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
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
Demystifying AI for Personalisation

Demystifying AI for Personalisation

I originally wrote this article for MediaPost’s Marketing Insider section

What comes to mind when you think of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)? If you’re picturing HAL 9000 from sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, you might be getting a bit ahead of yourself. AI and ML are hot topics these days, with some of the discourse centering around the potential negative consequences of unregulated AI advancements – computers gaining sentience and taking over the world While this is a scary thought, the reality of how this technology is being used in the real world is a little more prosaic.

The Reality of AI: Personalisation

While advanced use cases like image recognition and autonomous driving are often praised, the most common use cases for AI and machine learning from a commerce point of view revolve around personalisation. In this context, like many other types of personalisation, it basically comes down to taking signals from a particular data set or some past behaviour, and using that to inform a future action. For example, if a system finds out over time that the users that interact with content about car maintenance tend to end up buying more car insurance, then it can prioritize showing more car insurance product suggestions to users that interact with car maintenance content, thus streamlining the journey.

This action can also be done manually of course, but with the help of AI / ML it can be done without a human having to trawl through a sea of data to find the insights and action them. AI / ML can uncover patterns that humans may not see, and can be set-up to automatically action them without explicit go ahead. Look at it like a helping hand in implementing personalisation, letting you free up your marketing team to concentrate on other creative tasks like creating campaigns or copy.

Identifying Consumer Segments

Another particularly helpful role AI / ML can play is to detect customer segments and help create personas. This technology can be very effective at finding ways to group customers together that might not be overly apparent to the human eye. Creating personas can be a difficult thing for brands to get right. Much of the time, true insights can be hidden behind the data and marketers can end-up relying on basic demographic-based characteristics like age, gender, or geography when creating their personas. AI / ML can help discover nuanced segments that human analysts might have missed.

AI won’t work without data

When done well, personalisation can have an outsized benefit for retailers, increasing conversion, cross-selling and brand affinity, and AI / ML is making it easier for companies to get it right. All this comes with a caveat though. To really utilize AI / ML you need data. The more, the better. It’s never been more important for brands to take their first-party data strategy seriously and it’s not just to take advantage of AI / ML. Bolstering your first-party data can have benefits across your whole business – strengthening your ability to sell direct to your customers, increasing margins and lifetime customer value. In a post-third-party cookie world, brands that rely on middlemen to reach their customers will be increasingly at a disadvantage while brands that take their first-party data seriously and use technology like AI / ML to utilize it will be well placed for tomorrow.

Posted by Rob in Tech