Interview: Virgin Mobile Australia

28 May 2009

My mission to speak with some of the smart marketers around the world today leads me down under to Australia, where I recently had a chance to speak with Chris Jones, head of acquisition marketing at Virgin Mobile Australia.  Chris is responsible for creating awareness of Virgin Mobile products and services, showcasing how they can make someone’s life better.  As with previous guests Chris tackled “5 Big Questions of Creativity.”  Here we go:

1.    Why is creativity important to your brand and business?  We operate in a competitive category where it’s easy to be drawn into price wars with the competition.  As a challenger brand operating with fewer resources we have to leverage the power of our ideas to gain cut through in a very crowded marketplace, and that’s where creativity is a major contributor of our success.  This becomes an even greater priority in light of the recent merger activities in the telco space.

2.    Where do you find creative ideas/thoughts for inspiration?  We look to understand the consumer’s mindset to understand what’s important or relevant to them right now.  With this as a foundation, we then try to generate ideas based on what we believe the consumer is open to accepting or wanting to hear at this point in time.  Listening to the customer in this way creates a platform from which strong ideas can make their way to the fore.

3.    What do you do to encourage/nurture creativity in your business/campaigns?  The pace of our business often makes this a difficult task.  We try to create an environment where employees feel empowered to take ownership of their campaigns.  In addition we really look to our agency partners to push us and push our thinking.  We’re not where we’d like to be with this yet but we’re moving in the right direction.

4.    Can you share an example of a creative campaign that really stuck with you, and why?  I am very impressed with Turkcell, a wireless provider in Turkey and their award winning efforts around gnctrkcll, a 15 million strong youth mobile club.  They’ve created a new revenue stream that adds value for their customers and for brand partners trying to reach their customers through the mobile phone as a platform.  The concept and campaign are very innovative and creative leveraging products & technologies that are widely available (ringback tones & their delivery platform) in a new way that better meets the needs of their consumers.

5.    Can you provide one short phrase or sentence of your definition of creativity:  the application of insights to deliver value for consumers

Virgin Mobile continues to be a force down under, and with Chris and the rest of his team leveraging creativity to its fullest, it’s easy to see why.

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Sydney Is On Fire

27 May 2009

On fire with creativity that is.  Last night Sydney’s new multi-week, multi-event smorgasbord of creativity exploded on the city as part of “Vivid” – the largest lights, music and ideas festival in the Southern Hemisphere.  The festival is a playground of stimulation and inspiration for any creative mind, turning city monuments such as the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and more into canvases for lights of all varieties to come to life.  Here are some of the highlights:

Luminous.  The ambient maniac superstar Brian Eno has been let loose on the city, with amazing light and art installations appearing in his wake.  Visuals that make your head spin and your brain in need of a scratch to fully take in the views all around you.

Fire Water.  This one I can’t wait for, it’s an artistic recreation of the 1814 story of a convict ship – The Three Bees – that exploded into flames right on the harbour.  The event promises “fire sculptures, floating lanterns, light installations” and some amazing visual feasts re-enacting the explosion.  Yes, this one you have to grab some popcorn and a front row seat by the harbour.

Smart Light Sydney.  Crazy light sculptures, projections and more advanced technology used in clever and unique ways will illuminate various parts of Sydney with works from all over the world coming down under.

Creative Sydney.  This is an extensive lecture series with lectures/events hosted by a mixed bag of people from various backgrounds and philosophies all doing their best to showcase the brilliance of the creative community in Sydney.  After hosting last year’s event I’m thrilled to just be an attendee of what will no doubt be an incredible series of conversations.

As Europe is celebrating an entire year of Creativity and Innovation it’s great that Sydney is also showing off the creative smarts of the city.  If only every city around the world would showcase the power of creativity, just think of the world we’d create.

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Power of Visuals for “Homeless” Animals

26 May 2009

A friend of mine in Toronto let me know of a great campaign showcasing the power one image can have to tell a story.  A new agency called “Reason Partners” decided to use its brainpower to raise awareness for environmental change and its impact on wildlife habitat.  The result, a campaign that stops people in their tracks and forces you to look at the world in a whole new way.  We all have seen homeless people on the street and either look the other way or just don’t block it out in general.  The team at Reason Partners dropped in homeless animals in place of homeless people, providing haunting visuals that can’t help but tug at your heart strings.

This is another great example of the power of visuals and telling a story in a simple way, engaging people in a way that sucks them in as they try to figure out what is going on.  At first you are trying to figure out what product is possibly being “sold” in the visuals, but when you figure out there’s no sales pitch you can’t help but really take in the power of a homeless moose on the streets or a fox in a box.  The campaign site provides simple links to organisations helping the environment and the wildlife, which you can’t help but want to click on, naturally motivated by the emotions you are feeling from the photos.

Great to see brains in action to change the world, not just to sell more things.

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Toyota Turns Up The Volume With “Rock The Space”

25 May 2009

Providing a solid example of why MySpace still has a place in the marketing mix, Toyota unleashes “Rock The Space” – a competition for unsigned bands or solo singers to win fame and fortune in the form of a recording contract and massive exposure on MySpace.

The competition is pretty straight forward; bands submit an original MP3, design a demo tape on the site and submit their music.  In July MySpace Records will select five finalists and then members of MySpace will vote to select the winner.  In a nice twist, the finalists will be given an advertising budget to create and place banner ads on MySpace to help secure votes.  The winner will be announced in September and get premium placement on the MySpace Music Home Page.  The campaign complements Toyota’s ongoing effort on MySpace – “Toyota Tuesdays” – a day when the company gives away free downloads on its MySpace site.

I’m hoping/assuming Toyota has some street teams out and about raising awareness of the competition in bars and clubs where aspiring talent may be performing as well as malls and beaches and concerts where youth will naturally be out and about.  Outreach to music blogs and forums would also help drive awareness and traffic.

There also have been a number of artists that have been discovered on MySpace, including Colbie Caillat and Lily Allen.  It would have been great if Toyota was able to enlist the support of these gals or any of the other discovered talent to leverage in any media relations outreach – providing a credible ambassador for the campaign to highlight the reality of being discovered on MySpace.

Overall a good campaign to check out – simple, to the point, spot on with the audience and a solid incentive to motivate bands/artists hoping to make it big to start by rocking the space.

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“Reject The Recession” Scores For Small Business

14 May 2009

Australia’s top morning news program – Sunrise on Network 7 – recently unveiled an extremely clever campaign that grabs the GFC by the neck and body slams it to the ground with their rallying cry of Reject The Recession.” As with lots of countries around the world Australia has been impacted by the global financial drama going on and is having or is about to have (depending on who you talk to) some type of recession.  But providing yet another example of Aussie’s optimistic and “give it a go” attitude, the new campaign by Sunrise empowers and encourages the country to get out there and beat the recession out of Australia.

The campaign – Reject The Recession – makes it extremely easy for businesses to get involved and for consumers to benefit.  It goes something like this – if you are a small business (those with under 20 employees) you sign-up to a directory of companies rejecting the recession and pledge to provide a 10% discount to any member of the Sunrise Family that comes into your store.  The Sunrise Family consists of people who sign-up with their name and email to get info from the program and special offers from advertisers (a type of club).  Once companies sign-up they are listed on the site along with any type of information or special offer they want to include (and contact information).  They also download from the campaign site a “Reject the Recession” poster that they display in their store (with Sunrise branding and the mention of the 10% discount for Sunrise Family members).  Genius on all fronts.

Why I love it?  Lots of reasons.  First up, the campaign positions Sunrise as a program that supports the local small business, the heroes of the country (and there are lots of them).  Second, Sunrise looks like they are offering the 10% discount to consumers.  Third, huge word-of-mouth happening as the amount of businesses participating is already at more than 7,000 (it was about 4,000 last night), so the word is out there and people are listening.  Fourth, Sunrise gets free advertising space everytime a company signs up and prints out a poster to display in their business.  Fifth, huge database builder for Sunrise – who wouldn’t want to get 10% off stuff just by signign up to a club.  Sixth, low environment impact – no mass mailings, no brochures, etc.  And finally, Sunrise uses their national broadcast reach to keep driving participation and awareness.

A brilliant campaign across the board.  One of those “I wish I had thought of that” campaigns.  A great one to think about when developing your next campaign.  Go Sunrise!

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Hot Rugby Guys Getting Naked

13 May 2009

This one is for all of the ladies out there who need a hump day pick me up (you are welcome in advance).  We all are quite aware of the theory that “sex sells,” and I think the team at adidas in New Zealand has just proved it with their new campaign site called “Jersey Swap.” It’s a simple idea (again, always the best) that has been brought-to-life masterfully by the adidas team — pick one guy wearing one jersey and pick another guy wearing another jersey.  They exchange glances and take their shirts off – unveiling their athletic bodies in the process – and throw their jersey to the other.  That’s it – jersey swap, brought to you by adidas.

The campaign site – beyond the jersey swap element – provides a fun way to create a personal poster of any of the players (with the ability to write your own message on it) and the chance to buy a jersey and win a ticket to a game and the possibility to really swap jerseys with one of the stars.  Love it!

Yes, it works for several reasons.  The first, sex sells.  The second, a subtle reminder that adidas is behind some of the greatest athletes involved in some of the biggest sports in the world.  The third, the pass-along factor is extremely high, especially in the circle of ladies in my office.  Fourth up, the subconscious effect it has on women watching, that maybe the men in thier lives need a new adidas jersey (that they can take off) for their next birthday.  And finally, as mentioned before, it’s simple.

A great example of creative, smart thinking in action.

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Bed Jumping Around The World

12 May 2009

Bed jumping – I was a rock star at it when I was little and its lucky that a four-city event called the “World’s Biggest Bed Jump” wasn’t in Australia as I would have stolen the show.  The event took place last Thursday to raise awareness of InterContinental Hotel Group giving away a bunch of free nights, and bunch in this case means 5,000,000 free nights in 4,000 hotels in 100 countries.

The campaign went visual – creating huge, giant worthy beds with built-in trampolines and placing them in New York’s Brant Park, Convent Garden in London and locations in Shanghai and France.  And, to drive some additional media interest, InterContinental rounded up some Olympic gymnasts and trampolinists (is that a word) to grab the attention of people walking by, and then invited people to come on and have a jump for themselves (and if you did jump you also got an iTunes gift card for 10 free songs – nice touch).  And yes, the Pointer Sisters “Jump” was played loud and often throughout each event.

People who came to the event were directed to two campaign sites (that link to each other) one is GetAFreeNight and the other is WorldsBiggestBedJump.  On the Free Night site you can register to get up to four free nights by staying at a number of the groups hotel destinations.  And the website is worth having a look at for more reasons than just seeing people jump on beds.  It’s a great example of a social-media driven site, with multiple videos from YouTube on the home page, updates via Twitter and a Flickr photostream – a multimedia smorgasbord of content.

Overall the campaign ticks the boxes of a success effort on multiple fronts – going to the people with something that is fun and entertaining (the huge beds); leveraging social media to extend the campaign effort and visuals; having some type of free offer to drive added interest; bringing in some level of celebrity (with the Olympians); and a fun twist of a simultaneous, multi-city event.  Definitely worth getting out of bed in the morning to check out.

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Reebok, Cirque du Soleil Fly With Jukari

11 May 2009

“Just got back from flying around at the gym, me loves jukari.”  This is the tweet I read from a friend of mine in Los Angeles the other day which had me scratching my head and immediately tweeting back – flying around, jukarti, explain? Turns out there is a new fitness craze, well, a craze that the good people at Reebok are hoping takes off and moves the brand that brought the world Step Aerobics back in the spotlight.

The name Jukari has something to do with “to play” in Italian, and after watching some of the videos of it in action it looks like a bunch of fun.  It works with a trapeze type swings with a 360-degree swivel point that provides a sensation of flying through the gym (with the greatest of ease).  Jukari was brought to life by the amazing brains at Cirque du Soleil – a brand that provides instant credibility in the world of flying and probably helps in convincing people to give it a go.

Since I’m living in Australia, where Jukari hasn’t landed yet, I couldn’t try it out firsthand, but I definitely was able to find lots of places to find out about it.  Reebok has gone hard on the social media front, with Jukari flying across YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.  I couldn’t seem to find out if there was any type of national unveiling/launch – like setting up Jukari above the ice skating rank at Rockefeller Center (what a visual) for a Today Show appearance – so not sure how it made its debut.  My friend in LA said it just showed up at her gym one day and of course she had to try it out (and is now getting addicted to it).

Time will tell if Jukari takes flight, but the campaign definitely is working its social media muscle and provides a great example to share on how a campaign can work these new channels.  At H&K we call it the Octopus Approach – put your brand and activity out where the people are online already (the tentacles) and give them a reason to come back to your site (the head).  Now, get flying!

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Friday Fun With Wordle and Balls

08 May 2009

I’m sure its been proven somewhere in the scientific community that Friday afternoon playtime is necessary if not required, providing a way for your brain to transition from a hard work week to the casual weekend.  If it hasn’t been proven then I think I may need to apply for a research grant and do it myself.

But until I make time to do that, I’ll go on the old saying that “there’s nothing more practical than a good theory” and provide some Friday fun that has the potential to let your brain prepare for the weekend.

First up, Wordle.  On Wordle you cut and paste text from entire documents or blog feeds or even your delicious bookmarks and turns all of these random words into crazy word clouds.  You can see from the visual above – a Worldle of This Blog – how it works, providing more weight and size to words repeated more often than others, creating a very cool way to get a different type of summary of what kind of stuff I write about here.  I’ve started using it to look at the underlynig messages in famous speeches or even news releases, providing a visual way to see what the person was trying to say.  One recent news release produced big words for “strategy” and “care” and “future” which was spot on as it was about a new charity program for a client.  You can change color, directions and fonts for hours of fun.

And lets talk about balls for a moment, dropping balls.  No, not those kind of balls (get your mind out of the gutter), Dropping Balls is a very cool game from Google that was discovered as part of the company’s Chrome Experiments – an ongoing open search for cool things programmers can create using Java and browsers (the stuff that makes stuff work online).  At first it seems very simple, but if you start trying to make a song or keep as many balls as you can on the screen you’ll find an hour has gone by and you are still playing with balls . . . it happens.

Hope these two Friday distractions help provide an easy transition into the weekend.  And please don’t visit these sites unless its on Friday, it just wouldn’t be right for your brain on any other day.

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Music Lovers Celebrate “We Are Hunted”

04 May 2009

Let’s kick off the week with an amazing example of creative thinking in action that also is extremely simple and will have you wondering why you didn’t think of it first.  Today’s focus:  a new website called “We Are Hunted” that rocks in multiple ways.

As Madonna once sang, “Music makes the people come together” and more and more these days the people all meet up online, searching for their favorite new artists or for up and coming bands, for the music that everyone will be listening to tomorrow (we just want to hear it first).  There are millions and millions of pages online that talk about music and artists and what is hot and what is breaking and it can all be extremely overwhelming, not to mention time consuming.  The amazing people behind We Are Hunted have answered the prayers of music lovers everywhere, providing a simple and fun way to find and celebrate new music all around the world.

The site at its core is an online music chart.  But the creative brilliance of the site is actually its an online music chart that listens to what is happening in online music across blogs, social networks, forums, Twitter and P2P networks to chart the top songs online.

Most of us are used to charts based on number of albums sold or more recently, number of downloads, and the likes of Ryan Seacrest in the US and Kyle & Jackie O in Australia counting down the hits.  Most likely the hits on the radio are ones you’ve heard, and heard, and heard.  Now, with We Are Hunted, we can actually look for music based on online buzz, passion by fans and overall pockets of excitement around the world around new music.  The charts (singles and bands) are updated hourly, as close as real time as you can get (for now).

The site is extremely simple and to the point – simply scroll through visuals of bands and click on links to band sites, fan pages or how to buy their music.  And, thankfully, each song is streamed on the site in its entirety so you can quickly hear what just may be your next favorite song.

Readers of my blog know that I’m a big believer of ideas that are simple but powerful.  A lot of time we think of big, complex campaigns that turn out to have so many moving parts that it’s easy for something to fall down and ruin the whole thing.  Thankfully, efforts like We Are Hunted are alive and well, reminding us to keep it brilliant but simple.  Music to my ears!

!!
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