Tag Archives: Olympics

Unordinary Thinking No. 37: Finding fun in failure (aka The Customer Games)

With the anniversary of the London 2012 Olympics upon us, I thought I’d look to see if there is any chance of replicating that sense of euphoria which engulfed us last year. ‘I decided to take on the role of the sporting gladiator and find some games out there that I can compete in’.

First I tried the ‘stop the pump on zero’ game where you attempt to stop filling up your car with petrol on exactly zero-zero on the pence indicator. But since the price of fuel has rocketed up so much, the dials move too quickly to get the petrol to stop at the right point any more. So I started looking further afield. I realised quite quickly I didn’t need to invent anything. There are already a host of consumer games underway which I can take part in. Here are three of my favourites.

The Which? games

Championed by Which? the latest craze in customer experience is ‘beat the call centre’. Customers are encouraged to try various tactics to get past the dreaded IVR and talk to a person. A host of tips to ‘break the system’ have been submitted. They include:

–          ‘call the sales number’ – no-one gets turned away when they are a prospect it seems

–          stay silent and you get rerouted to an operator

–          calling from abroad so the international code overrides the IVR coding

It’s interesting how a poor customer experience can lead to such customer engagement to combat it.

And we can look to pure fun for the inspiration behind weq4umy favourite consumer solution in this space. Whenever I’ve been to a theme park with my family we’ve valued the time we have there so have opted to use the virtual queuing system. We are not taking anyone’s place in the queue because an electronic tag is queuing for us and telling us when it’s our turn to go on the ride. This means we can maximise our time elsewhere getting more out of the day – perfect.

WeQ4U has taken that example into the world of call centre waiting to find a way of minimising a less enjoyable experience. WeQ4U is an app that will step in for you and queue so you don’t have to. Taking the painful part of the interaction with your telco or utility provider away from you, but like the theme park queue-bots, it informs you when you need to step back in line. I wonder what the difference in Customer Satisfaction scores is between those who actually queue and those who virtual queue?

Instabug games

instabugConsumers like ‘smart’ solutions which help them have their say, get their way but don’t reshape their day. Another great example of this is a new ‘de-bugging’ app from Instabug which activates when you to shake your phone in frustration when an app doesn’t work and informing the makers.

A pair of 22-year-old Cairo University graduates behind Instabug designed the app to create a bug notification system for the app developers which is triggered when the device is physically shaken. “It really enables greater collaboration between developers and users. Now it’s fun to report bugs.”

A very low level co-creation experience but again it highlights consumers openness to ‘play the game’ under the right circumstances.

E.ON games

A much grander example is the E.ON initiative from last year. If you want to really see how much of a sport you can make your business E.ON prove you can go some way. It’s no secret that getting consumers engaged with ‘The Green Deal’ is a tough ask. So E.ON created a Channel 4 series ‘Home of the Future’ and invited a customer family to equip their house with all the latest energy saving devices to highlight how the savings outweighed the cost and make their lives better.

eonThis idea led to the E.ON innovations hub where customers were invited to get inventing new energy efficiency solutions. The competition ran last year and resulted in this gem of a grand final winner.

Steve McNair “Eon Care Sense – Technology Helps the aged and vulnerable” 

Steve McNair saw a role for E.ON in helping us all care for ageing or vulnerable people in their own homes. Smart sensors could detect unusual patterns of energy use (only usually thought about as a way to save money or energy) that might suggest a problem for that vulnerable person in the home, and alert family members or care workers. Simple but a stunning piece of customer gaming using a benefit of the technology it wasn’t intended for.

Whilst most look studiously at fixing customer experience, it’s worth remembering that the most effective relationships are those where the customer experience can be described as enjoyable. A failure or broken experience could lead to something amazingly good. It might seem like a tall ask for some sectors but E.ON prove you can get customers to engage. Let the customer games begin.

Posted by Christopher Brooks.

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency. We put customers at the start and the heart of the business strategy.

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers. We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

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For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548.  And you can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris 

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Unordinary Thinking No.34 | Creating brand warmth with a zombie

Big names. Big events. Big Business.

Sponsorship agencies are always on the lookout for successful properties to associate with their clients. Events don’t come bigger than the Olympics where Visa’s prolific association generated a 49% (Interbrand) consumer connection between brand and event. But it’s not for the fainthearted or small budget holder at a quoted £61 million for a 4-year deal. If it proves a key contributor towards Visa’s increased competitive dominance of debit payment schemes across Europe, it will be qualified as a sound investment.

santander

If it’s not events, sponsorship agents can seek endorsement from famous faces instead. Most notably in this space the recent appointments of superstar Santander brand ambassadors Jensen Button, Jessica Ennis and Rory McIlory. These are not just a set of sporting mannequins draped in logos. The trio are being made to work for their fee with direct product promotions as well as brand endorsement.

And when not in ads, they can be found in Santander ISA statements. In my recent statement Santander has promised if Rory wins a PGA tour I will get an extra 0.1% interest on my savings. Not the reason I took the ISA out, but an engaging way to reward my loyalty all the same. Let’s hope 100% Rory success hopefully breeds 0.1% success for me.

With so many brands competing for our attention through these sponsorship properties has success become saturated? If so where would a brand manager look next to create brand attention?

The Gate (Edinburgh) gets grizzly.

So if all the big properties are taken up or require 8 figure sums to secure, how can you still achieve stand out? The answer is to be creative in your thinking and creative in your execution whilst still capturing the hearts and minds of your target audience.

With that in mind, how about sponsoring a disaster instead of a success? An unordinary thought, but one which is creating a storm for established marketing agency The Gate from Edinburgh.

Nonline-Header-Image

Here’s the idea… Deadinburgh: It is claimed Edinburgh will never be the same again, as The Enlightenment Café host Deadinburgh. Billed as “the only safe haven in Edinburgh to avoid an unknown pathogen virus ravaging Scotland’s capital”, guests of The Gate are invited to a unique evening of experiential entertainment where they will role play at being ‘one of the last uninfected citizens in the UK. Guests have hours to decide how to save mankind’. As the night unfolds The Gate’s guests will be ‘working with eminent scientists to learn how closely the fictional world of zombies resembles the real animal world in order to stop the virus.”

Blending the Gate’s creative talent and the Enlightenment Café’s dramatic approach to theatre has produced what promises to be a memorable experience. An event which The Gate hopes turns this particular disaster into another success for it’s business.

Should you be interested in attending the experience there are several public shows between 19th and 21st. Tickets are still available.

To stand out, be creative.

Are there other brands out there achieving stand-out from such an innovative creative experience? Or are The Gate in a league of their own by standing out from the crowd as well as reaffirming their creative class.

Inspired thinking from the team from Edinburgh. At Lexden we look forward to seeing how this brand activation initiative converts over the coming months.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

At Lexden we work with brands to attract and retain customers. We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, build memorable customer experience strategies and create engaging value propositions.

Don’t forget to sign-up to our new Lexden newsletter Putting Customers First

For more information about how we can help your customer strategy please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com , or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris

Customer Experience: The Ultimate Game Changer

 

I get to spend many of my working days facilitating ideation sessions for marketing clients. The focus is often on finding new ways to encourage consumers to emotionally engage with brands. This can be through value propositions which almost always leads to initiatives around customers experiencing the brand when they are at their best. If the brand gets the opportunity to make a deeper connection with the consumer it gets permission to possibly shift perceptions and encourage behavioural change too.

For these work shops I to use real brand case studies and popular culture examples to illustrate what great or poor  looks like. Borat has often appeared – poor. As has the Flow scene from The Hustler – great. I have a high regard for Dove and B&Q also as beacons of excellence to draw inspiration from. But from now on these example will be on the silver medal place. For I have found a new gold example – and it’s the London 2012 Olympics.

Here is a spectacle which only weeks ago the media frenzy was centered around the unforeseen problems. But over the last 2-3 weeks something quite beautiful has happened. The media has shifted column inches and opinion from a focus on failure to one of fulfillment. Given the way the story can be crafted to suit the journalists viewpoint or publications agenda, that’s no small feat. So what is different about this story which means many commentators are twisting 180 more swiftly than Beth Tweddle? In my opinion, it’s  back to the point I started with. When consumers experience the brand at it’s best, it creates a deeper memory connection than any naysayer can hope to achieve.

I attended the games so have seen how in this instance how the experience was delivered. As we arrived at the Olympic Park with great expectation and some concern about organisation (fed by the media I add), we expected some hiccups. But from the first, “Welcome to the games. This will be a great day in your life” comment from a chirpy (and they were all chirpy) game maker volunteer outside Stratford station, we knew as consumers, this experience would create such a positive impression that all other views held would melt away. In a digitised world, whether you have a retail presence or not, human interaction is key for brands – and here they got it so right. I met a volunteer on Wednesday back in his civvi outfit as a researcher. He was full of praise for the organisers and the training he received. He we also given a new pair of Adidas trainers and a Swatch watch. What a smart move – tipping the odds to ensure the volunteers felt proud and looked together creating an army of brand ambassadors.

So with the mood of the nation euphoric the media had to concede there wasn’t a negative story people would want to read and they had to change direction. These  consecutive issues of The Week illustrate perfectly how quickly media mood shifted. From a ‘can we pull it off?’ headline to a ‘the greatest show on earth?’ and finally to a ‘Britain’s Golden Games’ (note without a question mark).

Looking back why did we ever doubt it? Well because at the time we were being bombarded by messages of pessimism from all media corners. But as soon as we experienced it for ourselves and heard back from friends and family, we as consumers came to our senses and trusted our own judgement again.

The memories of the athletes achievements will linger for a lifetime. The legacy of the Olympics will spread through schools across the land and rejuvenate parts of East London. For me as a marketer, this example reaffirms the ‘power of positive customer experience’ and its ability to overpower other marketing messages. Looking back at the occasion the game makers and the venues were the embodiment of the Olympic brand. It all integrated effortlessly (because of the effort put in) to create a deeper connection than any brand prime time TV ads, gamification apps or PR stories typically deliver. 

As Lord Coe would have put i,t had he been a brand manager, “As a brand, when it came to making a deep emotional connection with the customer; we did it right”.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com  or call us on T: +44 (0)1279 902205 or M: +44 (0)7968 316548.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No. 26 – Doing it backwards

I don’t think I am being too controversial if I say that London 2012 has captured the imagination of the country.  Sure it helps that Team GB has done so outstandingly well (and not just in the ‘sitting down’ sports) but if you eavesdrop on the conversations going on in offices and bars, it is the way people are talking about sports which they previously had no interest in-the demure girl in my office explaining the intricacies of the boxing scoring system or my mother in law talking about triathlons.

My equivalent is the men’s high jump which I was captivated by last night.  I knew, with their slightly odd, bouncy run ups, that the bars they were clearing were pretty high. However it was only when the commentators explained that the heights these athletes were jumping over were the equivalent of an average house ceiling (take a look up) that it really struck me.

But it was not always this way.  Robert Grabarz, Team GB’s brilliant bronze medal winner, and his fellow competitors have a gangly, courageous, trailblazing American to thank for the heights they can now clear.

In the early sixties in Oregon, Dick Fosbury was a 16 year old high school athlete who was good, but certainly not outstanding at his chosen event of the high jump.  In those days, the status quo method of clearing the bar was known as the ‘straddle’, whereby the competitor cleared the bar by jumping facing forwards and downwards and where slightly shorter, more explosive athletes tended to have success.  With landing areas of sand or sawdust the jumper also needed to land on their feet in order to prevent injury.

Fosbury knew that if he wanted to fulfil his dreams and compete at the highest level he would have to do something different.  He could not effectively co-ordinate the movements needed for the straddle to clear the heights he needed to.  If he carried on doing the same thing everyone else was doing, he would fade into mediocrity.

So he began experimenting with his own technique.  Something which meant he decided to go over backwards when everyone else always went over forward.  Something which went totally against what his coaches had told him and which the leading athletes in the world were using at the time.  Something which leveraged his own skills, physique and attributes.  Something which invited ridicule from those around him, where he was labelled ‘the world’s laziest high jumper’ and like a ‘fish flopping into a boat’.  Something which leveraged the fact that American schools and colleges were starting to use rubber mats, enabling Fosbury to land on his back.  Something which became known as the Fosbury Flop and led to him setting an Olympic record, whilst winning the gold medal at the 1968 Olympics.

The Fosbury Flop is now the established and best technique for all high jump competitors.  But imagine going back to the early sixties where a young Fosbury was being told by established people that it was not possible and that he should keep practising harder on the way it had always been done.  Imagine his bravery, his hard work, his conviction, and the doubts he had to overcome.  It is something to be celebrated.  Just like the Fosbury Flop, many things in our daily lives that are taken for granted now, simply did not exist previously.  It took just one man with some unordinary thinking, using his own skills, and leveraging the latest technology to allow him to do something that was simply not possible before.  Imagine what such thinking could mean for us in our worlds.

I am off to the stadium tonight to watch the athletics.  Lucky me.  What chances that I will be able to say that I was there when Usain Bolt ran his 200m semi-final backwards?

Posted by Ajai Ranawat

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

The Best of a Marketer’s Diary: Jubilee Special

With three union jack waving events back-to-back in the form of the Queens Jubilee, Euro 2012 (more George Cross, than UJ granted) and the Olympics, there’s many streets in Britain that will have bunting up for three months or more this year. With this epic Britishness window comes a flood of marketing activation and communications leveraging the opportunity too.

There wont have been a marketing exec meeting in the land this spring which hasn’t had the, “how can we exploit, I mean celebrate, these occasions?” question posed. And for some this has resulted in effortless and well connecting communications. Whilst other brands have brought us what looks more like lipstick on a pig, or perhaps a corgi is a more fitting reference for the occasion.

Here are a selection of our favourite finds. Please add your own in the comments box below.

First Prize

There weren’t enough pun executions for my liking in the Jubilee advertising season. Rarely is it acceptable, but this is one time when a big slab of British cheese is exactly right. Great work from Buxton Water on this front. And when you get in to the detail of it you see it’s a more interesting proposition linked to an elegant party at the Eden project. Although I found the online experience to find the party details a tad more difficult than I hoped. But perhaps like sunshine on a flotilla parade, getting everything perfect is a bit too much to expect.

Best in class

Pret used the opportunity to do their bit for the streets of London, and I assume the nation. They captured one of the unwritten benefits of a national event; the chance to get your best jacket or frock out and feel good for a day or two. Of course John Lewis got in on the action too, but not with as much of a M&S ‘coronation chicken special’ or Sainsbury’s ‘ham & mustard 2012’ flavour. Just gentle bunting shots, picnic promotions and relevant partner tie ups.

Slap a ‘jack on it’ 

So who hasn’t used the union jack this season? But these two for me personify the, ‘Why not – we’ve got nothing to add, but nothing to lose!’ approach used too often. The first example is from Vaseline and the world of lip balm and the second from the more niche customised radiator market (from The Design Show – exhibitor not captured). And if it’s stretched to these two lesser spotted sectors, you know it’s rife in almost every other!

Retail Royalty

There have been some fantastic explosions of patriotism in retail windows this season. Something the online players have failed to be capture as well. I spent an afternoon in Winchester over the Jubilee weekend and was amazed at the quality of the independent traders efforts. But from a national chain perspective there were a few which caught my eye again and again. Charles Tyrwhitt and Cath Kidston both got the window dressers to create original themes which also pushed product. And every time I walked by them I felt justifiably ‘jubileed’.

Really! 

Finally there are those who majored in ‘Shouty man’ at advertising school, with a minor in ‘How to bring the tone of any occasion down’. Venture photography and the pro’s Paddy Power didn’t disappoint with their ‘Laughing Liz’ creations. Paddy Power also took ‘integration’ to a new level by blending the Jubilee with the Euro tournament in one execution. Talk about stretching the marketing budget that little bit further! Hideous? Possibly. Hilarious? Absolutely.

So there we have it. Of course many more took part. In fact it would be easier to count the brands that didn’t. But these examples above others caught the Marketer’s Diarists attention. Do let us know if you feel you have worthy winners for any of the categories, or indeed categories of your own for us to add.

In due course we will also bring you our Euro 2012 and Olympics 2012 reports too.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands. 

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com orajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

The Best of a Marketer’s Diary (May 2012)

In April we completed our first year of Marketers Diary posts. So we owe you a 2011/2012 end of year results post. This will follow later this month billed as The Marketers 2011/2012 Diary Awards. We will also be bringing you our Jubilee brand bandwagon post observations.

But for now, in time honoured tradition, we’ve stuck with picking our favourite marketing communications from the best brand activation examples out there from May 2012. Or as Ricky Martin might put it the Thor amongst the lesser competitors in the process.

This month we have seen the poster sites and TV screens blasted with a mish-mash of Jubilee, Olympic and Euro 2012 event leveraging ads. Some good, some bad, some just on a different (weird rather than wired) planet. It has almost felt that to not be topical, is to stand out at the moment! So with commendations to Direct Line, Emirates and City of Westminster who didn’t quite make the grade this month, we bring you the winners.

Best Campaign Idea – Wed 2nd May – Stella Cidre

First we had, ‘it’s not cider, it’s cidre’ and now we have, ‘into a chalice, not a glass’. So we move from an execution to a campaign. Nice work agency suit for turning one-off into a campaign with legs (or perhaps it was always meant to be). And congrats to planners and creative too for finding more content to make interesting within campaign theme. Although you might get stuck on ‘bar’ and ‘beer mat’ doesn’t have the glamour that glace commands. This whole package is just popcorn perfect and is doing a brilliant job in detaching the provincial perception of stella with this chic offer. Great all over. Not that I’m a cidre drinker – but I may just be tempted. and then art direction creates a great european art film effect too, adding to the romantic allure.

Best Brand Activation – Wednesday 9th May – P&G

This looks like a very interesting brand activation campaign. And one where I can look at the streets of London to see whether it has had impact – because they should be cleaner. On paper (or rather at the ad agency SPARK session), this idea looks like a perfect leverage of the Olympic sponsorship by P&G….let’s see how it works out in reality – hopefully it lives up to its promise and is more than just extra litter on the streets for the PGCapitalCleanup team to manage. I am sure it will. And will probably sign up myself to experience how it all works….and do my bit.

Best demonstration of an App in print – Thu 24th May – Halifax

This Halifax ad caught my eye initially because it didn’t have a member of staff in it! And then I realised it couldn’t as it’s a remote service. That must have been an interesting ‘brand identity police’ discussion because they are a brand you think about for their personal service, and personal has always meant ‘people’ to them.

But what I really liked about the ad was it’s simplicity, which will undoubtedly have a high perceived value to those in the market shopping for a new home (sadly a segment only slightly larger than The Eldorada Fan Club currently). But as a brand ‘innovator’ and a ‘we do mortgages’ message it stands out. Good work. Most are focusing on the technological wow of smartphone capability, especially in FS. The winners here will be those that move from technological to psychological propositions – because whether its tech or not, that’s what always gets consumers engagement.

I hope you’ve seen these ads and they caught your eye too. And if you haven’t I hope you see sense in our wildly inferred interpretations.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Founder Lexden

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands. 

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com orajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No. 21– Gold Medal Thinking

Readers seem to like it when people fight back.  I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about a story of a small businessman taking on the might of P & G and winning by virtue of his audacity and unordinary thinking.  Thanks for your positive feedback.

More recently, I came across a similar anecdote (courtesy of ‘Have I Got News For You’) but with an even bigger discrepancy between the size of David and Goliath.

The Olympic Games, both as a spectacle and as a brand, long ago ceased to be about competitors simply being the best in their chosen field and participating in an event which is the pinnacle of their careers.  The Olympics are a commercial machine.  With London 2012 forecast to cost anywhere between £9 and £11 billion, private sector funding in the form of sponsors is a hugely important component of this.  And these sponsors, because they are paying very large sums of money for the exclusive right to associate their brand with the Games, want to make sure their investment is protected.  This means they do not want other brands muscling in and compromising their objectives.  This makes sense.

What it means is that, legally and officially, there are defined guidelines and rules about what a business can and cannot do with regard making any type of reference to the 2012 Olympics within their own marketing or business operations.  These guidelines are detailed, specific and enforced with the might of the IOC and Acts of Parliament and apply no matter whether you are a multi-national competitor to the lead sponsors or the lady with a small business on the corner near the site.  Whoever you are, you cannot use the Olympic rings, the number ‘2012’ alongside ‘London’, the mascot, the Latin motto: Citius Altius Fortius….the list goes on and on.

But this post is not about that they whys and wherefores of this.  It is not about whether the IOC has problems with corruption of whether the ‘Zil’ traffic lanes will cause chaos and confusion in the summer.  It’s not even about how many medals Team GB (another term which cannot be used) will win.

It is in fact about how a tiny established business has dealt with being impacted by the biggest travelling show in the world. It is a story of what the owner of Café Olympic in Stratford, on the doorstep of the Games, has done in response to the enforcement order they were served with by the authorities looking after the interests of the Olympics sponsors. This ordered the cafe to change the name of their establishment for the duration of the Games, since it infringed the rule which means the words Olympic’, ‘Olympiad’ or ‘Olympian’ cannot be used.  The owner estimated that it would cost £3000 to alter the name, signage and related material.  Or maybe more to refuse, which would then make a contribution towards the funds to cover the £9-11 billion.

So what does someone do when they are faced with something which would, in all likelihood, force the closure of the business and the loss of their livelihood?

Well it forces them to think differently. Which in turn enables them to create an unexpected solution.

This is what they have done:  they have covered up the ‘O’ on their sign so that the establishment is now called Café Lympic.  Given the location of the Games in the east end of London, the solution gets better if you imagine, in your mind’s voice, how the owner might say it.  Think someone like Bianca in Eastenders and you can see why it is the perfect victory.  Worthy of a Gold medal in fact.

Posted by Ajai Ranawat

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.