Ideas and energy: Taking a different perspective

The marketing and advertising industry’s top brass have returned from a busy week of networking, events and for most, a bit of partying at Cannes. Joking aside, the event, which has been a contentious subject as agency belts are tightened, is still a brilliant opportunity to look at some of the best work created over the last year.

I was particularly pleased to see Sussex Safer Roads low budget road safety campaign ‘embrace life’, pick up a bronze lion. When D&AD blogged about this advert back in March, I loved it. It demonstrates that safety messages can be delivered in a positive emotive manner rather than always through scare tactics. I’m not the only one to feel this way either as the Facebook group ‘Embrace this’ has a growing fan base over 6,000 people and the Youtube video has almost 9.5 million views.

This week I also stumbled across VW’s brilliant fun theory project. The idea is based on the fact that there must be a more fun way to do things that are not always liked. So how do you get more people to take the stairs in the subway – you make it into a giant piano of course! Or what about how to get people to wipe their feet on the mat as they come in? Make it fun by turning it into a DJ deck with scratch noises.

Both the Sussex Safety advert and the Fun Theory project are successful and provoke a strong reaction because they disrupt what is expected. There is also an argument to be made that even the most negative people are drawn to positive representations of things. For example this week Gideon Spanier wrote his regular Evening Standard column on behavioural economics and referenced choice architecture which has essentially shown that presenting things in a different way can lead to real behaviour change.

It’s not just R&D for product development and advertising that can benefit from disruptive thinking. There is also a convincing argument that disruption in business models and strategy can also benefit your company. Just take a look at the buzz around Clay Shirky’s cognitive surplus book and the various columns that have looked at how this idea may change business (e.g. Julie Myers and this discussion on WSJ). So when you’re stuck puzzling over something this week see if you can turn the problem on its head and take a different perspective.

Has Bavaria’s ambush marketing backfired or is FIFA pursuing diminished returns?

It was announced last week that FIFA is to file a civil case against Bavaria, the brewer behind the now famous ambush marketing activity at the World Cup, as well as filing potentially very serious criminal charges against two Dutch women who are alleged to have organised the stunt.

Clearly commercial sponsorship should be taken seriously. A lot of time, effort and money goes into these agreements, 35% of the budget of an event like the World Cup can be made up with sponsors’ cash, and FIFA absolutely has a right to protect its own revenues and the investment of its offical event partners.

However, and this is what makes it so fascinating from a PR perspective, obviously FIFA are risking negative publicity for being too draconian – we now have two women who have a jail term hanging over their heads for wearing  orange dresses at a Holland match. But also, the greater the vehemence with which they complain, the greater the value of the stunt itself as it will only create more coverage. So the more FIFA try to discourage ambush marketing, the more they encourage it.

What will ‘the man on the street’ think about the above image?

One thing that must also be considered by FIFA’s PRs is the nuances of the situation. Ambush marketing, (other examples being Linford Christie’s Puma branded contact lenses at an Adidas sponsored pess conference, or cans of Pepsi being handed out by attractive women on rollerskates outside a Coca-Cola branded stadium) is more likely than other activity to appeal to the general public. It’s creative, generally amusing, and more often than not, a little bit clever and a little bit fun, and can be seen as contributing to the celebratory occasion.

FIFA must proceed with caution. It will be all too easy to see things from their sponsors’ perpective alone, with Budweiser certain to be calculating the financial value of another beer brand getting five seconds of abstract airtime. But from the PR perspective it’s about considering the impact on the public consciousness in the real world.

In fact, had FIFA kept their response a little further behind the scenes,  the cameras may have merely lingered on the group of striking Dutch supporters before moving on and the vast, vast majority of the watching public would have been none the wiser.

Limelight’s great escape

That wonderful time is upon us…

No, I don’t mean summer.  And I don’t mean the new liberal conservative love-in.

It’s the annual Limelight away day!  Cue gasps of delight and joy.

Well, maybe not, but safe to say it is one day in our calendar which we all look forward to with great anticipation.

So tomorrow, we will be turning off the phones and the email, and dedicating a whole day to Limelight. It’s so important, especially in the wake of a recession, for businesses to dedicate time to their staff, to find out what they enjoy, what they think could be done better, what they want back from the business.

It’s also important to dedicate time to ensure that the whole team has clarity on where the business is going, what the goals are, and the part that each individual plays in achieving these goals.

For us at Limelight, this time spent is invaluable, not only because it ensures everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.   More importantly, it means that we can be more motivated, deliver more ideas & energy, and ultimately the best possible work for our clients.

And of course, it’s a nice excuse to sink a couple of bottles of wine or beer together afterwards.  Not that we ever needed an excuse…

Another year, another resolution and lots of change (like it or not)

Reading the papers this morning one theme that seemed to spring off the pages was that of change. Maybe this is not particularly surprising as it’s the start of the year and many people will be busy trying to change habits with their new year’s resolutions.

Nevertheless, change does seem to be featuring stronger on the agenda than in previous years. To start the leading article for The Guardian this morning was about the proposed change in rules regarding product placement, and the backlash it’s creating. But the reality is that commercial television is under huge pressure. They need to adapt, change and evolve…. or risk extinction to online services.

Another example of the force of change can be seen with a study by the Princes Trust that suggests that unemployed young people struggling to find work could potentially be “scarred for life” by their first experiences of the job market.

There were countless other examples. Including a look at how musicians are being forced to change how they work in order to survive. The piece says fans are expecting more, which means musicians have to do everything from giving away locks of their hair to playing a round of golf with fans for money. Nothing and no-one seems immune with even the football refusing to conform to the normal world order.

Seth Godin recently blogged about the relevance of change in this decade – declaring it a choice between embracing change or suffering the consequence of frustration. Strong words indeed!

I don’t want to belittle the issues of product placement or graduate unemployment, which clearly both need careful consideration. But I think there is a lot of value in looking at these issues through the embracing change perspective. For example there have been some great examples of people using creativity to stand out in the job market such as the creator of ihiredjeffclark.com who built a website rather than sent out CVs.

With a new government looking likely to come into power in the first half of this year, wanting things to stay the same is pretty futile. We may not always like it but it seems that for now at least, the idea of embracing change is the best New Year’s resolution you can have.

Christmas drinks at Limelight

Ideas and energy have possibly been in shorter supply here than usual this morning – but perhaps you’ll forgive us, as last night marked the second Christmas party at our offices. Friends of Limelight gathered from far and wide to mark the festive end of a challenging, busy but brilliant year.

As everyone compared successes,  war wounds, and exactly how much holiday they still hadn’t taken (15 days was the record), it was a welcome relief to relax with a glass (or six) of wine and start to think about, if not actually begin, the Christmas wind-down. You can check out all the photos from the night here.

We promise a normal service will resume shortly….ideas, energy and lots more Christmas drinks to come!

Ideas and energy HQ