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The future is bright…

Picture 14Last night I had the great opportunity to sit within a judging panel at the University of the Arts London (London College of Communication) where students had been asked to showcase their own visions for an advertising poster to promote the London 2012 Olympics.

Because I was approached by the Olympics’ social media team  few weeks ago for a bloggers’ tour of the Olympic Park (which was awesome) and also because being myself a big follower of the Games and a massive fan of their current actvities, it was rather odd, and of course a rare coincidence, to be judging on such topic!

With me on the panel there were Claire Tritton, Account Manager on Ford Europe at Ogilvy, and Deborah from ERM Recruiting (both ex-graduate at LCC)

We had around 30 entries in total to go over and analyze – which wasn’t too bad at all! While some tried too hard to impress, not exactly meeting the brief, and with some others not really getting a clear message across – the ones which stood out definitely had a very clever approach to the brief with some very good thinking/strategies behind them (some of them quite impressive actually).

Apart from the winner entry (picture above in the title) which had a very straightforward and insightful message above and beyond the simple concept itself (ask away), two very good ones I remember were a Blackberry Sponsorship-Ad trying to reposition the smart phone as an entertainment device (therefore fighting for a piece of the iPhone’s market share) and the ORANGE one, where the heritage of ‘Building a Brighter Future’ embodied perfectly both the brand and the Olympics’ values with an hopeful message in bringing people together in such horrible times (economic downturn)

Overall the evening was great, very good to meet some ex-graduates who are doing exceptionally well in the industry, a very good catch up with some ex-tutors, and definitely an excellent and hopeful glimpse into what such young talents have in hold for the future of our industry

I will be posting all the entries on a designated Flickr group once I have them all in, it would be great to hear your opinions

Any questions, give me a shout! To all the students who were part of it, a very well done to all of you out there and good luck with the rest of your course…

Cheerio and be in touch



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BestBuy CSR Wisdom = Social Media

Picture 4

I am so glad I was made aware of this video today!

What BestBuy has achieved is what majority of brands are struggling to understand and probably not brave enough to embrace. It’s what I call openness:

  • give a chance to everyone in your company to speak up,
  • make everyone within your company a stakeholder,
  • everyone should be involved,
  • let your employees feel they have a high level of impact into your business development

I have posted a link to the video below this paragraph for all of you to go and watch. It’s 30 minutes long, but if you have a bit of time it’s an incredible insight into how brands should adapt their business models to open up to their employees, with the ultimate objective to retain them for as long as possible, make the business a better place for  your customers to come back to, and last but not least, for your own company to constantly develop thanks to the people who make it such a good place…. It’s not rocket science, BUT STILL, I have no idea why only merely few companies have got it right so far!

Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson in conversation with Peter Hirshberg at Google Zeitgeist from peter hirshberg on Vimeo.

I am not anywhere close to being a business consultant, however I humbly reckon it’s part of an overall ‘Corporate Social Responsability’ vision which has a strong potential to let your business stand out from the others.

The only reason why I am giving the spotlight to BestBuy is because what they are doing is exactly what brands should also be doing with their customers!

BestBuy has launched an internal social network for their over 3000 employees across the US by the name of BlueShirtNation, an internal WIKI, a TradeTrending tool and a Product Development Forum. Within these spaces, employees are constantly coming up with new ideas, talking directly to the managers, getting funded by the company to take interesting concepts one step further, connect with each other from different stores etc… allowing a fully personal experience where they can feel meaningful to the company

That is exactly what customers want!

  • They want to feel listened
  • They want to get involved
  • They want to be meaningful to the eyes of your brand

I would be extremely surprised if BestBuy doesnt open such tools to their customers. People could add even more ideas to what BestBuy employees have, it could actually generate even more conversations between employees and consumers to drive better service and more product development.

Also, at the moment they are talking about a mobile device which would allow customers to review their products right there at the moment of consideration/purchase. A custom software would allow reading a product barcode and let you retrieve all the reviews from the BestBuy online community website straight onto your mobile screen.

The ultimate point is : how would your customer feel through such an awesome shopping experience?

I could only say – satisfied? clear about his choice? glad about listening to what other people like him have to say about the product? More willing to buy?

As a brand, if you start engaging with your existing and potential users online, through building and maintaining open and meaningful conversations you might get the same results! Am I right?

Answers on a postcard please!?



The slideshare below explains in more details their strategy


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Chinese Rumbles


Disclosure: Nothing to do with creativity or innovation eh eh

I was honestly not expecting to face such realities in this trip

I was not expecting China to be such an incredible and inspirational place but at the same time a place that could emotionally sign me forever through some of the worst morally challenging situations ever experienced in my life

China’s always been considered by my senses like the place where emerging trends get started, where technology is leading people’s lives day in-day out, where life is taken day by day with a pinch of superiority respect to any other citizen of the world.   The typical ‘We have it all, we are ten years ahead of you’ mentality was still pretty strong in my head when I got to Hong Kong – but I quickly realized that it’s solely a masquerade to hide it all when I got to places like Nenchang

I’ve always been aware of a dark side, where poverty was pretty high – but I honestly thought it would have been much better then I could have ever imagined.

I now know what ‘feeling lucky’ means … seriously!

Overall China is an amazing place; if you are looking for something, they have it around the corner for you and if you really want to see where marketing was born go and have a look at the Haizu Market… It’s an eye-opening experience!

As a friend once told me, in a way or another, China cannot leave you unaffected and you will either love it or hate it.   We’ll see how I feel at the end of this trip…
So far I’ve learnt that…:

  • Chinese cannot drive, FACT – Fasten your seat-belt because if you have never had an heart attack in your life, you’re risking it all down here!
  • The majority of countries are recognised by the initial. For example England is called ‘E Guang Ghou’ or something like that, which means ‘the country starting with an E’ – same with France, Germany etc… with the exception of Itali’ah!  We must be special somehow…!
  • Some kids don’t wear nappies but they simply have holes in their trousers. Odd, I know, but somehow it tells me kids get smart pretty quickly down here as they manage to warn mum when they are about to release on time :o)
  • When you offer someone a lighter, they tap the side of your hand twice to thank you – this is to be thankful immediately while they inhale the smoke
  • TAXI’s are probably the cheapest thing in the world here. What would cost £30 in London here it’s not even £2
  • They must have the best customer service in the world BUT they can become extremely meticulous at times, resulting in a very slow response
  • China knows very well how to hide poverty. The majority of cities, with Guangzhou being the perfect example, have high buildings on each high-street keeping out of the sight the degrade
  • They never stop building! I must have counted at least 15 new building developments on my street. Population and business’ growth is so high here that in a way or another they’ve got to keep up hey ?!
  • If I wanted to get married, it could easily happen tomorrow ;O) Apologies for the modesty but I received three marriage proposals in one day!!! This is not because I am stunning but simply because as soon as girls get to see a western man …they go wild! Eh eh

I will add more soon

Zàijiàn 再见

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Posted by on May 6, 2009 in Uncategorized


Sunny Side Up (24/04 Slides)

Enjoy and drop me a line if you have any questions

I will soon update this and the previous entry with all the relevant links

Some of the images should already click through



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Posted by on April 30, 2009 in Uncategorized


Isn’t it just right?



Posted by on March 4, 2009 in Uncategorized


METROTWIN – Case Study

picture-26 Brand: BA
 Initiative: METROTWIN
 Markets: Global (UK & US centric)
 Dates: Ongoing



British Airways is the national airline and flag carrier of the United Kingdom and one of the largest airlines in Europe. 

BA is a founding member of the Oneworld airline alliance and London – New York is the daily most frequent flight within the English Airline’s transatlantic offering.  

Because of this, but also to retain the good market share within UK/US flights, BA wanted to create something interesting and useful specifically for this audience, but also appealing to a wider user/base. 


  • To create a unique BA branded space useful to the audience flying between the two cities 
  • To have a place for frequent fliers to connect and share informations 
  • To retain high visibility in what is a high competitive market for London-New York flights


The Idea

  • METROTWIN was launched with a clear strategy which was aimed at giving the community something back, allowing their audience to contribute to the collective knowledge of the two cities.  The idea was to create a central-hub for people to seek advice on what’s hot and what’s not between London and New York.  
  • The website is now managed and moderated by few BA agency-staff members, however the majority of the content comes from the general audience and selected contributors  who also get to gain BA Miles based on the level of participation.
  • The website includes a list of categories where people can add content.  These go from Arts & Entertainment to Bars, Pubs and Clubs
  • Here, people are invited to leave comments, rate venues and events and add these to their ‘Favourites’ within their personal profile pages.
  • The website also has a blog to keep people up-to-date with key partnerships in both cities, local events definitely not to miss and digital news on ‘cool stuff’ (including obviously free advertising for BA to their special offers)


The Outcomes

  • METROTWIN is now one of the few key destination sites for people to find out what’s happening in the two cities of the world (the BA names behind it has definitely helped)
  • During December 08, the website was visited from 46.000 unique visitors – which is pretty impressive if we compare it to a similar website like TIPPED (which had 60.000 UV.) or MySpace (which received 90.000 U.V.) … and this is solely UK results!
  • Each user has spent on average 10min. and 52sec. on the site which is astonishing for any website (Facebook users spend on average 17min. per visit)
  • BA is receiving a lot of free publicity from the site, of course Free advertising space, and it has become an excellent benchmark for any International Airline’s social media attempt
  • Also, based on the results above we could definitely assume that retention rates within the competitive flight-booking market are pretty strong for BA, especially on the key London-NY flight.


The Learnings

  • Produce something your consumers will benefit from 
  • Open a two-way conversation and get people involved in creating the content within your branded space, they will feel more considered 
  • Crowdsourcing and knowledge-sharing is the future of communication. If your brand offers a place where like-minded users can communicate and share information relevant to them, you are in for a gold…
  • Give something back: you don’t gain loyalty only with incentives. Think outside the box – You don’t have to offer money-off vouchers to retain your consumers, but you can play on other elements – i.e. consideration levels and emotional values
  • Just because you are marketing a specific audience, it doesn’t mean your property has to be opened only to them. METROTWIN is not only visited by ‘those NY-Lon frequent flyers’ but also by the ones who do not necessarily travel or only travel between the two cities


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Posted by on January 22, 2009 in Uncategorized


Predictions for 2009

2142019650_4ba839758cLet’s start saying that 2008 has been an incredible year for our industry…

With the introduction of new mobile technologies and the boom of social media we have experienced incredible creativity and innovation from numerous brands through some extraordinary online user experiences.

We’ve seen brands stepping into more and more UGC competitions, the increasing use of online branded web-series and in-game advertising on the rise; but the highlight of the year has to be OBAMA and his awesome social team in providing us with the most magnificent online and offline campaign e.v.e.r – and I am sure you all know what I am talking about

It took a bit of thinking but I will now try and write down some of the predictions my brain has come up with ;O)

So, let’s give it a start….

  • Customization and CrowdsourcingYou may have definitely already seen the beginning of this but customization will be a major trend in every single sector. With the increasing economic turmoil, people will be looking for quality rather than quantity and products unique to themselves are what will make the difference. Consumers will want to stand out even more in such times and brands will need to offer a way to let this happen.

Ideas like NikeID, for example, will have to introduce even more innovative concepts to make the shoes even more unique to the consumers’ eye. Even if crowdsourcing may sound like a complete opposite trend, it somehow has something to do with customization if used in the right way. Users not only will want to have a unique product but they want to have ‘a voice’ on what to produce. Companies like RYZ are going to receive incredible investments from bigger brands to adopt the same model or step into their site, because this is where consumers have the right to create, choose and buy their own product. Crowdsourcing is about involving the consumer in business and product development, IdeaStorm by DELL is a great example of a brand thinking forward and listening to what the consumer wants and many brands will definitely have to follow suit…

  • Online TV The increasing launch of IPTV services and with people leading a busier lifestyle, online TV viewing is going to have a major impact in people’s media consumptions, even more relevant when backed up by new social media tools to facilitate communication.

picture-133MTV set the standard at the end of September with BackChannel, an innovative way to allow like-minded individuals hooked on the show  ‘The Hills’ to interact with each other through games and competitions while watching the show on the IPTV service. Radio and TV channels will have to think about innovative ways to interact with their consumers while enjoying this ‘new way of watching video content’ online. Can you imagine Channel4 introducing something on these lines for SKINS communities out there?

  • Consumers-driven Branded Communities  – I usually call them CBS (consumers branded spaces)  and these are the communities where users have a very important role in shaping the future of a brand. This can be seen as a pretty good strategy for brands to turn some of the fans in real advocates, often providing tools for them to become highly influential within the community.

At the beginning of the year O2 launched Customer World, a space where  they’ve been able to talk to me in a very personal way, incentivised me to respond to surveys, getting me involved in advertising previews and allowed me to stay up-to-date with the latest on technology and innovation through their blog.


This goes to say that, if brands used to step into social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, developing branded pages in communities where consumers were already existent – NOW these are going to fade away because of all the ‘branded cluttered content’ available. Users are not going to be able to follow what every brand is up to within only one space (i.e. all the Facebook pages I’m a Fan of) hence why creating advocates within unique branded spaces is the way to go. This way, companies are certain to communicate with the ‘few interested individuals’ who are actively involved with their brands

  • Power to the Blogosphere – Following what I just said above, creating online advocates is a great strategy for brands to be more visible within the digital arena – because of this, bloggers will come to play an even more important role in the new year. Approaching influential individuals online to support new creative and innovative initiatives is something very established outside of Europe, especially in the US where many brands have employed such strategy with amazing results (i.e. HP and the 31 days of the Dragon). Now that we have a good number of influential bloggers within Europe interested in several different areas, we will see many of these backing up such initiatives. Also, the graph below from Hitwise Research shows how increasingly high has the traffic to blogs and personal websites in the UK been in the past few years.

Something to always take into consideration is the quality of the creative thinking behind these initiatives. To create a positive buzz within the blogosphere brands will have to come up with extraordinary user experiences for bloggers to get highly involved with (great example is the 7th Syndicate idea by V&A).

motrinAlso, brands will learn not to ignore what people are saying about them online, with particular attention to the blogosphere. We’ve seen many cases this year of brands having to deal with harsh consequences after ignoring the online community, best of the worst probably has to be the Motrin Case. This goes to say – brands will start listening more to the ‘voice of the online crowd’ – we gotta hope so…

  • New Mobile Technologies – With the mobile as one of the most important portable device in our lives and with the iPhone gaining always more market share – 2009 is in for big surprises with reference to new mobile technologies. We’ve already seen how QR codes are being used by brands as an innovative way to access digital unique content from any offline media – examples include H&M with their new catalogues’ launch and McDonald allowing people to read nutritional informations about their products from the packaging.


However, what we will see more of is the introduction of advanced mobile technologies together with QR codes to create very innovative user experiences to perfectly tie in offline and online concepts.  The latest great campaign developed by our friends at We Are Social for Ford KA – Find It – is a great example of this. Through the download of a ‘3D KA’ mobile application, you can try out the 3D Ford Ka from your Nokia phone simply pointing your phone at the 3D marker which you can grab from the website. You can also check out the video of the 3D Ka here  to understand how things work better. When the 3D Ka is viewed at a particular angle on the phone screen it will reveal a secret URL:, continuing the campaign theme of “looking beyond the obvious”.


  • Facebook Connect – I’ve titled this Facebook Connect but what I really want to highlight is the power of controlling all your online activity under one roof.. OpenID had previously started this but Facebook has so many more options and tools to let this opportunity work better. Facebook Connect is going to facilitate this through the access of your personal data when signing up to any participating website. When mentioning data we mean more then your personal details; we’ll be able to see which friends have access to the same site, control the activity from your personal page, upload the same photos directly into the new website and so forth.

Facebook Conference

In the near future, we will be also able to access our favourite websites straight from a personal Facebook platform, with the possibility to carry your data with you and talk to your friends on wherever website you are visiting. Every single activity from one single place…

I will be back with more predictions in the new year, so stay tuned for Part 2

In the meantime I take the opportunity to wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR. I am pretty positive about 2009 for our industry, with the increase of digital marketing spent against offline advertising I am quite confident we are all in the right boat – fingers crossed it’ll be a fantastic new year ahead!!!

See you next year :O)



Posted by on December 31, 2008 in Uncategorized



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