners of my mind
    Misty,water colored memories
    Of the way we were.

    ~ Barbra Streisand, The Way We Were

    Barbara Streisland, image: barbarastreislandpictures.com

    I attended the Damien Hirst show at the Tate Modern. Flies and fags, butterflies and bling, spin and spots, drugs and death… There. You don’t need to see it now.

    I walked away somewhat hollow. I felt a pang of guilt and recognition. Guilt because Hirst was in many ways the adman’s artist. Art that came with a nudge, a wink and a knowing punchline. Art as quick hit, shiny bright, paper thin. Recognition because, yes, that was Britain in the ’90s. Spin doctors and Spice Girls, boy bands and man bags, heroin chic and Shabba Ranks, lads and Loaded, puffas and Prozac, Wonderbra and Wonderwall, alcopops and Posh & Becks. Fool Britannia…. There was no god, no beauty, no other. Just money and death and irony. Things could only get worse…

    I’m not sure I blame Damien Hirst. I suspect he’s a very good artist. He was very effectively holding a mirror up to us and our values. Or lack of them. And I suspect each generation gets the art it deserves. Flies and fags was maybe all we were good for in the ’90s.

    Don’t you also think that we get the advertising we deserve? As an Agency, as a Client, as a culture ? When we hark back to a golden hued, bygone age of celestial communication, are we not condemning our own failure to create greatness now? When the disappointed Client fires the disappointing Agency, isn’t he or she shirking personal responsibility? When we rail against cruel fate and happenstance, when we bemoan the recession, or reach for the blame gun, shouldn’t we be looking in the mirror first?

    I believe in commercial karma. That, broadly speaking, in advertising as in life, we reap what we sow. That what goes around comes around. Not for some spiritual, counter cultural, gaia-type reason. But because, though it seems trite to say it, in the long run, smart, open minded Clients, working with intelligent, lateral Agencies, for honest, worthwhile brands, will make better, more effective work. And vice versa.

    I guess I have witnessed exceptions to this. The craven creative, the malevolent marketing director, the bullying business director have on occasion won the day. But overall in my experience fakes are found out, charlatans are shopped. Good prevails.

    Instant karma’s gonna get you
    Gonna knock you right on the head
    You better get yourself together
    Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead

    ~ John Lennon, Instant Karma

    John Lennon, image: backstageol.com

    Of course in the past one had to wait for hubris to be followed by inevitable nemesis. Nowadays the social web has created a kind of instant karma. Because the courtroom of public opinion is so immediate and all seeing. It shines an unforgiving,instantaneous light on the ill conceived and poorly executed. It likewise rewards the virtuous with currency and value.

    I had always believed that Corporate Social Responsibility was exactly that: a responsibility that a business owed to the communities it served. I wasn’t so enamoured of more fashionable phrases like social investment because I didn’t feel ethics needed commercial justification.  And I wasn’t convinced CSR had a role in marketing or brand.

    Now I have been persuaded that ethics are more than a responsibility. They are fundamental to a brand’s sustainability in a transparent, socialised world. Because increasingly consumers are unwilling to buy good products from bad people. Because in a world of commercial karma only the good Clients, good admen and good brands can win.

  • How The Guardian And The 3 Little Pigs Hope To Keep The Wolf From The Door

    2nd March 12

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands, media

    Author: Jason Gonsalves, Head of Strategy, BBH London

    Our first ad for The Guardian broke on Wednesday night. It’s basically a product demo taken to epic proportions, re-telling and shedding new light on the classic story of the 3 Little Pigs. If you haven’t seen it already check it out and see what you think. Then below I’ve shared the thinking behind the work for anyone interested in hearing a little more.

    YouTube Preview Image

    Readers of this blog need little convincing of the merits of citizen journalism, crowd-sourcing and open platform collaboration. Nowadays eye witness accounts are shared instantly with the world through Twitter, whilst Google Alerts or new destinations like Gawker and Huffpo offer an alternative to traditional news brands. What’s more, we all know the broader Newspaper industry is struggling. Print circulations and revenues keep falling, and for most the business model simply isn’t working.  Add to that mass criminality and corruption, and the long-term diagnosis looks terminal.

    All this starts to beg the question, where does that leave a newspaper like The Guardian? It has to continue to be far more than simply an aggregator of opinion and comment. It’s an innovation business almost two centuries old, one looking to lead the global news agenda and set an example for how modern brands should behave.

    Our brief was to help cut through preconceptions, engage new readers by bringing to life The Guardian’s remarkable transformation over the last 10 years from a left-wing, British newspaper to a global digital news hub.

    This change has been driven by Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian’s editor and is built on a belief that in the modern world no single organisation can possibly claim to be sole arbiter of truth, with experts journalists working in isolation to pass down the day’s news to the masses. Instead, for The Guardian, modern news is a dynamic, participative and open dialogue in which the public and other news sources enrich and expand stories, inviting response and opinion. It’s open and mutual rather than closed and didactic. It’s iterative and alive rather than final and definitive. It’s multi-platform and digital first.

    • Whilst most newspapers jealously guard the stories they are planning to cover, The Guardian now publish their news lists online daily, encouraging both public and experts to get in touch with their journalists if they feel the have something to contribute, advise on or just to have their say.
    • When the MPs Expenses Scandal exploded, The Guardian swiftly built an app that enabled the public to get involved, sift through receipts and flag anything they decided was worthy of investigation.
    • During Arab Spring, in addition to providing content from its journalists in the field, The Guardian invited Arab commentators to share their views and blog, in Arabic, on the Guardian’s platform.
    • The Guardian’s open platform enables anyone to access data collected by the Guardian as well as providing a search tool so that users can search for government information from around the world. It also encourages readers to upload their own data visualisations or share their favourites.

    Whilst The Guardian represents open news, it remains a brand with a point of view, with a role and purpose that is more, not less, important in today’s world.  Rather than benefiting shareholders or a proprietor, the Guardian is owned by the Scott Trust which ensures that  profits are reinvested to sustain journalism that is free from commercial or political interference. The trust, which was formed in 1936, and is named after CP Scott (Editor between 1872 and 1929) protects the Guardian’s commitment to a set of values that can be summarised as honesty, cleanness (today interpreted as integrity) courage, fairness and a sense of duty to reader and the community.  Scott’s famous words  “Comment is free, but facts are sacred” remind us of the importance of accuracy and truth in a world where information and opinion is ubiquitous. Relentless inquiry is the responsibility of organisations that want to set the news agenda, they must stop at nothing to get the bottom of the stories that matter. Nick Davies did just this – he was the Guardian journalist who spent 5 years finding and checking evidence and withstanding threats to uncover the truth behind the  ’phone hacking at the News of the World.

    If you couldn’t tell already, I’ll admit personally to being a huge fan. But I believe as digital innovators, creative pioneers, and champions of civil liberty and reform The Guardian is a rare and precious thing that deserves support. The story of the newspaper industry as we know is unlikely to conclude with a fairy-tale ending, but the Guardian is definitely painting an exciting vision of things to come.


    Client Credits – The Guardian

    David Pemsel, Marketing Consultant
    Richard Furness, Head of Sales and Marketing, The Guardian
    Anna Hayman, Marketing Manager, The Guardian

    Media Buying Agency – PHD

    Toby Nettle, Media Planner

    Creative Agency – BBH

    TV Credits
    BBH Creative Director: David Kolbusz
    BBH Creative Team: Matt Fitch & Mark Lewis
    BBH Producer: Davud Karbassioun
    BBH Production Assistant: Genevieve Sheppard
    BBH Head of Strategy: Jason Gonsalves
    BBH Team Director: Ngaio Pardon
    BBH Team Manager: Alex Monger
    BBH Team Assistant: Katie Burkes

    Print credits
    BBH Creative Team (Print): Carl Broadhurst and Peter Reid
    BBH Head of Art: Mark Reddy
    BBH Designer: James Townsend
    BBH Print Producer: Sally Green
    BBH Creative Director: David Kolbusz
    BBH Head of Strategy: Jason Gonsalves
    BBH Team Director: Ngaio Pardon
    BBH Team Manager: Alex Monger
    BBH Team Assistant: Katie Burkes

    Production credits
    Production Company – Rattling Stick
    Director: Ringan Ledwidge
    Producer: Chris Harrison
    DoP: Franz Lustig
    Editor/Editing House: Richard Orrick (Work post)
    Post Production (Graphics + CGI effects):  The Mill London
    Sound Design: Will Cohen & Sam Brock
    Music: Phil Kay (Woodwork Music)

  • What People in Brands Can Learn From People in Bands

    5th August 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands, music

    Author: Neil Barrie (@neilbazza), Director, ZAG

    Images via superiorpics.com and brandrepublic.com

    I spent the first half of my adult life to date, playing in bands and the second half planning brands, most recently at Zag, the brand ventures division of BBH.

    After an awkward adjustment period where I tried to deny all existence of my previous life and its accompanying streaked mullet jpegs, I’ve recently been finding that I actually learned a lot of useful things in those years in the Highbury Garage. Here they are:

    # 1 Develop your dynamics

    Listen to any AC/DC, song, especially Back in Black and you are listening to a lesson in dynamics. The space, the drums, the shifts, the CRUNCH – you can’t help but be moved by it. Loads of massive rock tracks owe a lot to soft/loud dynamics from Babe I’m gonna leave you to Teenage Dirtbag. Boys in particular like this sort of thing. The laws of rock dynamics are directly applicable to any presentation.  It’s a good discipline to think “where’s the bit where the chords come crashing in?” and “how can I make this section feel more like ACDC?”

    Read full post

  • To sleep, to dream

    2nd August 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands

    Author: Jim Carroll, BBH London Chairman

    Girl Sleeping, by Tamara de Lempicka

    ‘O sleep,why dost thou leave me?
    Why thy visionary joys remove?
    O sleep again deceive me,
    To my arms restore my wand’ring love’

    I recently attended a concert in which these words of Congreve were sung in a beautiful Handel aria. I’m sure we can all relate to the sentiment: sleep is a place of joyful deceptions and re-found loves; it’s a place for escaping, forgetting, recovering, refocusing. However harsh the work environment, however stressful the unrelenting day, I have always been sustained by the promise of sleep, its welcoming embrace, its warm repose. In fact I have a singular talent for napping at will and I have inherited from my mother the habit of the Sunday afternoon kip. I like to drift off on the sofa, newspaper on my lap, to the sound of children’s chatter and roller bags from the pavement outside.

    I have long felt that sleep is an area of untapped opportunity for brands. We spend a third of our lives sleeping, but we’re increasingly concerned by our ability to get enough of it, at the right quality. One can’t help but be underwhelmed by the plethora of scented candles, quack remedies and orthopaedic pillows that currently constitute the ‘sleep sector’. Can’t we do better than this? Surely space is not the final frontier; it’s sleep. Read full post

  • Is That All There Is?

    29th June 11

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands, culture

    Author: Jim Carroll, Chairman, BBH London

    ‘Is that all there is, is that all there is?
    If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing.
    Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
    If that’s all there is.’

    Peggy Lee, image via peggylee.com

    I remember the first time I heard Peggy Lee singing the classic Leiber and Stoller number, ‘Is That All There Is?’. The heroine relates how, through the course of her life, experiences that may initially have been exciting, had in fact turned out rather tiresome. From her home burning down, to going to the circus, to falling in love. It’s a hymn to disappointment and apathy. Like most teenagers I had spent large chunks of my short time on the planet lying in my room being incredibly bored. In amongst the bubble gum pop and dinosaur rock of Radio 1, a song that celebrated ennui was a rare and precious thing.

    I remember the first time I heard the Clash sing ‘I’m So Bored with the USA’. I was simultaneously shocked and excited. Could one really so publicly proclaim disappointment with the home of rock’n'roll, the land of the free, the country that had given us Barry Manilow, Boz Scaggs and The Sound Of Bread? Was that acceptable? Was that legal?

    I remember the first time I saw the painting Ennui by Walter Sickert. The bored couple cannot be bothered to look at each other. One stares into space and the other at the wall. The blank generation. Tedium in oils. And yet so utterly compelling.

    Ennui, by Walter Sickert

    It’s a curious thing. Apathy, boredom and tedium seem such dull, passive, inert qualities. Yet they can be exciting, inspiring, disruptive.

    And I wonder whether this particular truth is lost on us and our world. We claim to be consumer experts. But are we not in denial of the fact that most consumers, most of the time are just not that into our brand or category? They just don’t care. We sustain a myth that the primary communication challenge is lack of attention, when really, more often than not, it’s lack of interest. Read full post

  • On virtual packaging: where’s the Coke bottle of the online world?

    19th November 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands, design

    Author: Matthew Gladstone (@gladstonematt), Partner, BBH London

    So it’s official, “Applications are the white goods of the 21st century” and sales of virtual goods have crossed the $2bn threshold in the US and iTunes has over a billion downloads.

    But, as we all know, not everyone is enjoying the party – Thom Yorke has told young bands not to tie themselves to the sinking ship of music companies, Murdoch is trying out pay walls for his newspapers, and a US court has caused outcry by ruling that people who have bought discs of software don’t actually “own” them – they cannot sell them second hand on eBay.

    I think the difference is a lot to do with packaging and branding.  Or, to be precise, virtual packaging and branding. People who are getting it right are getting paid more than those who aren’t.

    What packaging and branding do is to create a sense of property and ownership.  And property and ownership are norms that tell us to value and pay for things.  Which are big problems in the virtual economy.

    So my provocation is this: “Virtual packaging” is one way to create that sense of ownership and property. Just as the pioneers of branding created commercial value when they put trade-marks onto commodities in the tangible world – branded them as “theirs” – we have to reinvent packaging and branding for the virtual world.

    The most obvious examples of this are Apps (packaged, single-purpose, branded on the button, tangible with a finger, made unique to you through use) and, at the other extreme, music (downloaded via anonymous browser, no presence other than a line of text in a database, totally generic).  And who is persuading people to pay more successfully?

    I think that one day we will look back at the App v.2010 and laugh at its crudity.  One day we will have virtual packaging as iconic as this:

    But let’s go back to the beginning.

    My first wake up call was overhearing the oft-debated morality of downloading music.  Free file sharing?  Fine.  Normal.  That’s how you get music.  Why the question?  But walking out of a store with a cd without paying for it?  Shoplifting.  Stealing.  Wrong.  Equally obvious.

    So what’s the difference between download and CD?  To the artist, none.  But to the user, one was packaged – physical, shiny, found in a shop – the other, just a piece of anonymous data accessed through a browser.

    Look at Murdoch vs. the App.  No detailed data are available yet, but anecdotal reports say that iPad apps are performing disproportionately well vs. subscriptions accessed via browser.  And Ben Hughes, global commercial director and deputy CEO of the Financial Times, says the iPad is a “game-changer” for the newspaper industry.  It’s the app vs the generic packaging of the browser.

    And then the success of iTunes or Amazon?  These are also “packaged” environments – clearly understood as “shops” where you pay for stuff.  Unlike Limewire or Piratebay.

    Which leaves our last example – the action against someone selling software discs on eBay.  The Software and Information Industry Association (USA) is breaking our norms of ownership and property when it says “I own that physical thing you bought”.  We all feel that physical things belong to the person who buys them.

    So the App is really just a virtual box.  iTunes or Amazon just a virtual shop (no shit).  Things that have cleverly used the norms of ownership and property in the virtual space, to make us more likely to pay for them.  Right now the virtual retailers seem to be way more sophisticated than the products they sell – but hopefully that will change.

    So here are some starters on creating virtual packaging (some of these may seem uncannily obvious or familiar to the real world, but maybe that’s the point):

    -       visual identity which differentiates the object
    -       tangible, touchable
    -       a differentiated experience (sounds, colours, even haptic “textures”)
    -       adaptive to the owner – evolving into something distinctively personal to the owner
    -       hard to copy and transfer; the sense of a physical transfer, not a lossless virtual one

    Perhaps it’s time music came in Apps. As we said earlier: branded on the button, tangible, with a memory of what I did last time, with an experience unique to each app or band.  Perhaps it would even be like a gatefold of old, but on steroids.  Now that’s something I’d pay for.

    We’d like to know what you think.  Who’s doing this well? Do you know anyone who works in the world of packaging who’d want to comment?

  • ZAG NY Open Call

    26th October 10

    Author: Erin Riley, Brand and Communications Director, ZAG NY

    BBH Labs has become a watering hole for inquisitive, enterprising, and forward thinking minds.  Thus, it is a fitting place for ZAG NY to make its first open call for ideas.

    ZAG, a wholly owned subsidiary of BBH, is focused on brand invention.  We invent brands by exploiting brand lags – where consumer activity outpaces brand activity.  The trick of course is not only scouring technology, media, breaking trends, and cultural & consumer insights for what consumers want and need, but then uniquely satisfying those needs in a delightful and profitable way.

    ZAG is fortunate because via BBH we have a unique network of collaborators who provide expertise in areas fertile for brand invention.  Now, ZAG NY is looking to extend that network beyond the BBH walls and tap an even larger bevy of creators, innovators, entrepreneurs, and anyone else with a brilliant idea.

    This slideshare serves as an official call for ideas which will be formally evaluated this November to feed the 2011 pipeline.  While we’ll entertain ideas throughout the year, this marks one of three annual formal reviews that will garner the most focused attention from the ZAG team.  Pitches will be heard live or by phone/skype/virtual meeting starting week of November 8th.

    To stay up to date on ZAG news and thought starters follow our Blog.

    (Presentation is best viewed by clicking MENU and FULL SCREEN)

    ZAG NY Pitch Guide

    View more presentations from BBH ZAG NY.
    Tell us what you think? Here are some idea starters:
    - Do you think ad agencies can bring new products to market?
    - What should ad agencies do to cultivate owned IP?
    - What do you wish this deck included that it doesn’t?
  • The Anti Wind Tunnel Marketing Movement!

    6th October 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands, Insight

    Author: Charles Wigley, Chairman, BBH Asia Pacific

    Following our series of Labs posts tackling the issue of “Wind Tunnel” marketing, the natural next step was to put the thinking out into the wild and see what we could learn… I recently ran a workshop at the SPIKES creative festival in Singapore, where solutions were brainstormed by the 100 + attendees.

    I began with a run-through of the issue as we see it:



    And the workshop attendees responded. Below are just some of the ideas that came out, we’d love to hear any you have to add.

    Some of the most popular practical solutions to the key areas discussed (measured by that highly accurate methodology of level of cheers and clapping at the end of the session) were as follows :

    The Overall Strategic Process

    - Twin team it on major projects – one that the client sees that follows the set process, the other that just has a blank canvas and no set rules

    - Follow your gut irrespective of set process – and get more skilled at post rationalisation

    Consumer Research

    - Scrap it ! – well, it was a predominantly creative audience

    - Aim off – always ensure you also  talk to people intentionally outside of the core target that everyone else is talking to. There maybe unearthed gems there

    - Ask ‘why’ more often than ‘what’ – reportage is useless, the reasons behind the actions are what people a looking for

    Client Management

    - Creatives more involved in client management – clearly there’s a lot of folk who want to come out of the back room

    - Stop hiring ourselves again and again – how can we build difference into our hiring policies?

    - Forced job swaps – agency people should work as clients for a while and vice – versa

    - Earlier and deeper – agencies arrive too late too often. What can they do to swim upstream in the client briefing process?

    Creative Inspiration

    - Creative speed dating – too much time working opposite the same person. Time for some new inspiration from different people in the building. Quickly. And ones with different skill sets – eg tech.

    - Stop looking at advertising – too much cannibalism. If our only influence is advertising…..then our output will be more…er…….advertising.

    - Move the office to the beach – well, that’s the audience again for you  (when they get there they’ll probably discover management has been there for a while).

    Again, these are just a starter for ten. We’d love to know your thoughts.

    ****

    Also check out Jim Carroll’s Manifesto here.

  • Raging Against The Machine: A Manifesto For Challenging Wind Tunnel Marketing

    16th September 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Brands, Insight

    Author: Jim Carroll, Chairman, BBH London

    This is the second of a two-parter by Jim. For the introduction to Wind Tunnel Marketing, check out his earlier post here or read both pieces in today’s Campaign magazine (available on campaignlive.co.uk next week). As always, we’d like to know what you think – please share any thoughts in the comments.

    ***

    1. Seek Difference In Everything We Do

    “Is it different?” has been relegated to the last question, the afterthought, the bonus ball.  But the last should be first.

    We should tirelessly seek difference in the people we talk to, the questions we ask, the processes we follow. “Is it different?” should be the first question we ask when we look at work  – both in terms of content and form.

    2. Kick Out the Norms

    We’ve become addicted to backward looking averages. But norms create a magnetic pull towards the conventional. Norms produce normal.  The new frontier doesn’t have norms, but it does have endless supplies of data, and a rich diversity of tools with which to mine it.

    We should create a data-inspired future, not a norm-constrained past.

    3. Only Talk to Consumers who are Predisposed to Change

    Where there is change, there are people that lead and people that follow.  In research we mostly talk to followers, because there are more of them and they’re cheaper. But ultimately they are less valuable.

    If we’re seeking to change markets, shouldn’t we talk exclusively to change makers?

    4. Embrace Insights From Anywhere

    We’ve lived for too long under the tyranny of consumer insight. Of course consumer insight can be engaging, but it can also be familiar.

    Surely insights can come from anywhere and we’re just as likely to find different insights from an analysis of the brand, the category, the competition, the channel, and, above all, the task. Read full post

  • Story is More Powerful Than The Brand; Best Story Wins (Tom Peters)

    7th September 10

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in Brands, storytelling

    Interesting short clip of Tom Peters talking about the importance of storytelling for brands. In fact, for Peters, storytelling isn’t just important, it can be more powerful than the brand itself.

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