Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Women in China

I was asked last week by CCBC Magazine about my impressions of doing business as a woman in China.

My instant response was it's a helluva lot easier than doing business in Europe.

Sexuality doesn't appear to come into it. It's the deal that's important.

With significantly less women than men because of the recent one child policy many of the younger women are high achievers.

There are some great examples of women entrepreneurs leading media conglomerates; and others where the daughter has taken over the family business, whether it's heavy industry or manufacturing.

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Thursday, 25 November 2010

Have mobile, will travel?

Looking through WARC News this morning there were two related stories on mobile 'phone growth in Asia:

Market Research company GfK Asia are reporting that smartphones are becoming the handsets of choice in Asia with one in five mobile 'phones bought in the last quarter being smart purchases.

Of course it's sparked a war among suppliers of operating systems, such as Symbian and long-term growth may have to wait for a market shake-out and common platforms.

However, Informa Telecoms & Media are also expecting massive growth in mobile adspend, from $2.3bn in 2009 to around $24.1bn by 2015, again with much of that growth coming from the chattering masses of India and China.

Analysts here expect advertising expenditure on mobile 'phones in the Asia-Pacific region to be representing over 30% of the market by 2015 with North America at around 18% and Western Europe 8%.

It's good to talk isn't it, but though the language barriers of global marketing have long been addressed, let's hope the multiple languages used by the computers running mobile 'phone operating systems and applications to talk to each other, don't take their place.

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Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Scariest moments

Most of us in the business enjoy presenting in front of an audience. It's in the blood.

It tests our mental and spatial faculties and keeps us on our toes.
We enjoy sensing the mood of the crowd and wooing them to our content.

So why is a piano recital to a live audience for the first time so much more unnerving? Why do the hands shake, the legs tense and the mind go blank?

Thankfully, my audience on Sunday night in the Boltons were fellow musicians like me! And they were very forgiving of my interpretation of Chopin's prelude. Wonderful in parts, falling apart in others!

They say it takes 3 attempts to get to grips with a musical performance. It's worth it! A different sort of adrenalin rush.

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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

What price entrepreneurship?

Dragons Den and The Apprentice might make setting up in business look easy, but James Averdieck of those exquisite Gu Chocolate Puds warned otherwise at the Marketing Society Annual conference last Thursday.

Using data gathered from the business angels he has worked with to build and sell a £ 28 million business, here's what he's learned:

- A business angel will review 2000 business plans on average in a year.
- 1950 of them will go straight in the bin. Of the remaining 50 he/she may choose to invest in 10.
- After 5 years 5 of them will have gone bankrupt, 3 are just ticking over.
- Only 2 generate the returns that keep his business alive!
Even modest mathematicians will be able to calculate this amounts to a 99.9% failure rate!

So what makes a good entrepreneur? For James it still comes down to some simple marketing basics:

1. Start with a great product.
2. Stand out in the crowd.
3. Get people talking about it.
4. Be seen in the right places.
5. Create the right team and culture.
6. Look after your customers.
As a start-up this can seem relatively easy.
So what's the biggest challenge of all?
7. Scaling the business while keeping the quality.

Sound familiar?

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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Happiness is a UPMS

"Adapt your techniques to an idea, not an idea to your techniques."

So said Bill Bernbach, according to Happiness Co-Founder Karen Corrigan who took to the Click! conference stage last Thursday. She cautioned against agencies defining who they are and what they do."Successful agencies of the future do it all, fuse it all." The only way to survive, in Karen's view is to be a UPMS. (If you don't know what it stands for it's an Undefined Perpetually Mutating Specimen.)

Sounds about right! Everyone at Happiness is!

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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Sharing has a lot to do with social currency

It's a fact. It is possible to predict pass-on-ability. So said digital analytics guru Stuart Eccles, of Made by Many, at Creative Review's Click! conference last Thursday.

He recommends that we use the internet as an experimentation medium to find out which aspects or our brand and brand messages have potential. If the viral coefficient in the first wave is more that 1 then it's more or less guaranteed that it will gather momentum and go viral.

Watch out though: the viral coefficient declines as it becomes more popular. You have to spot when it's time to refresh your message.

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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The value of internal candidates!

Good to see yesterday that the CBI have appointed John Cridland CBE as their next Director-General. John has been the CBI’s Deputy Director-General since 2000 and has been instrumental in helping to achieve a sea-change in business and public attitudes towards everything from the minimum wage and flexible working to industrial relations and the environment.

Apparently, the motivation, energy and appetite for change that John displayed during the recruitment process demonstrated without doubt that he was the best person for the job. The appointment was approved by the CBI Chairmen’s Committee. This followed a search carried out by executive search specialists, Saxton Bampfylde, who presented a genuine choice of candidates from a very wide range of backgrounds. John will formally take the helm at the end of January 2011.

As CBI members, the IPA extends to John their support and collaboration.

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Monday, 15 November 2010

Global connections

According to a report in WARC News today, Forrester are predicting an increase to the global online population of some 40% by 2014. They reckon it had already expanded from less than 1 billion individuals in 2005 to 1.6 billion in 2009 and will continue to grow to 2.3 billion individuals by 2014.

As you might expect, Forrester expect China and India to be key drivers of this expansion - with virtual retail mirroring the increase in physical outlets - but also Russia and Brazil.

Growth is good but we marketers must never forget that these are aggregated figures and each node, each login is made by an individual person, whether we call them netizens or not. Personalisation will surely be the key to converting more of them into online consumers but, simply by the laws of probability, the huge numbers involved suggest that online retail sales are about to go through the stratosphere.

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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Fly me to the moon!

I didn't know until last night, when creative supremo Trevor Beattie spoke to the IPA's Stage 1 grads, that ever since he was a kid, what he's most wanted to do in life is fly to the moon. And in 2012 his dream will come true, as a passenger on the second flight on Virgin Galactic.

I hadn't made the connection either between Trevor the producer and that really compelling movie Moon, directed by David Bowie's son. Now the link is clear.

Not surprisingly, Trevor's main message to new joiners was 'make your dreams come true too'. And his view was that a career in agencies was a great way to get you started.

Thanks Trevor.

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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Adspend growth in China

WARC News were featuring a report by research company CTR this morning in which they claim advertising expenditure levels are continuing to rise in China though the rate of increase has fallen to 14% for the first three quarters of 2010. Major advertisers such as P&G and L'Oreal continue to dominate adspend.

Television spend was up 12% with channels in China's provinces benefitting from new restrictions on state broadcaster CCTV.

Advertising expenditure on newspapers and magazines was up 19% for both media but the biggest surge in growth came in radio with more ad inventory becoming available (also up 19%)

The outdoor market has suffered a contraction in space because of new Chinese regulations but still grew by 19%.

What is it about 19? In the context of China my mind wandered to the Nineteen Ancient Poems believed to have been written between the times of the Emperors Shun or Xian nearly 2,000 years ago.

From the ancient world of five character poetry to the modern age of short-form messaging, I was surprised to see that the CTR report did not cover digital advertising growth. An eMarketer report predicts that online digital advertising in China will account for 11% of the total ad market by the end of 2010, compared with about 15% in the US.

Clearly we have seen huge digital growth in the UK and Europe. In the recent IPA Effectiveness Awards competition 78% of the papers entered show that clients had used the web in one form or another. You can do your own free analysis of our papers using the Idol (IPA Databank Online) site here.

Display still has the largest share of online ad spending in China but, again as in the UK, search revenue is showing huge growth with Baidu and of course Google dominating that sector.

I also came across this piece in China Digital Times which talks about China's burgeoning blogging and social media platforms and even a new acronym: IWOM (Internet word-of-mouth)

Chris Reiterman, President of OgilvyOne China quotes the 'massive number of bloggers in China' which is why blogging is seen as so important in that market. The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) claims that over 182 million Chinese individuals have blogs and more than 102 million people regulaalry comment on forums and online bulletin boards (BBS) in China. According to their findings more than half of Chinese internet users say that they often expresss their opinions online.

What can we learn from them and what can they continue to learn from us?

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Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The IPA Olympic bid!

With less than 2 years to go, it was fitting that Lord Coe address WACLERs at our first outing to the refurbed Savoy last night.

He's a man with a mission, and there couldn't be a better ambassador.
It made me wonder what the IPA contribution to the Olympics could be? 17 days in 2012 when the eyes of the world will be on London. How can we make our voice heard to foreign direct investors globally among all the clamour?

Off to UKTI today to discuss possibilities. Watch this space!

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Monday, 8 November 2010

Reach for the Sky

When Douglas Bader died suddenly of a heart attack in 1982, there was no internet and no digital television in the UK, though Satellite Television UK (SATV) had been launched over Europe four years earlier and had a tiny, specialist viewing audience.

Throughout the next seven years, towns were cabled - Swindon was the first - and new technology debates had a futuristic stance, centering on such mould-breaking concepts as home shopping, but with rather fewer real commercial applications.

Of course there was the Sony/Betamax issue with Sky Channel - formed through News Corp's purchase of 80% of SATV for just £1 in 1983 - competing with the British Satellite Broadcasting Alliance (BSB). In 1989 the inevitable merget took place and BSkyB was formed. Television in the UK has not been the same since.

In Marketing Week a few minutes ago, it was reported that BSkyB now has 10 million customers - a target it set itself just over six years ago - and, according to BSkyB 36% of the UK population now subscribe to its services, or 25 million people. The 10 million figure includes 3.15 million Sky+HD customers.

I was listening to a radio programme on Saturday morning where the announcer reminded listeners that yesterday's 'Downton Abbey' programme was a 90 minute special rather than 60 minutes, and urged us to 'change the details on our recorders' accordingly. How many people still need to do this, I wondered? With the advent of first VideoPlus and then 'intelligent' TiVo devices through to Sky+ itelf, isn't this now a detail that we thankfully don't have to worry about, in the same was as an unexpected, extended news broadcast no longer obliterates carefully-arranged recordings of late-night films?

Douglas Bader's life was captured in a book and film biography - 'Reach for the Sky' - where he overcame temendous odds to walk and then fly again. Though I would never compare technological advance with human spirit in the face of adversity, the sheer determination of the human beings behind BSkyB to achieve their customer targets and their courage to continually innovate is seemingly earning its just rewards.

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Thursday, 4 November 2010

Advertising and the creative economy

At my speech to OxAdSoc two nights ago I used IPA Effectiveness 2010 Gold award winner O2 as my stimulus for showing advertising's interplay with other creative sectors. In fact, there have been four effectiveness award wins for O2's agencies over the year's. Here's what they show:


Design agency Lambie-Nairn helped create the brand's iconography. Relating O2 to its chemical symbol (oxygen) they used the colour blue, bubbles and natural space to communicate a feeling of clarity, fresh air, calmness and serenity around the brand: in contrast to the frenetic world around mobile phones. A fundamental part of the value O2 now commands resides in the O2 brand. It's a key asset to the company, and significantly enhances its value to shareholders.


Advertising agency VCCP took this concept through the line to communicate a complementary user experience - O2 as the facilitator and enabler of enhanced social interaction; to work in both the long and short term; using film photography, production and post-production houses to make it happen. Increasing average revenue per user (ARPU) by stimulating adoption of non-voice devices, in the process.


Programme maker Endemol, with television channel Channel 4, created a format which helped O2 extend the brand's product and service experience. Through sponsorship of reality shows Celebrity Big Brother 2 and Big Brothers 3 and 4, O2 was able to integrate games, text alerts and a text chat room, into their package and help fund show production.


The music industry has also benefited from its association with O2. In transforming the failed Millenium Dome into the world's best live music venue, IPA agencies Zenith Optimedia, VCCP, pd3, and Archibald Ingall Stretton not only helped take the brand beyond advertising to enhance the customer experience even further: through priority tickets, fast track entry, special offers, access to exclusive zones; they also established a flagship live venue for UK and international music talent to recover lost revenue from falling record sales.

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Wednesday, 3 November 2010

In search of talent

When it comes to graduate recruitment, my particular bugbears are the City and Management Consultancy. They have the money and the clout to hold big 'loud' events at all the best universities, so they have the biggest visibility by far.

So it's not surpising that we in the creative industries feel we may be losing out on some of the best talent, simply because we aren't on the radar, and aren't being heard. It's particularly frustrating, of course, for the ad industry, within the creative economy, who know a thing or two about communications and, in particular, how share of voice drives share of market!

So it was particularly welcome for the IPA to be approached by fledgeling OxAdSoc to get involved in a student-led initiative to put advertising and its related disciplines; social media, digital, marketing back on the map.

At our maiden event at the Careers Centre in Oxford last night, I argued the case for the creative industries as a more fulfilling alternative to the City or Management Consultancy. "Relative to the City and Management Consultancy they are a force for economic growth and a force for social good. At their core, what unites them is what Will Hutton of the Work Foundation calls 'expressive value'. Ultimately they're about asset creation and organic growth; through tangible products and services or physical pieces of entertainment; or aesthetic pleasure or intangible expressions of brand value and experiences. The creative economy feeds our minds and our senses as well as our pockets."

We painted an upbeat picture of the UK creative economy: "Although it's taken the UK a long time to recognise its economic significance, as a country we're particularly strong in it." We explained that the creative economy is currently 6.2% of UK GDP, is growing faster than the economy as a whole, and contributing to the overall growth of the economy. One third of new jobs in London are in the creative economy.

Of course, there are many different creative sectors. We showed a UKTI 8 minute compilation of '50 years of Creative Britain' to represent them. But, I argued, "Advertising is one of the largest, one of the most dynamic, and it is pivotal to the ecosystem. There are only three sources of funding for the creative economy; the government (your taxes), you (your subscription, cover price, entrance fee) and advertising. So advertising is a force for social good. And it's also a force for economic good."

The opportunities in advertising for quality graduates of all disciplines is huge. There's a creative and technological explosion; democratisation of content brings the need for new business models; there are significant industry challenges for the next generation to solve. "We tend to be discipline neutral in our graduate intake, but at the same time there are definite growth opportunities for specialists with backgrounds in PPE, the social sciences, statistics and network science. Overall, we are looking for diagonal thinkers, who combine creativity with commerciality, and entrepreneurial spirit."

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IPA Effectiveness awards go global

It's been a few years now since the IPA's premier award scheme has allowed entries from outside of the UK.

But it's the first year that a live camera crew from China's news agency has been on site at the awards night to film proceedings and relay it back to China. They were not disappointed. There were three winners for Asia: Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific for Comfort, JWT London for HSBC Global (best international campaign) and Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong for MTR.

It's all part of the IPA's grand plan to develop a UK/China nexus for advertising; in order to facilitate better transactions between the two countries for IPA member agencies and Chinese brand owners seeking to go global.

Next October the IPA is taking a delegation of member agencies and friends to China's International Advertising Festival where '30 years of IPA Effectiveness' will be a showcase exhibition. 88,000 people attended this year's event. By next year, it could be 100,000

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Monday, 1 November 2010

WPP revenues up in third quarter

Great to read in Netimperative this morning that WPP is reporting increased revenues for the third quarter of 2010.

It's also interesting to see that WPP's traditional advertising revenues have 'increased sharply' and that the company is cautiously optimistic about economic recovery. This is very much in line with the IPA's Q3 2010 Bellwether Report

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