Archive for February 19, 2011

Posted: February 19, 2011
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James Bond – brand agent

There’s a new series on BBC TV called Faulks on Fiction, which in reassuring as-it-says-on-the-tin fashion is Sebastian Faulks taking an entertaining look at the world of novels.  This week his subject was heroes and featured Ian Fleming and James bond.

Faulks receives useful and well-informed help from John Hegarty, described in the caption as “Brand consultant”, with justification when you consider the part he has played in the development of so many famous brands, but better known to marketers, simply as the Hegarty in Bartle, Bogle, Hegarty – another great brand.  BBH, you’ll remember were, responsible for the Levi’s Launderette campaign , which I am sure I am not alone in believing, is the campaign that marked the coming of age of Brand Development.

Faulks hits the nail on the head in his analysis of Fleming’s genius in the creation of the Bond character, when he and Hegarty highlight the way Fleming defined Bond in terms of famous brands.  In a featured interview, Fleming himself confirmed that brands are a great way to define a person.  However, until Bond, this idea had never been fully exploited.  Bond is Rolex, Ritz Hotel, Smirnoff, Dom Perignon and a whole lot more.

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the theme.  I’ve explored, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs  a number of times in the past, in particular, the theory that we are all gradually ascending to a point of self-actualisation, but currently stuck at a point where our goal is the approval of others and the pursuit of belonging.  I have called this the “I am what I buy” or “I am what I wear” syndrome, which is represented admirably by this story and continues to be the heart of any well-founded brand strategy.

In fact, Bond matured to become an iconic brand himself, ironically adding substance to brands like Smirnoff and Aston Martin from which he was forged and many more besides in a kind of DNA cycle that is replicated in BBH – builders of brands that define their brand and the many other examples that surround us daily.  I can think of no better illustration than James Bond of what brands and branding is all about.


Posted: February 16, 2011
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Saatchi & Saatchi London and T-Mobile. A big idea worth sharing

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NB3NPNM4xgo&feature=player_embedded]

Its not just because I’m one of the old Saatchi alumni and I’m sure I am not alone in this, but I get a kick everytime I see this campaign.  In fact, although I have worked for most of the big mobile operators over the years T-mobile hasn’t been one of them, so why am I giving it space here?

The answer is simple.  Its a great example of something that I have been banging on about for years – “The big idea”.  In the old Saatchi days, this is what we did – Silk Cut, British Airways, Intercity, there’s a long list of big ideas that have originated in Saatchi.  For years now though I’ve felt that (and Kevin Roberts will hate me for this) the old place had struggled to get its head as far above its competitors as we used to, but looking at what has been coming out of Charlotte Street recently, I have to say, things are looking good.

Keep it up folks!


Posted: February 13, 2011
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Brand Britain or Big Society. Could Cameron use some marketing expertise?

It may be another word for the kind of national service the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have only recently abandoned, but it seems to me that David Cameron’s “Big Society” idea is missing a basic ingredient for success.

Those who have followed my comments on National Branding in the past will understand where I am coming from on this.  I’m all in favour of a self-supporting society and a move away from the nanny state that far too many of us have grown to rely on, but are those who are driving the Big Society initiative seeing it as a step towards Brand Britain or reliant on it?  My feeling is that in order to get there you have first to nurture a feeling of belonging among the populous and, judging from the debates on the Big Society that are currently taking place, this just isn’t there and the media are doing their usual best to divide us still further.

I see there are a number of facets to the Big Society.  There’s the need for us to stand on our own feet as individuals again, there’s the need to cut the cost of the services and resources that have supported the lazy and over reliant among us and there’s the belief that by focussing on community and encouraging people to participate, society and our nation can begin to realise the many opportunities that a community mindset opens up.  However, government is missing far too many opportunities to “big up” British and Brits’ achievements and, as I have said before, this is a key component of any Brand Britain development programme.

If I am reading Dave’s agenda right, I can’t see anybody grabbing and managing this initiative nor can I see what is being done, apart from a lot of talk (which has its place, of course) to get everyone on the same page.  If the “Big Society” is, after all just a money-saving scheme, then David Cameron is surely missing the bigger trick?  Anyway, ultimately it won’t work, because the people who are supposed to be implementing the programme at local level have neither the skills or experience to make the right judgements or the motivation that a real Brand Britain campaign would provide.

Cameron and the Tories may have come closer than previous governments to getting this kind of campaign right, but we need a whole lot more internal marketing and brand-building to be brought to bear if the Big Society is going to be the really worthwhile initiative I hope and believe was the intention.


Posted: February 2, 2011
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The wonder of Wilko

In what appears to be an increasingly grey and mundane landscape the occasional ray of sunshine is more than welcome.  My personal shining star right now is the retailer Wilkinson who seem to have suddenly awoken to become everything that Woolworth failed to be.  They are even doing it in the very shop units in which Woolies crashed and burned.

It’s hard to fault the new look Wilko.  Great new logo that manages to be both contemporary and friendly in equal measure, stores that despite their stack-it-high-sell-it-cheap approach to merchandising still appear orderly and inviting and whether it’s just my local branch or common throughout the chain, the staff are friendlier, and more helpful than those in many premium stores.

Their array of categories offer the diversity that Woolworth failed to cope with and rationalised away long before their eventual demise.  Wilko’s homewares sit better in the store than those of Matalan or TK Max and partner with decorating products more comfortably that Homebase.

Wilkinson, remarkably, was top of mind for me when buying a few stationery items today, even though in Newbury High Street, WH Smith are directly opposite (But I always think of Smiths as a venue for a wrist-slashing anyway!).  I bought de-icer from there a few weeks ago in preference to Halfords, and a few homewares items that I could have picked up from Tesco, had I been so inclined.  Admittedly there is a chasm between the old Wilko stores and the new smart format, but with a roll-out planned I’m sure it won’t be long before everyone will be able to experience the wonder of Wilko!  Even their web experience is good.  Frankly, I can’t see how they would fail.