Are messaging apps the new bar stools?

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This is a post from PRISM’s Social Army – regular briefings on topics aligned to our business or close to our hearts. Today’s entry is from Shane O’Sullivan, Head of the Global Content network at PRISM.

One of the best things about working for a sports marketing company like PRISM is analysing how fans and audiences are engaging with sports in different ways. This presents many opportunities for the brands we work with. It’s exciting to think we will be telling stories on platforms or using methods in 2017 that do not even exist yet.

Sport and technology are two of my key passions. I have been lucky enough to attend a mixture of live sporting events around the world and when reflecting back on my most memorable sporting moments they have not always been physically at the event itself. For me the best thing about sport is who you share it with. Technology is very much aligned with shared experiences and creating moments in time. I have read a lot of 2017 trend reports from various outlets, particularly ones focusing on sport, and while mixed reality, virtual reality, eSports and live experiences will no doubt play a more prominent role this year, I feel one area that tends to get overlooked is conversational interfaces.

In 2016, it became quite common for people to describe WhatsApp as the “new bar stool” because messenger apps give you the ability to discuss the live match while not physically being near your friends, and to do it in a fairly natural way. Research certainly validates this: a report from BI Intelligence shows that the combined user base of the top four chat apps is larger than the combined user base of the top four social networks, and, in 2015, active use on messaging apps surpassed monthly active use on the top four social networks.

Currently, when I watch sport – be that live, out socialising or at home – I tend to use a messenger app for a lot of the lean-forward moments when I am debating with friends, actively discussing contentious decisions or sharing pictures, videos or GIFs. Anecdotal evidence suggests I’m certainly not alone. Most of the people I work with at PRISM are using messenger apps in the same way when watching sport.

We know this is happening, but how do brands tap into this behaviour? A good place to start is to look at what other brands are doing outside of the sporting category. Two that spring to mind are Kayak and Burberry. Kayak launched its chatbot to make flight booking more conversational and remove the friction of airport codes, checking flight permutations and so on. A big plus of this approach is that your history is captured and allows you to pick up conversations about flight options and bookings as and when needed.

Burberry is one of the best brands in adopting technology trends but, more importantly, also provides a consistent experience across all platforms. Burberry has embraced conversational commerce and tested messaging formats for customer service and product recommendations, both designed to drive deeper customer relationships with the brand.

But my favourite example of a brand adopting a conversational interface is actually from the unlikely sector of insurance. Lemonade is an online peer-to-peer insurer that has mastered the art of providing a conversational interface for that most boring of tasks, buying insurance. The app makes the often painful process of searching for a new policy or making a claim more seamless than its ever been. Look at the video below for a demonstration:

 

Sports rights holders and brands involved in sports sponsorship could adopt a similar conversation-based approach anywhere there is a data exchange with fans. This could be anything from purchasing tickets to the brand serving up real-time official content, offering access to talent or behind the scenes moments, all distributed directly into the conversation itself.

If brands can find a way to provide this sort of value to fans in a conversational way it may feel more natural and sticky than the traditional model of interrupting their sports experience with a TV commercial. That would certainly be a good space for them to play and drive brand affinity.

At PRISM we are working on one of these messaging approaches at the moment, so watch this space, or message me… just please don’t interrupt!

Shane O’Sullivan

If you’d like to contribute a post to PRISM’s social channels, email ntaylor@prismteam.com 

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Will Snapchat kill TV sports coverage?

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This is a post from PRISM’s Social Army – regular briefings on topics aligned to our business or close to our hearts. Today’s entry is from Ciaran Mulvihill from PRISM’s London office.  

Snapchat, the once quirky app for pulling funny faces, is now a Goliath in real-time consumer interaction. Its rise has been driven by 18-35-year-olds and much of that by their use of it at sporting events. I know, because I am one. And please don’t use the M word. You know the one I’m talking about.

Snapchat, though, has recently levelled-up its sports offering, to answer the prayers of a frustrated football fan like me.

Subscription is a right turn off

When Premier League football lived on SKY and terrestrial TV, it was bliss. My parents had SKY for the big Super Sunday clashes, and terrestrial for regular matches and cup games.

But hang on there, Captain Kirk, then came a new signing by the name of BT Sport, with a shiny deal for 42 games, and that caused a problem as big as Stoke on a Tuesday night. Just trying to work out what channel a game is on has now become an arduous, weekly task.

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I don’t use subscription services for SKY or BT Sport so I can’t get games there. The parents have ditched SKY (not worth the money), so now I rely on the limited coverage available on terrestrial. But even trying to catch Match of the Day for highlights, the BBC’s seminal football show, just to keep up with the action is similarly troublesome. If I don’t see it live on Saturday or Sunday, my chances are gone. Match highlights aren’t on BBC iPlayer, either, so when I walk into work on a Monday, I have to fake-pretend like I saw that ‘amazing goal’ from Sanchez just to keep my footballing dignity.

Snapchat – cooking with gas

Where does this leave me? Well, I’ve recently turned to Snapchat for the answer. Snapchat provides featured channel space to media owners like SKY, and SKY is running with it. I can check the SKY space for pre-game build-up articles and team news, and then get all the highlights from the weekend’s games on the Snapchat app whenever I want to watch them.

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So, what does this show? We 18-35-year-olds are a generation seeking sports coverage and content on our own terms. No wonder Netflix and Amazon Prime are booming. But will sport follow? It will be interesting to see whether the Premier League embraces these new viewing trends with its partners.

Maybe other rights-holders will follow the model adopted recently by the NFL, which broadcasts big games, but also livestreams a number of matches on Twitter.

Man United vs Man City livestreamed on Snapchat, anyone? I’d definitely give it a watch. It would be free, after all.

Ciaran Mulvihill

 

If you’d like to contribute a post to PRISM’s social channels, email ntaylor@prismteam.com 

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The Jekyll and Hyde of offsites

This is a post from PRISM’s Social Army – regular briefings on topics aligned to our business or close to our hearts. Today’s entry is from Adrian Higgins at the Ford Content Factory.

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Ever heard of this guy, Deacon Brodie?

Just a Google search away, Brodie was a Scottish cabinet-maker and councillor, though this was not how he found fame, or rather infamy.

Successful in his trade he nonetheless chose to supplement his income via an orthodox new business opportunity – namely, making wax impressions of his clients’ keys and leaving those same clients (and the authorities) at a complete loss when they found they had been parted from their most valuable possessions.

There followed betrayal, capture and an untimely end at the hands of the hangman – despite a daring attempt to escape that fate, which relied on avoiding strangulation long enough to be pulled down from the gallows and spirited away by accomplices. Unfortunately for Brodie, the drop killed him before he could survive the asphyxiation.

Or at least legend has it. And for Brodie, there were many legends.

The tale by which he is best known is that of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, written by near neighbour and contemporary Robert Louis Stevenson – who is said to have based the titular hero and villain of his novel on Brodie himself.

In hindsight, Brodie’s is likely not a great example of the new business which formed part of the discussions in Edinburgh for this year’s PRISM offsite, which took place earlier this month.

As part of the downtime at the offsite, I joined the Secrets of the Royal Mile walking tour, which led us meanderingly towards Edinburgh Castle, and left us in possession of local stories like the one above about Brodie.

New business and the entrepreneurial spirit (though perhaps not Brodie’s particular brand) were a theme of the 2017 offsite. So was the importance of the team – which helps ensure PRISM’s offering is a differentiated one, even for those of us a step or two removed from PRISM’s HQ in the JWT building in London (I’m based with other UK Content Factory staff at our WPP partner Hill+Knowlton across the capital in Clerkenwell). Storytelling was another focus – which is a fundamental part of mine and my team’s role – but also the way in which we all articulate what PRISM is, where the company is going, and how we try to get there.

Offsites are a mammoth task of organisation (hats off Jackie Madincea, our global HR director, and EA Justine Charles), and can present conflicts to attendees who have to balance client work with being truly present and engaged enough to ensure value is extracted from the experience.

To paraphrase the Harvard Business Review article Off-Sites That Work, what they should do is leave “fingerprints” on the business. Offsites are also, as Steve Madincea our group MD and founder pointed out, about shared experiences, such as a walking tour, applying the glue that lends a team strength to celebrate successes and to address improvements – such as how a little design know-how can improve the workflow of the pitching process.

A company culture that supports shared experiences and group learning – it’s easy to take for granted, until one finds that is not the case for friends and colleagues who work for other agencies. At PRISM we work for a company that both sees value in offsites – and ensures there is value in the offsites that we attend. That’s not the case for everyone in our industry.

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And besides, without them how else would I discover what a philistine I am when it comes to whisky? But that is another story. It was great to see many familiar faces, and a few new ones. I hope to see you next year.

Adrian Higgins 

If you’d like to contribute a post to PRISM’s social channels, email ntaylor@prismteam.com 

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Would Red Bull’s Content Strategy Work for Other Brands?

This is a post from PRISM’s Social Army – regular briefings on topics aligned to our business or close to our hearts. Today’s entry is from Dan Anslow at PRISM’s London office

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Having recently discovered that Red Bull TV is available on any connected device, I’ve been gorging myself on great quality action sport stories.

It’s free, advert-free and if, like me, you’re into your octane, it just might be the best channel on digital air. And it’s all to sell more Red Bull.

But I’m not drinking Red Bull while I’m watching some Cali dude tailwhip his YZ over a mountain of dirt. I’m not even thinking about drinking it. Rather, I’m fantasising about pinning the throttle of a dirt bike with a sky-high rooster tail in my wake.

Does this massively expensive marketing tidal wave to keep Red Bull front and centre of the ‘global fridge of consumer cool’ really work, and, if it does, why don’t other brands do it?

In 2014, Red Bull sold 5.612 billion cans of energy drink and made €5.110 billion in revenue, sharing the profits with its Thai licensee (which makes the product). The company owns F1 cars, puts on amazing events and sponsors high-profile athletes, but it doesn’t make drinks.

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Almost every brand out there makes content, but nothing else quite pops like Red Bull’s adrenalin-cool offerings.

But could a major (and already pretty cool) brand like BMW do a Red Bull?

A BMW channel experience that captures the best in art, design and technology, perhaps? There wouldn’t have to be a BMW in every frame, and if the content was good enough, the brand would benefit from its association and sponsorship of the channel. If we began choosing BMW to entertain and educate us for an hour or two every day, would the auto brand need to buy a magazine advert for the new 3 Series ever again?

Stepping away from the traditional way of selling cars with TV and print ads is likely a way too scary prospect for an established automaker, especially one that’s quite happily selling a huge number of cars already. But, if they went for it full throttle and pulled it off, wouldn’t all those conquest Audi and Mercedes sales pay for it?

It’s unlikely a decision any BMW boss would relish taking, while with nothing to lose and everything to gain as it went from zero to sugary hero, Red Bull was in a unique position to create its own marketing space. Now all it has to do is fill that space with great Red Bull stories.

Unique Red Bull might be, but I think any big brand with the corresponding kahooners could take inspiration from Red Bull’s success and create its own positive PR through killer content.

I might not drink Red Bull while watching the Air Race, but when the blue moon shines on that time that I need a kick-start, only the charging Bull will do.

Dan Anslow 

If you’d like to contribute a post to PRISM’s social channels, email ntaylor@prismteam.com 

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Why Your Brand Needs a Purpose

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This is a post from PRISM’s Social Army – regular briefings on topics aligned to our business or close to our hearts. Today’s entry is from Tajdar O. Chaudry from the Ford Content Factory in Bangkok.

As individuals, we often struggle to find the purpose in our lives. In its pursuit, we start associating with a set of ideals that form the very foundation of our instinctive identities and we find ourselves most engaged when approaching crossroads that challenge those ideals; most driven, when that convergence leads to their fulfillment.

That’s a simple, comprehensible human truth, yet one that’s often an afterthought in marketing planning in 2017. In the pursuit of tangible justifications, the intangible is too often ignored. We do so at our peril in the digitally prolific present, as the rising tide of consumer distrust is giving way to an immunized audience whose psyches have built up the relevant antibodies to resist traditional (read: ancient) marketing methodologies.

Simply put, they don’t believe (and in some cases, don’t even want to see) what your brand has to offer unless it speaks to their values as individuals.

Richard Branson recently said, “Brands that will thrive in the coming years – both financially and in terms of their impact on the globe – are the ones that have purpose beyond profit.” And, long before him, Henry Ford said, “A business that makes nothing but money, is a poor business.” These visionaries aren’t wrong and these words will continue to be the standard for success for years to come.

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In order to build a thriving enterprise, brands have to identify, embrace, embody, and articulate a brand purpose that inspires their audience to connect with them. In order for purpose to make a noticeable impact on a business, brands must prove to consumers that they are committed and transparent in their mission.

Further proof of this can be found in Edelman’s 2016 Earned Brand Study, which concluded that “the modern consumer is looking for more than just tamper-proof bottles and affordable jeans. They want relationships with brands that reflect their values and create positive change in the world. A narrow focus on the classic purchase funnel from Marketing 101 is blinding brands to greater possibilities, when they could be engaging with fans and followers in ways that can enhance both their reputations and their bottom lines.

Brand Purpose isn’t just another marketing buzzword, it’s a strong driver of sales, with examples of Dove’s “Real Beauty” and Always’ #LikeAGirl campaigns coming to mind as resounding wins in recent times. Other notable examples include Apple’s purpose to “empower creative exploration and self-expression”, TOMS’ one-for-one purpose of “improving lives”, and Nike’s purpose “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”. These aren’t just slogans; they’re a representation of the why that keeps these companies relevant to audiences in a world that’s hemorrhaging brand births by the second.

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And it’s not just external-facing metrics that get an uplift, but internal as well. A 2015 study by Harvard Business Review and Ernst & Young revealed that there are clear business benefits to having a strong brand purpose. It showed that companies with a strong sense of purpose were able to innovate and transform easily, as well as improve employee satisfaction. Incorporating purpose into a business inspires consumers and stakeholders, and can also play a role in recruitment, helping brands to attract and retain talented individuals.

As a staunch evangelist of purpose-driven marketing, I could wax lyrical for ages on the subject but my editor told me to limit this post to 500 words (I’m already at 574, eek!). If you’d like to discuss this topic in further detail or would like studies that add empirical depth to the subject, feel free to reach out to me over Twitter (@MSTRTjay) or Linkedin (/in/tajdaroc). In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this profound TED talk by Simon Sinek that dives deeper into this psyche and what makes it tick. Enjoy!

Tajdar O. Chaudry

If you’d like to contribute a post to PRISM’s social channels, email ntaylor@prismteam.com 

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Content[ed.]: January’s Best Branded Content

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Content[ed.]: a monthly overview of some of the latest and greatest in content creation. We applaud the benchmark breakers, berate the boring and confer over the opinion splitters, all in good heart and sometimes with a bit humour.

JANUARY 2017

We’re fortunate to be in an industry where creativity has to be at the core of everything we do. And the rapid proliferation of content and digital platforms for entertainment and discovery means there is no end to the amount of information and inspiration that brands are providing for us.

This month there have been many notable pieces: FKA Twigs and Nike left us believing in more; Samsung showed us how crazy gyms are; Apple took a stroll in the much-talked-about ‘AirPods’. There’s also been an abundance of great content in the sportswear market. Nike, Puma, Under Armour, New Balance, Reebok – all well-known brands making great work in an effort to out-do each other. However, our pick has to be a brand that has really hit the year running – Adidas.

ONE IN A BILLION

‘One in a Billion’ was right on the money. Superb cinematography, a dig at rivals Under Armour and a Beckham cameo. It’s a great example of how a strong piece of insight on stereotypes of China can be brought to life through content. Adidas is glorifying originality in everything it creates as we’ve seen in the ‘Sport Needs Creators’ and ‘Never Follow’ ads. This latest spot complements this message and celebrates individuality in China. A strong strategy and content to match.

ORIGINAL IS NEVER FINISHED


This piece for Originals – Adidas’ most iconic sub-brand – is beautifully bold and rebellious, relentlessly pushing the message that ‘original is never finished’. They’ve avoided using superstars and gone for a more natural message of everyday suburban creativity, Adidas revisits its ‘Originals’ truth that real creativity is everywhere, is collaborative, and is continually evolving. That feeling certainly comes across in the raw and candid style of this film. The detail here is incredible and the song choice inspired, reinvented for a new generation as an anthemic call to action. The production is meticulously planned, but still carries that unpolished, incomplete, gritty feel.

BREAK FREE

Not actually a piece of work by Adidas this one, as it was made by a German advertising student, but it picked up a lot of views earlier this month. Hats off to the chap because it’s a class piece of content about an ageing marathon runner who is determined to break out of his retirement home. It’s an emotional account that’s left many cheering and some crying. It had such an effect that the Huffington Post and other media urged Adidas to run it. Unfortunately, those calls were ignored. Although the brand was reluctant to back the student ad, we think the message gels with the Adidas’s overall philosophy of inspiring creativity. Not only is the sportswear-maker inspiring athletes to be creators, it seems like they’re inspiring those outside the athletic community, too.

Written by: Oliver Salman & Simon Hanley

Are Brands Losing Faith in the Super Bowl?

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This Sunday the Atlanta Falcons meet the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51. It’s one of the most-watched sporting events in the world (115 million Americans tuned in last year) and a place for brands to wheel out their most impressive, splashy TV commercials.

According to Variety, Fox (the broadcaster that owns the rights to the match this year) is charging from $5m to $5.5m for each 30-second commercial spot during the Super Bowl broadcast. For comparison, a similar slot during a really popular primetime show in the US, such as American Idol, costs around $500,000.

But this year a number of regular Super Bowl brands have decided to sit out the game. Doritos, which has advertised for the past 10 straight years, has declined to buy any time in the Super Bowl, Ad Age reported back in December. This is especially significant given the popularity of Doritos’ Super Bowl ads, which have claimed the top spot in Ace Metrix ranking of the top Super Bowl advertisers from 2010-2016.

Heinz’s Super Bowl ad from 2016 was a big hit

It’s not just Doritos. Digiday reported last week that Toyota, Butterfinger and Taco Bell, all Super Bowl regulars, have declined to buy space. Toyota, which has just been usurped as the world’s largest carmaker by VW, says it has no major car launches in the US until spring, so a Super Bowl spot didn’t make sense.

No word why Taco Bell and others have declined this year, but it could be down to the ever-increasing cost, plus the plethora of alternatives to traditional TV advertising that continue to grow in importance each year. Tellingly, Taco Bell has poured huge resources into leveraging social media, with a broad strategy that includes all major social platforms. This insights report cites a 33% engagement rate on Instagram for Taco Bell posts – 33%! – and 251 million views of online video content since 2011.

With declining attention from TV audiences, many of whom watch with a second screen in their hands, and spiralling costs, perhaps it’s not surprising that some brands are pursuing alternative channels. Added to this, if a brand misjudges its Super Bowl commercial, it can be a very costly, and very public failure.

The day following Super Bowl Sunday, expect industry media (and increasingly consumer press, too) to deconstruct the best and worst commercials that aired. Last year, the New Yorker decided this one from AXE was the best, with this spot from Doritos polling highest with members of the public.

The big fails last year? According to most chatter, this putrid attempt to persuade Americans that borrowing money is patriotic, and this one about a man who has taken so many prescription opiates that he’s badly constipated and jealous of a pooping dog (above).

My favourite from last year? So glad you asked. This one, from beer brand Shock Top. Look out for reports on this week’s big winners and losers on Monday morning. Go Falcons.

Nick Taylor

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