Wednesday, 21 March 2012
But this week, News Corporation is staging a worldwide premiere of “Touch,” a new drama starring Kiefer Sutherland that celebrates the very kind of interconnectivity that will allow the show to start almost simultaneously in 100 countries and territories. In the United States it will appear on the Fox network on Thursday night; in Canada, on Global Television; in Germany, on ProSieben; in Russia, on Channel One.
The worldwide rollout will allow American viewers to react to “Touch” in almost real time with viewers on other continents and in other languages, presuming, of course, that they are motivated enough to do so.
Executives at News Corporation and its competitors say that “Touch” signifies a new way of doing business that attracts multinational advertisers (Unilever is a sponsor of the series around the world) and attacks online piracy.
To Tim Kring, the show’s creator, the shift is stark. In spring 2007, six months after his show “Heroes” started in the United States, he watched hundreds of “Heroes” fans line up for an event in Paris, even though the show had yet to be seen on television in France.
“Every single person there had seen every episode. They had all gotten it illegally off the Internet,” he said in an interview. It was then, he said, that he realized, “Audiences will find these shows no matter where they are.”
The next season of “Heroes” did have a premiere in several countries at the same time. Since then, there have been a few other concurrent premieres of TV shows in multiple countries, most notably in 2010 when the zombieland drama “The Walking Dead” came out in about 120 countries.
It is not easy to pull off. And it is not the right formula for every TV show, since some shows translate in other countries better than others. But the major media companies that own television studios and networks, most of which are growing faster internationally than they are domestically, are eager to try.
“The world is moving in this direction,” said Joe Earley, the head of marketing and communications for the Fox network, who staged a New York City screening of “Touch” on Sunday that linked, via the Internet, to late-night screenings in Mexico, Italy and Turkey.
On stage with his fellow cast members after the screening, Mr. Sutherland answered questions about “Touch” from viewers in those countries and from Facebook and Twitter participants. He had just flown into New York from Russia, the latest stop on a promotional tour for the show that also took him to London, Berlin and Madrid. Rolling up his sleeves backstage, he said, “I’m so jet-lagged that I think it’s canceled itself out.”
The show is a homecoming for Mr. Sutherland, who starred on Fox’s “24” for the better part of the previous decade. By Monday night, he was back in California to tape the final three episodes of the first season.
Mr. Sutherland and Mr. Earley said that the “Touch” rollout resembled that of a movie in some ways because big-budget movies are often backed by worldwide premieres and tours.
Other studios and networks are also trying to accelerate their worldwide introductions of TV shows, as evidenced this month by the Walt Disney Company’s premiere of the new ABC drama “Missing” in 31 territories four days ahead of the opening date in the United States. ABC’s “The River,” too, came on in eight countries within hours of its start in the United States in February.
So far, the worldwide strategy has been favored for dramas instead of sitcoms or unscripted shows. The story lines on “Touch,” a one-hour drama, are steered by a young boy who cannot speak, but can see what will happen in the future. Mr. Sutherland plays the boy’s father. Fox showed the first episode last January as a preview and had about 12 million viewers, a promising number. It is starting, or restarting, the series on Thursday night to take advantage of an “American Idol” lead-in.
But that is just in the United States, which is just a sliver of the show’s overall introduction. In many parts of the world, it will be shown on one of the satellite channels operated by Fox International Channels, a unit of News Corporation. In other parts, it will be shown on unaffiliated channels that have acquired the show.
On Facebook, where conversations between people in different languages can now be automatically translated, the fan page for “Touch” has customized updates for different territories of the world. (The page has only 175,000 fans to date. Many other TV shows have millions.)
The company says that Mr. Sutherland’s tour and the screenings of “Touch” were made possible by Unilever, the consumer products maker that is the global sponsor of the show. The companies declined to say how much Unilever paid, but Jean Rossi, the president of Fox One, the News Corporation unit that orchestrated the deal, said “we think it’s a real template for us going forward in categories like automotive.”
For Unilever, “the increasing globalization of the content people have access to every day” is a “fantastic opportunity,” said Keith Weed, the company’s chief marketing officer. He said that “Fox was looking for a partner who could act at scale across multiple markets.”
Unilever’s products are not placed in the show itself. They are advertised alongside it. Since the company is pitching different brands alongside the drama in different countries, “your step-and-repeat wall’s got to look different in different markets,” Mr. Earley said, referring to the red carpet area where sponsor logos are visible behind the arriving celebrities.
So in Berlin, there were logos for Rexona brand deodorant behind Mr. Sutherland; in London, there were logos for Sure; and in New York, logos for Degree Men.
Friday, 9 March 2012
Only a few years ago, digital marketers might have thought all was plain sailing. After a decade of disruption wreaked by the emergence of the popular web, companies and advertising agencies had finally understood the intricacies of placing online display and search ads.
Yet in the past few years, a new generation of technologies has come along to disrupt once again the way advertisers operate. Led by Facebook and Twitter, and joined by behemoths such as Google and a bevy of start-ups, these Silicon Valley misfits have muscled into the ad business and upended traditional assumptions about how companies should allocate marketing budgets.
In addition to search and display advertising, big companies must now factor in social media, video advertising, mobile marketing and daily deals.
“We’ve gone from display and search to this much longer list,” says Nick Law, chief creative officer in North America for R/GA, the digital agency. “These things are connected, and you can’t do one without the other.”
The promise of these platforms is tremendous. The new world of digital and social media marketing can give companies increased access to their customers, fresh insights into their preferences, a broader creative palette to work with, and additional data and metrics to study.
Yet there are unsolved questions over how best to organise and execute digital and social campaigns. No single formula has emerged, leaving most companies and ad agencies in a state of constant experimentation. There is also lingering confusion over how best to measure the effectiveness of a campaign, and a company’s return on investment.
Ann Lewnes, chief marketing officer of Adobe, the software company, says she pushed the company into digital and social marketing early on. “We saw the insights we could glean from customers, the iterations we could do on a campaign,” she says. “We saw the ability to really, really measure results.” Adobe now spends 74 per cent of its more than $100m marketing budget on digital.
Even for a digital-first company such as Adobe, each campaign is a fresh start of sorts. Ms Lewnes says 20 per cent of her budget is going towards experimental campaigns, and that each product launch requires a different mix of paid, earned and owned media.
Perhaps the largest shift in recent years has been the transition from the one-way, broadcast messaging of television, print and outdoor, to the two-way conversation that social options now allow companies to have with their consumers.
“It requires a shift in your perception,” says Maryam Banikarim, chief marketing officer of Gannett, the media company. “People find it hard to realise marketing is a two-way conversation rather than a one-way pushing out.”
Yet quantifying the effectiveness, and return on investment, of digital and social campaigns, remains a challenge. Rather than tracking click-through and conversion rates as with search and display advertising, marketers are trying to count followers, measure sentiment and analyse purchase intent.
“A lot of people are just measuring their fans and followers,” says Ms Lewnes. “But what’s important are the insights you can glean from the data. Understanding if someone is happy or unhappy with something.”
Social signals obtained from Twitter and Facebook can also give companies real-time insight. When MTV saw there was a spike in online conversations around the news that Beyoncé was pregnant, it added more pictures and stories about the story to its website.
Yet many markers remain dissatisfied with the state of online measurement.
Keith Weed, chief marketing officer of Unilever, the consumer products group that is the second-largest advertiser in the world, says: “Digital is in theory more measurable than anything else, in theory and in practice, but it’s not broad enough yet. What we’ll see is a significant maturation of ROI in digital.”
More insights and creative opportunities mean more work for marketing teams, and can mean increased costs for marketers.
In-house and at agencies, marketers are scrambling to acquire new skills, and add staff to monitor the exponential growth of online dialogue about companies.
“You have to throw bodies at that,” says Ms Lewnes. “There are people who have to monitor it all day.”
Myriad options are also forcing companies and agencies to change the way they work.
“Twenty years ago there were templates,” says Mr Law at R/GA. “Now, we don’t have a typical client engagement. Because media are so flexible, we can get very specific.”
One brand may need a robust Facebook page, while another may call for a strategy of engaging with consumers on message boards, blogs and elsewhere on the web. Such approaches are forcing departments within organisations to collaborate in new ways.
“It’s brought the marketing teams much closer together,” says Ms Lewnes. “They all used to be in their silos. PR was off operating by itself, advertising was operating by itself. Now they’re working together.”
At its best, this can result in truly integrated marketing campaigns, with a unified message being pushed out across television, print, radio, and the web.
“Things really are getting joined up,” says Mr Weed. “The same creative is going to flow across multiple screens.”
Growing access to the web in emerging markets is also allowing for truly global campaigns.
“A few years ago I would be engaging much more of a national base on campaigns,” says Mr Weed. “But Google and Facebook are truly global media companies in a way the world has never seen.”
The amount of money being committed to digital marketing varies widely, with more developed countries seeing a higher digital spend.
Unilever, for example, spends about 35 per cent of its US budget on digital, compared with 25 per cent in Europe, and just 4 per cent in India.
Yet emerging markets could rapidly catch up, as they adopt digital media.
“In emerging markets they’re going to go through these cycles much more quickly than us,” says Mr Law.
And digital advertising is still a small portion of global advertising, accounting for 16 per cent of total spend in 2011, according to ZenithOptimedia.
That figure is growing fast, but television is set to remain the biggest advertising platform, accounting for 40 per cent of total spend through at least 2013.
Managing the growing array of digital and social initiatives has forced companies to revise their relationships with ad agencies, as well.
Unilever reduced its roster of more than 400 digital agencies to fewer than 100, with just 12 lead global agencies, including Razorfish, AKQA and R/GA.
“We’re already fragmenting our spend across different media,” says Mr Weed. “If you fragment, the message you’re making it less cohesive and joined up.”
Technologies are changing fast, and few marketers would claim to know what new social platform might demand their attention a year from now.
Pinterest, the online pinboard and sharing site, is the latest to draw a legion of users – and the interest of marketers – without having proved its business model or staying power.
How this shift in the marketing world plays out will help determine the winners and losers in the years to come. At stake are the valuations of companies such as Facebook, which earned $3.7bn last year, mostly from advertising, and ispreparing to go public at a value of up to $100bn.
Yet some basic trends are emerging, with mobile access to the web leading the pack.
“If the first 1bn users connected to the internet through PCs, the next 1bn will be through mobile,” says Mr Weed, who recently visited a family in the slums of Mumbai who nonetheless had two mobile phones.
Unilever was the first and largest customer for Apple’s mobile iAd marketing platform, and has renewed its contract for a second year.
“I want to get to the future first,” Mr Weed says. “I don’t want to be following my competitors.”
If marketers continue to flock to new digital and social options, Facebook and its social media peers may prove their worth.
Yet if a proliferation of online options fragments advertisers’ spend, or if the promise of social media goes unfulfilled, this moment could one day be seen as another bubble.
Regardless of that, it seems certain that new technologies are destined to change the way consumers interact with brands.
Just as the web reshaped the advertising world a decade ago, the new world of digital and social media marketing is forcing companies and ad agencies to re-evaluate where, how and when they engage with potential customers.
“Ultimately, this concept of digital will disappear,” says Mr Weed.
“My 20-year-old son laughs at me when I talk about online and offline.”
LONDON: Unilever, the FMCG giant, is adopting an increasingly integrated approach to marketing, in recognition of the shrinking division between online and offline media. "Things really are getting joined up," Keith Weed, the company's chief marketing officer, told the Financial Times. "The same creative is going to flow across multiple screens."Ultimately, this concept of digital will disappear. My 20-year-old son laughs at me when I talk about online and offline," he added. "I want to get to the future first. I don't want to be following my competitors."Many of the key players in this evolving landscape have a previously unimaginable reach, offering opportunities for brands to take a highly international outlook."A few years ago I would be engaging much more of a national base on campaigns," Weed said. "But Google and Facebook are truly global media companies in a way the world has never seen. "Currently, Unilever allocates approximately 35% of its US budget to digital, measured against 25% in Europe and 4% in India, where new media is at a more nascent stage.However, the rising uptake of mobile phones among consumers in India and other fast-growing economies will demand a response from marketers, Weed suggested."If the first 1bn users connected to the internet through PCs, the next 1bn will be through mobile," he said.To enhance the coordination of its digital activities, Unilever has cut the number of agencies its uses from 400 to 100, with 12 lead global shops, like AKQA Razorfish, and R/GA. "We're already fragmenting our spend across different media," Weed said. "If you fragment the message you're making it less cohesive and joined up."One key area that still needs to be addressed is proving the payback of new media marketing spend, as the current metrics do not match the potential seemingly on offer, in theory at least."Digital is in theory more measurable than anything else, in theory and in practice, but it's not broad enough yet. What we'll see is a significant maturation of ROI in digital," Weed said.
Monday, 5 March 2012
Speaking at the Advertising Association Lead 2012 summit last week, the man behind the world’s second largest advertiser issued a strong plea for marketers to accept their responsibilities and help build a more ethical, sustainable future. He said: "Marketing has, from the very beginning, with William Lever, Henry Ford and others, been about building brands based on serving consumers. I wonder whether if, in the 21st Century, we’ve got marketing too much as a sales machine, and we need to think a little bit more about how we get back to serving consumers in the breadth of what needs to be done?"
He added: "With capitalism being at a crossroads, I think marketing’s at a crossroads – quarterly capitalism has led to quarterly marketing. We need to make sure marketers of course worry about ROI and P&Ls, but also look more towards the long-term and the issues of the long-term, and get away from short-termism."
Since the start of Unilever’s 2011 financial year, the global conglomerate retreated from publishing its full financial results every quarter in favour of every other quarter.
Unilever positioned the shift as an attempt to provide a better understanding of the top-line performance of the business, while ensuring discussion of its full financial results is focused on the more meaningful time period of six months.
Last week, Weed told Marketing ahead of his presentation that he believes the industry has "an incredible opportunity to work alongside consumers to shape positively the lives of generations of consumers to come; to make marketing noble again and achieve sustainable growth – sustainable economic, environmental and social growth".
Noting that the world’s population is due to grow from today’s seven billion to nine billion, or even nine and a half billion, by 2050, Weed stressed the need to "reinvent marketing for the new environment".
He noted such population growth was the equivalent to "a new London every six weeks from today until 2050", and said the challenge is that "we’ve only got one planet".
"What are we going to do when we start running out [of resources]?" he asked. "The estimates are that copper and lead are going to run out in 20 to 25 years, iron ore is going to run out in our life time. Already we see big problems with water around the world, by 2025 two thirds of the world will have water stress – there will be 1.8 billion people with water scarcity…
"The real challenge is how do we get to sustainable consumption, how do we decouple supplying all that demand that is going to come from that extra population and at the same time not drain our planet?"Weed's comments follow January’s launch of The Unilever Foundation, a partnership with five other global organisations (Oxfam, PSI, Save the Children, UNICEF and the World Food Programme) dedicated to improving the quality of life in developing markets through the provision of hygiene, sanitation, access to clean drinking water, basic nutrition, and enhancing self-esteem.
The chief marketing officer concluded his address to industry leaders with a frank industry assessment, designed to resonate beyond the bottomline concerns of Unilever’s shareholders."We call people consumers," he said, "and for an industry that calls people consumers I think we have to think a lot harder about consumption, and the impact of consumption in a resource restrained world. As the cliché says, ‘if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem’."
Thursday, 1 March 2012
According to Gavin Patterson, the president of the AA and the chief executive of BT Retail, the ad industry is set to add up to 20,000 new jobs to the UK economy by 2014, but the growth potential of the industry is still being overlooked by government.
At the conference, Patterson argued that, with more support, even more jobs could be created. He said: "We have the skills, the technology, a thriving creative sector and a fantastic heritage. If we give advertising's infrastructure better focus and support, we will be able to grow our business faster and build our global competitiveness."
Ed Vaizey, the Creative Industries Minister, told delegates: "British politicians are proud of what the advertising industry has achieved and it's our job to talk more about the success of our creative services industry. But it's the job of the advertising industry to showcase its successes to politicians so we have all the tools to promote what you do."He denied any suggestion that the ad industry had lost political support.
Cilla Snowball, the group chairman of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, told delegates that, as the industry finds itself at a moment of real change, it must choose between death and glory. She urged the industry to put aside its silos and egos to achieve a clearer, more confident voice.
Speaking on behalf of clients, Unilever's chief marketing officer, Keith Weed, called for marketers to take a longer-term view of their work. "Quarterly capitalism has led to quarterly marketing," he said. "We need to start building for the future." He added that marketing had become too much of a sales machine and needed to refocus on servicing consumers and creating sustainable consumption.