Less ads, more brand platforms, better products. That’s the thinking from the world’s top marketers. Coca-Cola is backing a content strategy and Nike has reduced advertising spend by 40% over the past three years in favour of making stuff (even as the total marketing budget has steadily climbed upward to hit a record $2.4 billion last year). Smart. Brand experiences come from products, platforms, from touching and feeling and maybe even living a brand. Creating awesome brand experiences is really hard and takes more than just ‘technology’. The ‘content’ – as it’s so often put – is the hardest part. In Dave Trott’s words:
You don’t watch the telly when it’s switched off. And you don’t listen to an iPod, CD, or a vinyl unless it’s got some music on it.
Storytelling. Creating an enduring experience. Having a big idea that’s really good. Being useful and solving problems. Innovating with marketing and products. Baking the messaging into the product and delivering on the promise. Building an audience of genuinely interested people. Reaching customers. Retaining customers. Empowering advocates. Pivoting when the product doesn’t fit the market anymore. These are some of the challenges. Pulling it off takes time, some cash and a good belt of genius.
So how should agencies respond and adapt? The best direction I’ve seen is from Winston Binch of Deutsch LA, whose ‘Setting the digital course forward‘ post a few months back had me nodding the whole way through. Winston’s set the course more permanently now with a new service from Deutsch LA called Inventioni.st.
Inventioni.st feels like a product development lab and lean startup accelerator mashed up and I really like the vibe. I love how Bud Caddell (SVP, Director of Invention) expresses the mission on his blog.. I kinda got it from Inventioni.st, but I really get it after reading Bud’s post. The most powerful parts from Bud:
We’re not a replacement for your advertising, we’re a booster engine for your business. In most institutions, 90% of strategic plans are never realized and 70% of change plans fail. CMOs need quicker wins. We work in 5-day idea sprints, 45-day prototyping cycles, and 6-month product launches.
I also get it after checking out ‘The official compendium of inventions that inspire us‘ at Inventioni.st. Take a look and you’ll see where Inventioni.st (and the ad industry) is headed. It’s exciting. The mission and model feels bang on to me, and man, what a crew. These dudes are great. If you don’t read their blogs already, go hit up Some things that matter to me and What consumes me. Good luck guys. You’ll rock it.
Tourism accounts for around 10% of Portugal’s GDP. Anecdotally, there are over 300 days of sunshine annually and the nation is referred to as “European California”. It’s also the home of Supertubes and a raft of other world-class surf breaks. The Portuguese Surfing Federation, coastal municipalities and governmental authorities have recently made efforts to establish Portugal’s best surfing regions as global surfing capitals.
As part of this, the recently launched Portuguese Waves website features the country’s best waves and makes a commitment to surfers that they can “come back for free” if they don’t score waves during their trip. It’s the biggest doubt every surfer has going into any surf tip. Portuguese Waves has removed the doubt. A simple idea. But that’s not what’s great about it.
Portuguese Waves seems to have launched alongside the Rip Curl Pro, a world tour surfing contest currently underway at Supertubes. There’s an ad promoting Portuguese Waves on the event website. It’s also receiving a stack of airtime on the event’s webcast, watched by millions worldwide including a big piece of the surf traveller target market. Surf commentators are discussing how consistent the waves are in Portugal. Surf travellers are tuned in across the globe. Portgual’s growing on the surf travel rader through the voice of Rip Curl.
In the Portuguese Waves fine print the “come back for free” offer is limited to 20 people. There are plenty of other conditions. But this doesn’t matter, and the 20 trips may never be claimed (there are waves in Portugal most of the time). The simple truth, the thing that makes this campaign a great idea, is that Tourismo de Portugal has borrowed the voice of Rip Curl to tell surfers around the world that the waves in Portugal are always good, and they’ve given them a reason to believe. It’s not a big spend. It’s not an elaborate idea. Brand sponsorship isn’t new. But webcasts are pretty new (good, watchable webcasts with big audiences, that is). Which webcasts, podcasts or online videos are your target market watching and trusting right now?
Wantful is a beautiful, thoughtful and carefully crafted experience. The homepage immediately communicates what Wantful is, who it’s for and why it’s awesome. Artwork, photography and copy is convincing, strong and crisp. The repeated ‘Get started’ call to action at the bottom of the homepage (pictured) persuasively re-enforces the proposition and previews the product collection. Move through to the ‘mad libs’ sign-up form, the welcome page with upcoming occasions and gift selector. Note the interactions, the way the design anticipates your next step, the clear and comprehensive copy all the way through to the questions and about pages. The details are well executed and communicate care, precision, sophistication and perfection. Details matter.