Archive for ‘brands’

November 14th, 2010

Brand inexperience: a true Social Media Marketing goal?

by Laurent François


We’ve been talking a lot about brand experience these days. In an economy of attention more & more complicated, brands aim to focus again on consumers’ journey, starting from research, buying behavior & finally ending on the diverse usages / consumption of the product or service over time.

A necessary long-time approach as in our liquid & “liquifying” economy, new usages or needs postpone the death of a product life cycle. Movie industry is good example: you go to the theater, you watch a DVD or VOD, you sell & buy goodies. Or you can even implement products’ placement (thanks Thien for sharing the link). A Disney experience has proved for a long time the multiplying possibilities of a single idea. Mobile phones are now social browers, and that’s also interesting: any OS update is a new opportunity to get new services or start again certain usages; things you could not imagine while you were in the conception phase.

In a SWOT approach (strengths, weaknesses, oppportunities, threats), we most of time go too fast on opportunities, letting them dependent on brand assets, instead of focusing on the real context. Good consultants generally do a deep work in order to understand what the core competences are. But they obviously leave interns & juniors working on PESTEL (or environment) analysis. They normally keep too little time to go back to these insights. The problem is that if you remain too focused on brand experience, so to say on the product at the early stage, you destroy huge potentialities, prospectives, which can occur or just appear thanks to a new context.

In our pervasive environment, we should therefore invest time in a new practice: brand inexperience.

The devil is in the details; we could challenge ourselves:

  • in which ecosystem the brand should be present but seems invisible?
  • in which tribes can we find the brand that is used in very original ways, that were not anticipated by the “brand experience administrator”, so to say the brand value chain?
  • to which level do the user understand and use the brand? Is there a pool of users who drive the brand down or at perfectly immature stage? (think about Palm 10 years ago and compare it to iPhone today: we’re still smartphones’ teenagers. All.)

September 10th, 2010

Is Social Media changing the world or is the world generating Social Media?

by Laurent François


According to eMarketer, “40% of brand representatives around the world felt social media posed new challenges to the integrity of their brand. More than a third said that social networking sites affected brands significantly enough to bring about changes in marketing strategy” . Interesting statements; but I guess that the following conclusions are not enough: “But with 500 million consumers reachable on Facebook, and a host of other networking sites, services like Twitter and the rest of the social web, the challenges may be worth it. More than half of brand representatives told MiresBall and KRC that social media gave them an opportunity to reach new customers

It’s like if marketers were missing a level: it’s not Twitter nor Facebook that are at stake, it’s more generally the way people lead their daily life, the way they talk to one another, the way they priorize things. At the end, we don’t really care Facebook nor Twitter (for instance, in South Korean, NO ONE cares).

Focusing on 2 trending networks cannot be a good attitude: it lacks strategic implications. For instance, if I were Uniqlo, I would probably try to see which channels can be interesting, true. But I’d start with a simple objective: why do I communicate? Once I’ve found my reasons, what’s the value proposition? And only then I’m gonna ask which supports can propagate this value proposition. Supports and not channels: because for instance, supports can also be a limited edition, a flashcode, a media partnership.

Focusing too much on Social Media is the same mistake than focusing too much on advertising or retail: all these practices are part of a same effort. It’s because the world’s changing than Social Media is changing the world.

August 12th, 2010

The new girl: the oppos-IT Girl

by Laurent François

Citizens! According to l’Officiel de la Mode, It girls are dead: viva oppos-It girls!

“Bye-bye les filles vides, les oppos-“It girls” sont féminines mais pas féministes. Elles sont mamans, pas mamas. Elles travaillent dur, ne travaillottent pas. ” Constance Chaillet

To go fast: new girls are feminine, not feminist, they’re mummies, not mamas.

Is it a come-back to conservative styles? The new flavor for Nicolas Sarkozy female’s supporters? No.

“Dès que les choses vont mal, on se tourne vers les fondamentaux. C’est une réaction classique. A cela vient se joindre le rejet de l’anorexie et une attitude générale qui devient antimannequin jetable. Ces filles ont quelque chose en plus dans le regard et dans la tête, et on s’en rend particulièrement compte en ce moment” Alexandre Schwab, de Viva

For Alexandre Schwab, it’s just that after a crisis and a depression, we need to go back to basics and to very down the Earth messages.

Good news: in the era of Social Media, this quest of true meaning happens more and more online. Talent discovering, niche markets are the new hype. In Japan, there’s a fantastic trend around Beautiful Girls” : when stars seem to far away, we need to get some inspiration from the street. Easy, uh!?

French Connection understood it quiet well;  they wanted to destroy the image of the Parisian bitches who first look at the wallets before the eyes:

The thing is that only few brands really play with “true beauty”, the one that is invisible for eyes (lol). So to say, talent.

For instance, Garance Doré signed a limited edition for Gap. But we can obviously wonder if the brand bought a competence, an audience, or both:

A friend of mine talked about the coming mash-up between creativity, networks and stories. We should keep posted until September, 9th:

Otherwise, like French Connection, you can probably go to Married to the Mob if you like this wandering Runaway Faye, in a running movie:

RUNAWAY FAYE from The Town Pump on Vimeo.

Thanks Samy T. for the tip.

August 10th, 2010

Return on Investment or Single on Investment in Social Media?

by Laurent François


When it comes to Social Media, there’s most of the time this dramatic notion of Return On Investment which immediately appears.

It’s a conceptual mistake.

We’d better think in terms of “single on investment”:

  • what is at stake is the preparation of the organisation to welcome, understand and manage social web within its diverse functions. Like in a journey, a brand or a person should prepare its bags, pack-age, understand the diverse milestones which are to come
  • when you fly to a new country, you need to get some change in the local currency. For instance, if you’re an American brand, you’d better get euros soon ;). You’ll also check what are the rates, what are the prices for daily goods or services
  • you’ll also try to find “friends” or local contacts, which will help you enter more deeply in a new culture
  • you’ll get some insights about local habits
  • you’ll probably get some vaccines!

Then, only then, you start your journey. And can think of the Return.

What do you think?

June 11th, 2010

Sulake Ad Summer event: Social gaming at stake!

by Laurent François


I write you from Finland, from Helsinki, as I’m invited by Sulake for their Sulake Ad Summer event. Fantastic moment and great keynotes + conversations with ad/media buy/social media agencies (big up to Jérémy, Caroline and Isabelle, my French fellows). Here are my notes…

It all started with Phill Guest, Executive Vice President Global Ad Sales at Sulake.
Here are their main activities:

Habbo: 170 M users worldwide
56% boys, 44% girls, 65% are 13-16 years old
63% go on Habbo every day
IRC Galleria (social networking) (mobile virtual network for young adults)

Mission: inspire playful interaction and self-expression in people

Positioned in the mainstream of powerful macro trends:
– avatar sites
– micro payments (business model: 82% of revenue based on micropayments, 18% from “immersive & community” advertising
– from a destination site to an interlinked & distributed services:

now Habbo is open doors: entry points can be from any network (Facebook, Yahoo!, MSN, Orkut etc.)

-> new iterations every 4 weeks

Phil Guest mentions that brand survey + data studies are key for brands

1- Lessons from Social Gaming – Sulka Haro (lead concept designer)
one third of his life spent on Habbo (kidding?!)

– on Habbo, you create a little dude
majority of interactions based on stories / roles. Ex: what’s happening in an hospital, what’s happening in a summer room

(which was actually created during the winter)
– people create things unexpected. It’s a people-story generated content network

So why people are attracted by social gaming?
– friends
whenever you play a game, you need good company. But virutal world is not that easy to create friends. SOcial games make

finding friends easy (ex: Facebook, you click & you play)
social makes the game viral, and virality drives all of acquisition, retention & monetization
in the meaning time for brands, being top of mind is key. It’s what makes people come back
“social games aren’t really social, they should really be called viral games”. This is a wrong statement.
The modes of play change as we grow up.
According to Mildred Parten in 1920s, 5 different ways of playing:

  • solitary play
  • onlooker play (observing others play, passive)
  • parallel play (playing in parallel with no active social interactions
  • associative play (playing in groups, open form)
  • cooperative play (organized multi-player activity with defined roles & goals)

Including associative play, free form, inventing new rules on the fly is ok
but on cooperative play, you need rules. That’s why it’s also a “grown up” play”

In digital terms: solitary play = classic computer play, onlooker play = spectating, parallel pay = social games (least demanding way to make your game social – you don’t need total attention & at the same moment of your friends), associative play = open ended virtual world

Habbo: free from social pressures of the real world
Parallel play: it validates the games you’re playing is the right thing
Habbo reminds you all the time that your friends are playing the same game: re-validation. In Counter Strike, it also tells  you what your buddies are doing (Jojo killed red-flag team etc.)
. Example in Habbo: a movie theatre made in Brazil Habbo, where people just…virtually sit down. But because your friends do it too, you are happy to take part to a non very active place!

Habbo also offers real time interaction with players. Most social games are based on interactions that are predefined by the

admin. On Facebook games, you normally play less than 5 minutes. On Habbo, you spend 45 minutes.
On Habbo, continuous user base grown for 10 years. On Farmville, 14% drop in users in May. Long-term retention?
On Social Games, you have low barrier to entry, poor long term retention, and poor engagement (unless you invest 100 million dollars like in WOW)
On Habbo, there’s a steeper barrier to entry, but a high long term retention & a long term relation

Regarding accessibility, the model is:

Potential audience
consumers aware of the product
and finally play

For games:

expensive marketing/expecting users will gind product by magic
physical media distribution
buy before you try
limited-time trial

If you try a game, you need 2 days to get it properly. Social games have solved the problem, on Facebook.
Go where the users are
no install, instant access
free to play : dramatic change
design for everyone

So what’s habbo done?

go where the users are
no install, instant access, no registration (ported clients from Shockwave to Flash). Shockwave: complicated because too many crash. Teenage computer nerd has ceased to exist (not sure but…). Flash 9: faster, easier. So teenagers don’t have to wait. The results are simple: 5% improvement on new user conversion & 7% improvement in month-over-month retention of users.
No Signup: Facebook connect, google account, twitter account support aka “one click registration”.
Automatic friend finding (no users lost due to forgotten usernames/passwords

Ingredients of Social Game Success:

  1. make finding friends easy
  2. enable meaningful parallel play
  3. solve your distribution problem
  4. design for broad audience

2- Review of the last Habbo features in development

3- Habbo Engagement marketing
ella kirjasniemi

Habbo Runway

– fashion show, and main issue: what do teenagers like to wear?
– a big event, with celebrities. Miley Cyrrus: to make the final decision.
– design contest + vote at the local level, then at the global. Among the three, Myley decided. And the winner was in

Singapore. During the 8 week, wide UGC. Real life/real style pictures competition was really popular. Media partnerships in

Spain with Super Pop

– record sales
– user activation: 10,000 design entries (Netherlands + Brazil top contributors)
– insights

habbo Worldcup

– Garnier Cuida de ti

Pure active product

strategy: media + point of sales + internet

objective : contacts/ traffic/ budget optimization

Tactics: dinner with Maxi Igelsias

1- attractive promo: sponsorship of the comedy main forum
2- media activation: bloggers + influencers (information about the new product): viralization+reliability
3- MySpace session with the band (online experience/event)
3- Experience on Habbo (2 months):     public branded room (clickable billboard + pre-programmed room) / a beauty room
in-game contest: “are you a doctor?” and quizz to ask how to get rid of beauty

problems (ex: hide your head 😀 )
focus group (/ imperfection, spots etc.)
brand page
tests after 2 minutes in the room (questionnaire)
35 rooms were created by users on their owns

– Cheetos Relaunch 2010
tweens still watch TV but in a very active way; they select, anticipate, follow, discuss
a strat to inspire users, and to accept unexpected contents
72% offline 28% digital but ROI 39% offline and 61% digital in terms of contact

– NHS case study

keep it simple

4- As a conclusion: Brand content

“it’s not about digital life, it’s actually about their…lives” Phill Guest

Childline example:
challenge: decrease in the amount of calls and make them talk about children welfare
young people involved in creating contents, social engagement
use of virtual goods
function / pleasure / social

so why people spend money on digital assets?

if you’re going to cinema, at the end of the day you get memories, maybe torn tickets and maybe a good experience. And that’s all.
A virtual good is like a commodity that you keep in your room and that you keep on remembering.
For young people: it’s just another service
So if you’re happy to do it for cinema, why not with virtual good.

Control: letting the community take the contents
Don’t be surprised with what they do with your contents

Virtual goods can be very demanded but don’t cost much (virtual ferrari vs true ferrari)