Our iSPY email newsletter is a handy digest of the most important business we compile each week. Read this week's round-up of everything that matters in marketing, business and technology news below. If you are not on our iSPY mailing list, please subscribe by sending an email to email@example.com. View our archive of news here.
iSPY 27 March 2013
LOCAL BUSINESS NEWS
1. Brics delegates to ‘add R100m to regional economy’
Durban is a city like few others. Its main streets, heaving with people, are lined with shops, informal traders’ stalls, salons and photographers — all displaying everything from electrical appliances to pyramids of bright red tomatoes, hair weaves and photographs for ID books. Joining such throngs this week will be about 5,000 delegates in town for the fifth Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit.
2. Fourie sells R33m in Pinnacle shares
A family trust controlled by Pinnacle Technology Holdings CEO Arnold Fourie has sold R33m worth of the company’s shares.
LOCAL MARKETING & MEDIA NEWS
3. Saluting media leaders: SA’s top 40 under 40s (part one)
We believe in paying tribute to those who excel and we make a point of noticing the leaders among us. We know that it takes more than just hard work to be a leader and to be powerful in the media industry.
4. TBWA sent their briefs back
TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris in Johannesburg promoted their design department recently by sending briefs back to clients transformed by in-house designers.
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS NEWS
5. Last-minute Cyprus bail-out deal to close bank, force losses
Brussels — Cyprus has clinched a last-ditch deal with international lenders to shut down its second-largest bank and inflict heavy losses on uninsured depositors, including wealthy Russians, in return for a €10bn bail-out.
6. Pension funds wary as bankrupt city goes to trial
Wall Street is taking America’s biggest pension fund to court this week, for a long-awaited battle over who takes the losses when a city goes bust — workers and retirees, municipal bondholders, or both.
7. Microsoft didn’t violate Google patents: ITC
Microsoft Corp did not violate a patent owned by Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility when it made its popular Xbox, an administrative law judge at the International Trade Commission said in a preliminary decision issued on Friday.
INTERNATIONAL MARKETING & MEDIA NEWS
8. How AT&T, BBDO turned those talkative Tykes into ad gold
In November, AT&T launched "It's Not Complicated," a series of spots featuring a straight man and a kooky group of kids who together tout the advantages of the mobile provider's network to hilarious, surprisingly human effect.
9. When marketing in Rome
When branching out into a foreign country, numerous local peculiarities may require your attention. Going beyond translation of your product or company literature may include learning about local cultural sensitivities, regulations or even a whole new alphabet.
10. Best Retail Brands - Walmart in a class of its own
Using the ISO recognised brand valuation methodology, developed nearly thirty years ago, Interbrand annually rates the top retail brands.
11. Added Value names world's most culturally relevant brands
Brand development and marketing insight consultancy, Added Value, has named the world's most culturally relevant brands after polling more than 62,000 respondents in 10 countries during the latter quarter of last year in its Cultural Traction™ 2013 report.
SURVEYS, TRENDS & OPINIONS
12. 9 social marketing mistakes you should really try to avoid
College kids, company employees, soccer moms, and stay-at-home moms do one thing when they turn on their computers (or smartphones) — log into their Facebook account and start liking and sharing everything their friends have published. This has sort of become a routine for most of us. It has in turn changed the world of marketing altogether.
13. 5 Online marketing strategies for a tight budget
In a world where attention is currency, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to attract the eyes and ears of your target market.
14. Top trends that will shape the rewards industry
eBucks, a leading multi-partner rewards programme offered by FNB and RMB Private Bank, offers insight into trends that eBucks believes are influencing the rewards industry.
Brand Trends 2013: from data to honesty, it’s getting personal
By Janice Spark, Partner at Idea Engineers
South Africa is a complicated place - each year outdoes the last in the 'magnitude of change' stakes. And we just know this year will deliver even more surprises. Nonetheless, important trends appeared across the brandscape during 2012. Idea Engineers' Partner, Janice Spark, explores the key brand moments of the year just passed, and takes a peek at what might be ahead.
2012's strikes – from Marikana to De Doorns – have unearthed fault lines in the South African psyche. Aside from the political, economic and social perspectives, which have been discussed to death, the issue of brand honesty has come to the fore, a trend which mirrors global movements. Honesty is increasingly viewed (by strategists and pundits at least) as an essential brand requirement in the 21st century economy. With everyone doing business in glass houses, the desire to present a perfect brand face to the world has been rendered irrelevant. Honesty has been forced upon us all, because presenting the perfect face is simply no longer possible. Brands are being forced to move from the verbiage of transparency (talking about values, in other words) to demonstrating values and ethos through transparent behaviour. Credentials must be proven, not spoken about.
Pop-Up stores reflect the compounding mobility of our economic lifestyles. They also extend the shopping experience beyond a particular time and place, and enhance the brand’s ability to boost stimulation of the consumer’s senses. Shopping is steadily becoming a more wide ranging, sensory and experiential affair. Magnum, for example, created the ‘Infinity Pleasure Pod’ in London just before the summer Olympics. Shoppers within the pod were measured biochemically as they ate an Infinity Bar. Skin tension, facial expression, heart rate and other measured data were used to create an animated representation of the experience – which Magnum tagged the 'pleasure portrait', to shoppers' delight. Similarly, Mattel / Walmart created a 3D Pop-Up Toy Shop during Canada's 2012 holiday shopping season. The combination of 3D walls and QR codes allowed the brands to boast that they were changing the basic meaning of window shopping. Sears and Kmart have also utilised ‘shoppable’ walls in the recent past.
South Africa's 2012 pop-up prize goes to the Puma Social Club in Braamfontein. 'The meeting point for the after-hours athlete' says the strapline. Many brands have tried and failed over the years to force their way into the middle of the Jozi urban youth market. Play energy drink, for example, spent a great deal of time and effort with its Griffin Sessions and Play Heroes (http://www.playheroes.co.za) in 2012, via a campaign which sought to identify and augment the core ethos of the young city scene. Despite all Play's efforts, however, Puma has been the brand on all young city lips. Why? Puma kept it all disarmingly simple and created a cool, fun space for everyone. From Foosball sessions to quick impromptu six song sets from the likes of the Blk Jks, the Puma Social Club opened its doors, and people came. No secret venues, no over-elaborate positioning devices. Just a place for people to chill out. The lesson? Pop-Ups are inherently fun. Stick to the fun basics and much can be achieved.
CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT
Brands have the tools to create communities, reshape their own narratives and place themselves at the centre of trends, and content. Global heavy hitters like Red Bull and Nike provide best practice examples on how to position a brand in the centre of a community that generates content via happy instinct. Red Bull achieves this through a wide range of activities, from DJ Battle events through to extreme sports (all supported by Red Bull TV, the Red Bull Magazine, etc.), while Nike has been very successful combining events like Run Jozi with a strong social media presence. Both brands literally own their content creation – to the envy of many others around the world.
With authenticity being a watch word for the average consumer, and honesty the watchword for the average brand, a major content creation challenge looms. Brands looking to operate in this space will need to consistently improve their storytelling skills, to the point where the gap between who the brand thinks it is and who the consumer thinks it is, is authentically narrow. But creating authentic content streams is not child's play, by any means (just ask Media24, who recently shut down their content marketing arm). The problem is the fragmented nature of digital communication, where the number of niche, specialised content segments seems to compound overnight. Developing a large scale, one-size-fits-all approach to the content challenge simply doesn't work, even if you have the backing of big corporate budgets. In 2013 (and beyond) look out for the proliferation of niche content agencies with the ability to deliver volume and quality, within tightly defined demographic segments.
Where once e-commerce was a strategically and technically scary land where only high powered geeks roamed, now anyone can sign up for a free e-shop at a site like www.ecwid.com. And if you want full integration with your Facebook page, you just install the Facebook app. Fancy some new music? You can cruise Soundcloud.com for days listening to, and downloading, mixes and arrangements and original compositions from across the world. If you want to make your own beats, there are free music software packages online, and the same goes for Photoshop equivalents and pretty much everything else. Need a website? Just use Wix.
Beyond the cloud and software, 'freecommerce' is taking root in other important areas. Zando.co.za has shaken the local e-commerce market with free delivery of its shoes and fashion merchandise. Free music is also a global trend that keeps on coming. In just one example, musician Amanda Palmer's new album, Theatre is Evil, is available free, or at any price a fan wants to pay.
The converse of the emergence of free music is contract based streaming. The likes of Simfy are attempting to march us towards a world where we simply stream directly from the cloud to our cellphones and other devices.
Freemium pricing structures are also on the rise. Here, the initial product – a game or an app, for example – is offered available free, but the upgrades and improvements are charged. The level of addiction to the product defines the success of the pricing model (and we all know how addictive some of those clickables can be!).
BIG DATA GETS PERSONAL
At the simplest level, Big Data refers to our collective ability to process huge sets of data, mined on the digital frontier. Big Data can be crunched using complex algorithms and data processing tools to produce new insights on all sorts of things - from medical research to shopping behaviour patterns to social media trends.
In a world where consumers expect, without even really thinking about it, personalised, relevant communication, Big Data allows an organisation to utilise the power of mass communication while staying in touch with the individual’s wants and needs in a way that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. From the brand’s perspective, an engineered union between technology and marketing is an important point of focus, but in the consumer’s mind the line between technology and marketing is fading very fast. We expect personalised, targeted and relevant communication at all touch points. And we expect it now. Thus, brands able to create a highly personal experience within the framework of an automated system are well on the path to 21st century growth, and loyalty.
The view of the world from Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Firefox is still very relevant, but a whole new communication universe has opened up beyond the browser, in the form of apps. In the early years apps were gaming, media and GPS focused, but now we’re moving toward personalised apps that seek to understand the user’s behaviour, and support it accordingly.
One notable example is the rise of DIY health, where diagnostic and treatment processes are managed by the patient, via an app. With over 13 000 health apps already in the Apple app store alone, the big bridge for the user to cross is credibility and reliability. As a result we can expect doctors, clinics, insurance brands and other medical role players to begin making their presence felt with certifications and validations, as well as by developing apps themselves. APPSSCRIPTIONS can potentially reduce medical costs, improve compliance and allow for the kind of remote medical monitoring that improves broad societal health. At the moment the field may appear like something for other people, but the underlying trend of a society moving decisively toward mobile service delivery is going to impact everyone, eventually.
Other important mobile trends:
• Shoptimisation – Technology, apps and business practices are making shopping quicker, easier and more convenient. Not convinced? Visit Slice, Dashlane, GoodRx, ShopSavvy, Wish Want Wear, Key Ring, Rent the Runway or Macy’s in-store GPS
• Peer to Peer communities are on the rise
◦ MeFunding – Personal crowdfunding brands like GoFundMe, indiegogo and GiveForward allow individuals to raise money for everything from life changing trips to paying for medical bills after an accident.
◦ Hyper-Local Commerce – The likes of Goodzer, Sears Local, Popularise, Fundrise and Shopify are driving hyper-localisation, where users instantly create e-commerce sites and apps that allow them to keep money in their community.
◦ FriendSourced Travel – airbnb, Vayable, trippy, Dine with the Dutch, and Tripbirds all allow your friends to inspire your travel plans, via a suite of apps and new travel services.
VISUAL SOCIAL MEDIA
Where once users would write many words on social media platforms about their experiences, advances in mobile technology (Instagram is a key player here) make it far easier now to take a picture and upload it. Brands like Pinterest and Twitter have powered this dynamic, and users have adjusted their narrative techniques happily. A picture is as good as a thousand words, and a series of pictures also tells a wonderful story.
Brands are also adjusting. The Facebook timeline is used to strong effect by all kinds of businesses to unfold an extended visual narrative about the company's work, absorbed 'on the scroll' by users.
A 2012 study by ROI Research found that when users engage with friends on social media sites, it's the pictures they took that are enjoyed the most. Forty-four percent of respondents are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media. In addition, search engines now rank content according to social media sharing activity as well as website indexing information, so when pictures are shared across social media, the SEO gods take notice.
Current examples of visual storytelling:
• Fashion designer Kahri-Anne Kerr uses visual social media sites like Pinterest and Facebook to market her Kahri collection. "When I post pictures on Facebook, they get the most feedback of all my posts," says Kahri. “Visual media is a great way to share more about what inspires the designs, as well as linking to your online store and straight product shots."
• Designer brand Moleskine has created one of the world's most active, prolific, and creative online communities, powered by user-generated content.
The Great Brand Race – Winners and Losers
The national zeitgeist continues to take shape around issues of politics and economics, and the impact of major shifts in these areas radiates across all parts of South African society. Within this context, winning brands (personal and organisational) are gaining traction thanks to their ability to maintain open and honest conversations with stakeholders. Similarly, the losers often stumble fatally in their attempt to navigate through a highly fragmented communication landscape. Pedalling inauthenticity will do that.
Shauneen Procter, Managing Partner of Idea Engineers, pins some candidates for the brand winners and losers podium.
In a year of high political manoeuvring, cynicism and so much corruption that we’re scandal-fatigued, Thuli Madonsela has single-handedly redeemed faith in delivery, democracy and justice. She stands head and shoulders above most of our politicians. Aside from what she does as Public Protector and inspiring beacon, she must receive a round of applause for maintaining poise, calm and dignity in the midst of what is often an ugly political fray. Well done (and thank you) Thuli, for delivering faith too
Madonsela's achievements in 2012 show quite clearly (yet quietly and humbly) that public faith is secured on a foundation of transparency, honesty and consistency.
Prof. Jonathan Jansen
Prof Jansen is an unwavering education star, a beacon of hope in a pervasively dismal public education landscape. An Honorary Professor of Education at the Universities of Witwatersrand, Cleveland & Edinburgh and a Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University, he sets the tone for what is possible and enthusiastically engages with the public directly on new media channels like Twitter.
Yes, we need more stars, but we also need stars who are willing and able to carry out a public debate beyond the tightly controlled borders of the press conference or political convention. Prof Jansen shows there is much to be gained through genuine, open public debate. He has also demonstrated that considered use of social media can be extremely powerful within this often chaotic environment.
2012 was the year of the social athlete, thanks to Nike. The inaugural, Run Jozi saw 10 000 people participate in this marathon in down town Joburg. The success of the event sparked a second race only a few months later, where twice the number of social athletes took to the streets of Alexandra and Sandton. The local Nike campaign is a continuation of a concept that has worked globally for their brand. Following the lead set by Red Bull, the brand has positioned itself very successfully right in the middle of a community. People talking and running and using your product... it's brand gold.
Nike has worked carefully to ensure that it facilitates a lifestyle that matters to its consumers. Instead of targeting the people who buy its products, Nike has done some proper thinking about how they live, work and play, and then togged up accordingly.
After more broadcasts than anyone can count, and displays at the end of his career of a sense of humour few would have expected, Riaan Cruywagen takes up his post-retirement place as a South African icon. Few South Africans have built such a blemish-free, trusted personal brand over such a long period of time. The cherry on the Cruywagen brand cake has been his willingness over recent years to poke fun at himself via spoof videos and ads. Great work!
The Cruywagen phenomenon shows that iconic brands can be built on modest and unlikely foundations. It also shows that the public responds to the real, rather than the carefully constructed. Nothing beats a genuine sense of humour, or authentic humility.
Under the fresh leadership of Alan Knott Craig, Cell C has created a stir in the Telecoms sector. The brand passed the 10-million account mark in October (outstripping MTN in the growth stakes for the first time) and has launched offerings which have forced rivals to relook some of their own basics. Most notable of these is reduced call rates to 227 countries, a deal announced on the back of a flagship 99c per minute call rate to 50 countries. Price does matter.
Talk of reducing cellular call rates has been on the public radar for ages, but Cell C actually made it happen. The brand's snappy bundling of products also sets the standard in the industry, and has shown consumers that innovation talk can actually result in tangible value. Cell C gets the voice to data shift and shows that if you put your money where your mouth is, the consumers will follow.
As Greg Nicolson put it on the Daily Maverick, it's been 'the year of educating dangerously'. There have been many failures nationally, but the Province of Limpopo encapsulates them all with its text book delivery train smash. Even worse, fiscal management of the Province has been taken over by Government etc. etc. etc. Nothing anyone does or says within the governing structures of Limpopo helps. Ouch!
Limpopo's talk of a drive to empower learners in a previously neglected province turned out to be a farcical tragedy, proving that delivery should always come first, and verbiage second. Limpopo, catastrophically disempowered learners let down a nation.
Lonmin emerges from Marikana as a very shaky brand. From the handling of the strike through to the massacre itself and on to the aftermath, at no point has Lonmin looked like a company operating from a position of strength, trust or confidence.
Lonmin's failure illustrates that all corporations must be ready for a crisis. In general, Marikana offers a case study in how a crisis can turn into a national tragedy. To avoid the Lonmin trap, all companies should invest in crisis management skills; when the crisis comes, the nation needs more communication and more engagement, not distance.
Woolworths has been fighting on the digital frontlines to restore its reputation after the Frankies saga outed its uncharacteristic retail bully underbelly. Frankies, a “micro” soft drink company, asked Woolworths to stock its brand of retro drinks, and then claimed the store nicked its idea when Woolworths – who refused the offer - produced its own line a year later. The Advertising Standards of Authority of SA (ASA) ruled in favour of Frankies when it came to Woolworths' slogan, which compounded the impact of the Facebook petitions, the Woolworse Website and a variety of other forms of digitally powered consumer backlash. It hasn't been an easy year for a brand not used to being the subject of attack. A complete failure to handle employment racism accusations, especially within the realm of social media, only made things worse.
Woolworths is a strong brand that speaks with confidence, self-assurance and credibility. But this strength evaporated when social media arrows were fired by consumers. The saga offers more evidence that social media can make a difference, or break a brand within a matter of hours.
The Groupon headaches keep coming. Just days after an accounting disaster forced the discount Website portal to reveal a greater-than-reported fourth quarter loss, Groupon had to face down a shareholder lawsuit accusing its executives of a fraudulent scheme that “deceived the investing public” about the company’s prospects and business. And then there's the probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the slumping Groupon share price. How fast the mighty fall. Hot air and dishonesty will do that.
The way you do business really matters in the 21st century economy.
Honesty, transparency and innovation are the current definers of brand success, and failure. Not long ago all three could easily have been chucked in the verbiage box, but today's business world is so transparent that achievements (or lack thereof) are easily and publicly outed. 2013 looks likely to throw up a new range of political developments, technologies and tools, but the transparency challenge will, in all likelihood, continue to dominate strategic thinking.
Brand Trends 2012
By Janice Spark, Partner at Idea Engineers
2011 was the year of rebellions and revolutions, from the Arab Spring to the abstract destruction of the London riots through to the Occupy Wall Street movement. But the structure of nation states was only one half of a tumultuous equation equally influenced by a buckling Eurozone economy.
It is no understatement to say that the political events of 2011 were made possible by new generation communication channels and tools. Equally, digital communication continues to impact profoundly on the world of business and the daily lives and experiences of consumers.
Looking forward, we can expect a ratcheting up of existing trends throughout 2012. Whether you're a politician, an executive or a consumer the odds are strong you're going to need to hang firmly onto your hat.
In 2011 the momentum behind crowd sourcing really picked up thanks to rapidly advancing digital communication tools. Whether it's NASA's initiative to measure crater sizes, Proctor and Gamble's attempt to thread crowd sourcing into its approach to innovation or an ongoing quest to leverage public power to decode whale linguistics, harnessing collective intelligence is now open to all.
In 2012, expect a snowballing of new crowd sourcing initiatives. But remember, sometimes the reality is a little more prosaic than the hype would have us believe. Standard reality TV fare, including staples such as Idols, also illustrates the crowd sourcing concept in action.
The hype is that cloud computing will transform the way that businesses utilise ICT services within the next two years, as uncapped ADSL products finally come within a reasonable price range.
South Africa still faces the challenge of expensive telecommunications costs, and as long as the status quo remains, the cloud could stay tantalisingly out of reach in the wider economy. New trans-Africa fibre optic cables are set to come online in 2012, which could change the cost calculation involved quite fast. But potential savings still need to be passed on to consumers before the cloud has genuine impact.
An often ignored reality is that most corporations are already utilising the cloud extensively, via the informal use by staff of services such as Facebook and Twitter. Few have experienced major security breakdowns as a result, which tells you all you need to know about whether cloud-based services are viable or not.
2011's London Riots threw an unprecedented spanner into Brand Britain's master plan, impacting significantly on London's ability to take full advantage of the forthcoming 2012 Olympics. Nonetheless, the city has moved swiftly on and appears to taking all the necessary steps to deliver on their vision of the most open and accessible games yet.
The ongoing economic blight that is the Eurozone could well dampen the general vigour of the event. It's also possible, however, that London 2012 will provide urgently required positive vibrations within the UK. Whichever way it pans out, there's no doubt that the year will have a distinctly British tinge to it.
Local is lekker
Globalisation, powered by digital communication tools, is forging a homogeneous global identity. But it's also important to remember that the reverse holds strangely true. Ordinary citizens are using communications tools to connect and interact locally, and are loving the results.
Facebook is particularly effective for members of a community looking interact on practical, local levels. The popularity of emerging portals such as Foursquare testify to the fact that localisation matters more and more in our globalised context, across real world and virtual spaces. Thinking and acting with a local focus will gain increasing traction in the year ahead.
The 'occupy' movements that have proliferated in 2011 demonstrate quite clearly that global consumers are unhappy with the capitalist status quo. As a result, corporations are being forced into levels of transparency and disclosure that would have been unthinkable a decade ago.
The rise and rise of the vigorously conscious consumer means that brands able to clearly demonstrate their triple bottom line credentials will be operating on the strategic front foot. Brands now simply have to be aware of the community in which they are operating, and also how their operations are impacting on that community. Rolling out the standard community focused verbiage isn't going to cut it for much longer. Visible, verifiable community action is required.
Expect a subtle evolution in the broad European austerity narrative as a deeper reality takes shape. Austerity on its own, without the increased productivity levels required to boost GDP growth over the long term, will not solve the Eurozone slump. Europe needs to stop spending too much in some areas, but it also needs to make sure that it doesn't kill off all prospects of growth in the process. This paradigm is likely to influence governments, brands and consumers alike as they attempt to balance the complex requirement to cut expenses while still spending.
High touch – online and offline
Mobile internet access is booming via smartphones and tablets, and new real world 'connecting technologies' are emerging at pace, all of which means the distinction between offline and online is blurring by the day.
Consumers are scanning QR codes while in the shop to read reviews, access discounts and compare products and costs. Research also shows that increasing numbers of consumers research products online before purchasing in-store. Brands are now using the check-in features on social media platforms such as Facebook to promote their offerings and products, while Geo marketing and augmented reality are new marketing buzzwords that describe the ongoing integration of offline and online experiences.
Consumers don’t just want to shop...they want to experience. They want to touch, feel and be entertained. In an age where so much of our lives is high tech and impersonal, the ability to deliver high touch has become a serious differentiator. And high touch will increasingly be delivered seamlessly, across real world and virtual spaces.
Near Field Communication (NFC) looks set to influence one of the fundamentals of commerce – the check out. NFC allows for simple and secure short range communication between devices. A maximum range of 20 centimetres, in combination with a normal pin and password process, assures high levels of security.
Consumers can pay for purchases via NFC devices by simply touching their mobile phone to pay points. NFC can also be used for coupon and loyalty systems. Companies such as Molo Rewards are already implementing systems that allow users to download electronic coupons onto their phones, and then use these at pay points, via NFC.
NFC is expected to become a dominant force in the USA soon thanks to its ability to circumvent the traditional failures of technologies such as Bluetooth, which are notoriously taxing on battery life. MasterCard and Visa are already part of the NFC Forum, while the latest BlackBerry® smartphones are NFC enabled. Samsung’s Galaxy S II will ship with NFC, as will the Samsung Wave. Most Android 2.3 phones will include NFC and Nokia has said its smartphones will ship with NFC. iPhone NFC rumours are also bubbling under.
2011 Brand Winners and Losers
By Shauneen Procter, Partner at Idea Engineers
Doing great work in boom times is one thing, but it's the downswing that really tests a brand's mettle. 2011 featured a range of notable brand performances, and a predictably lengthy list of failures. The basic rule of brand success remained in place throughout the year, however – those who kept the hype to a minimum and focused on delivering a quality experience, inevitably came out on top.
Brand Winners 2011
125 years on and the Coke brand is still rock solid. In May 2011 Coca-Cola South Africa invited employees, customers and business partners to share in 125 years of making a meaningful difference in communities. The brand funded community grants totalling R1.25-million for initiatives that align with its Live for A Difference sustainability priorities: water stewardship, recycling, entrepreneurship, HIV/AIDs and nutrition and well being. Coke remains the definitive global power brand, and the evidence of its success is, as usual, found in a powerful local presence.
FNB have excelled in their communication throughout 2011. From their radio ads through to the banking functionality they offer customers through to their nimble social media presence, they appear at all times to be on top and in charge. The FNB message was clear and delivered very well, through word and deed. FNB say that they improve the banking experience. There aren't too many people arguing with them at this stage.
SARS have added a new word to the South African tax lexicon. Yes, a whiskey brand may have played with eish first, but it's SARS who have really made it stick. Tax payers have been delighted to find out that they can take the “eish” out of tax-eish-ion. This nifty piece of communication reinforces SARS' long term drive to eliminate the frustration tax payers experience when filing their annual income tax returns.
MTN Golden Lions
Last year the Golden Lions were no hopers who couldn't get 5000 people into Ellis Park. In 2011 they packed the stadium as they won the Absa Currie Currie Cup final for their first home final win in 61 years. They could teach a few other South African sporting brands a thing or two.
Santam – The real McCoy
Santam has found a simple and clever way to demystify insurance with a clear message: insurance brands can look like the real thing, but that might not be enough. The big reveal has left consumers feeling strangely satisfied and rewarded. As long as they don't force Ben Kingsley onto local screens for too long, Santam should be congratulated for achieving where many other insurance brands have failed.
Brand Losers 2011
Julius Malema has become one of most notorious political figures of our time. Newspapers, websites and TV stations display his face daily, and while he generates a great deal of buzz and frequently emerges with sound bite classics – like his desire to retire and take up cattle farming - the lack of substance in his approach to policy and his tendency toward hand-grenade politics have seen him come out on the losing side. His youth league empire is crumbling, and 2012 could be a long year for a man facing multiple investigations on multiple fronts.
City of Joburg
The City of Joburg is reported to be deeply in debt, and it comes as no surprise that most residents are perennially up in arms. The 2011 billing crisis was a complete and definitive catastrophe. With so many operational and fiscal issues at hand, the City of Joburg has a long way to go before it can even think about improving its reputation.
EasyPay's massive fraud scandal seriously damaged the brand's credibility. Does anyone believe this is secure and easy way to pay any more? A lot of catch up work is required.
Posting sexist / misogynist tweets is one thing, but following them up with shockingly constructed apologies was the real death knell for Durex. The brand clearly needs to go back to Social Media 101 classes. Possibly they should begin with the Never Leave the Intern In Charge module.
When the highlight of the sporting year is a quarter final exit from the Rugby World Cup, things are clearly not right. None of our soccer teams can qualify for tournaments, cricket is in the midst of a never ending governance scandal and rugby is making all the right noises, but not going anywhere. Sports fans will be praying 2012 brings better things.
Brand Lessons from SA’s Sports Teams
Idea Engineers' Janice Spark examines three key brand lessons offered by South Africa's tough sporting year...
National sports brands are fundamentally different from commercial brands. Loyalty to the national sports teams is threaded into the national psyche, as is the public backlash when too many failures stack up against each other. Nonetheless, the basic rule of brand management still applies in sport: brands that achieve genuine alignment between the promotional hype and the behind-the-scenes reality prosper.
2011 was a tragi-comic year for South Africa's big three sports brands, and the comedy on offer has, sadly, been of the farcical kind. Yet a close examination reveals that many of the year's disasters have been influenced by the failure of the organisations concerned to deal with the basic tenets of brand management.
Peter de Villiers' appointment as Springbok coach four years ago offers a stark case in point when it comes to the dangers of bad external communication. His metaphorical ramblings instantly became the source of mirth across the global sporting media, and days after his appointment it was quite clear that his employers had paid scant attention to the communication part of the job description when they hired him.
This was a bad – some would say catastrophic – oversight. It took the better part of two years for SA Rugby to train De Villiers up to a state where his words were perceived as quirky rather than bizarre, and to ensure that he had the support necessary (from players and support staff) to create a balanced media front line for the Springbok brand. These were the two years immediately following the Springbok's 2007 world cup success – a time when the Bok brand should have been at its highest powers.
Bafana Bafana's recent Afcon qualifying farce offers an equally compelling case study in failed internal communication. Technical teams and coaches were in place, well defined plans and structures were followed... and yet the organisation as a whole failed completely to interpret a basic set of tournament rules. These kinds of basic mistakes only happen when communication inside an organisation is not formalised and structured. The result was catastrophic for a brand that had done good work in maintaining the positive momentum of the FIFA 2010 World Cup.
Overnight Bafana Bafana went from being perceived as a re-merging African football power to being laughed at by the continent and derided and mocked by its own fans. In addition to the identity challenge created by the qualification failure, Bafana Bafana now face the challenge of building fan support without competing in major tournaments. SAFA can count themselves exceptionally lucky that the 2013 Afcon event, originally scheduled to be held in Libya, will now be hosted on our shores. As hosts, Bafana Bafana qualifies automatically and will get one more chance to make the country believe again.
While it can seem overly pedantic or unnecessary during quiet times, there are significant rewards on offer for organisations willing to take the time to structure a methodology to guide internal and external communications. Such a methodology should define desired outputs as well as mechanisms to ensure those outputs are met, regardless of who occupies key positions.
In the world of sport, the coach and captain combination effectively constitutes the brand leader. Both parties in the combination need to possess a myriad important skills, including man management, public relations, crisis management, corporate governance, politics and, well, all the other stuff to do with the game itself.
The Proteas suffered from a leadership vacuum since Mickey Arthur jumped ship on the back of a deteriorating relationship with captain Graham Smith, who was described by leading cricket commentator Peter Roebuck as someone who seemed “to regard his coaches with the affection Greeks reserve for tax men.” The lack of a full time coach, combined with a clear distance between stand-in coach and captain, has been one of the reasons why the Proteas have seemed – despite the issuing of well rehearsed catch phrases at press conferences – to be slightly on the drift in recent years. The appointment of global celebrity coach Gary Kirsten and the arrival of AB de Villiers as one day captain should make a big difference to the brand over a short period of time. Kirsten has been notable for his willingness to honestly address the Proteas’ notorious choking problem head on, rather than denying its existence. This could be the first crucial step to finally swallowing the pressure and bringing a trophy home.
Bafana Bafana had its biggest leadership crisis when Joel Santana took over from Carlos Alberto Parreira in the run up to the World Cup. The Bafana Bafana unit sagged noticeably under Santana's watch, and lacked any sign of a clear vision and / or intent, off the pitch and on it. As soon as Parreira took the helm again a sense of purpose and vision returned to the squad, and current coach Pitso Mosimane was an integral part of that process. Since the World Cup Mosimane kept the sense of unity and purpose clear within the squad – until the 8th of October that is. Now all that hard work has been undone. A lot of rebuilding will be required for the nation to regain trust in the leadership team.
The Springboks' challenge in the next four years will be to find the right coach and captain combination. If they get it right, the sky is the limit. If the balance between the two leaders isn't perfect, the team's raw potential may not come to fruition.
You can't take any chances when it comes to your organisation's leadership set up. You also can't leave anything to hope, fate or the winds of chance. Even a temporary slip in the leadership knot that holds a team together can have devastating consequences. Pay attention to every warning sign before you appoint a leader for an organisation, and don't fool yourself into thinking certain things will eventually 'come right' with enough time, or luck. They won't.
While Twitter and Facebook feeds are now a regular part of our national sports broadcasts, the governing bodies running the sports concerned have clearly not yet come to terms with the social dynamics driving our communication evolution.
Social media has brought brand and public into direct contact and has ended the communication one way street, whereby the brand controls the nature and terms of the conversation. Now consumers can define the conversation, and they feel empowered to call brands to account for their actions, and to be granted clear information as to exactly what is happening behind the scenes. The ongoing global recession and the bail-outs provided to a banking sector that was profiting off dodgy (to put it kindly) financial products, have reinforced the notion that large corporations and / or organisations simply cannot be trusted.
Within this context, the ongoing boardroom fiasco at Cricket South Africa is highly alarming. Things have got so bad that the sport has failed to find sponsors, SABMiller aside, for the Australian series and the Sri Lankan series. While President Mtutuzeli Nyoka's head has finally rolled, Cricket SA still refuses to release a governance report by auditors, is facing a governmental level inquiry concerning bonus payments and has to address media reports of a convicted fraudster being elected to run the sport in the Eastern Cape. These kinds of failures not only destroy sponsorship opportunities, they also undermine trust between fans and the sport, the foundation on which the national team must operate.
Rugby and soccer have also endured savage boardroom battles over the last decade, and have displayed a similar reluctance to reveal the details of boardroom machinations to media or public.
This murky approach to governance creates an operational context in which vested interests and competing power alliances make it difficult to get anything done. It also means that fans are less trusting and tolerant when the hard times hit. And in the world of sport, where no side can keep winning forever, the hard times define the power of a brand as much as the triumphs.
It has become much harder for executives to carry out traditional boardroom back stabbings without seriously damaging brand equity and the quality of relationships with stakeholders. Executives need to start operating according to a completely transparent mind-set, not due to morality, but because this is the most effective and healthy approach for the brand itself.
South Africa vs. Australia is one of the cricket world's great rivalries, and yet the event has what can only be described as a nominal sponsor presence. Such has been the chaos at Cricket South Africa over the last two years that no brands are willing to risk their reputations sponsoring an epic, high profile clash between international giants. Cricket's current troubles should teach everyone involved in brand management – sporting or otherwise – a lesson: get lazy with the basics, and the elements of your business you've always taken for granted could suddenly disappear completely.
Brand trends for 2011
If 2010 could be summed up as soccer, vuvuzelas and national pride, 2011 will be all about the hard work of restoring the economy to sustainable growth, paying attention to environmental concerns and mastering the technologies that are changing the world. Here are a few trends to watch in 2011.
Conservatism and caution
A full recovery of the global economy remains elusive, and growth is stagnant or even declining in many major economies. For that reason, many investors and multinationals are looking for growth from Africa, with its underdeveloped infrastructure, young population, high interest rates in some countries, and fast-expanding middle-class.
Despite Africa's political and social challenges, expect massive interest in the continent's economies in the year to come.
The African Internet revolution - time to get naked?
Bandwidth is becoming cheaper and more abundant in South Africa and other parts of the continent, thanks to all the new submarine cables linking Africa to the rest of the world. That will create massive new opportunities for businesses and drive big changes in the way that consumers (the middle-class ones, at any rate) behave.
Video streaming, music downloads and other attractions of the Web 2.0 world will become a South African, and African, reality. Companies will need to look at ways of integrating these more tightly into their branding, marketing and sales strategies.
Smartphones, gaming consoles, tablet computers - true technological convergence has become a reality as consumers embrace online devices that allow them to access a multitude of services, applications and entertainment products.
While innovations like 3D TV will capture many imaginations, it's going to get harder and harder to tell the difference between the TV, the computer and the phone. Leveraging these channels to communicate with consumers will be a major challenge for marketers in the year to come.
Consumers are demanding - and defining - value
Consumers, shaken by the prolonged economic downturn, are seriously questioning their basic 'reason to buy'. Unlike a few years ago, if a clear reason doesn't exist, the sale may not happen. And where value does exist for the consumer, in 2011 it will be tightly defined.
Brands that clearly 'stand for something' will win over those with vague identities and those just riding on the latest trend wave. Those brands that facilitate personal connections and authentic, human communities are likely to stand out.
Today, consumers aren't just paying attention to word of mouth referrals, they're getting serious about them. That means every connection with a customer could impact a brand's relationship with several people in his or her social network.
Green concerns grow in importance
With growing concerns about South Africa's water and power supplies, there is a distinct possibility 2011 will see environmental sustainability becoming a major talking point for government and the private sector alike.
In this scenario, feel-good 'green washing' brand campaigns could well start to rub up against the reality of environmental decay and degradation, and come off second best.
To operate successfully in this kind of environment, local brands will need to throttle back on the green washing and focus as hard as possible on humble, demonstrably practical and committed community involvement projects.
Think virtual, local and communal
Members of South Africa's Culture Club use the Internet to share information about local events, experiences and happenings around Jozi, and frequently get together as a group for photo opportunity tours, theatre visits and so forth. This is one example of how social media is connecting local communities in the real world.
This is a massive shift for brands that have become very used to one-way, one-size-fits-all mass media communication - one that will require a far more fragmented, nuanced and localised approach to engaging consumers.
Social media - can it possibly get more fashionable?
Both Cell C and Woolworths underestimated the power of social media in 2010. Cell C found a lot of people didn't appreciate being conned by a fake Trevor Noah YouTube post, while Woolworths received a quick social smack for ditching non-profitable Christian magazine titles, creating a tricky consumer context for the brand moving forward.
Combine these case studies with the real BP vs fake BP Twitter account debacle, and you have a South African business sector now taking social media very seriously. As it should, based on the evidence (social networks are already over-taking search engines as the biggest source of web traffic, for example).
In 2011 we can expect more advanced and complex (although not necessarily more illuminating) models to emerge from communications and brand agencies breaking down how and why to engage with consumers via social media. From bar graphs to flash movies and everywhere in-between, social media will be 2011's big brand trend.
Mobile on the move
And then, of course, there's mobile. As with social media, integration and convergence will be the real mobile watch words for brands over the next five years. The bottom line is that it's getting increasingly difficult (and pointless) to differentiate between mobile and Internet, between cellphones and computers, between a social media strategy and a mobile strategy. We're entering the era of ubiquitous connectivity - and that means that mobile is becoming a central part of the marketing mix. Watch this space!
The art of cool
Cool is the holy grail of 21st century marketing ... and while most brands chase the cool factor in one way or another, for youth orientated companies cool is quite simply a bottom line imperative.
But what actually makes a brand cool? If most brands and their agencies are perpetually striving for the cool factor, how do some achieve it while others are written off by their target markets as trying too hard?
“Well it starts with the product,” says Shauneen Procter, partner at brand and reputation agency Idea Engineers. “You can market as much as you like, but the product has to meet the functional needs and demands of the consumer as the first point of departure.”
Two of Idea Engineers' clients, BlackBerry® and Gold Reef City Theme Park, recently won key categories in the Sunday Times Generation Next 2011 Brand Survey Awards. BlackBerry® was named Coolest Brand Overall, unseating Coca-Cola for the first time in years, took top honours in the Coolest Cellphone category and emerged as the Coolest High-Tech Gadget. BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™) was also named Best Cellphone Application, while the Gold Reef City Theme Park was identified as the Coolest Local Fun Destination. Idea Engineers manages public relations and advertising for both brands.
According to Procter, Generation Y is a tricky market to please because they are mobile, tech-loving, connected consumers who are very vocal about the brands they love or hate. If you end up on the wrong side of this equation, marketing campaigns can unravel, and quickly.
Conversely however, Procter says when you market convincing brands the cool factor can grow exponentially thanks to the viral effect enabled by social networks.
Ultimately, she says the key to establishing and maintaining a cool brand identity lies in taking strategic control over the complex interplay between public relations and advertising. Get the relationship between these two elements right and you have a brand mix able to punch well above its weight.
"It's important not to focus solely on overt promotions,” adds Procter. “The new social media communication context is extremely transparent, which means consumers respond best to the good old fashioned combination of service, product excellence and consistent, reliable communication. Once these are working hand in hand you can start to look at how to innovate in the realm of promotional campaigns and so forth – but this innovation must take place on a very strong product and communication platform if it's going to succeed.”