We’re on a roll!

Dialogue are delighted to announce that leading paint supplier Dulux Paints Irl, have appointed us to develop an exciting RM programme – designed to reward stockists and their trade customers for their loyalty.

We’re looking forward to rolling out the programme and encouraging customers in a race to the top of the ladder! We’ll say no more for the mo…

Cleese does it with ease for AA Ireland

Dialogue’s radio commercials to introduce AA Ireland’s new Home Emergency Response Service hit the air this week.

Featuring the one-and-only John Cleese, they’re part of an integrated campaign which also includes direct mail and banner advertising.

Not surprisingly, John graced the recording session with the effortless professionalism, timing and attention to detail that’s kept him a worldwide star for over 40 years.

Nearer to home (in every sense), Home Emergency Response is the new service which offers the same level of reassurance and protection to homeowners that AA’s motorist members have always enjoyed. If you want to take the stress out of burst pipes and broken glass, sign up!

NOTE: no parrots were harmed in the making of these commercials.

Amdocs’ new brand vision launches

Six months of intense activity paid off on 1 February as telecoms software giant Amdocs launched its new brand promise ‘Embrace Challenge, Experience Success‘.

After being appointed last June, Dialogue developed this new positioning for Amdocs in time for the company’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

The new positioning emerged following a process of deep engagement with company senior management, staff and customers. This required a number of trips from Dublin to the company’s offices worldwide. In addition, the corporate positionings of key competitors including Oracle, Accenture and Huawei were analysed in order to clearly differentiate Amdocs.

Worldwide impact

The new positioning has resulted in a complete overhaul of the company’s website and will be reflected in Amdocs’ ATL and BTL advertising plus all digital communications including banner advertising, social media and email marketing. It will also be used to motivate the company’s 19,000 staff and worldwide customers alike to continue Amdocs’ 30 year record of industry leadership.

The brand promise has already encouraged one staff member to succeed in a personal challenge. Raz Froilich, Amdocs’ Head of Operations in Europe, braved temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius and 60 kilometre per hour winds to climb Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas.

Thinking big

Amdocs is a global company with revenue of approximately $3.2 billion in 2011. Amdocs has over 19,000 employees and serves customers in more than 60 countries worldwide. For more information, visit Amdocs at www.amdocs.com

Chairman Killeen’s Second Term

Michael Killeen has accepted a second term as Chairman of the InterDirect Network, the international network of independent agencies.

IDN (www.interdirectnetwork.com) has over 30 agencies across 60 countries with global billings exceeding $1.25 billion last year.

Michael’s key challenge last year was the repositioning of the network as a key global digital player and supporting this with their new identity and positioning launch.

Dialogue will host IDN’s annual Autumn conference in Dublin in September with over 100+ international agency directors attending the four day programme.

Last year IDN agencies delivered superior award winning global work across the integrated field with a major emphasis on digital integration.

IDN also increased its presence in the Asian markets with new members in China, Hong Kong, India, Kazakhstan, Singapore and Thailand. We will also be adding a number of highly rated members this year from South American and North American States.

Hireland – The Time Is Now

Back in February of last year, members within Dialogue decided it was time to do something about the unemployment crisis in Ireland and set in motion a movement that created the brand “Hireland.ie”.

Thanks to the support from neighbours to students to marketing professionals to family and friends, Hireland.ie was launched this week – without a bank account. Thanks to the continued support of colleagues across the Irish marketing industry who volunteered significant time and media resource in the most humble of ways – completely free of charge!

Hireland.ie is asking SME’s to consider hiring one person this year and get the country back up and running again. We are encouraging business owners to go to the www.hireland.ie website and pledge a job. The campaign will run for six weeks and the response over the first four days has been overwhelming with 700+ jobs pledged. The immediate results have given us great confidence that the Hireland.ie movement will hit its goal of creating 5,000 new jobs by midsummer.

We have a series of steps that we plan to execute over the coming weeks to maintain this momentum so please keep an eye out and continue to support it were you can.

Thanks again to all of you who have engaged, supported and pledged this week. And may we ask everyone to go onto the www.hireland.ie site and pledge just one job if you can or raise it with those who are in a position to do so and should.

Our politicians jump on the brandwagon

What the parties promised and what they really meant.

Party Lines

What’s the biggest brand in politics now? The polls have shown it’s ABFF. In the World Cup last year the majority of the Irish cheered Anyone But France. Now they’ve voted ANYONE But Fianna Fail.

Democracy by definition means you can never get a political party to have a brand that sticks to any real consistent values. Instead, to try to please all the people all of the time, they chop and change and promise anything and everything.

So we got the same tired promises. Taking their cue from Obama when he faced Bush, they all promoted change – however vague (although I don’t remember Barrack rapping, unlike Labour’s Michael Conagahan, whose Horse Outside parody made your ears weep blood).

Sinn Fein set about rewriting their history to now love everyone on the island, even promising them jobs to show there’s no hard feelings. And who better to offer to burn the bondholders? Who’s going to argue with Gerry Adams? The Greens promised the earth…literally, while Fine Gael were very proud of their digital prowess (despite the PR disaster of the hacking of their website). A section on their site allowed you to send a Valentine Card that proclaimed your “love for your country” as well as your Valentine.

Fianna Fail’s brand was already so badly damaged that their posters were the only example in marketing history when the client had actually asked the advertiser to make their logo smaller. They were microscopic! In the run up to the election in the Irish Times, a Fianna Fáil insider said “The brand is toxic, it’s almost beyond help.” But their brand has gone through so many changes anyway – from Irish language speaking frugal comfort socialists to the party of big business and back to frugal discomfort.

Most interesting, we could see what the start-up brands were doing. One that stood out was young Dylan Haskins. IT STARTS HERE was as brilliant and ambiguous a campaign line as we’ve seen.

All political parties should remember that real brand loyalty is only really reached when people feel that their brands are being loyal to them. So what should the parties really have promised? We gave it an hour of brainstorming. Here’s ‘where they are’ and what they really mean.

We are where we are

Let’s take a look what the political parties promised:

Fianna Fail: Real Plan. Better Future.
(Really? Who were they fooling? We don’t accept that)

Sinn Fein: Sick of the tired old politics of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour? There is a better way.
(To be honest, this was the best of the ‘change’ lines)

Fine Gael: Let’s get Ireland working.
(A clever line that tricked people into thinking it meant: let’s get the people of Ireland working)

Labour: Jobs, Reform, Fairness and a vision of One Ireland.
(They talked the talk but it still seemed very blue collar)

Green Party: Renewing Ireland.
(A clever line, but renewing Ireland at what cost?)

United Alliance Left: Building a real political alternative.
(Don’t know – building has a bad connotation nowadays)

Dylan Haskins: It starts here.
(What starts here? And where? Doesn’t matter – he was advocating change to the kids)

What we meant

Sinn Fein: EU and whose army?
Labour: Let’s keep Public Sector Ireland working.
Fianna Fail: No plan. No future.
Fine Gael: We’ve got the solution. But you’re not going to like it.
Independents: Keeping the parties in check (as long as we get our cheques).
Green: Ask not what we can do for your country,
But what you can do for the planet.
United Alliance Left: Nothing Left.
Dylan Haskins: Vote me for Hall Monitor and the Milky Bars are on me!

With very special thanks to Zoe Bradley, Dialogue and Karl Rock, Independent Candidate, Dublin.

Is The Apprentice destroying marketing?

Is The Apprentice sending out the wrong message? We ask a seasoned marketer, Gerry Ryan and a student, Zoë Bradley what they think of Bill’s cullings.

YES, “You’re Fired” writes Gerry [read here]

NO, “You’re Hired” writes Zoë [read here]

Marketing – You’re Fired!

Forget madmen, The Apprentice makes marketers look like lunatics, writes marketing man Gerry Ryan

Marketing: Bunch of chancers and incompetent spoilt brats, shooting in the dark and flying by the seat of their pants? Watching The Apprentice, you might think so. The perception of the marketing industry seems to be: we do everything slipshod seconds before presentation; we don’t know the difference between strategy and creative; we go to photographers and focus groups without any concepts and ask them if they have any. And we tamper with the client’s logo without even knowing it! Well, we marketers don’t like them apples.

Serious discipline

Can’t Bill focus on some other business disciplines? Couldn’t the candidates tackle an IT or HR task? Perhaps ask them to come up with a viable economic solution for Ireland? Or learn to pilot a plane? Or perform heart surgery with Bill mixing things up a little and announcing “you won’t be using scalpels boys and girls but knives and forks”.

How hard can it be to find another sector to belittle?

It can’t be as hard as writing a memorable slogan, for example. Of course, the young go-getters of The Apprentice last year reckoned: “how hard can that be?” Remember? The strap-line they delivered for Samsung was ‘Live. Enjoy. Dream.’ Then ‘Live. Every. Dream’. Then ‘Love. Every. Dream’. They couldn’t even remember it themselves!

Marketing’s a serious discipline. It can change consumer behaviour when delivered properly. It can even save the lives of the poor and helpless around the globe that we help fundraise for every day. But you wouldn’t think it from watching The Apprentice.

Job interviewees from Hell

The candidates call themselves team players, but they arrogantly shout over everyone else to get what they want. They’ll take full credit for a job that gets praise and heap all responsibility onto someone else when it goes wrong. And they delegate tasks like disorganised, blue-arsed flies.

Worst of all, they’re rude when presenting concepts – defending their bad ideas by shouting down the client and trying to blatantly bullshit and spoof them.

Ssh! Marketing managers might be watching

According to Emma Everard in Mediaworks, 408,000 adults over 15 watch The Apprentice regularly: including 207,000 ABC1 adults. Are these viewers left with the impression that advertising is just a joke?

Watching them brainstorm ideas is as unintentionally hilarious as seeing a tone deaf delusional on X Factor who can’t accept that superstardom is not in their stars. “What’s easy to use?” they ask. “An abacus is easy to use!” Brilliant! Or even better: “how about a piece of cake with the line ‘it’s a piece of cake’.” Astounding. It’s like Spinal Tap for marketers.

After all, who needs robust planning, sharp insights, challenging clients and defining the key measurements of a project when you’ve got entrepreneur turned creative Barry (the genius who tells us he regrets spending 150k on a car during the Celtic Tiger).

“I haven’t seen it before, so it must be original”, he says, talking about portraying products as animations i.e. M&Ms. His face fell when the client called his idea ‘repetitious’ – but it didn’t stop him the following week from painting one of his teeth blue to highlight a ‘Bluetooth’ feature on a phone. Maybe he hadn’t seen that idea before either…

If this chancer represents the perception of marketing out there, I’m off selling penny apples. How hard can that be?

Marketing – You’re Hired!

The Apprentice isn’t making a mockery of marketing, it’s promoting it, writes student Zoë Bradley

Every Monday night, hundreds of thousands of us sit in front of our TVs and do what comes naturally to most of us – judge others from the safety of our front rooms. This most entertaining activity has been increasingly seen as a thorn in the side of the marketing profession. As a student myself, I see it in a different light.

Brand Awareness

Firstly, I think the show increases awareness of marketing itself and emphasises its importance in business. Even Bill says it! The marketing aspect is invariably a key element of every task. Often the success of the candidates is judged on the amount of sales the team has made and certainly those with the best marketing strategy invariably win the challenge.

Take for example this year’s current Irish Apprentice. In the second episode the teams were required to make a radio advert and design an original menu for a new diet service. Though both teams were slated, the girls won by the skin of their teeth – why? Because their marketing strategy was deemed to be absolutely spot on. So the show itself highlights the importance of getting your marketing strategy right. Many entrepreneurs consider their product to be so fantastic that it needs no advertisements, relying merely on word of mouth. However I think that the show demonstrates how a great marketing strategy can really boost a product’s performance.

With more people becoming aware of the possibilities created in the marketing world, more people will enter the market which will help promote greater competition and higher standards.

Dog-eat-Dog world?

Undoubtedly, it is the bitching and backstabbing in Bill’s boardroom that has most viewers hooked, and some say this damages the industry – showing today’s youth that to get ahead you must be bolshy, selfish, arrogant and all-in-all an unlikeable person. However, these contestants can be viewed as being a horrible warning as opposed to a good example. In fact, ridiculing these foolish figures is one of the most entertaining aspects of watching the show! Watching them shoot themselves in the foot through their bad behaviour could only be an incentive to act in the polar opposite. Who would actually in their right minds hire some of the idiots on this show??

Fast, Cheap, Good?

Showing the teams strategising, recording and presenting in about two days could be misleading to the public and make marketing look like it’s done quick and cheap. But any marketing student knows a job can never be fast, cheap and good – you will always have to compensate on one aspect! This is hilariously highlighted often throughout the series. Could anyone really look at the standard of the work presented by some of the teams and applaud?

Who could not agree that professional marketing is the way to go, when watching episode 6 of the current UK Apprentice where a housewife dresses up in a ridiculous octopus costume. I’m sure that 50% of viewers ran from the room screaming!*

The Apprentice can only be good for the industry. It emphasises the importance of a good marketing strategy in all business ventures; it highlights how teamwork wins over self-important egotistical maniacs; and if seeing an octopus in your kitchen doesn’t convince you that the job is best left to the professionals, then I don’t know what will!

Finally let’s not forget that Donald Trump himself wanted The Apprentice to be educational as well as entertaining. Even if it’s just learning what not to do!

*not based on any actual figures/realistic analysis.

Gerry Ryan and Zoë Bradley, Dialogue

Deny Everything

Brands, look at my viral. Now at my product placement. Now back at my viral. See how whacky it is. Now back at my product. Now back to my viral. Sadly, while brands like Old Spice really get the impact of virals and have 20 million people voluntarily watching them, some put them out there, then deny they had anything to do with them at all. In the age of the faux viral, most brands are taking the stance of plausible deniability, but who’s lying and who’s telling the truth?

Take the case of the Guinness ‘bottle’ viral which featured a woman’s back being used as a table in a three – or possibly four – way. Diageo responded at the time by saying they were in no way associated and made YouTube remove it. Proper order; Diageo is a client and we know that they are stringent in adhering strictly to drinking laws. We also know they are 100% committed to encouraging people to drink responsibly.

So it’s no surprise that Smirnoff, another Diageo brand, is currently denying involvement with the virals lauding a drinking game known as ‘icing’, which has become “the first viral drinking game of the modern era”, according to the New York Times.

What did come as a surprise, however, was a top Swedish digital agency at an advertising conference I attended recently, saying it was their opinion that Diageo was certainly behind the “Icing” viral campaign.

This brought to mind the Guinness “gay couple” viral. It was written and shot as an official ad, but when tabloids started causing uproar before it before it even aired, Guinness dropped it like it was hot and denied all involvement. So sometimes, it seems not everything is black and white.

When Ford Ka’s ‘Cat’ viral, with its cat decapitation, caused outrage, both client and agency claimed that: yes, they had made it but no, they had never approved its release!

Similarly, Nokia’s viral which featured a cat caught on a rotating ceiling fan blamed their agency for going ahead with a concept they hadn’t approved.

Volkswagen went one further and even threatened to sue the creators of the now infamous ‘suicide bomber’ viral. Protesting too much?

When Nintendo’s ‘Why every guy should buy their girlfriend a Wii Fit’, was posted on Youtube, the gaming giants denied involvement: “absolutely, 100% nothing to do with Nintendo”. But the clip was posted by the director of interactive media at a US ad agency and featured his girlfriend – who also worked at the agency. Just a coincidence?

Indeed, are all these virals just coincidences? A case of scheming viral hoaxers victimising poor global brands? It’s plausible. After all, the sheer quality of user generated content is astounding. It’s an interesting conspiracy theory. But where is the smoking gun?
And with agencies in the US now springing up claiming to specialise in ‘Hoax Virals’, it makes you think about the nature of a typical denial. It usually goes like this:

  1. Viral goes where brand doesn’t dare to go – but has gratuitous product placement.
  2. It creates a furore.
  3. When the furore dies down, the company in question comes out and claims to have no connection to the spot whatsoever. The policy: deny everything.

But no matter how plausible the denial, can we believe it?

Earlier this year, a viral did the rounds showing a group of athletes doing the impossible and running on water. It seemed to be a genuine affair – except for product placement of Hi Tec trainers that was a tad suspicious. Despite 4 million views and a positive reaction to the piece, Hi Tec denied involvement.

“We had zero to do with that,” said their U.S. PR manager Dayna Panales at the time, “nothing”. Panales even denied that her denial was part of the campaign. “This is not a campaign on our part at all”, she added.

But in June, Hi Tec changed their tune and admitted they were indeed responsible. In a press release, they commented: “After the initial buzz, we thought it was finally time to come clean and unveil to the world that Hi-Tec were behind the viral. It was all a well intended hoax.”

Dialogue MD Michael Killeen commented: “People are less gullible and have become wise to the phenomena of hoax ads especially with sites such hoax-slayer.com. Brands must remember that trust is the most important asset they own. While traditional advertising is regulated to be truthful, using online marketing is a way of getting around this. I have huge respect for brands that become risky in the online space but these brands must maintain their honesty with these brave activities. I have always stood by the values that you shouldn’t commit the crime unless you’re willing to do the time. If you get caught then raise the hand, admit the prank, you will be respected. It will have the complete opposite effect if you don’t. Irish consumers respect honesty and will not tolerate people or brands who blatantly lie”.

The days of denial could soon be coming to an end however. In March next year, the Committee of Advertising Practice code will also deal with digital, the grey area that brands have enjoyed for so long. Allegedly.

Gerry Ryan, Dialogue