Blah, Blah, Halloween.

Apparently it's halloween (It's weird that nobody has put out a halloween themed ad in a desperate attempt to appear topical, always on, 24/7, cultural currency, blah, blah, blah).

Check out Cyanide & Happiness' halloween special. It's actually funny.

It's Been Emotional

I have been wondering lately about brands, and the things people in branding and the like say about them - like what they are and how they build them. I love that don’t you? They always say “we build brands.” But do they?  Anyway I had these thoughts and I have to confess that I haven’t torture tested them, so be my guest. #youjustdontgetit

I have often heard it said that people buy brands due to their emotional attachment to them. You have probably heard similar. If that is so and people buy things that aren’t much different from other things due to their emotional attachment to the brand, aren’t we (Advertising) skirting around a con game of emotional manipulation?

Reader, what brands do you buy that are discernibly different from an own label brand; be it ketchup, beans, mango chutney, bread or ice cream? Do you believe that those items you buy that are branded are qualitatively different from own label items? Or are you falling for their emotional branding?

If branding and marketing people are out there blabbing about how brands use emotional messaging in books, blogs and lectures then won’t people catch on and change their buying behaviours?  A bit like once you know how an optical illusion works you don’t fall for it over and over and over again.

So, if brands are more keen today to get people emotionally engaged with their products in some way (because this is deemed the best thing to do, over say - telling people why your product is actually better than other makers for some reason or another), won’t it all end in tears?

If brands give up on being superior in some practical or tangible way, won’t own brands start to eat away at their market share?  There is an article here on the recent growth of own label products and a Mintel report hereI’m sure that some of that growth is due to current recessionary pressures.  But some of it is also due to the rising standard of own label products too. And so I wonder once those consumers have made a behaviour change to buy an own label product and it stacks up on taste for example, will they go back to branded items?

See I think many of today’s brands have a good story to tell, regarding why they really are better. If they stop telling those stories, be it in a charming and imaginative way, they may end up losing market share to own labels.

Added to this is the trend of own label products copying brand leaders style of product packaging. So in-store it is harder to be distinctive. 18% of Which? members said “they've deliberately bought an own-label product because it resembled a branded one...of those, 60% said they did so because the own-label was cheaper, while 59% wanted to try it to see if it was as good as the branded product.”
A Which? spokesperson said: “Own-brand products can provide good value and several have topped our tests to become Best Buys.
The very reason for my initial wondering, was that I just bought some Waitrose own brand shower gel at the bargain price of £2 for 2. I think it is as nice if not nicer than Molton Brown’s that cost £18 a bottle. And yet I confess I wouldn’t be best pleased if I got own label shower gel as a Christmas present whereas I would be if I got the Molton Brown stuff.

It's been emotional.

Animals In Advertising Resource

Hello there kind reader! To help our advertising brothers and sisters in the pursuit of excellence, we thought it would be useful to put together a list of animals that have been used in advertising, and the brands and products they've been used to promote. I'm sure we've got a couple wrong, and forgotten many - so please let us know in the comments and we'll add to and amend the list...

Virgin - Bear, Owl
John West - Bear
SSE - Orangutan
PG Tips - Chimps
HSBC / First Direct - Duckbilled Platypus, Lizard, Mongoose
O2 - Dog, Cat
Fox's Glacier Mints - Polar bear and Foxes
Budweiser - Horse
Lloyds - Horses
Anchor - Cows
Mr Kipling - Elephants
Diet Coke - Kittens
Andrex - Puppy
Dulux - Dog
Ki Ora - Crow, Dog
Crusha - Cat
Compare The Market - Meerkat
Churchill - Dog
Taco Bell - Dog
Sofa Works - Sloth
Laughing Cow - Cow
Cravendale - Cat
Money Supermarket - Cat, Elephant
Asda - Chick
Walls Sausages - Dog
3 - Cat, Pony
McVites - Kittens, Owls, Lemur
Freedom - Goose
Easyjet - Rabbits
Caramel - Bunny, Bee
Frosties - Tiger
Coco pops - Monkey, Alligator
Esso - Tiger
Google chrome - Squirrel
Tesco - Dog
Schweppes - Jaguar
Cartier - Snow-leopard
Bosch - Tiger
Bristgas - Cat and Mouse
Betfair - Octopus
Freeview - Budgie, Goldfish
Thinkbox - Dog and Rabbit
Duracell - Bunny
Guardian - Pig
Co-op - Sheep
Hofmeister - Bear
John Smiths - Dog
Mercedes - Chicken
Geiko - Lizard, Gecko
Lamei - Lamb
Cushelle - Koala bear
Muller Rice - Bear
Bounty (kitchen roll) - Bear
Cadburys - Gorilla
Aldi - Mice
Carling Black Label - Squirrel
Coca Cola - Polar bear
Barclays - Hamster
Guinness - Fish
Kit Kat - Fish
ITV digital - Monkey
Wolf Blass - Eagle
Privatisation of British Gas - Snake
Budweiser - Toad
BT - Chameleon
Ibis - Rabbit
Guinness - Snail

Saving Mr Banks

Last night peppermint tea was brewed, slippers were donned, and TV fired up for a good old Sunday evening movie. I chose Saving Mr Banks - a touching story behind the making of Disney's Mary Poppins and life of it's author P. L. Travers.

In short - P. L. Travers was approached by Walt Disney and asked if he could make her novel Mary Poppins into a film. For 20 years he tried to persuade Mrs Travers to sign over the rights, but time and time again she batted him away. Eventually she agreed to meet Walt and the team working on the adaptation in California - but only if she signed off the script and treatment would she allow the film to enter production.

We learn throughout the movie that the novel Mary Poppins was derived from events and characters from P. L. Travers' own trouble childhood - and so when a high flying billionaire like Disney comes along looking to add another brick to his candyfloss empire, she understandably feels incredibly protective of her story. Mr Banks, Mrs Banks, Jane, Michael and Mary Poppins were all her family and deeply personal.

There were countless bust ups during the early readings of the script, and many differences in opinion about styling and treatment - but ultimately a trust was formed between Mrs Travers and the Disney team. Only when she knew that the team truly understood the book and her family were in safe hands did she really allow the creative process of bring her idea to life.

We see this kind of situation every day in Advertising. Whether a family run business or CEO of a multinational, when it comes to putting what you love on show for all the world to see - only once an understanding of what both parties bring, and a mutual trust between client and agency is formed - can an idea be realised to it's greatest potential.

Turned out Dick Van Dyke was awesome as Bert.

Peter Brookes

As part of their Unquiet Film Series, The Times have released this fantastic short about Satirist / Cartoonist extraordinaire Peter Brookes. Perfect friday morning viewing.

You can find his books scattered across Amazon at all sorts of insultingly low prices.