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Archive for August, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Cheat Sheet

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Love it or hate it, there is no escaping the social phenomenon of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Whether it be the news feed full of hilarious (and not so hilarious) videos, the snarky comments about wasted water or the raised questions of what will be done with the money – everyone is talking about it.

So here is your cheat sheet of what you need to know, including (of course) my own biases towards the challenge.

1. What is the challenge?

Essentially the challenge is a simple dare, you have 24 hours to dump a bucket of iced water on your head (with video proof) or donate to ALS research (generally all are encouraged to donate even if they have done the challenge). At the end of your video you nominate others to complete the challenge and so the cycle continues.

2. What is ALS?

The experts are best left to explain this one. Straight from the official ALS website: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralysed.

Sounds horrible right? And the outlook is not positive for those diagnosed. Basically patients end up trapped in their own bodies and there is essentially no treatment. The one drug available (riluzole) only increases life expectancy by three months, with the typical prognosis three to five years.

And because only a few have to suffer, it’s largely ignored by big pharmaceutical companies.

3. Who is doing it?

In short, everyone. Including really famous people: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon and even Kermit the Frog to name only a few.

4. The criticism (and criticism of that criticism!)

Haters gonna hate. And everyone likes to throw in their two cents, even if it means bringing down what is at the core, a hugely successful charity promotion. And yes, it is clogging up my news feed too.

There have been a number of criticisms, a few main ones –

• The challenge encourages slactivism (people making videos but not actually donating) Please refer to point 5 for my response to this.

• The challenge is a waste of water. Not that those making this criticism go as far to question people’s showering habits or whether they leave the tap on whilst they are brushing.

• Why should ALS get all the love, there are plenty of other worthy charities that deserve attention. This one is hard to argue with, but it is also hard to prove that just because someone has donated to one cause that they will never donate to another.

• What will the ALS do with the money? Barbara Newhouse (the association’s CEO) has said the they will “invest prudently in helping people with ALS and their families and caregivers in the battle against the disease, while resolutely pursuing all avenues to extend, improve and ultimately save lives”

• Health risks. Dumping iced water on your head isn’t so great if you have a heart condition, or if you aren’t the most coordinated person. Unfortunately there have been a few seriously hurt from partaking in the challenge, and there have just been those that are a little bit special:

Of course, some people have chosen to raise their criticisms in relatively diplomatic ways. In Matt Damon’s video he chose to use recycled water (aka toilet water), rather than clean water. And really, as a cofounder of (an organisation trying to close the gap on the 8 hundred million people in the world who don’t have access to clean drinking water) you can see where he is coming from. He uses his video to promote the fact that the water that people in western countries have in their toilets is actually cleaner than the water that most people in the developing world have access to. Well played Matt Damon, well played.

Or how about Lincoln Humphries, an Aussie news reader who gained attention from his response to his ALS nomination. “I’d like to nominate everyone everywhere who has more than what they need to donate what they can to the people who need it most because that’s what charity is about, not putting yourself through mild discomfort with a bucket of ice and water” and to finish up Humphries reminds viewers that “Ice is for keeping fresh produce fresh, beers cold and nipples hard”

5. The Results

According to the ALS website “As of Tuesday, August 26, The ALS Association has received $88.5 million in donations compared to $2.6 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 26). These donations have come from existing donors and 1.9 million new donors”

The New York Times has reported people shared more than 1.2 million challenge videos on Facebook between June 1 and August 13 and mentioned the phenomenon more than 2.2 million times on Twitter between July 29 and August 17.

The money, the shares and awareness all speak for themselves but I think the best example of the results and how this is impacting real people is hearing/seeing the reactions from sufferers of ALS. Anthony Carbajal, who was diagnosed at 26 has spoken out about how much the campaign has meant and acknowledged the criticism, “It wouldn’t be successful if we weren’t irritating a few people right? I promise your news feed will go back to cat videos and ‘Let It Go’ covers, but right now the ALS community has the main spotlight and for once in my entire life I’ve seen it in the forefront”

Watch his heartbreaking story and then see if you think the criticism is necessary:

Another sufferer, Angelina Fanous, in an article for Vice may have said it best, the worst part of the ice bucket challenge is the people criticizing it.

For me, the most unfortunate thing for us southern hemisphere-ers is that this phenomenon blew up in our winter! But a small price to pay for contributing to such a worthy cause.

Jane Clinch, Digital Director Vizeum Sydney

“When to take my name off the Door”

Friday, August 15th, 2014

This is Leo Burnett’s famous retirement speech which he made to his staff in 1967, 47 years ago.

To summarise, he lists instances in which he would demand his staff take his name off the door and find another name for the business, here’s an excerpt.

…“When you stop building on strong and vital ideas, and start a routine production line.

When you start believing that, in the interest of efficiency, a creative spirit and the urge to create can be delegated and administrated, and forget that they can only be nurtured, stimulated, and inspired”…

If you haven’t read it, I recommend you do as there are a lot of points he makes that can be easily applied to other industries, such as Media.

I was reminded of this speech a few days ago when I read a comment from an established media Director in the industry talking about industry churn.

I see a prominent link between Leo’s speech and what we do as an industry, Let me elaborate.

As clients face pressure to do more with less money and then apply that same pressure to us, it’s easy to get deeply involved in the detail of a TV buy, or optimising an online campaign and not come up for air for a very long time – It becomes very easy to fall into the ‘production line’.

As an industry, we are very good at equipping staff with the tools and training to fulfil our job requirements however what is sometimes missing is the bigger picture – the ‘Why’ – and this is a huge omission.

This is especially important for the younger staff in our industry because if they do not understand the ‘why’, they will eventually become uninterested in what they are doing.

This is not from a lack of motivation, it is from a lack of understanding how their role fits into the greater agency mould and just how crucial running those competitive reports are (for example).

It doesn’t cost anything to explain the bigger picture, and it helps everyone to understand how their role impacts the results the agency achieves.

“Nurturing, stimulating, and inspiring” our talent is beneficial for all parties as it creates a happier and more productive working environment, whilst reducing churn.

Just as importantly, getting into the habit of asking ‘Why?’, and telling other people Why when delegating work will help to create those campaigns we all get excited about.


Because if we read a client brief with this mindset we are more likely to think about it from a bigger picture perspective which may mean instead of briefing out spots and dots to a publisher, we speak to them about the goals our clients are trying to achieve and try a more holistic approach.

The Kit Kat Mail campaign is a classic example of this.

In Japan, the confectionery aisle of a supermarket is extremely cluttered, and Kit Kat was constantly battling for the little shelf space they had.

The client brief told the agency they needed to increase SOV in traditional media in order to increase sales, and hence achieve a greater presence on the shelf.

The agency had the ‘Why?’ mentality when approaching the brief and instead of bombarding traditional media with messaging, they approached it very differently.

The strategy was to simply be where no other confectionery brand was, and therefore achieve 100% SOV in that medium.

That medium was Japan post. Mailable Kit Kats.

Kit Kats. Through. The. Mail.

Consumers could send a Kit Kat which has a postcard on the back of it that they could write on.

It had never been done before and in fact, Japan post had never associated with a brand ever before.

The really clever part was the timing of the campaign.

‘Take a break; take a Kit Kat’ is the tagline we are all familiar with.

However in Japan, Kit Kat sounds familiar to the Japanese phrase “Kitto Katsu” which roughly translates to mean “Surely Win”.

Surely Win is a term of good luck in Japan and is often used by students before their exams.

So, Kit Kat mail was launched a few weeks from when High School students sat their major exams.

Friends and Family from all over the country were mailing Kit Kats to each other.

I don’t need to tell you what happened to their sales figures, and this is without a supermarket in sight.

Now, someone else may have read that brief and accepted it on face value without asking ‘Why’ and would have got stuck into looking at how to out shout their competitors in mediums already saturated with confectionery advertising.

I am in no way saying we need to do this for every brief, but just keep it in mind.

The next time you ask someone to do something, tell them why.

It will make a huge difference not only to the rate of churn, but to the quality of work produced.

Kit Kat Mail case study:

“I’m kind of a big deal, well on YouTube anyways.”

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Many of us dabble in a bit of YouTube during our lunch breaks, checking out the latest cat video or the latest kid who apparently says something funny, but there is much more that YouTube has to offer. YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world, with more than 1 billion unique visits each month and over 6 billion hours of video, almost enough for an hour for every person on Earth. In an era where even the most amateur of people can create, produce and publish content, there has been a dramatic increase in the popularity of Video logging or Vlogging over the past few years. Vlogging is very much the more attractive cousin of blogging, using flowing imagery (video) in a way that is far more engaging to the viewer and stands out much more than text on a page. These Vlogs can take the form of any type of content, from videos on ‘How to’, fashion tips, general entertainment or just someone’s opinion on a particular subject.

With YouTube having around 2.8 million video views every minute, some Vloggers are pulling audiences in the millions, video views in the billions and making some serious cash at the same time. Some YouTube users have managed to make quite the career out of Vlogging, with significant audience numbers and making enough money to pay the rent and then some. One YouTube user in particular PewDiePie is a massive YouTube sensation who achieved YouTube popularity by making gamer videos, using a fairly standard webcam and low production values. PewDiePie now has almost 30m subscribers, almost 5.5 billion video views and it is estimated that he makes around 2.1million dollar annually (which is a low estimate). There are a number of other YouTube sensations including MachinimaCollegeHumour, & Michelle Phan to name a few. Machinima started as a video game animation page, but now produces some high budget original programming that has 11+ million subscribers and around 5 billion video views. CollegeHumour, who do original comedy videos, have 2.7 billion video views and 7.5 million subscribers and Michelle Phan creates videos on makeup application and has around 6.7 million subscribers and almost a billion video views, she’s also a spokesperson for Lancôme now.

The potential here for marketers to use this form of content creation is obviously very enticing, with some Vloggers holding higher audience numbers than the finale of all reality TV shows put together. However, it is important to consider that Vlogs are not as credible as TV shows, but there may come a point when TV just doesn’t cut it anymore. Marketers need to consider widening their video investment as the connected globe widens their media consumption.


Leveraging Holiday Instaspam

Monday, August 4th, 2014

It seems to be that time of year (i.e. Winter) where 95% of my social feeds are populated by smug folk holidaying in sunny places on the other side of the world. Well pedicured toes in the sand, #nofilter beach sunsets, QANTAS Lounge check ins, etc. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about!

I’m not claiming to be exempt from this urge to Instagram my little heart out whenever I realise I’m in reach of free wi-fi on holidays (the dream)! It may just make everyone else’s Summer holiday snaps all the more noticeable when I’m back in the real world.

The point is, social networks have changed the way we holiday – including the planning, the anticipation, the holiday experience itself and the post-holiday re-entry. Facebook and Instagram in particular have become personalised, intimate travel agents in their own right. It is no coincidence that you’re seeing the same places pop up so often in your feed. Post a stunning series of photos of you and your friends in Mykonos? That’s going to work a lot harder than a piece of traditional paid marketing, the proof of which will be evident within your feed in months to come.

Certain brands have embraced this shift in the holiday path to purchase, and have really used it to their advantage. Cape Town Tourism developed a Facebook app which mimicked what the user’s Facebook feed would actually look like on a holiday to the city. Not only was it a great way of showcasing the destination as per the user’s tastes, but it was also a very naturally shareable concept which overtly played off our tendency to flaunt our holidays socially.

Also using Facebook integration, Carnival Cruise Lines allowed users to define a few key holiday desires which fed into a ‘movie trailer’ of their holiday, pulling in personal details to ensure they were truly able to picture themselves on a cruise. Again, this campaign was very much born from the brand recognising Facebook as an essential holiday dreaming/planning tool for their audience (consciously and, at times, subconsciously).

A great indication of the validity and scale of this social holiday planning trend is Trip Advisor’s investment into their Facebook app. The Trip Advisor app is the 9th most used globally, with over 10 million monthly average users. It’s also fully integrated on site, which adds a powerful word of mouth layer to one’s holiday planning experience. It’s undoubtedly helping to combat the backlash the site receives over fake or jaded reviews – when the review is coming from your friend, it changes the game. Unbelievably, 90% of my own Facebook connections have the Trip Advisor app and I can’t see how that won’t change the way I aspire and plan to see the world!

Any brand with a connection to travel needs to think about how they can best leverage the holiday sharing which is organically occurring. Even brands outside of the category are recognising the huge opportunity. Telcos, for example, are answering the demand for overseas data both in terms of Australian and International businesses. You’ll notice that both Optus and Vodafone have been pushing their “$x/day” all-inclusive roaming packages in recent months, and overseas providers such as O2 are active in social media with clever, tactical communications:


There are of course challenges around this, one of which is the need for more of a global marketing approach than a siloed approach. The brands who can overcome this may hence be those who are here to stay.

In summary, if your friends aren’t seeing you living it up on #holiday, it may as well have never happened. Tongue-in-cheek as this statement may be, think about the last time you went on holidays and showed off your photos & experiences after you got back!

By Bobbie Gersbach, Digital Manager at Vizeum