Archive for the ‘Brand and communication’ Category

Are you using real insights in your decision-making?

September 18, 2019

As a brand and marketing insight strategist I hear the word “Insight” being bandied about to the point where it has become one of the most overused – and alas – misunderstood words in marketing today. However, “insights” have never been more important to businesses and marketeers than ever before, in order to unlock new or real growth in ever competitive environments. As such, companies are demanding that “insights” be placed at the heart of decision-making, so it is important to make sure that what you think is an insight is, in fact, just that.

In a world where data is taking centre stage more and more, I often hear clients say things like “we are drowning in data; how do we unlock the insights from all this data we hold?”. But being data-rich does not mean you are insight-rich, as insights are not necessarily intrinsically linked to data. It is of course true that the ongoing explosion of data is providing us with more and more knowledge; in fact, more than we have ever had before. The trick is knowing how to use it in order to turn this knowledge into insight.

That said, data is just one part of the puzzle, and not always a source of insights. Much of the work I do is talking to (or observing) consumers directly in order to unearth insights. However, this comes with its own set of challenges, as consumers are often unable to articulate their needs as many of these are latent. In addition, if you are operating in a category which can be considered ‘low interest’ from the consumer point of view, these can be even harder to articulate… and ergo, unearthing the insight that sits at the heart of these consumer needs is harder.

It doesn’t matter what your source or data points are when seeking insights. What is important is that you need to understand what an insight is and – more importantly – what is not.

An insight is not an “observation” or the “reportage” of what has been seen or heard (qualitatively or quantitively). Observations are an extremely important part of creating or earthing an insight, but they should be treated as just one data point to consider… and they should never stand alone. That is because rigour is required for meaningful insight generation to happen. Meaningful insights are usually “powerful insights” which can unlock competitive advantage and drive growth. It is true that they are hard to find, but when you do, they can be extremely valuable.

In order to define an insight, you must take a multi-dimensional view. You need to unpack the “why” and or the “motivation” behind the observations, which sit behind a consumer’s behaviour or what they have said (qualitatively or quantitively).

Real insights don’t come from the consumer alone: they should be framed within the context of the marketing challenge, the competitive context and the company/brand capabilities. In order to do this, an insights framework is required to inject discipline and structure into their creation. There are plenty of definitions as to what an insight is (far too many to go into detail here), so what marketeers need to do is to work in collaboration with their key agencies to define their process of insight definition based on the business or marketing impact they want to drive within their own business or with a given campaign, for example.

But to get the ball rolling, here are some simple guardrails you can use to stress-test if you have a meaningful insight or not:

  • It should be anchored in a fundamental human truth
  • It should be a powerful observation about human behaviour or attitudes that prompts you to view the consumers from a fresh perspective
  • It should inform a new way of viewing the category/consumer/product in a way that causes you to re-examine existing conventions and challenge the status quo
  • It should be a previously unrecognised facet about the underlying motivations that drive people’s actions / behaviours or attitudes

Happy Staff Equals Happy Customers

September 3, 2019

I have seen a couple of reports this week that demonstrate that there is a correlation between happy staff and happy customers. I am sure this feels intuitively true to many of you but it nice to see this quantified.

Glassdoor research explored data for 293 companies across 13 industries between 2008 and 2018 in order to identify the link between employee satisfaction and customers satisfaction (using the American Customer Satisfaction Index, a benchmark gauge of shoppers’ sentiment). This study found that a one-point improvement in staff satisfaction rating (on a five-point scale) translated into a statistically significant 1.3-point increase in customer satisfaction (rated from zero to 100). This correlation is strongest in categories where there is a higher percentage of staff interacting directly with customers, in these categories a one-point gain in employee satisfaction rating raised that of customers by 3.2 points.

Interestingly, previous research by Gallup has shown that when businesses work hard to ensure their employees are happy this results in a “direct and significant impact on your bottom line” (Gallup’s The State of the American Workplace report). This research found that employees who are engaged are more likely to improve customer relationships, resulting in a 20% increase in sales. In addition to this, Glassdoor says research has demonstrated that “higher customer satisfaction scores are linked to higher company valuations”.

So maybe it is time to spend less time worrying about your NPS score and more time worry about how satisfied your staff are.

Observations and thoughts in relation to setting targets or benchmarks

August 30, 2019

I have been working on a few projects lately where clients have asked us to help them set or define performance benchmarks or targets for them. These have been in a variety of areas, such as the impact of communication, the success of product launches and the engagement of content. Some clients want to ‘track these over time’, others want to establish short term targets, and the work has stimulated interesting conversation (and at times conflict). So, I thought I would capture some of my thoughts around this topic here. I should point out these are just my thoughts and are intended to stimulate debate and are not a ‘set way of doing things’.

The reason setting targets or benchmarks is useful is because they enable you to make important judgments in as objective a manner as possible. For example, the effectiveness of communications. They also encourage brand owners and their partners to have intelligent debate about how and by how much they expect things to work. For example, say the impact of new packaging or advertising. In addition, they ensure you they have the right research approach in place to measure these expectations.

A key observation is that different parties involved often have different expectations of what the ‘targets’ or ‘benchmarks’ ought to be, depending on different criteria. This could be related to their experience in having set and measured targets previously, the potential ‘risk’ to the targets being set and for some their potential gain (a bonus) or loss (their job or the account). So, taking the time upfront to understand the different parties’ motivations and barriers to setting targets or benchmarks is very important.

Next up when thinking about your benchmarks, make sure they are all relative to something. This might sound obvious, but trust me, I have worked with some clients who have come to us with existing targets, but they cannot explain why specific ones may have been set or what they were linked to. Here are some obvious aspects to consider when setting targets or benchmarks:

Set them in relation to your brand and your objectives:

  • Previous results for your brand
  • What your ‘start point’ is
  • What you have set out to achieve
  • How much investment you will be utilising

Set them in relation to other brands / competitors:

  • Brands / competitors in comparable situations
  • Competitors’ performance
  • Research you have available on other brands / competitors

My final tip, one that I am sure some of you will not agree with, is to avoid norms. Why, well, I believe norms set the wrong ‘expectations’. For example, they can encourage the belief that exceeding the norm = success in the market, which time and again we can see is not the case. In addition, they can create targets or benchmarks that are by definition average, and this encourages us to aspire to the mediocre!

Have you fully thought through a framework as to how your creative should work?

August 8, 2019

I get involved in heaps of creative development and evaluation work, and whilst it is work I really enjoy it can often be challenging. The greatest challenge is when there is lack of alignment as to ‘how’ the creative is intended to work and with ‘who’ it is intended to have impact.  This lack of alignment can be between the client and their agency, the researcher and the client, or the agency and the researcher and so on…

When there is alignment between all the interested parties’ and with the researchers, then we are really working in partnership. This is where research adds the greatest contribution towards making the creative idea the very best it can be.

To ensure this alignment is there, a key aspect is ensuring agreement on a ‘framework’ for how the creative is intended to work and how to evaluate it.

What should this framework include?

Don’t assume that the creative brief is the framework. Absolutely this is a key input, but not all briefs are created equal.

The framework can easily be distilled into a one-pager and should be a way of spelling out all the assumptions made by both the client and agency about how the creative will work. It should show how (in detail) the content of the creative delivers the communication strategy and the client’s commercial objectives (this information is generally somewhere in the client’s/agency’s heads but amazingly is often not written down). Most importantly of all, it should absolutely not be a boring set of research objectives.

The beauty of creating this framework is that it makes explicit for the researcher, client and agency what the advertising is designed to do and how it’s designed to work. This then enables the researcher to tailor the design and approach of the research according to what the client and agency are trying to do. The framework then determines who to interview; content and coverage of the discussion guide; correct wording and language to use (and what to listen out for) and ultimately how to judge effectiveness and interpret the findings. An added bonus is that it avoids politics and misunderstandings at the debrief.

Some tips on how to construct a Creative Framework

The framework should ideally be crafted when you have a finished execution, but you can develop one from a script or storyboards, but it should always be done before the research is designed and the discussion guide is drafted.

Always begin with the client’s marketing / commercial objective – and be sure to understand what end result the client is looking to achieve.

Then take the detail in the creative strategy/creative brief, and ask exactly how are we expecting to achieve it? For example, what’s the key way we’re trying to enhance the brand relationship? Among which people (demographics, attitudinal groups, user groups, primary and secondary targets)? What are the key ways in which the advertising execution is achieving its effect?  And which aspects of the execution are tasked with doing this?

The framework should articulate ‘How the creative will do this?’ for each of the key questions mentioned above or whatever relevant points beyond these it covers.  This then enables the researcher to better understand what effects they should expect to see if the creative is working according to the framework. And if it’s not working according to the framework, how best to explore the creative in order to optimise the work.

Should You Be Building Confidence In Your Brand Rather Than Trying To Win Back Trust?

July 22, 2019

Much of the work I do is in the financial service industry, and as such ‘trust’ or ‘winning back trust’ has been a hot topic for some time now, for all the obvious reasons not least of all the outcomes of the Banking Royal Commission here in Australia.

However, the issue of trust is not limited to just the financial services industry. It seems consumers and people in general have dealt with an ever-increasing amount of disappointment in businesses and organisations in which they once placed their trust. Can consumers ever trust their politicians, banks, or clergy in the same way they once did? And if not, what should your brand be doing about it?

Trust is important because consumers trust that their experiences will be positive, and that their time and money are worth the return. Can your brand truly deliver on this? If not, you need to consider that your customer may never trust you in the same way they once did or that to ‘win back their’ trust will take more time than a typical marketing cycle or two and decide what else you might need to be doing.

Start by ensuring your audience has ‘confidence’ that the brand will deliver the basics of what is expected in the relevant category

I have done a lot of research that looks at brand trust for a myriad of brands and one keen observation I have made is that, as consumers level of trust in brands diminishes, this is replaced by something more akin to confidence. They may sound like the same thing but there is an important difference between what the two ladder to.

As consumers fail to trust in a brand exceeding their expectations they start to place more importance on having the ‘confidence’ in a brand delivering to their basic needs or wants from it’s products or services. 

Consumers don’t always expect to have to ‘trust’ a brand anyone, so they are increasingly seeking out brands that give them a feeling of ‘confidence’. Either confidence in their own choices or confidence in the brand to deliver on what it says it will – nothing more nothing less than this. 

One might suggest that trust is being relegated to a lower role and confidence is being elevated to a higher one when it comes to brand choice. Relationships with brands based on confidence may feel more comfortable than those based on trust.

If we take financial services as an example, we see trust levels in the Big 4 have certainly deteriorated. However, what consumer say and what they do are two very different things. This is evident in that the four major banks’ domination of the Australian banking market has not shifted over the past decade. They account for around three-quarters of deposits and assets and a larger share of home loans. They have averaged about 80% market share over the same period.

Interestingly, as levels of ‘trust’ have declined the level of consideration for the Big 4 among consumers when looking for new products has stayed consistent. As mentioned, as a researcher I am seeing brand confidence increase in importance in the finical services sector – as in, people placing more emphasis on organisations “getting the basics” right rather than trying to ‘win back their trust’ by over promising in big ads and under delivering at the coal face. I would suggest that the consequences of loss of confidence will far outweigh any loss of trust. Loss of trust may lead to avoidance of your brand, but loss of confidence will surly result in a withdrawal from your brand. 

I am not saying that Australian consumers don’t care about ‘trust’, and this thought piece is meant to stimulate debate on the matter not present a final argument.

The Net Promoter Score, the debate continues…

June 11, 2019

For years now, it feels like I go through phases where clients ask me “what do you think of the Net Promoter Score?” and we have lots of meaningful chats about it, then I hear nothing about it for a while. Well it seems it is back on client’s radar again, so I thought I would jot down my point of view on it. I should point out that my perceptive on the score is based on my experience of how my clients have been either ‘gathering the score’ or ‘using it’.

Let me start of by saying that I believe it is without doubt a useful measure of customers relationship strength, but I believe it is limited in terms of providing strategically focused outcomes. I base this thinking on the fact that it is often used in a manner which makes the score one dimensional when a multidimensional measure of the strength of the customer relationship is something we should be striving for (in order to better reflect lived experiences). A single score can be limiting, for example if you have a low NPS score it’s important to understand “why” the number is low so that you can improve that score. Thus additional research to determine why people talk positively or negatively is still necessary if all you have is the NPS score (which is often the case, especially if just ‘adding it on’ to a survey).  

A potential ‘recommendation” is more often than not an effect of service received, the NPS can initially measure this for you and in time monitor this, but it does not give analysis that will enable you to measure the underlying cause of likelihood to recommend, you need to explore the “effect” of service (and other relevant metrics) on recommendation and identify opportunities for improvement. In addition, is just collecting a standalone NPS measure it is not effective for predicting business performance as it provides no direction about what to do, that said a standalone NPS may give you a “motivational” score should you need to improve but little or no guidance for management on “what to do”.

Furthermore, you also must consider the market in which your (or your client’s) company operates, I believe the NPS is better suited to business that operate in a market where customer interactions are fairly simple and are confined to a limited number of possible touch-points (namely business-to-consumer retail settings). It is far less suited for a company operating in a market with complex customer interactions and a multitude of possible touch-points and processes to manage (namely business-to-business or where complex service relationships exists with consumer, such as financial services).

Guinness’s ‘Surfer’ ad didn’t do that well in research ‘but we ignored it’ – In defense of research….

February 7, 2019

This post was prompted by this article I saw on Linkedin, I had lots to say on it but the word limit on the comments box would not let me say everything I wanted to say, so here goes…

Just because an ad does not do well in research, does not mean that the outcome of the research is to say “it is not a good ad” or indeed that “the idea should not be used”. As someone who has done a wealth of research into communications testing and development, I have seen lots of ads / concepts that did not do well that went on to be incredibly successful ads. That is because the job of research is not to ‘kill the idea’ it is to tell you how to make the idea be the very best is can.

This works best when as researchers we are working in partnership with both the client and the agency (not brought in at the 11th hr to test an idea). This enables all involved to foster a more collaborative process that get the best result out of the research.

When it comes to researching ads the starting point should always be that every concept has a chance of success and our role is not to kill them off, but to understand their potential. A researcher’s job is not to ‘beat-up’ on the ad, as a researcher I want a successful outcome for all involved and as such we approach the evaluation of any communications with an open mind. Our task is to look for constructive ways to improve on the possible success of the communications being tested. In order to do this, context is important, we have a much better chance of understanding how people react to a concept if we have a deeper understanding of their overall attitudes to the category say.

Also the way in which we evaluate ads if paramount, first impressions are key (and more closely mirror real world exposure) so we should focus on initial reactions and not allow people to spend too long talking about a concept to the point where they are just looking for things to say or critique. The gut feel viewers have is often the most powerful insight we get about what’s working and what’s not.

In addition, people don’t always say exactly what they mean and we should look beyond their verbal messages to ensure we understand the meaning behind what is being said (or not). So although consumers will often tell us what they “think” of an ad we should not expect them to always automatically identify the factors which are “influencing their thinking”, this is where the researchers expertise at understanding what is often left unsaid is critical to interpreting how the communications are working (or not).

As research I also often hear “the ads are not is a format ready or best for testing”, however an ad does not need to be in its final polished format in order to test the ‘idea’ or ‘concept’. There are all manner of ways to use stimulus to stimulate a conversation with consumers about a communications idea. Not only that, but consumers are far more marketing savvy than we sometimes give them credit for and if we take the time to explain the stimulus at hand they get it and are willing to ‘work with us’. On the topic of consumers being more marketing savvy now than ever before we should never underestimate their ability to understand the ‘idea’ behind the ad being tested, they often provide us with the ‘gem’ that gets the idea across the line.

Anyway, the main point I want to make it that ultimately as researchers we are hired to have an opinion and should avoid ‘sitting on the fence’, but this opinion should always be well-informed and constructive and when it is, this helps ensure ads that don’t do well in research have a chance to go to become award winning ads.

How well do you think these powerful brands address today’s participatory culture?

November 6, 2015


Every year, Brand Finance puts thousands of the world’s top brands to the test. They are evaluated to determine which are the most powerful, and the most valuable. have listed the following as the 10 most powerful brands in 2015…

Lego 93.4

pwc 91.8

Red Bull 91.1

McKinsey and Company 90.1

Unilever 90.1

L’Oreal 89.7

Burberry 89.7

Rolex 89.7

Ferrari 89.6

Nike 89.6

In order to determine the most powerful brands in the world, their team examines factors such as a company’s investment in marketing, equity as measured by goodwill of customers and staff, and the impact of marketing and goodwill on the company’s “business performance.” All well and good but as a researcher who does a lot of work in this space I am curious to know more about what these brands do to actually engage with their customer base. We know that engaged consumers tend to display greater levels of loyalty and I don’t see this as a measure, good will is there yes, but this does not always equate to loyalty.

In my opinion (and it is just that an opinion nothing more) not all of the 10 brands listed appear to be particularly strong thought leaders in addressing todays participatory culture, something that is becoming more important as a tool to engage with customers. It is true a lot of these brands aim to engage consumers on a deeper level to foster long-term loyalty and if you spend a bit of time online it is easy to see how they are tapping into this participatory culture to foster this loyalty.

Many brands do this, but not all with a clear strategy as to how they want this to add in a positive way to their brands narrative. In addition without a clear social media management strategy in place, many are in danger of having little control over how customers add to their brands narrative (good or bad).

A social media strategy needs to go beyond simply embracing the creation of ‘brand engagement campaigns’ aimed at generating shareable experiences, and these need to be done in a way that are not evidently commercials which gets harder and harder as consumers become more and more marketing savvy.  Often a campaign’s success is measured using social media engagement metrics, but as a qualitative researcher I am often asked to explore the ‘meaning’ behind these metrics and more often than not just because a campaign goes viral (a benchmark for success) this does not always result in a positive impact on the brand narrative, in fact it can have short term positive impact but a longer term negative one.

The growth in participatory culture by consumers has actually been fed by brands embracing this as a tool to engage with consumers, but said consumers now believe their voices are more valuable than ever before and  as a consequence brands are in danger of losing ‘control’ of the narrative that they wish to stimulate.

It is true that in today’s society social media has facilitated a two-way connection with consumers like no other. However, a conversation is only as good or interesting as all its participants make it, and that requires paying attention at all times, but how many brands are truly embracing that idea and paying attention to everything that is being said on platforms such as Twitter or Facebook?

It is not just about ‘listening’ to what consumers saying, attention needs to be given to everything a brand intends to ‘say’ to consumers and this needs to ladder to a clear social media strategy. So many brands are trying to hold conversations with consumers today which means they are being blitzed with more branded messages on a daily basis than ever before. Think of it this way, we all know how we hate to be interrupted by someone else when we are having a conversation and we have ways in which to deal with this, online consumers have more control over which messages or conversations they see, hear, and ultimately choose to engage with, so pay heed to what it is you want to say and the manner in which you intend to do it.

To bring this back to my earlier point around engagement, I see in the work that I do that relating with consumers on an individual, personal basis is often the piece of the jigsaw that is missing in the engagement puzzle, where I see this is not the case is with brands that have moved towards a more human or humanistic connection in the way their brand attempts to build relationships and therefore loyalty among their customers. This I like to call ‘the rise of human’ but that is another story all together.

RIP Burt Shavitz and thank you for such a wonderful product

July 23, 2015

burts-beesI have always been a big fan of Burt’s Bees, so it was sad to hear that the original Burt died earlier this month. Burt Shavitz was one of the founding partners of Burt’s Bees back in 1984, along with his partner at the time, Roxanne Quimby who he met by picking up as a hitchhiker. The brand has been owned by Clorox since 2007 (who paid US$ 925m for it). Burt himself had previously been bought out of the company for $130,000 by Quimby, but apparently she did later give him $4m after she sold it to Clorox.

Burt himself was something of a hermit in his later years, living in rural Miane in a converted turkey coop with no TV or hot water (by choice).

Even though the brand is now owned by a major producer of bleach, they still only use natural ingredients. They also demonstrate their commitment to being environmentally responsible, via packaging which is recycled or recyclable.

Engaging with 18-24’s: Stop asking them to take selfies

February 3, 2015

Spoiled, selfish, ambitious, connected, immature, tech-savvy, demanding, open-minded, fame-seeking, over-sharing.

These are just some of the words that are commonly used to describe young consumers, (the so-called ‘Gen Y’ or ‘Millennials’).  And there is a perception amongst some marketers that this target audience is particularly enigmatic and hard to connect with.

With little understanding, the default marketing approach is often to just ‘do something online’ or ‘create a social media campaign’. Unfortunately it takes more than the inclusion of a hashtag, video, Facebook page or consumer-with-brand-selfie request to drive engagement with young people today.

In 2007, Jigsaw conducted a qualitative study into young Australians aged 18-24.

At the time, the issue of local youth identity was particularly hot, following the aftermath of the Cronulla race riots and the cultural cringe from Lara Bingle’s ‘Where the bloody hell are you’ campaign. The objectives of the study were to expose what young people were really thinking and explore the defining traits of this generation.

Seven years later, we have refocused on this audience; with the challenge of getting beneath current media rhetoric and stereotypes. Having previously conducted a similar study helped us pull apart ‘coming of age’ characteristics vs. traits which are a by-product of 2014’s unique technological, political, cultural and environmental landscape. This time we could also employ fresher methodologies (e.g. online communities, tasks involving Spotify, Tinder etc).

So what’s changed? Here are a few of the shifts we discovered.

Big goals vs big fails

2007: ‘No one wants to do something they don’t enjoy.’

Back then, we found that success for young people was defined by their own goals. The older stereotypes of success (e.g. high paying job, big house, flash car) no longer applied and instead success largely equated to personal happiness i.e. doing what you want and then making a living from this.

2014: ‘The voice in the back of my head says not everyone can be the next Zuckerberg.’

Fast forward and 18-24-year-olds are still rejecting their parents’ definitions of success. However what’s changed is that there is phenomenal pressure to not just do what you want, but to do it in a BIG way.

There are so many high profile young entrepreneurs, bloggers and vloggers who have changed lives, made millions/billions or simply become celebrities. So young people currently find it hard to justify doing things in an ‘average way’. They therefore appreciate anyone who can support them as they strive towards achieving their large-scale dreams.

Tweet, pray, love

2007: ‘I get stressed by how much there is going on.’

Young people told us that they were being buffeted by an accelerated culture in which everything seemed fast paced e.g. trends coming and going, new technologies, news stories constantly breaking. They also felt that their personal (uni, work, social) lives were too hectic. Incidences of depression and anxiety were becoming fairly prevalent amongst friends.

2014: ‘I find the Dalai Llama and his mind so fascinating. He can deal with whatever situation the modern world throws at him.’

Today there are similar gripes, however there seem to be more tools in their toolkit (e.g. yoga and exercise, healthy diet, socialising and sharing) for becoming more resilient to everyday stresses. It was also heartening to hear words like ‘wellbeing’ and ‘mental health’ being more openly discussed.

The e-tox challenge

2007: ‘It’s great being connected, I couldn’t imagine what it was like before the internet.’

Young people were fully embracing of online media for information, shopping, entertaining and connecting e.g. messaging platforms, social media, gaming.

2014: ‘Although it’s easy to Snapchat, nothing beats a drink at the pub.’

This time we noticed a stronger desire to grab opportunities to switch off and have more offline experiences. However the convenience and affordability of online often made it harder for young people to disconnect. For example, music festivals could set them back hundreds of dollars whereas YouTube offered alternative access to free performances. As such, young people told us about seeking out cheap and cheerful reality fixes e.g. hanging out in parks, crafting, dumpster diving.

Just do it, don’t just ‘like’ it

2007: “I don’t like how Australians come across as racist and behind the times. We need to change this.”

Back then, 18-24-year-olds were passionate about driving societal change. Although these are typical traits of young people across the eras (e.g. student protests in the 60s and 70s) 2007’s hot topics were uniquely focused on driving acceptance and tolerance (post race riots, post 9-11).

2014: ‘Occasionally you see friends going to protest marches on Facebook, but most people just ‘like’ stuff and don’t do anything real.’

Youthful passion is still simmering today. However simultaneously there is growing cynicism towards activist behaviour on social media, an environment which fosters ‘support’ but does not necessarily generate tangible real world changes. For example Michelle Obama’s push to get people behind #BringBackOurGirls brought to life the ‘slacktivism’ complained about by young people who were starting to rally against online talk, by walking the walk with physical change actions e.g. using apps to find ethical/enviro products and shopping in stores with socially aligned purposes.

So now what?

The 18-24s of today are clearly a unique product of their environment and their age/life-stage. In order to connect with them, marketers need to look past the stereotypes and into their motivations and tensions.

This can be achieved in a variety of ways.

Firstly there are opportunities to inspire and support young people in achieving their dreams. Red Bull does this via their sporting ambassadors (e.g. Ellyse Perry, Sally Fitzgibbons) who share their journeys towards success, including the wins and fails.

Then there’s providing consumers with tangible ‘real world’ experiences. The inner city precinct Central Park helps young people switch to offline with their physical hangout spaces surrounded by mirrored light wells and tactile green life walls. This shopping destination also strikes a chord with young consumers by supporting up and coming artists in galleries.

The Swisse Colour Run is another experiential example that young people talked positively about. The event which involves runners being pelted by coloured powders, not only addresses the e-tox challenge, but also sparks greater wellbeing as an outlet for fun, release and face-to-face connection.  Although social media (including runner selfies snapped and shared) is observed to extend the impact of the campaign, this appears to be just one part of the marketing strategy.

Lastly, there is the opportunity for brands to demonstrate commitment to real social change. American Apparel and Cotton On earn love through their support of social campaigns and charities. In the latter’s case, young people told us that staff can talk knowledgably about the Cotton On Foundation’s efforts in Africa and some have even donated salaries and volunteered, thereby enhancing the clothing label’s social cred.

In sum, requesting #SelfiePhotosWithYourBrand are great but they’re just one marketing tactic and let’s face it, they’re a pretty superficial way of connecting.  We need to tap into the insights hidden much deeper beneath the surface to truly engage with 18-24 year olds.

NOTE: This post was originally published in the December 2014 edition of Research News

The films I saw at the movies in 2014 and how I rated them…

January 13, 2015

So the Golden Globes are all over and the Oscars nominations are now just around the corner so what better time than to give a rundown of the movies I was last year. There 39 this year, that is 1 up on last year.

Listed in chronological order of having been watched, and scored out of 5 where 5 is the highest score…

  1. August: Osage County = 5
  2. Philomena = 4
  3. The Book Thief = 3
  4. Saving Mr Banks = 5
  5. Twenty Feet From Stardom = 5
  6. Last Train to Lisbon = 2
  7. Her = 5
  8. 12 years a slave = 4
  9. Wolf of Wall Street = 4
  10. Dallas Buyers Club = 4 1/2
  11. Grand Budapest Hotel = 4
  12. Other Woman = 3 1/2
  13. Fading Gigolo = 3
  14. The Finishers = 4
  15. Belle = 3
  16. Bad Neighbors = 2
  17. Chef = 4
  18. Godzilla = 4
  19. The Edge of Tomorrow = 4
  20. Maleficent = 3 1/2
  21. Under the Skin = 3
  22. Grace of Monaco = 2 1/2
  23. Broken Circle Breakdown = 5
  24. The Two Faces of January = 3 1/2
  25. 22 Jump Street = 3 1/2
  26. Dawn of Planet of The Apes = 4 1/2
  27. A Most Wanted Man = 4 1/2
  28. Lucy = 4
  29. Calvary = 4
  30. The Keeper of Lost Causes = 4
  31. Begin Again = 5
  32. Equaliser = 4
  33. Gone Girl = 4
  34. Boyhood = 4 1/2
  35. Skeleton Twins = 5
  36. Pride = 3 1/2
  37. Interstellar = 4
  38. Whiplash = 5
  39. Hunger Games: Mockingjay = 3 1/2

I did a Super Mario impression all for a good cause

December 1, 2014

Movember14I did it, I let the Mo grow for the 30 days of Movember and yes I am clean shaven now for those of you that were keen to see the back of my tash.

I have always wanted to grow a beard, but alas don’t have the required hair follicles so I have not been able to take advantage of the still current fashion for facial hair, so Movember if the closes I get…

Movember is a great way to grow a moustache while growing funds for charity and you get to do it every year. It raises both funds and awareness for men’s health.  

Mine was one of  millions of moustaches around the world that were used to scare small children and reminding us that porn stars of the 1970’s were real men with real hair (unlike the shaved and waxed all over men of porn today, allegedly, I never watch the stuff).

I took part together with a couple of work mates to form The Jigsaw Crumb Catchers team and it is not too late to sponsor us, you can do so here.

And to all those that have already sponsored me a very big THANK YOU

Today is World Toilet Day…

November 19, 2014

Toilet_SignDid you know 19th of November is World Toilet Day, and no I am not joking, but trust me there is a serious message behind this auspicious day. World Toilet Day is a day to take action. It is a day to raise awareness about all people who do not have access to a toilet and hence this blog post from me.

Of the world’s seven billion people, 2.5 billion people do not have access to a clean and safe toilet (that is about 37% of the world’s population). 1 billion people still defecate in the open. Women and girls risk rape and abuse because they have no toilet that offers privacy. Did you know more people in the world have a mobile phone than have access to a clean and safe toilet?

This year UN Water have taken up the theme of ‘Equality and Dignity’, and have a campaign that is seeking to inspire action to end open defecation and put spotlight on how access to improved sanitation leads to a reduction in assault and violence on women and girls. See a bit more about it here. also campaign on this issue and many others related to the effect of not having access to clean water throughout the year, their website is well worth a visit.

It was Jim Sim (aka “Mr. Toilet”), who founded the World Toilet Organization and the annual World Toilet Day back in 2001. He was named a TIME Hero of the Environment in 2008, and alas he died in 2009. He was described as “frank and entertaining” when it came to discussing the need for better sanitation. As he once said “No invention has saved more lives than a toilet. More than 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated, polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas”, think about this next time you sit on a loo….

Sexy men in shorts, what is not to like…

August 26, 2014

Bingham Positive RGBI have always liked rugby over football (or soccer as they call it here in Australia) and so naturally I have got myself some tickets to go and see the finals of The Bingham Cup that is currently underway in Sydney.  For those of you that don’t know The Bingham Cup, or as it is officially called the Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament is a biennial international, non-professional, gay rugby union tournament. Yes gay men really do play rugby, but don’t take my word for it just ask Gareth Thomas, who was until 2011 the most capped Welsh rugby union player, with 100 test match appearances until. After an informal invitational tournament, held in May 2001 the International Gay Rugby Association and Board (IGRAB), came together with the objective of forming an informal invitational tournament which would be an international rugby union competition, or as it has become known the “gay rugby union world cup”.  The tournament itself came to be named after Mark Bingham, a former University rugby star who had played in the May 2001 tournament for San Francisco Fog RFC and was also a cofounder of the Gotham Knights RFC. Mark Bingham died in the September 11, 2001 attacks on board United Airlines Flight 93. He is generally accepted to be one of a group of passengers (along with Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick) who fought with the hijackers, which eventuated in the crashing of the plane into an empty filed instead of an assumed target in Washington. Mark Bingham was just 31 when he died in 2001, and the Bingham Cup was established the next year in honour of Mark’s courage, strength and love for rugby union. Back in 2002 eight teams competed in San Francisco, and attracted sponsorship from Nike and Guinness, this year in Sydney over 25 will compete and there are an abundance of sponsors, namely Telstra, Commonwealth Bank, AussieBum, Cannon and Lend Lease and is supported by representatives from across sports, such as Wallabies Dave Pocock and Adam Ashley-Cooper, South Sydney’s Greg Inglis and Australian women’s cricketer Alex Blackwell. This years’ tournament is the seventh in the history of the cup, and I will of course be cheering for the Sydney Convicts. For more information and of course to buy yourself some tickets visit the official website: