Archive for ‘brands’

August 23rd, 2012

The day I’ve launched a digital agency in London

by Laurent François

Dear readers,

as you’ve noticed, I did not write much this year on this blog. Not because I had any fatigue or that I was bored, because in our attention economy, there’s a key raw material: TIME.

So, French Ideas, a boutique digital agency, was born few weeks ago, in Silicon Roundabout, London. 3 main activities are implemented:

  • social journey planning: as digital channels are very deeply changing the rules of influence, strategic planning and definition of personae have never been as important as now. Social journey planning requires strong capabilities in digital analysis, social media monitoring, and influencers’ mapping + knowledge in sociology, arts etc. We’ve already sold some projects for creative agencies: do not hesitate to pitch us!
  • digital strategy: once you have a better idea of how your users think and which “moments of truth” rock, well, you need to establish a roadmap, both editorial and UX. That’s the trickiest point, that you need to shape with creatives in a wider extent: data analysts, CRM and so on :)
  • early-stage marketing: you’re launching a brand? A festival? A start-up? Well, it’s not only Social Media but more general marketing. And we’re here to help…

We also have some publishing / fashion activities on Hit Bag.

It’s still new and our partners are extremely interesting people; it’s a brand new approach for me to set up some strategies with a wide diversity of talents; feel free to pitch us :)

In the meantime, I’ve tried to arrange all my previous posts on Pearltrees. You can check it here:

French Ideas Digital Agency and Services / French Ideas Social Media Opinion in Laurent François (lilzeon)


July 18th, 2011

Google + is creating the future of drag & drop shopping

by Laurent François


Comments have been massively done on Google +. In France, the first users were geeks or marketers and it gave a pretty disappointing user experience. Basically because the 1st stage of Google + propagation was done on a very “old” trick: static address books. If it worked well for MySpace or Facebook ages ago (“log and see”), Google + has a very different target group: people with huge social networks’ experience, and worldwide.

Google lacks this dynamic strategy to acquire new publics: one of the easy bets is that all the next big Social Media successes will be based out of a simple “emails propagation” but through true missions or “call to actions” towards targeted audiences. FourSquare’s a good example: the first promise is to unlock badges, after registering.

The only true revolution when it comes to Google + is all about the “drag and drop” dimension: a more intuitive web, focusing on a more human interaction. Pearltrees made it right, focusing first on dynamic affinities, using only THEN other social networks. My circles are today based on “real” friends and I’m added by a large amount of people through my blog or twitter. But I don’t care who these guys are as they don’t enter through my interests and I don’t have time to map them all!

In Pearltrees mechanisms, it’s the straight opposite value proposal: I feed my own interests, then I can grab others’ values, and only after that will I try to know who theses guys are.

The true revolution for Google + lies in non “user-centric” stuff but on “site-centrics” ones. It is now still very hard to see a true brand’s “web based” coherence. In Europe, when you enter a shop, it’s not yet “diving” into a 360° brand site, but still “brick&mortar”. But the last forecasts demonstrate that all the streets, all the shops will get some screens, that you can touch or not. The “drag and drop” logics that is tested by Google + will be the bone of contention to drive consumers to “purchasing” or spending more time with the brand. To make them come back, to use them as marketing trojans, to better understand them. Google + will be the “consumers’ front-office” of all the core competences of Google: suggesting consumers’ journey, tailoring keywords and intents. Not recommending but suggesting. Quiet a different business.


Google + is not a Facebook killer. It’s probably an intent to shape what will be the “brand-sites’ marketing” in the last 5 years. Shall we make a bet?


April 4th, 2011

Storytelling: consumers’ intimacy as the new scope of work?

by Laurent François


For the last months, many brands have dived into storytelling-way-of-life instead of focusing on products’ benefits.

A pressure to build “stories” as digital re-shaped our economy of attention; once you’re done with a coupon, you need to maintain a link with diverse publics. You need to be able to activate them. The “story” would be an asset to keep an interest going, moreoever in a digital journey: you share your daily bread with your relatives, with your buddies, and in the meantime you pick and chose your next holidays. It amplifies our beings, and brands want to interfere within this tree of choices. As a comparison, you never really leave a book after you’ve read the 3 first chapters.

But if the marketing statement is simple at first sight, it’s utterly complicated -and to date disappointing- to implement and orchestrate

A reader as a shareholder of the story’s success

A story is paradoxically based on unsaid. It’s a principle developped by Umberto Eco in 1979 in Lector in Fabula.

In order to make a story work, the reader must be brought to a whole universe (as in an encyclopedia) and to feel like if he had a responsibility in the curse of the story.

générer un texte signifie mettre en oeuvre une stratégie dont font partie les prévisions des mouvements de l’autre – comme dans toute stratégie“.

Interpretative & autonomous mechanism are intrinsic to the story. Non-existing characters become so “existing” in our minds that we can anticipate their next steps or don’t be surprised by an attitude in the following episodes. More interesting: these characters keep living in our brains out of the written text! Digital world increases this statement: the reader is a shareholder or the story’s reputation. If he feels engaged, he’ll talk about it and will recruit, will debate, will bring the story’s universe to new borders.

It’s pretty rare to consider new ads to be great stories. Nike came and said “I have a story” but don’t give any real clue that it’s true (and the amount of RT to an ad on YouTube is just crap to explain it). We’re on a static ad, that’s all.

The reader as an intimate actor of a public creation

When we read a story, we’re alone, even if you live it with other people. That’s the reason why it’s so important to ask to your friends if they’ve liked a movie or a book. We perceive on our own a story.

Brands dare to directly outreach our intimacy, in order to force us to give our feelings. It’s the case with Nivea, in the US, with their “Cupid’s Challenge“; a category at the same level than coupons in the diverse social spaces of  the brand.

Kiss” platform, with the help of 2 US TV middle stars, Nick Lachey & Vanessa Minnillo wants to coach our love life (so telling what is good or bad on this purpose); wants to viralize people’s love (vs money or gifts); wants to promote Nivea massage’s products, which are supposed to endeavour libido.

A tricky mechanism which has some limits: once you’re done with your 3 RT of celebrity, you remember that Nivea is first & foremost a soap. And that Cupid’s Challenge’s chapter 2 is an empty bottle. Because as in real TV, the script is so not real.

Consumer: a hierarchy of values?

So here’s the deal: isn’t there a way between brands which only talk about themselves and brands which only try to reach our intimacies?

Maybe to go back to basics, as New Scientist reminds us:it’s not about manipulation but aspirations and fullfillments. For instance, 20 years ago, Snickers, a brand owned by Mars in France, decided to build some sports playgrounds in under-privileged cities. A means to bring a concrete chapter to the brand’s story. To help buddies who want to practice some sports in the evenings; and for some of them, to be spotted by major basketball temps. It was 20 years ago. It was alreay pervasive creativity.

January 22nd, 2011

Japanese people and Twitter: the social gap

by Laurent François


2 news which can be faced.

The first one I’ve read: the great Fondapol study on the worldwide youth. Insights are crucial:

Japanese youths are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the general situation in their country (75%), and while three-quarters of the world’s youths claim to be at least satisfied with their personal lives, it is still dissatisfaction which prevails (51%) among the Japanese. Nothing seems to mitigate this pessimism: young Japanese are just as discontent with their finances (74%) as they are with their work (60%). Only 32% of them believe they will have a good job in the future, as compared to an overall mean of 70%. The way they rank their family and friends is even more troubling. Although the world’s youths are satisfied with their family circle (85%), only 69% of the Japanese share their opinion. Similarly, although 78% are satisfied with their circle of friends, only 62% of the Japanese agree. They reject their era: a clear majority (61%) of the Japanese indicate that they are not satisfied with
the age in which they live, even though 59% of the world’s youths are satisfied with it.

On the other side, everybody seemes pretty impressed by the twitter stats  (read Techcrunch) of the Japanese for New Year’s Eve.

The problem is that it has not much to do with the explosion of an amplified social link.

  • it is true that you can express much more in 140 signs in Japanese than in any Latin language (kanjis have deeper sense)
  • but Twitter is essentially used by fans who want to express their love to a J-Pop Band
    During the year, TV news and drama featured Twitter, and it gained many high profile users, including ex-Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. There were also about 100 books published with “Twitter” in the title.
  • Only 3,6% of the Japanese accounts display the real names of the people (because of the cultural reluctance to not use alias…)
  • Japanese users declare that they only follow 51% of close-friends. Because they’ve been pushed to use it not through implicit networks (their friends, for instance to use Twitter as SMS tool) but by media

So to say: you can have a social situation close to anomie and freakily use Social Media: it’s not a good or bad news on your society. Brands should consider this point when it comes to digital or contact strategy: people they try to outreach are not all happy-face, supra-socializers. They are real people with real troubleS.

December 14th, 2010

Sometimes, I have nothing to tell you. The marketing of silence in Social Media

by Laurent François


Billions of online conversations, rising there and on my tweetdeck. Huge delay to read them all. Impossible mission.

And suddenly a friend or a contact pops up in a more private window. Telling me that an article must be read, that a talent is rising. That a project has a just been launched.

That’s the strong come back of the OFF in our digital world. What is rare is costly: bringing the perfect information to an individual is the top service.

Sometimes, I have nothing to tell you online. Nothing as it’s too demanding in terme of available time. It’s not only a question of brain availability, but brodcasting capability. It’s the big difference with Le Lay principle some years ago: in our attention economy, it’s not only about being fed by incredible amounts of signals; it’s about being able to filter, synthetize, send, forward.

In this silent world, this dumb conversation, the one that does not leave a digital footprint in search engines, is very worth.

At the end, the true influence could be in measuring the ability for someone to be invisible. A little bit like luxury brands, that cultivate distance, whereas they’re omnipresent in the form of conversations .

One worry: if monitoring online conversations is at the end not so complicated, entering this silent world is going to be a big challenge. Even with Wikileaks-agents. It’s obviously on. It’s obviously off.