Lessons from Guinness’s stellar rise

Lessons from Guinness’s stellar rise

I love this piece from the great Mark Ritson on how Guinness has been winning lately – leveraging its distinctive brand assets (the white and black pint) and social listening (people missing pints of Guinness during Covid and seeing the white and black everywhere they went) and, in doing so, becoming the most popular pint in the UK.

He outlines nine lessons for marketers to take from what Guinness are doing right.

  1. The raw material is good – it helps if you’ve got a great product to begin with, but that’s just the start.
  2. It is a team effort – unlike some brands (looking at you Burger King) there is not one Marketing Rock Star taking all the limelight, it’s very much a team success.
  3. Social listening – uncovering trends like the one mentioned above, not just using social media as a customer service tool.
  4. Play the long game – they didn’t pause marketing spend during Covid like a lot of big brands.
  5. Integrated marketing communications – they developed their own in-house marketing mix modelling (MMM) system and used it in an integrated campaign across television, social, OOH and point of sale.
  6. Use Your KBAs (Key Brand Assets) – they leveraged the iconic black and white pint.
  7. Category entry points – varied the context of their messages to reinforce various category entry points across different customer groups.
  8. Set a handful of long and short objectives – Don’t be focused solely on short-term KPIs.
  9. Learn from the year before – A good brand plan starts with the lessons from the previous year. What were the objectives, were they achieved and what was learned?

“In your planning sessions for the year ahead, be brave and smart enough to first look backwards. Spend a day on what you learned from last year and how those learnings will alter the approach you will adopt in the year to come”. Wise words Mark.

I bloody love this campaign.

Posted by Rob in Tech
My Top 10 Funniest Moments of Elon Musk’s Twitter (so far)

My Top 10 Funniest Moments of Elon Musk’s Twitter (so far)

It’s been less than two months since Elon Musk took over Twitter (let that sink in!), but it feels like a lifetime.

Ridiculous decision after ridiculous decision and row-back upon row-back, it’s dizzying trying to keep track of it all.

Here are my Top 10 moments (so far) in somewhat of a chronological order.

1. Verification badge shambles

Twitter’s verification badge serves an important purpose, making sure that public figures, companies, and journalists etc. are who they say they are. But in a desperate attempt to monetize the platform, Elon considered this fair game to turn into a straight-up cash transaction.

Cue a massive backlash from currently verified users and trolls taking the piss pretending to be billion dollar companies and getting them to say crazy shit causing said companies’ stock to take a hit. If that’s not a way to piss off valuable potential advertisers, I don’t know what is. Extra bonus giggles for Elon haggling with Stephen King over a price point.

2. Elon Musk: Patron of Comedy

In his first week at the helm, Musk proudly proclaimed that “comedy is now legal on Twitter”.

It seems that mantra did not apply to any comedy that was aimed at him though. After half of Twitter started relentlessly ripping the piss out of him, Musk swiftly brought in a policy that threatened to ban users making fun of anyone else without clearly marking their Tweets as a parody. 

Ironically, the Twittersphere’s reaction became one of the funniest moments I can ever remember on the platform, unintentionally fulfilling Musk’s promise.

3. Re-banning Kanye West

Under his new “free speech” manifesto, Elon reinstated a host of accounts that had been banned under the previous management. After making a particularly big deal of welcoming back Kanye West, Ye immediately went on a series of Jew-bashing rants that would see him swiftly re-banned, taking some hefty digs at Elon on the way out. Sometimes people are banned for a reason, guy. Who knew?

4. Firing half the company

Making staffing cuts is a classic way for a new owner to try and make a company leaner and set them on the right path. Firing half the company seemingly at random within a couple of weeks of taking over is a new one though.

Having to grovel to some of those that had lost their jobs asking them to come back because they were necessary to certain projects was a fitting upshot. Ditto being hit by potential legal ramifications in countries that don’t just let companies fire employees at a moment’s notice without cause.

5. Going “extremely hardcore”

Now with a streamlined workforce, Elon gave an ultimatum to the remaining staff. Unless they agreed to an “extremely hardcore” way of working going forward that would include working nights and weekends, they would be fired too.

Cue most of the staff not agreeing to the ultimatum by the deadline (up to 80% of them by some estimates), creating mass confusion over who still had a job and who didn’t, and what departments might cease to function if all those who didn’t relent were actually fired. Of course Elon had to quickly row back on this bullshit too.

6. Saying the company could go bankrupt

After firing half the company and trying in vain to get the remaining half to sign up to a life of servitude, Elon was sad. 

Speaking at a company meeting he went so far as to say that the company might go out of business. In fairness, how can you be expected to run a profitable company if you can’t exploit your workforce? Way to boost morale and increase market confidence in the company Elon.

7. Throwing a hissy fit at advertisers

Twitter derives around 90% of its revenue from advertisers, so this is definitely a cohort that Elon should be eager to please if he’s looking at turning the company around. But, shock horror, advertisers don’t seem to be overjoyed at the platform turning into an even bigger dumpster fire than it was previously and began walking away in droves. Elon didn’t like that, and let it be known.

I guess free speech doesn’t extend to whatever platforms independent companies are allowed to advertise on then.

8. Requesting engineers to print off their code

Such little faith Elon had in Twitter’s current engineering team that he brought in a bunch of software engineers from Tesla to sit over their shoulders and critique their code. According to internal Slack messages, he went so far as to ask Twitter engineers to print out the last 30 to 60 days of the code they created for review. This was, of course, extremely inefficient, not to mention a big security risk, and engineers were soon asked to shred whatever they had printed.

9. Banning promotion of other social media channels

With Twitter users setting up accounts on competing platforms like Mastadon in droves, the company spun up some hasty policy to try and stem the exodus. So much for “free speech”.

While a lot of Elon’s statements and policies over the last few weeks were quickly rolled-back, this batshit crazy one took the record, lasting less than a day before being abandoned.

10. Poll to Stay on as CEO

Elon has really taken to polls as a way of making decisions. Like Batman’s nemesis Two Face obsessively flipping a coin to tell him what to do, it seems like he can barely make a decision these days without them. In what turned out to be an extraordinary self-own, Musk put out a poll to see how many people wanted him to step down as head of Twitter and said that he would abide by it. I’m sure he’s clearing out his desk as we speak.

Elon Musk is not a stupid guy. But he sure as hell is making himself look like one. Now let that sink in!

Posted by Rob in Twitter

My talk at this month’s Sitecore Strategy webinar

I was delighted to speak at the 9th SMAC webinar on 1st November about Sitecore CDP and Personalize alongside the fantastic Peter Clisby and Vaishali Dialani.

You can check it out below from 19m 20s.

Posted by Rob in Sitecore, Speaking
Nike’s ‘Emotion by Design’

Nike’s ‘Emotion by Design’

After spending the week immersed in former Nike CMO Greg Hoffman’s new book ‘Emotion by Design’, I felt compelled to revisit some of my favourite ever Nike ads.

Nike is one of the best brands in the world at inspiring emotion, and the book is a fascinating deep dive into the stories behind how some of the most famous Nike campaigns of the past 30 years came to be.

This is very much a personal list, and overlooks some of the more US-centric sports, but these are all absolute crackers and ones that I kept coming back to rewatch on YouTube.

Ripple – Masters 2015

Coinciding with the 2015 Masters, this excellent bit of emotive film-making features a young Rory McIlroy being inspired by an emerging Tiger Woods to take up golf and practice and practice and practice until he finally ends up playing beside Tiger at the Masters. Some great montage scenes of Rory building up those 10,000 hours to a stirring piano backing track. This one always gets me.

Good vs Evil – EURO 1996

The one that started it all from a football point-of-view, Nike were just starting to take their involvement in “soccer” to the next level after the 1994 World Cup in the USA, and the next major tournament to follow that got the Hollywood treatment with a host of big names including Eric Cantona, Paolo Maldini, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, and Patrick Kluivert taking on a team of the devil’s henchmen.

At the time, Nike was focusing more on football boots as opposed to kit sponsorship and the ad curiously features kits from other manufacturers (later that year they would famously land the Brazil national team). Featuring Eric Cantona’s famous ‘Au Revoir’ line, the ad had millions of kids around the world popping their collar and recreating the ad in their local parks.

Take It To The Next Level – EURO 2008

This Guy Ritchie-directed masterpiece released in the build-up to EURO 2008 gives fans a first-person look at the career of a young professional footballer making his way from the Sunday League to getting scouted by Arsenal and playing against stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, and Ronaldinho. Experiencing it all through the eyes of the protagonist, it’s a nod to The Prodigy’s iconic video for ‘Smack My Bitch Up’.

The Cage – World Cup 2002

This ad will forever be remembered for its use of a remix of Elvis Presley’s ‘A Little Less Conversation’, but the concept itself was incredibly memorable. 24 of the best players in the world, stuck on a boat playing three-a-side knockout cage match football, first goal wins. What’s not to love?

Directed by Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam, the ad was part of Nike’s largest, most globally coordinated campaign ever at the time with events such as local cage-match tournaments happening in 13 countries and activations in over forty others. The only thing that shattered the illusion was the team of Thierry Henry, Francesco Totti, and Hidetoshi Nakata beating Ronaldo, Figo, and Roberto Carlos in the final.

Write The Future – World Cup 2010

Another epic campaign released in the run-up to a major tournament, this ad directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alejandro Inarritu, focuses on the fine line between success and failure at the highest level of sport.

Featuring a host of the biggest players in the world (I’m sensing a theme here) in the moments that will see them either become a hero or a villain, we see Wayne Rooney living in a caravan after mis-hitting a pass, to Cristiano Ronaldo starring in The Simpsons after scoring a free kick. At the time it became the most-shared campaign on the internet.

Posted by Rob in Tech