Being in marketing, I’ve long been fascinated about how news travels fast, be it a celebrity’s untimely death or a supermarket that has got a beer offer wonderfully wrong.
Following the riots in the UK, the LSE and Guardian joined forces to look at who was involved and the underlying causes. As a by-product of their study they uncovered how rioters knew where and when it was all going to kick-off thereby enabling them to be in the right place at the right time to join in. The powers that be were desperately trying to block Twitter and Facebook as, like me, they have been conditioned to believe social media is the new driving force behind the rapid spread of news. In actual fact the rioters, who were mostly under 30 ignored social media for the simple reason that anyone and everyone could see what was going down and relied on another (recently much maligned) company/device to spread the news. Step forward the keenly priced BlackBerry Curve and BBM, a free messaging service developed with security conscious businesses in mind. Apparently nearly 50% of rioters owned a BlackBerry and took advantage of very low monthly subscriptions to spread the word at virtually zero cost.
Thinking this through if a business can convince its customers to give them their BBM pin numbers they can ping out an offer and it won’t cost them anything! Or what about recruiting brand ambassadors with lots of BBM friends? The problem with these ideas is I can’t work out how to monetize them which means it takes pride of place alongside all of the other how to make you poor quick ideas I’ve accumulated over the years (one of which could have been Skype if I hadn’t been beaten to it). How does Skype make money and why doesn’t Wikipedia cash in and take ads?
Cup of tea please
As an aside to the story above, one huge advantage of BBM is that it’s saved me from shouting over the music to get our 15-year-old down for supper, now I simply BBM Flo and she arrives in seconds. The downside is she’s learnt that BBM is a great way to ask for a cup of tea! Teens don’t use e-mail which is very bad news for the likes of Yahoo who have a history of getting it wrong. They once turned the Google boys down on the basis that the more pages people search the more advertising revenue a search engine can generate. The flaw in their argument is very few people bother to go beyond the first page and Google make a lot of money from companies wanting to be top of the list when anyone searches using a word or phrase that is related to their business.
The clever boys at Facebook have the private message thing covered and on revenues of around $6 billion dollars a year the company is valued at $100 billion which is a multiple on earnings of zillions.
Another company that is good at being valued for lots and lots of money is Google and I liked their National Day competition, well done to the winner. As a bit of festive fun type Let it snow into search, sit back and applaud.
Are social objects the future of marketing?
Nameer our brand discovery guru is a big fan of Hugh Macleod’s blog Gaping Void which combines arresting cartoons with strong opinions on a variety of marketing topics. His latest blog is actually text heavy as Hugh elaborates his thesis that Social Objects are the future of marketing; it’s well worth a read although I’m not 100% convinced. However the use of a picture to tell a story reminded me of an excellent documentary I watched about Life magazine, a journal that told the news through stunning pictures. Pre-dating digital cameras by many years the photographers were true craftsman and captured some of the most memorable photos ever – see below. It’s the same for advertising, while I love a good TV ad for me a billboard shows off the true talent of a creative team.
National Day celebrations
I loved the way locals and expats got into the spirit of National Day. There were some amazing house and car decorations. The Burj Al Arab dangled a flag inside the hotel from top to bottom and badged their Rollers while Nouha from our creative team embellished her mini with my favourite car embellishment.
André Villas-Boas is an honoury Brit
André has only been in England five minutes and he already speaks English better than the natives which puts Britain’s veto of all things European into perspective. Answering Gary Neville’s criticism of his Brazilian centre-half David Luiz (he described David as playing like he was being controlled by a 10-year-old on PlayStaion) he came out with “You cannot speculate or invent based on assumption. Some people can have more or less an idea. But not him. He cannot know. I’m normally indifferent, not watching the telly to see what these people say. But I was watching the television at that moment, and I was gob-smacked.”
Wow, telly and gob-smacked, that’s pretty damn impressive for a newbie.
Going back to Britain’s European veto (the single currency is toast anyway so the veto is pretty irrelevant except as a City of London and right-wing press pleaser) my favourite bit was Nick Clegg’s refusal to sit by David Cameron in parliament. Fair enough me thinks as I remember back to when I borrowed my good friend George’s conker back in primary school and he took the hump. End result, we both spent a lesson in the naughty boys corner never to sit beside each other again.
App of the month
An oldie but goldie, Shazam is my choice for this month simply because I haven’t mentioned it before. How it tells you the artist and song name of whatever you’re playing is too clever for words. The free version does everything I need (and BlackBerry is also giving it away for free at the moment), maybe the premium edition can turn me into a rock star.
Where have all of the good films gone?
With the Dubai Film Festival just coming to a close it suddenly occurred to me that I haven’t seen a good film in ages and ages. All of the great franchises seem to have come to an end with nothing arriving to replace them (unless you count Mission Impossible which I don’t). Come on guys hurry up and bring us the next Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Toy Story, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future . . . Come to think of it, what about making the next two parts of Philip Pullman’s brilliant His Dark Materials?
Finally a band worth watching will be performing in Dubai(ish)
No sooner than I was moaning to anyone who would listen about every concert being staged in Abu Dhabi and reminiscing about the halcyon days of Gig on the Green, Desert Rock etc, than it was announced that Kasabian are playing at the Sevens stadium on February 10th. Be there or be square!
Festive brain teaser
Whose dad is shown in this picture? First correct answer gets a tea and carrot cake in the new Lime Tree that has opened in Media City.