Posts by: Gemma Beeley, Planner/Buyer
Squared has officially finished and although this brought (many) tears to my eyes at our graduation last week, I have started this week with a bright and positive perspective. Yes, Squared was one of the best experiences I have had in my life to date, but it has not left me with the same feeling that these tend to do; I have taken far more away than good memories and some nice photos.
I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you the tangible work that Squared has produced - our State of the Industry Report. Some of you lovely Maxus people gave us a helping hand with this, which was invaluable in helping all 83 of us collaborate on the finished product. For those of you that are not aware of what this task was, Squared have published a report on the current state of the industry, based around 6 questions that we all worked with our agencies to answer. The idea is that every year the Squared programme will publish a similar report, looking forward to the next 12 months and what the industry predicts will happen. As this is the first ever Squared, we are delighted to announce the first ever Squared State of the Industry Report!
The link to the website that hosts the PDF is: http://thesquaredreport2012.wordpress.com/
and to the video version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6o_l-vM8Ug&feature=youtube_gdata_player
I hope that this makes for an interesting read, as we certainly found it compelling to create. If you have any feedback or questions, then please feel free to come and talk to me or comment!
Last week was quite an exciting week for me and whilst most people were buzzing about the Brits on Wednesday, I was buzzing about Squared. Squared is a Google led initiative in partnership with Hyper Island and the IPA helping “turn the graduates of today into the brilliant digital leaders of tomorrow”.
It is a 3 month intensive curriculum led by Google, with representatives from all over the industry raring to teach 100 of the top graduates all they know about the weird and wonderful world of digital. It will be packed full of seminars, workshops and projects all aimed at educating us about the digital landscape, including Search, Display, Social, Video and Mobile.
Whilst I am going to miss seeing the beautiful people of Maxus every day, I am absolutely thrilled to have been offered this amazing opportunity and cannot wait to grab it with both hands. Having only joined the digital realm 2 months ago, this is the next big step for me on my way to becoming a fully-fledged ‘digi kid’. See you on the other side…
Aside from the obvious, December brings us lots of things to smile about - Pigs in Blankets being top of my list. It is a time when we reflect on the year gone by; mistakes that were made (Charlie Sheen may have some thinking to do) and things that have been achieved (a certain Media Network of the Year award, perhaps?) Whilst I do not profess to spend a great deal of time doing this personally; in fact it pales into insignificance next to the amount of time I spend prepping my New Year’s Eve outfit, I do enjoy pouring through the ‘Best and Worst of…’ lists that seem to crop up everywhere.
So here, I share with you Campaign’s Top 10 TV and Cinema Ads…
It will come as no surprise that John Lewis is straight up there at the top (and probably not too far off the top of the big spenders this year either) with its so-cute-it-forces-you-to-smile Christmas advert. Yeo Valley’s ‘boy band’ campaign has also made it in there, and with over 3 million views on YouTube and even numerous ‘Get Yeo Valley Farmers to Number 1 at Christmas’ support groups on Facebook, it’s fair to say that this has been one of the more successful adverts of the year. I, for one, have never before found milk so appealing.
Some of the other adverts on this list have escaped the media hype, and my notice, completely. But having watched all 10, I was pretty impressed with the quality of the creative this year. Alright, there wasn’t a ‘Cadbury’s Eyebrows’ in there, but Lucozade and Tinie Tempah make celebrity endorsement look cool, Barnado’s tugs at the heart strings and Weetabix absolutely hit the nail on the head with family comedy.
Did your favourite advert make it into the top 10?
Apologies for the obvious topic, but after the numerous blogs we’ve written on X Factor this year, I thought it almost rude not to write about this weekend’s final. After what seemed like a particularly long series, Little Mix, the band so ‘cleverly’ put together by the X Factor (and I say this because of their outstanding talent as a group, and not because I think that it was in any way a publicity stunt) emerged victorious.
Rewind 5 years and the morning after that tense Sunday night final, the papers were filled with headlines such as ‘Leona Crowned Winner of X Factor’, yet this morning the BBC ran with ‘X Factor Final Loses 4 Million Viewers’.
This year’s show may have seen viewing figures fall to an average weekly audience of 11 million, but it has not attracted any less media attention; although for perhaps the wrong reasons.
Let me be the first to say that I am a huge fan of these shows – they are my ‘Pub Quiz’ speciality category and every year I am glued to the screen, willing my favourite to win. This year, however, I can’t help but feel that the scandal surrounding the show has come at the expense of finding a star. True, I have devoured the weeklies and their ‘Frankie Coke up the Nozza’ puns and the reported trials and tribulations of Kelly and Tulisa, but not once did I feel compelled to lift the phone and vote for an act – which I am sure was the original aim of these talent shows.
It remains to be seen whether Little Mix will break the curse of the previous few winners (Joe McElderry anybody?) and I hope that they do – it would be nice to have a bit of ‘girl power’ back in our lives (and not of the Cher Lloyd variety) But whatever future lies ahead for the girls, and the inevitable 3 other contestants who will be handed a record contract, this year’s series has certainly provided a lot of talking points (as per below posts!) We certainly won’t be forgetting the drama that Kitty brought in a hurry, nor the weird and wonderful outfits of Misha B, the controversy surrounding Frankie and his ‘singing ability’, the sudden re-instatement of Amelia Lily and the cries of ‘FIX’ that followed, the many strange lip movements of Craig and, of course, the fitness that is Gary Barlow.
“The British have a knack for comedies about social awkwardness. That’s only natural, given that we have a knack for social awkwardness full stop.” This quote is taken from an article published a few weeks ago in The Telegraph, reviewing the new Channel 4 comedy ‘Fresh Meat’ and examining why us Brits (or some 2,352,000 of us who tuned in to watch the first episode) get a certain sort of masochist pleasure out of watching people squirm uncomfortably.
Ironically this show premiered around the same time that I started at Maxus; so for my first blog (ever!) I thought it seemed fitting to talk about how it feels being the ‘fresh meat’. Thankfully, my experiences have not been at all comparable to those of the characters in the sitcom. At no point have I found myself rambling on about my Egyptian cotton sheets and so far there has been no sign that Rigby has Russell Brand’s head hidden in her drawer.
Nevertheless, it is always nerve-wracking starting out somewhere completely new – like your first day at school all over again, but your parents aren’t there to drop you at the gate and without the comfort of a school uniform, there is the inevitable panic about what to wear. My first day feels like a very long time ago now and my sleepless night before that first day seems ludicrous because, as I came to realise almost immediately, once you step through those (very heavy) doors, you are part of the Maxus family.
There has been a lot to learn, both on and off my training checklist, but it is surprising how much you can pick up in 3 weeks. I’ve pretty much got to grip with what a TVR is and I know that Stuart likes menus, especially ones with the calories listed on them. One thing that I have picked up on though is how many opportunities there are to learn or OTH (eh!) both inside and outside of the office; whether sat at my desk, in a boardroom, on offsite training or in the pub on a Friday evening, there are always people around that are willing to share with you what they know. As a new starter to media and a London ‘fresher’, this has been invaluable, and often insightful.
All in all, these first few weeks have flown by in a blur of media jargon, planning systems and free Krispy Kreme’s. I am sure that by my next blog I will be a much more seasoned member of the media crew, but for now I’ll just carry on making notes on everything I can and thanking my lucky stars that (so far) no one here has offered me a bowl of “special Munge”.
Last night Maxus fielded a team of 5 (aptly named "One for the Road") at a Mercedes + agencies endurance Go Karting competition at the Daytona racetrack, Milton Keynes. With what appeared to be limited experience amongst the drivers, there was some initial hesitation. Little did we know how event filled the evening would be.
The evening kicked off with a practice session, during which time all team members had to complete at least one lap. At this point Milly discovered ballet pumps were not suitable go kart shoes and that borrowed, oversize trainers give you the kind of cramp that means you cant move your feet to operate peddles. The go kart spent a large amount of time with its nose firmly rammed into crash barriers.
Straight after practice, the heavens opened to what can only be described as a monsoon-like lightning storm. We thought that must be game over. We hadnt counted on the astonishing persistence of the track owners and within 20 minutes of the rain stopping they'd got the track ready. Team Maxus were back on the grid, lining up for the real race - the endurance section, 90 minutes of constant racing, aiming to clock up maximum laps.
Little did we know Paul Capleton was the secret Go Karting weapon. From a starting grid position of 14th, he shot us up to 2nd place during his spell on the wet track ("like driving on ice"). A red light and required ambulance break (nothing serious) somehow resulted in us moving up to 1st place. Victory was in Maxus's sights! An ambulance incident was certainly not enough to stop the race for long and soon we were back in the car, moving onto to the rest of our drivers. Without naming and shaming, things got a little slower from here, with one black flag incident from Team Maxus ("arms and feet out of car") incurring us a time penalty. We fell down to mid table. With a burst of speed in the final few laps, we clawed back up the standings to finish a respectable 7th - and, crucially, ahead of our agency rivals.
In the UK, as globally, social media usage is growing exponentially, making its importance as a consumer touchpoint within a marketing strategy ever increasing.
To quote John Burbank (CEO of Neilsen Online):
“Social networking has become a fundamental part of the global online experience.”
In the UK roughly 1 in every 6 minutes spent online is on a social networking site. Accordingly all BBC News journalists have been told social media must now be used as their primary source of info with the Director of BBC News telling them: “...If you don’t like it ... then go and do something else because it’s going to happen. You’re not going to stop it.”
With some brands this seems to have translated into a race to create presence within the social sphere. The challenge we face is ensuring our clients understand exactly what social media means, the pitfalls and principles of usage as well as the potential benefits before they dive in.
A recent case study - for Nestle - can be held up as a clear example of “when social media goes bad.” The gist of the tale is that the brand – who have not been without their share of controversy in the past – apparently asked for YouTube to remove a Greenpeace video which had quite graphically suggested how Nestle’s use of palm oil harmed orang-utans. YouTube did.
In enraged response to this removal Greenpeace supporters took to Nestle’s official Facebook site in droves. These new “fans” covered Nestle’s Facebook wall with angry commentary, with some changing their profile pictures to nasty variations of the consumer giants logo. Nestle, perhaps having missed the 101 on how to behave in the social sphere, responded on its own Facebook wall to tell “fans” with altered logos that their posts would be deleted, that Nestle in fact had control over their own Facebook page so they could delete as they saw fit and adopting a tone that some commentators have called “juvenile; heavy-handed and insulting.” This approach activated one of the key benefits of social networking – the exchange spread like wildfire onto Twitter, Blogs and Wikis creating a serious PR headache.
Whilst Nestle have now capitulated, publicly apologising on their Facebook page for being rude and confessing that they are “learning” about social media, they still have some 100,000 fans on a Facebook page full of anger to determine what to do with. So how could they have handled this better?
There are some basic principles they should have considered in the first place:
- What are you trying to accomplish with social media?
- Why social media?
- How will it incorporate into the overall customer experience?
- How are you setup internally to deal with it?
- Are you prepared to let go of some control?
- Are you looking at it as a long term project?
- How will you measure and evaluate the results?
It is the “control” element that seems to be the particular fail for Nestle, from the YouTube incident onwards. It is also suggested that, internally, they gave the maintenance job to a junior marketer, hence the tone used in their comments. This should act as a cautionary tale that we can pass on to all our clients – make sure you are prepared before you enter the social media sphere.
The final "Celebrity" Big Brother closed its doors on Friday with Jordan's better half crowned champion to the delight of a reasonably substantial 4m audience. Not quite to the levels of the Shilpa Shetty series but no-one in this years had the same audience pull that you get from violence and racism.
Now, all we have to do is get through a final series of regular punter Big Brother and Channel 4 can finally lay this demon to rest.
For about the first two series, Big Brother was a geniunely interesting programme that could justifiably be described as a social experiment. For a good 5 or 6 series too long its dragged on to easily fill their Summer schedule, with increasingly wierd contestants looking for a platform to dubious fame (Kinga "bottlegate" Karolczak / Michelle "i now present on the adult channels" Bass for starters).
My hope is that, for this Summers they'll return to a mix of people who aren't the most bizarre fame hunters in the country, have a bit of fun with it, wave it a fond farewell and get back to some cutting edge, exciting programming for Summer 2011.
Or does anyone disagree and are going to be sad to see it end?
Gcse and a level time has rolled around again and- bring out the trumpets- its the best results ever. This obviously provokes the annual debate. Are the kids of today the cleverest ever or are exams getting easier?
I'm sure some of you will disagree... But its got to be option2 for me. Education is so geared towards exam results that you can be pretty much told what the questions are going to be and, if your enterprising witha good memory, learn a response by heart to trot out in the exam. That's all very well and good for nailing that a* but how practically useful is that type of learning in the real world and isn't there some relevant skills that should be taught that would equip kids for the rest of their life?
E.g. In maths- why don't they teach you about getting a mortgage and balancing debt rather than algebra?
I'm not belittling the hard work that goes into achieving good exam results, it just doesn't seem the best way to advance the race.
Just a thought. Now where's that gordon brown?
I'm not one for faddy diets.
I'm actually not one for diets at all - a basic philosophy of "eat less move more" seems to work well.
The thing about media, though, is that due to its incredibly social nature it sometimes leaves you feeling, how can I put this nicely, a little bit horrible inside.
So when a currently unnamed colleague suggested following the cavemans diet. I figured, I cant properly slate it until I've given it a go. The principle is, you eat like a caveman would - nothing processed. So - wave bye bye to the bacon sandwiches, dim sum lunches and platter dinners. Hello fruit, meat and... well... anything which has only just left the animal / tree.
This morning I had a banana and an apple for breakfast. I'm already hungry again and its only 9:20. A week? Already feels like a lifetime......
I think this may even have appeared in the BJKEshed before but it makes me so cross wanted to revent. I dont know about everyone else but I get masses of post every week which goes straight in the bin which is driving me crazy. Prime suspects are:
> £500 day "book now last chance for this great price" conferences on some obscure piece of marketing strategy
> Poorly thought out media owner promotional material - how many cardboard pen holders can I possibly make use of on one desk?
Now I know people have to promote themselves ... but in this age of online technology is it totally necessary to make me chuck reams of material away every week? Couldn't a little bit more imagination be used?
I distinctly remember a time in my youth during Sociology when we debated the merits of online dating. Without making me sound old (which in media years I am now) - 13 years ago when this conversation was had internet dating was very much in its infancy. The younger and more judgmental me dismissed it as something for losers who cant meet people in a normal way.
Fast forward to 2009 and now - particularly in London - meeting people via internet dating is absolutely the norm. Sites like match.com / Sarah Beeny's mysinglefriend have not only made online dating cool but are huge media properties with big marketing budgets to match.
Recent conversations have, however, re-ignited a couple of negatives in my mind about online dating::
1 - it takes away the rule of "opposites attract." Because it allows you to be so specific on criteria and do extensive window shopping before you try you might instantly disregard someone who, if you'd met by chance, could have sparked up something really interesting ("Loves motorbikes and photography and is excellent marriage material,,,, er no thanks!).
2 - the grey area of when you should stop dating other people. I have a friend (yes really a friend and not me) who is internet dating 3 / 4 guys. With a couple of these guys she is up to 3+ dates. When I asked at which point it becomes a relationship she sort of shrugged says she's not really keen on any of them for a relationship and they're probably still dating other people too. Very difficult etiquette rules that I dont understand!
Anyhoo. Other than that - I would say online dating has been one of the major plus points about the invention of the internet. It certainly gets around the awkward re-meeting of someone in a bar when you're praying they actually looked ok and that they werent an axe wielding maniac because lets face it, you couldnt' really remember either way on both counts.
The Grosvenor Park Lane had its tables set, the guests were all dressed up to the nines in black tie gear, there was even a celebrity turn-out for the debut of "MAXUS" at the WhatCar? Awards 2009 last night.
Yes, ok, some people may have been keen to know who was Car of the Year, or to hear Jo Brand's witty banter, or to hear our esteemed Mr Gordon Browns take on the recession and the automotive industry.... but im pretty sure that ours was the best new entry....
I can comfortably say a good time was had by all (maybe too good by some people - and a very happy birthday to Charlotte Grove) - and despite several mentions of the dreaded "credit crunch" there was no recession gloom on display.
So - thanks Haymarket - same time next year?
Most of you should be fully aware of the BJK&E charity book club venture - old books for sale available for the bargain price of 50p to Marie Curie in Katy's Office. And we're not talking car boot sale style ancient yellow paged books that nobody actually wants to read, these are actually decent acclaimed novels like as We Need to Talk About Kevin.
So in the spirit of book club sharing, I thought I'd blog about the book I'm reading now.... except ... I've been reading the same book for the last 6 months and I dont think I can bring myself to read anymore. Its called Overtaken by Alexei Sayle. Reasonably witty, reasonably engaging, intelligent enough but nothing in it has gripped me - I would honestly rather be enjoying some trashy chick-lit. I feel wierdly committed to slog through the rest of the book and force myself to find out what happens even though I've forgotten all of the characters names already. Why is that? Although, lets face it, nothing's ever going to be as good as Harry Potter.
What are you reading? What would you secretly rather be reading? Or what book has left a big impact on you?
Big news in the world of Media appointments this week is that Absolute Radio has poached Chris Lawson, Bauer Performance's digital media director, for the brand new role of brand director on the station soon to be formerly known as Virgin Radio.
Virgin Radio Holdings Ltd (including the radio station) was bought in May 2008 by TIML (Times of India Group) - India's largest music and ents group for £53.2million following its sale by SMG.
Lawson's responsibilities will include making an announcement on the new brand name for Virgin Radio, expected within a fortnight. So the big debate, BJK&E and friends is - what would you name it and why? Consider:
- The station has to keep the same genre as previously in accordance with its licence
- The station will still be located in Golden Square
- There is no need for it to have an overt link to "Times of India" in the name
- The "DAVE" phenomenon of TV (if you dont know what I'm talking about read my retrospective futures article) - name can be everything!
- So the name needs to befit one of the UK's biggest commercial stations
- Albion will be helping create the new name so no cheating and asking them
Best / closest answer gets a prize. Possibly.
Being a British sports supporter can often be something of a disappointment. Less said about recent football and rugby efforts the better. However, that doesn't mean that we cant host cracking, world class sports events.... and sometimes even produce the odd home victory...
Take this weekend.
Wimbledon's Mens Finals - not only is Wimbledon a staple of the British summertime but this year the epic Nadal / Federer final was about the most outstanding 5-hour 5-set nail biting game of tennis you could ever hope to see. Who cares that both finalists were from across the European pond? The TV viewing public clearly didn't with a peak of nearly 13million viewers as it stretched towards the post 9pm final - well up on 2007. What shone through was great tennis at a great venue.
Silverstone Grand Prix - Again, a TV ratings winner up on 2007 figures with a peak of 6million viewers cheering Lewis Hamilton to his first ever Silverstone victory. Silverstone has been described as the spiritual home of Formula 1, drawing some of the largest crowds of all Grand Prix events and for Hamilton to offer up a racing master class there is a great day for British sports.
Henley Regatta - anyone who's walked the length of the Henley race during Regatta week has enjoyed classic upper class Britain ... post knee-length dresses for the ladies, chinos for the men, champagne picnics by the riverside, Great Danes dressed in rowing ties, Pimms on tap and even the odd burst of sunshine. Glorious. Who can say who actually won most of the events ... we were too busy enjoying another brilliantly hosted British sporting event.
If the London Olympic Committee could just take a leaf out of these books - then 2012 will really be an Olympics to remember whether as host nation we cover ourselves in golden glory or not.
Now the Summer sun is finally shining - at least for a week - some of my old lunchtime haunts are looking a little bit dark and dejected. It could be time to move onto places lighter and brighter.... being new to Holborn in the Summer where are the best places to indulge in a spot of outdoors media lunching?
My impressions to date:
Truckles : Very close but it's overpriced, under-portion-sized and refuses to allow outside reservations.
The Old Crown: This is probably my favourite local pub but the comforting winter exterior looks a bit dark and gloomy in the summer sunshine. Easier to get a table mind you.
The Plough: Again nearby with some outdoor seating (which gets over the slightly stale inside smell - to put it nicely) but the road tends to get covered in shade by the buildings and lets face it, unless you want your food fried not a culinary classic.
Collective media thoughts on nearby alternatives?
Culture Club - F Comme Faim
The slightly reconfigured BJK&E Culture Club's March activity was a visit to the British Museum to catch a film in the London International Documentary Festival (LIDF) series. The festival boasts 8 days, 8 venues, 80 conversations and as one venue is right on our doorstep it seemed a shame to miss out.
The documentary we were seeing (F Comme Faim / H for Hunger) was described as a passionate & creative exploration of the biology, history, politics and economics of hunger in the blurb so none of us were expecting a light comedy, however, I don't think we were prepared for how shocking and harrowing it was. The subtitled French film worked as a 90 monologue, with a particularly agressive French narrator pointing the finger squarely in each and every one of our faces for the continuing famine that occurs in so many areas of the world. Throughout the film, he would draw different illustrations ... an early one showed one jumbo jet carrying 300 people. The narrator asked you to consider the shock reaction in terms of media coverage etc that would occur if that plane crashed killing all on board... then revealed that the death rate through starvation is the equivalent of 30 jumbos every day, i.e. one person every second.
The film actually made very uncomfortable watching and I found myself squirming in my seat - as everyone from the Pope to people who feed their pets ahead of their fellow man were accused. It has certainly raised some interesting debate since. Without delving too far into the various personal views of famine that have arisen the problem is that this is not a black and white issue with a simple solution, indeed the film made no attempt to offer a solution as to how people can make things better other than eating and wasting less. This initially made me come away feeling frustrated and impotent. I guess there is no easy answer and it is rather encouraging you to think about others who suffer privately away from media coverage and consider how you can help.
Hard-hitting, thought-provoking and highly controversial.
Culture Non Club - Carlos Acosta
On a lighter note, last night I had the opportunity to see Carlos Acosta at The Coliseum.
Carlos is a Cuban ballet dancer - one of 11 children his parents pushed him into it to keep him out of trouble and off the streets. He is now one of the leading names in ballet having performed as principal artist with all the leading ballet companies around the world. He even has his own website:
He is absolutely phenomenal, astonishing stage presence, very impressive physique & a fantastic dancer. The show was so good I could have cried. Critics are saying that, at the ripe old age of 35, his best days are probably behind him ... in which case catch him on stage while you can, it will definitely be an experience to remember.
Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?
Cinema fans read onâ€¦ last night the BJK&E team of crack film buffs attended the Pearl & Dean agency film quiz finals at Vue cinema Leicester Square (see picture below, minus one Mr Waghorn, who transpired to be our resident Marvel expert). It was, unsurprisingly, a fiendishly difficult quiz, ranging from â€œwhat line comes nextâ€ in cult films such as Donnie Darko and The Graduate (with only precise word for word answers scoring points) to the rather girl friendly â€œSex and the Cityâ€ round. Next time I suspect even more swatting up beforehand would be necessary - unfortunately our extensive knowledge of Easten European film c. 1950, went untestedâ€¦.
To sum up the evening I would say a good time was had by all, our pools of cinematic knowledge were well and truly trawled and some new gems were learnt â€¦.if only we hadnâ€™t be cruelly docked a point for a team member answering the phone to their Mum half way through we could have been even higher up the rankings! Can you name the youngest ever person to win an Oscar of sorts? What film topped The Times 2007 scariest film of all times? Which Spice Girl made a cameo in Sex and the City? Which two new villains make an appearance in Spiderman 3? Answers to be revealedâ€¦.