Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cannes Film of the years 2010-2012

In case you have missed who won the Cannes Film of the year, this is it: 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Café noise makes you more creative - now it´s proven!

I´ve always loved working from cafés, and after reading this article from Science Daily, I now know it also improves the result of my thinking. Super interesting!

Moderate background noise enhances creativity and makes consumers more likely to buy new and innovative products, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"A moderate level of noise enhances creativity compared to both low and high levels of noise," write authors Ravi Mehta (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Ryu (Juliet) Zhu (University of British Columbia), and Amar Cheema (University of Virginia). "Moderate background noise induces distraction which encourages individuals to think at a higher, abstract level, and consequently exhibit higher creativity."

The authors created a noise environment similar to that of a roadside diner or a noisy mall and tested people's creativity at different levels of background noise. When asked to come up with ideas for a new type of mattress or list uncommon uses for a common object, consumers were most creative when the background noise was moderate compared to lower or higher noise conditions.

"For individuals looking for creative solutions to daily problems, instead of burying oneself in a quiet room trying to figure out a solution, walking out of one's comfort zone and getting into a relatively noisy environment (such as a café) may trigger the brain to think abstractly, and thus generate creative ideas," write the authors.

The authors also found that consumers were more likely to choose an innovative product over a traditional one when there was a moderate level of background noise. For example, consumers were much more likely to choose a pair of running shoes with new and innovative features over a standard pair at this optimal level of background noise.

"A moderate level of noise not only enhances creativity but also leads to greater adoption of innovative products. In order to encourage adoption of new and innovative products, companies might consider equipping their showrooms with a moderate level of ambient noise," the authors conclude.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A balloon is more than a piece of plastic - why we should sell why instead of what

The other day I was out shopping for a doona and was once again stunned by how product centric sales people are. They go on and on about WHAT they are selling, telling me about the features of the different doonas, what fibres they are built of etcetera. But no where in the monologue was the information about what the fibres did to ME. WHY would I want one fibre instead of another? How would it affect my sleep...? Whether selling doonas, tv sets or computers, most sales staff forget about the most important thing. The customer.

Imagine selling a balloon as "an inflatable piece of plastic" and not mentioning joy, fun, laughs, party, freedom... 

Steve Jobs philosophy was to sell dreams, not products; for example he introduced the iPod in 2001 by saying: "In our own small way, we’re going to make the world a better place." Jobs wanted to serve the world, not just give us consumers what we think we want. He strived to be useful, not just cash in on market research identified demands.

Apple is today number 1 on Millward Brown´s list of most valuable global brands and number 8 on Interbrand´s list of best global brands, and no doubt one many people rave about. Brands like Apple - that are built around something stronger than simply making profit – are also financially outperforming brands that focus on money making alone.

According to research from Millward Brown, presented in Jim Stengel’s book “Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies” there is a huge difference in performance between ideals driven brands and others. Stengel identified the 50 brands that ranked highest on both consumer bonding and value creation over the past decade, and came to the conclusion that the best businesses indeed are ideals-driven. They actually outperformed the market over the past ten years!

Stengel describes the ideal as “the brand’s inspirational reason for being. It explains why the brand exists and the impact it seeks to make in the world”. Examples are Pampers that does not just sell diapers; but cares for the happy, healthy development of babies. IBM’s purpose is to make a smarter planet. Google exists to organize and give access to the information of the world, and Discovery Channel’s ideal is to satisfy curiosity.

Many brands have much more ego-centric brand statements, saying for example “we want to be the most innovative hair styling brand” or “we have the best interest rate”, but when shifting from what you do to why you do it, the brand will become ideals driven – and apparently more successful.

Author Simon Sinek and TED lecturer has in his studies found that brands that start with a “why” instead of a “what” will be more effective, since messages that tell the customers about the deep purpose of the brand will connect with the part of the brain – the limbic system – that handles emotions, and is in charge of decision making. When a brand just tries to attract the market with telling us “what” it offers, the message will only speak to the neocortex – the part of the brain that handles rational thinking. This part is less powerful than the limbic system, which is why “why” messages are so powerful; they connect with our hearts and feelings rather than our calculating mind. 

Brands that know how they change our lives to the better, and see themselves in a broader perspective – less like a product in a category, and more as a tool for life – will get closer to its consumers and become a friend, rather than a thing, which most likely will lead to a long term bond, making people come back for more.

Actually, brands that have become more than a brand, and more a part of life, are seen by the brain as a family member. When brand strategist Martin Lindstrom used fMRI brain scans to analyse people exposed to iPhone sounds, there was a flurry of activation in the insular cortex of the brain, which is associated with feelings of love and compassion. People´s brains responded to the sound of their phones as they would respond to the presence or proximity of a girlfriend, boyfriend or family member.

This research has been criticised, but it´s still interesting. What if we can humanise the relationship between brand and consumer, and see how the same factors that attracts people to people can attract people to brands? What if brands can treat its target audience as an equal? Many products use hearts and the word love, but few really woo people like they would woo a lover. Close, respectful, listening.

The Millward Brown study and Simon Sinek´s research show that “love” is not just nice to have, but also very lucrative, and that a brand needs to have a strong core to get love; a good product is not enough and self-obsession is definitely not hot. What is needed is a purpose. An ideal. A dream. Only then, it will find true customer love.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tall people are more successful

Many brands, from shampoos to hamburgers are presented in their TV ads by a male voice, even if the people in the ad are women. Why? According to research published in Psychological Science it may be because our brains are wired to prefer female voices to male ones, but when it comes to credibility, research tells a different story. On average both males and females trust male voices more.

In one study conducted at Stanford two versions of the same video of a woman were presented to subjects: one had the low frequencies of the woman’s voice increased and the high frequencies reduced, the other vice versa. Consistently subjects perceived the deep voice to be smarter, more authoritative and more trustworthy.

This might explain why a woman can present an idea and go unnoticed, while a man later in the meeting presents the same idea and gets praise and glory – a story told by an endless parade of frustrated women in business or politics.

This is not the only way we subconsciously judge men and women differently – and no doubt unfair. Other studies have shown that people accept and even reward men who get angry but view women who lose their temper as less competent.

Victoria Brescoll and Eric Uhlmann at Northwestern University who have made studies on this say:  "An angry woman loses status, no matter what her position,'.

Both men and women were shown videos of actors portraying people applying for a job, some being angry and some not, and to rate applicants on how much responsibility they should be given, their perceived competence, whether they should be hired, and how much they should get paid.

Both men and women reached the same conclusions: Angry men deserved more status, a higher salary, and were expected to be better at the job than angry women. Angry men were also valued more highly than angry women no matter what level position they were applying for.
Not just gender are associated with personality traits; people also ascribe nice qualities to tall people. They are deemed more worthy, dependable and intelligent, according to Anne Case and Christina Paxsons report: “Stature and Status: Height, Ability and Labour Market Outcomes”.

Author Malcolm Gladwell once asked around half of the companies on the Fortune 500 list-the largest corporations in the United States- questions about its CEO. He found even if in the U.S. population, 3.9 percent of adult men are 6'2" or taller. Among my CEO sample, 30 percent were 6'2" or taller. 

Why is this relevant to businesses? Should companies have to stand up for some kind of justice? Not really - but being aware of how consumers react and feel towards people is crucial.  

  1.  Women control 27% of global wealth and in Australia control 31%, according to Boston Consulting Group July 2010. If these women are not attracted to a brand because it doesn´t have the right approach, the brand misses out.
  2. When creating ads or hiring staff, use the fact that the market will automatically see and value a man in another way than they see a woman, which can affect the way the message is getting through – to consumers of both genders. Use the fact that we are judgmental and unfair to your advantage.
  3. Marketing campaigns are often created in stress. An agency gets a brief and has a week to come up with a Big Idea, and this leads to many agencies limiting their research to a brainstorm with the often young people at the office. When the insight is built on such poor input, the risk is massive that the Big Idea is based on automatic beliefs of men and women, of caricatures rather than real people.
  4. Make sure you are not listening to sales people and leaders simply because they are tall and speak with a deep voice. Sometimes the most clever ideas are born within a short person, and sometimes your subconscious mind will be tricked into closing a deal with a company simply because of the physics of the CEO.  
  5.  If you are short, wear heals or clothes that balance up this fact. Perhaps women can do voice training to be taken more serious and short men can do meetings sitting down? Be aware of the power of appearance...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Many brands are heros without a damstel in distress to save

Most companies, brands, organisations and people are well aware of their own assets. Especially small scale entrepreneurs have trained themselves well in 30 second pitches and have an ability to rapidly say what they do and who they are.

This morning I was at a networking breakfast with a bunch of solo entrepreneurs, hungry for business. They stood up one after the other, held their little presentations and let everyone know what they have to offer.

Unfortunately it was all about them! Very few focused on their consumer and WHY someone would buy their services. Most of them failed in presenting a problem before selling a solution. Like a Hollywood hero without a murder, a damstel in distress or a president in danger. Pointless.

Almost all brands I´ve ever worked with - gigantic or tiny, global or from the hood - have spent loads of money investigating their own navel. Business plans, brand plans, SWOT analysis, sales material... mainly about them. Their benefits. Their USP´s. Look at me, I´m fabulous!

- if you don´t know what your target audience think, say or feel around you - how can you communicate?
- If you have not figured out how they live, what matters to them, what they fear or crave - how can you connect?
- If you are distant - how can you get close, and close the deal?

Most clients I work with need help in understanding their value for consumers and turn the spotlight on to people first. The search for facts and insights on human behaviour, target audience footsteps and emotional state etc is in most cases done way too late. Really, strategy is booming in communication agencies all over the world at the moment, but our job should have been done when setting up the business! Not when marketing it. Research, to find insights, should not just be made in order to find ways to create a campaign, it should be the base of the operation.

I´m happy to help brands I work with and to be able to make a difference of course, but it hurts to see how many businesses that live in confusion. They scream out their message, trying to tell everyone how wonderful they are - while most of people in the audience couldn´t care less. It´s kind of not about them...  And most people just care about themselves anyway. Like when you see a photo of you and a bunch of mates; what face do you look at first...?

An example: Sure, a schampoo for dull hair is great for girls with dull hair - but this is not really what will make her buy. The problem is not dull hair - it´s probably insecurity, a feeling of not fitting in, a fear of not being pretty enough, fear of not getting a boyfriend, fear of not being loved, a craving for an extraordinary life like those girls in the magazines, a feeling of doing what you can with what you got... blah - blah. It´s not like a girl wakes up thinking "oh, my hair is dull, let´s go shopping for a solution". The purchase process is much more complicated and packed with emotions.

Make sure you know the real problem you are a reply to. Make sure you know your crowd. Make sure you know your place in their lives. The customer don´t really care about you, so stop bragging :)

Some of you will now think of Steve Jobs and his aversion against market research or Henry Fords statement "if you had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses", and I know... You should not over adapt to please a verbalised need. But good research goes deeper, and seek not facts on how many percentage of the population that thinks a certain thing, but insights that is shown between the lines. It puts the product into a bigger perspective. Into life.

We all fail of course, in living our message. I have not asked you what you want to read about for example. I have dated men who I have tried to charm by telling them all sorts of things about me :) it´s ok. If you want help from someone outside your bubble, let me know!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Can you hypnotise your customers into buying?

Did you know that if you can make a person nod their head while you are talking, he will automatically be more positive towards what you try to say? The body movement will trigger a positive mindset and is an effective way to reach into the heart of the consumer.

"Each element in the brain is connected, and they support and strengthen each other. A word can evoke memories, which evoke emotions, which in turn evoke facial expressions and other reactions."  

"Each element in the brain is connected, and they support and strengthen each other. A word can evoke memories, which evoke emotions, which in turn evoke facial expressions and other reactions."  

An entrepreneur or marketer can make people friendlier towards a brand by evoking the right type of memories and associations by using these methods as well. Ask customers first a question that will make them think “yes” and nod their heads and this will open a channel to their brain for the second question: “Would you like to buy _________?” Show pictures in your ads that will awaken strong positive thoughts giving them feelings that will strengthen the emotional state the consumer is in when watching the ad, making her at the same time more positive towards the brand presented.

An entrepreneur or marketer can make people friendlier towards a brand by evoking the right type of memories and associations by using these methods as well. Ask customers first a question that will make them think “yes” and nod their heads and this will open a channel to their brain for the second question: “Would you like to buy _________?” Show pictures in your ads that will awaken strong positive thoughts giving them feelings that will strengthen the emotional state the consumer is in when watching the ad, making her at the same time more positive towards the brand presented.

A study from Ohio State University showed that simple movements like nodding or shaking the head influenced people's agreement with an editorial they heard while making the head movement.

"If we are nodding our heads up and down, we gain confidence in what we are thinking. But when we shake our heads from side to side, we lose confidence in our own thoughts”, commented Richard Petty, the man behind the study.

Not just nodding will control our thoughts; a whole range of body movements, including things such as smiling, can change our view on a message, according to the researchers.

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman writes in his “Thinking, fast and slow” about the fascinating concept of “associative activation”:

This explains why you can feel better by putting on a fake smile or that you can “fake it til you make it”. If you for example feel nervous when going into a meeting, the worst you can do is to give in to and amplify that idea by dwelling “I´m nervous, OMG my body is shaking”, because this will only make you more nervous! Instead you should tell your body and mind “I´m confident. I´m good at what I do and have prepared myself well. They will adore me.” You should also make sure you stand straight and balanced, walk with energy and shake hands with strength, looking into people´s eyes. Just by doing this, you will automatically become more confident.

Also words are filled with meaning and power. In a study presented in Malcolm Gladwell´s book Blink, some students got to read a document filled with words like like ”worried,” “Florida,” “old,” “lonely,” “gray,” “bingo,” and “wrinkles”. The students were then sent to do another test in an office down the hall, and it turned out the students who had read this text walked slower than others, who had read a different type of text.

Kahneman describes in his book a similar study conducted in a German university where students were asked to walk around a room for 5 min at a rate of 30 steps per minute, which was about 1/3 of normal pace. After this exercise the participants were much quicker to recognize the words related to old age, such as forgetful, old and lonely. By walking slowly, they came emotionally closer to the concept of being old.

The secret behind successful marketing is most times not what you say, but what people pick up; it´s what they hear, feel and think that matters – and it may not be what you actually said, but something completely different! Their interpretation of your message – not your message in itself – is what will make them like a product or not, be loyal to a brand or not. By using the power of words or movements that people associate with meaningful feelings, a message can cleverly come close to its consumers - almost as if hypnotising them into a purchase decision.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Brands should stop feeling ashamed of taking up space in people´s lives

I love this "ad" :) I found it through Cool Hunter, and it´s created by Access Agency (same people behind both).

It´s surprising how many ads that are traditional and "in the box" (30 seconds on TV or a nice little spot in the newspaper, defined by mmm). Too many agencies work hard on finding slogans, visuals, messages and content that will make us go woooooow, but not enough think like this:

Photo: Nice way to promote a holiday destination by placing a large sticker on a train carriage of a beach.

It´s quirky, different, and emotional. I bet you feel the message, rather than see it. I bet it makes a difference.

The "strangest" ad I´ve seen here in Stockholm the last 2 months is a big banana on a house roof and an outdoors ad where the ad was extended outside the usual format, with pics of groceries hanging out (hard to describe and I can´t find pics online, but DDB Stockholm is the agency).

Most of us have a "no junk" sign on the mail box (mainly to not get too much garbage to carry to the bin and to find the bills in the crowd?) You may think therefore, that ads are unwanted and clingy things that have to force themselves onto us. You may think therefore, that you should be humble, a little bit in the background, trying to manipulate consumers from the sidelines?


Most people live dull lives. Life might be "full" in terms of duties, but most times dull ones. Washing, caring for snotty kids, shopping for gumboots, complaining about the weather, worrying about money, feeling insecure, walking to the bus stop. We are craving entertainment. We would love to be shocked, poked and surprised. Even by an ad.

Ads can be like free amusement parks, a cinema substitute and a joy. When brands step up, get their self esteem back and dare to tickle people, we will adore them back. It´s like those people who just take up space by giving us a huge hug without asking for permission. They don´t stand awkwardly in the background. They shine. So could your brand.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Don´t talk about smoking if you want people to quit

Campaign Brief reported on a new anti smoking campaign in the latest newsletter. 

What bugs me about anti smoking campaigns is that they are so focused on smoking. Research has proven that smokers feel the urge to smoke stronger when they get reminded of cigarrettes (Lindstrom, Buy-ology for example). 

Also, in the world of coaching, we always strive to help people see where they wish to be rather than to dwell on the problems involved in their current situation. When thinking about everything that is wrong, your head will be filled with this, and it will affect your mood and expand the negativity. 

Some people believe it´s good "to get it out" but thinking is not a zero sum game. When "getting your anger out" by screaming or doing a boxing class, you will only increase the levels of anger and testosterone, making things worse. A better way is to focus on new habits, new visions, constructive perspectives. To kill the darkness with light.

I inteviewed several people for an anti-smoking campaign last year, and it was obvious that the minute an anti-smoking ad entered the television, people rushed out to smoke! As a kind of defence system, their brains started coming up with reasons FOR smoking. "Ah, it´s relaxing, oh, my life is crap so I deserve it, eh, I´m healthy and can quit if I get sick..."

Most campaigns with the aim to put people off smoking are created by non-smokers. They are created by high achievers working in ad agencies, by those who are childless and problemless, young and carefree. Their view of smokers and their complex relationship to the nicotine is many times naive and shallow. 

I know the creators of this campaign means well, but does it work? I doubt it. The problem is not how to manage getting where you want to be, but to want it.

Perhaps a better strategy is to help smokers relax in other ways? Make them happy, enhance their lives, spread joy in their misery by focusing on other things. Distract them, entertain and give hope. Deal with their need to rebel. Offer them stuff to do with their hands. 

I know when I quit smoking 16 years ago (started as a rebellious 12 year old, but don´t tell my mum :) it was because I started going to the gym, and exercise became a new obsession. I wanted to be fitter, so I had to stop poisoning myself. I replaced the "smoker" identity with a healthy "gym chic" one. To just give up the cigarettes without having anything to fill the void with would have been harder. 

This is the campaign:

quitbuddy_home_01.jpgThe Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) and media communications agency UM are launching My QuitBuddy, a program to help people quit smoking and stay smoke free.
My QuitBuddy is a highly intuitive digital program that can be personally customised by each user.  Smokers can set their own goals, the reasons they are quitting, include photos and recordings of loved ones and even add buddies they can call upon in times of need.See the app here.
Says James Filmer, UM chief digital officer: "We have designed this app to provide vital support for people through the hardest periods in their quit smoking programs. It includes tips and distractions to overcome cravings and all the facts you need to understand the impact smoking has on your health. It is a highly personalised 24/7 tool." 

quitbuddy_dailymessage_quitting.jpgTo summarise the enormity of the challenge for anti-smoking campaigns, tobacco smoking is one of the single largest preventable causes of premature death and disease in Australia, accounting for approximately 15,500 deaths per annum. Tobacco is responsible for more deaths in Australians up to age 64 than all deaths attributable to alcohol and illicit drugs combined across all age groups.
The My QuitBuddy app is so far designed to run on Apple iPhones or iPads, but after it's initial launch this week a rapid development program is in place to make the app available to multiple mobile phone platforms. 

Other features of the app include:

  • An option to quit now or prepare to quit later
  • My Goals: set your goals and add the support you need to achieve them
  • Daily Message: for the first 30 days, you'll receive a handy tip when you open the app
  • Danger Times: nominate your vulnerable times and My QuitBuddy gets in touch to keep you strong
  • Alerts: a series of scheduled alerts (such as congratulations, it's been two weeks!) to keep users on track
  • Visual icons: view your daily progress including how much money you've saved
  • Distract Me: when cravings come, My QuitBuddy helps with a range of distractions
  • Remind Me: a personalised slideshow reminds users why they decided to quit in the first place
  • Buddy Up: supplies community notes from people who are also quitting and helps you access the Quitline or a nominated buddy
My QuitBuddy is now available as a free download. 

Strategy and overall concept for the app were developed by UM, with design and development from mobile development specialists The Project Factor.

Tourism Queensland vs Tourism Australia - no comments

If anyone has missed this excellent case study of how Tourism Queensland won the hearts of the world:


 Then compare that campaign with Tourism Australia´s newly produced 250 million dollar campaign. No comments... 

Read more: 

 Australia is really my favourite place in the world, but this ad feels old... Sorry!