Kudos to Dilmah Tea, a Sri Lankan company I know very well.
I just picked up this copy of Fortune magazine (July '07) and there's a good feature on this maverick tea company. There's no link to the article on Forbes Online, so let me paraphrase. It's a story of how a independent company is making the big guys sweat. Big guys meaning the Lipton's and Twinings of this world. What's special about them?
First, Dilmah makes a claim to product quality that no other tea marketer could -a single source of the leaf. Most people don't realize that when they dip a tea bag in boiling water, the tea inside is 'blended' -- meaning it comes from several countries in one big, tasteless mash-up! I could attest to that -- as a huge tea drinker I stock and drink many varieties, including the real thing from Dilmah which I store and serve like, um, wine!
Which brings me to the second point in their marketing differentiation. They position the brand somewhere between a wine and a heath drink. As Fortune reports, the multinationals pooh-pooh the wine analogy, saying it is ridiculous. That's expected (beyond sour grapes!) because they don't appreciate the nuances of tea, the climatic differences, and the soil etc in Sri Lanka.
Third, and this has to worry the multi-nationals, Dilmah is getting into the experiential retail business of "tea bars" --hipster Starbucks-like hangouts for the other caffeine crowd.
The Fortune article didn't mention Dilmah's other major promotional thrust: cricket! The firm is a big promoter and sponsor of the sport, and in some ways synonymous with it in Asia and Australia. No accident, when you think about it. Tea and cricket. Two British exports that now have a distinctive 'Ceylon' flavor.
Harry Potter is an extended tale of no, not just wizards and magic
but the wisdom of the crowds in action. But that story got buried in
the hoopla around the launch of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows last Saturday.
Very predictably, the traditional news media covered the event in
the same way they did, say, the iPhone. Too much attention to people
queuing up for the book, the parties, the ‘education’ component, but
very little about the phenomenon itself.
The fact is, the Harry Potter franchise just doesn’t belong to J.K. Rowling
anymore. The books may be in 200 countries and 63 languages, but the
Potter brand goes beyond that geographic reach. It’s been open-sourced
in more ways than you could imagine; the wisdom of the Potter crowds
has always ruled when it comes to creating their own message channels,
cranking out their own Potter-esqe stories etc. Despite the fact that
this is a book, and not a digital product, the fans are all over the
social media map. There is:
* The Mugglecast podcast run by high school students, that has some 50,000 listeners a week, and features Elton John and Bono.
* The Leaky Cauldron leaks news about the books and carries a disclosure that it is in “no way affiliated with J.K. Rowling.”
* No shortage of Potter blogs, including one that suggests a Bollywood storyline for an Indian audience.
* The Harry Potter Fiction store, that’s not managed by Scholastic, the book publisher; it’s also “unofficial.”
* The Academy of Virtual Wizardry, at “Caledon Highlands” in you guessed it, Second Life!
I could go on…
So I wanted to track how the raving fans were behaving. I had a
haunch that there would be an equal outpouring of passion on Saturday
the 20th July around midnight not in front of the bookstores where the
TV crews were waiting in hoardes, but on Wikipedia. At 11.00 pm Pacific
Time the discussion (on the “comments” page of the Harry Potter Wikipedia showed
signs that things were heating up. The Wikipedians had been discussing
the value of locking down the Wiki, since everyone knew the book had
leaked and the plot was being discussed elsewhere.
“Just wait until the official release time. Then we can put
everything up in 5 minutes or so, considering the number of wikipedians
interested in this.” said one editor at 11.03 pm. This was clearly a hard core editor, but also a big Potter fan. “Most people, me included, will be too busy reading the book on Saturday to check the article.”
Others like him (or her) were unhappy that some editors had moved to
freeze the pages until a week after the launch. Fan passion was
expressed in the form of outrage that some newspapers’ reviewers had
created spoilers by discussing the plot before the launch. Reading
through their discussion gives you a glimpse of not just how these
unpaid wikipedians work, but how fans operate late at night, doing a
thankless job for what? To them this isn’t JK’s book. This is theirs.
If only other brands let their customers work their magic this way!
I often cover the daring, creative ways newspapers and print publications do to stay relevant. Usually it is about relevance to their core audience --readers.
But ever so often we see them create advertising environments that make you go wow! This is one of them. New York Magazine featured a double spread of two completely unrelated products, but designed (by their ad agency) to belong to a double spread, and stop a reader in his tracks.
There's a lesson in this: Being relevant to the reader also means being intensely relevant to the advertiser, and it takes a great publisher to encourage layouts like this. Of course, the idea probably came from the agency, but an advertiser and an agency will always gravitate to a medium that allows some flexibility.
So as you could see in this ad, the key was to use two products that are right for the demographic --in this case pearls with the Yogurt. The product on the right is a Greek Yogurt, Fage.
MediaPost reports that there's another ad involving a Tourneau watch, and the yogurt. I wonder if the advertiser on the left gets a better rate than Fage, since the yogurt company is essentially using the product on the left to make a point.
What's remarkable about this is that this is the "official release" of the album. Gives new meaning to the term 'Media Release' doesn't it? More shocking: The album won't go on sale in the UK! It will be launched in other parts of the world on July 24th, says the paper.
Prince has managed to annoy Sony BMG over this, but apart from his motives, it gives a new insight into how newspapers may be looking at marketing to stay relevant --and alive. A newspaper as a distribution mechanism for music? Brilliant. Think of the integrated online marketing possibilities.
A interesting note: The Mail didn't just tip the CDs into the paper. They produced the copies themselves.
As an former Apple user still wearing an 'evangelist' badge in a PC world, I'm impressed with what PR and buzz --rather than advertising-- has achieved for a brand that graced Wired magazine ten years ago with just one word: "Pray."
So the prayers did work. Because what Apple's doing with the iPhone is not just entering the phone market. It's charging into the PC market. As Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg rightly observes this is computer with a service plan attached to it.
You've got to agree that it's a very expensive toy. But Apple knows its raving fans (or fan-boys) don't consider price. They're into that other P in marketing: passion. Is it Microsoft's time to start praying?
Discussing what constitutes a good logo, is as safe as discussing what makes up a great cup of tea.
In the latter, it's anything from the leaf structure, to the mountain elevation in which the shrub is grown, to the fermemtation process of the dry leaf, the water in which it is brewed, the milk you add, to the ritual (and crockery used) in serving the beverage. Tastes change, and ultimately it's the end user's perception rather than the 'tea taster's' that is relevant.
The Vancouver logo could add some perspective. It wasn't "awarded' to an agency, but was the result of a competition opened to the public, in the early spirit of, you know, user-generated content. There too, people weren't happy. (It was called the 'offspring of the Michelin Man, among other things!)
But there was a difference. In Vancouver, it was the design community that protested most. In the UK it was the hoi polloi that was livid--who said the logo looked like "two characters from The Simpsons engaged in a sexual act!"
Vancouver threw the logo design open to anyone. The brief specified that the logo must."
Capture and reflect the unique image and spirit of Canada, Vancouver and Whistler
Capture both Canada's passion for winter sport, and the energy and excitement of the Olympic Winter Games
Reflect Canada's love and commitment towards our spectacular natural environment
Embody Canadaâs values and aspirations, celebrating our diversity and inclusiveness
Provide a broad symbolic platform for interpretive storytelling â an emblem that can convey a range of meanings
The winners explained that it represented the "inukshuk" or that which stands in the capacity of a person" -- a sort of a guide to help people find their way through the
wilderness. It stands for friendship in Inuktitut.
What does the London logo stand for? It was left to Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the 2012 Olympic commitee, who defending it saying:
"We don't do bland. This is not a bland city"
Joe Gomez, from the UK sent me this, calling it an ill-fitting jigsaw, and a broken window that is"jagged and wobbly to look good on their laptops, mobiles and TV screens."
If Sebastian Coe is the equivalent of the 'tea taster,' I would rather trust Joe Public -you know, people like Joe.
Many new logos, and brand names even, seem odd and --as Londoners complain-- say nothing about them.
I have a strong opinion about this one. I think it's not very inspiring. Vibrant, yes. But hey, I don't live in London, and it's easy to be critical when you're not privy to the brief or the marketing context.
But beyond branding issues, it's turning out to be a PR nightmare --with the organizers seeming to not want to listen to the protests.
I like the fact that they are now at least asking people to create and submit a logo design.
They welcome user generated content, with 'downloadable 'templates' backed up by a huge section on the use of and removal of content. Yes, they will moderate comments, they say!
In defense of the edgy (or odd) logo, it appears to be in sync with their objectives:
"London 2012 will be a Games that make the most of exciting new technology to get people closer to the action.."
"The new emblem is dynamic, modern and flexible. It will work with new technology and across traditional and new media networks."
As for what will happen when a logo isn't working in isolation and has more context, this is how ordinary people are adapting it, and sending it off, not to the IOC site, but to Flickr.
And for a hilarious look at what might be taking place at Wolff Olins, the brand consultancy that came up with the logo, click here.