The PFA is currently in crisis management mode after controversy arising from its annual awards ceremony following Reginald D Hunter’s ten minute stand up routine prior to the official event. I have seen Hunter perform on at least three occasions and was bemused that the PFA could think that his performance wouldn’t be the slightest bit provocative. The PFA statement claims the comedian was booked off the back of his recent TV appearances, but a simple YouTube search gives a clear picture of Hunter’s material.
The comedian, who is know for his use of the N word (his previous standup show titles include ‘Trophy N****’ and ‘Pride & Prejudice… & N****s’), gave the audience a taste of what was to follow at the beginning of his routine.
Reggie Hunter: “just to warn you, I use the word n*****r liberally. So I’d like to start by saying… Luis Suarez.”
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) April 28, 2013
Given all the issues with racism that the English football world has encountered over the past two years, it was no surprise that a number of people were uncomfortable with the routine and that it has evolved into a crisis. The Daily Mirror pointed out in their coverage of the event that “Luis Suarez and John Terry have both been punished by the FA over the last two seasons for using racially offensive language. Hunter’s booking also comes just a month after ex-Chelsea defender Paul Elliott, who was at the dinner, was forced to resign as a PFA trustee for using the word ‘N****r’.”
The funniest thing about the whole controversy is that it could all have been avoided. The question has to be asked, did the PFA honestly believed that a controversial comedian would not court controversy as part of his gig? Given how sensitive the organisation is about racism, they should have weighed up the risks and not proceeded with Hunter as their entertainment.
What has followed since has made the situation even more farcical. Some media in attendance thought the routine showed the PFA in a progressive light, but their actions since the event demanding Hunter’s fee back has made a mountain out of a molehill and ensured that this saga will drag out for at least another week.
Pursuing Hunter for his fee has given the story legs and one can only assume that the PFA are honest in their account about pre-briefing Hunter in advance of the gig as there will be serious egg on the organisation’s face if the comedian can dispute their account. Either way Reginald D Hunter will be basking in all the free publicity the episode has given him. He has already started poking fun at the PFA by posting a number of pictures of himself with delighted guests following the event, standing in contrast to PFA deputy chief executive Ben Barnes’ view on the gig: “I can’t think of a redeeming feature where you could say that was positive because I actually think the whole performance from start to finish was dreadful.”
I have been pretty dismissive about all the speculation about the iWatch. The simple reason is that if you ask most people to pull back their sleeves, you will see a bare wrist. A lot of people have stopped wearing watches because of their mobile phone.
I should also point out that I bought an iPod Nano and a watch strap designed for the device off Kickstarter. I thought it was a great idea, yet it lies gathering dust on my shelf, primarily because I’ve stopped wearing watches for the reason outlined above.
So if the iPhone and other mobile phones are making watches somewhat displaced, why would Apple launch one?
Up until now, the question left me scratching my head. Earlier today though I read this Gizmodo article which pointed out something which I hadn’t considered. What if one of it’s primary functions was health and fitness related?
The industry developing around mobile health. ABI research predicts that there will be 80 million connected wearable fitness devices by 2016 and the market for health and fitness apps will be worth $400 million in the same period. There are already a number of players in the space like Nike, Jawbone and Fitbit. Could it be a question of Apple entering the market and executing better similar to how the iPod revolutionised the mp3 industry?
While I can’t find any hard sales figures for sales of devices like the Nike Fuelband, Nike’s Equipment division saw an 18% rise in profits for the 2012 fiscal year after introduction of the Nike+ FuelBand, in comparison to the -1% loss during the 2011 fiscal year. So clearly there is a market there. Jean-Louis Gassée offers plenty more reasons to speculate about an iWatch in a recent Monday Note column.
Rampant speculation about Apple and new product launches is nothing new. The reasons why they might launch an iWatch, however, are starting to make sense and it’s far more to do with the information the device can glean about its wearer and his surroundings than telling the time.
1. A Return to Basics – One of the biggest societal trends in Ireland is a return to basics, partially in response to the excesses of the Celtic Tiger and also down to the fact that we don’t have the cash anymore. Whether it’s running, knitting or baking cakes, we’re going back to behaviour from the 80s. Don’t believe me, just look at the results of last year’s Google Zeitgeist How To list, where how to crochet and how to knit ranked in the top five results. A good example of a brand taking advantage of this trend is Odlums Cake Club.
2. NKNM – The primary target for most Irish marketeers in 2013 should be the NKNM (no kids, no mortgage) segment. Repeated austerity budgets are taking their toll, but the cuts are not being spread equally with families taking the brunt last December. In some respects, young professionals with no kids or a mortgage have never been better off and this consumer group is the probably the only segment with savings. The only trick is figuring out how to get them to spend. The biggest challenge will be to give them the confidence to make big ticket purchases such as their first home or a new car, but in an uncertain economic climate that will be no easy feat.
3. The Royal Baby – Ireland is developing a bit of a secret crush for the UK royalty. First it was the royal wedding, then it was the Queen’s visit and this July we’ll have the royal baby. The bookies are the first to have gotten in on the action, but there will be plenty of others who will hope to benefit from the future heir to the throne. Clothing retailers will be trying to emulate whatever Will and Kate dress their baby in as parents of newborns try to replicate the look. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of babies christened with the same name either.
The YouTube will replace television debate has gradually dropped off the radar. Figures released by TAM Ireland/Nielsen last week highlight the fact that the argument is rubbish. Irish adults watched an average of three hours and 35 minutes of television during 2012, Irish people actually watch more TV now than five years ago.
The crucial reason why YouTube, PVRs, etc will never really kill of TV as we know it is because television is a social experience. According to TAM Ireland, 47% of all viewing is done in company. This is further reinforced by the second screen experience, with a lot of people interacting with others on social media about programming they are watching live via mobile devices. Just log onto Twitter during a football match and look at the running commentary! Research released this morning by Sky shows that 50% of adults juggle other online devices and services while watching live TV.
What people seem to forget is that we all want to be part of a community and broadcast media is addictive because it is emotional by nature. There is a thrill from watching live TV and that’s why 91% of our TV viewing is live. As Natalie Haynes point out “We don’t want to watch once the live thrill has passed…We want to be part of a community…tweeting about everything we watch…The truth of it is that the large majority of us don’t want to learn of Pat Butcher’s death the day after it occurred.”
1. Peaky Blinders – Boardwalk Empire is one of HBO’s most successful shows and the BBC looks set to recreate the formula with a gangster drama set in post World War One Britain. It features an all star cast including Cillian Murphy (Inception, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, 28 Days Later) and Sam Neill (The Tudors, The Piano) and comes from Eastern Promises scribe Steven Knight. Murphy plays the leader of the ‘Peaky Blinders’, a ruthless gang whose nickname comes for their practice of sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps. It looks set to be one of the TV events of 2013.
2. James Rodriguez – While the transfer window has just closed, one name that will be the subject of a lot of transfer speculation in the summer is James Rodriguez, who currently plies his trade with Porto. There are already plenty of rumours about the ‘new Ronaldo’, with Manchester United and Real Madrid apparently waiting in the wings. Here’s a snapshot of his skills.
3. Lil Debbie – Lil Debbie is like a mix between Lady Gaga and Eminem. If she reminds you of Kreayshawn, you would be right. Lil Debbie used to be part of her White Girl Mob, before falling out with her former bandmates. While Kreayshawn’s album flopped in 2012, Lil Debbie regrouped and teamed up with RiFF RaFF, scoring viral success with a number of videos on YouTube. If YouTube views of videos for songs like ‘Michelle Obama’ below translate into record sales, then Lil Debbie will have a successful year.
4. DeNA and GREE - Zynga and PopCap changed the gaming world as they brought the era of social gaming to the fore. They are set to be eclipsed by DeNA and GREE, two Japanese firms who are having more success than their more famous rivals Nintendo and SEGA. The Economist wrote a fascinating feature on them last year highlighting the social of their fremium games. Just to underline how huge these companies already are, the Economist points out that DeNA made an operating profit of ¥20.4 billion in the quarter that ended on September 30th. That is more in three months than Nintendo hopes to make for 2012.
5. Dave Chappelle/Chris Rock Touring Together? - Rumours abound that Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle will tour together in 2013 akin to Jay Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne tour in 2013. if it happens, it can neatly be summed up in one word – epic! Dave Chappelle has largely disappeared from public view after abandoning his TV series midway through the third season. He has recently reappeared in comedy clubs, practicing new material and now there is speculation that he may tour again this year with Chris Rock. Here’s a clip from Chris Rock’s Bigger and Blacker tour, make sure to have the headphones plugged in if you’re at work.
In no particular order, here are some of my favourite publicity stunts of 2012.
The Most Exclusive Page On Facebook
Grey Poupon generated a buzz on Facebook by creating the most exclusive page on the social network. Instead of clamouring for fans like every other brand in the world, the mustard brand turned away everyone they deemed not to have high enough taste to be their fan. Adverblog revealed that “users who want to become a fan of Grey Poupon’s Facebook page will have to apply for membership through an application on the page called The Society Of Good Taste.”
Paddy Power’s Lucky Pants
Paddy Power are the masters of the publicity stunt and generated lots of column inches by sponsoring Nicklas Bendtner, the Danish striker during EURO 2012, last summer. After scoring against Portugal, Bendtner dropped his shorts to reveal his lucky pants and highlighting the bookmaker’s logo. UEFA choose to punish Bendtner by fining €80,000 which generated even more publicity for Paddy Power. Bendtner wasn’t out of pocket as the bookmaker paid him €100,000 for the stunt – lucky pants indeed!
Flipping The Table On The Paparazzi
Emma Stone And Andrew Garfield turned the tables on the paparazzi and raised awareness for two charities, the Worldwide Orphans Foundation and Gilda’s Club of New York City. As the paparazzi waited for the two celebs outside a restaurant they were having lunch in, they took a moment to write a note on some napkins before leaving and holding them across their faces as they left. Check out the pic below from FameFlynet Pictures below.
Barter With Bacon
Josh Sankey set out to drive across America with no money and only bacon to use as currency. An inspired stunt by Oscar Meyer to promote their new ‘Butcher Thick Cut Bacon’. Josh Sankey explains it much better.
It’s Rude To Talk
In the age of the smartphone, it’s rare that a meal out isn’t interrupted by someone checking their email or Twitter account. Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles decided to reward its patrons with good manners by offering customers a 5% discount if their phones with the receptionist for the duration of the meal. Just goes to show that you don’t need millions to make headlines.
Use 404 Pages To Find Missing Children
The NotFound project aims to raise awareness of missing children across the European Union, where thousands of kids go missing every year, which uses the ‘page not found’ section to publish a picture of a missing child. The video below explains the project.
Not content with making waves during euro 2012, Paddy Power also ambushed the Ryder Cup by launching a ‘sky tweet’ campaign in support of Team Europe. A selection of tweets submitted by fans were ‘sky-written’ by stunt pilots flying at 10,000ft in the first campaign of its kind. Here’s a video case study.
Hotel Replaces Bible With Fifty Shades Of Grey
The Damson Dene Hotel generated worldwide coverage by replacing copies of the Bible in its rooms with Fifty Shades of Grey. NBC News reported that the hotel owner Jonathan Denby “had been pondering for a long time what to do with the Gideons Bibles that had been placed in the rooms by the previous proprietors. He decided that in a modern secular society it was ‘wholly inappropriate’ to keep a religious book in people’s private bedrooms, so the search was on for a replacement. ‘Everybody is reading ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ we thought it would be a hospitable thing to do, to have this available for our guests, especially if some of them were a little bit shy about buying it because of its reputation.’” No doubt, the Damson Dene Hotel got a few extra bookings out of it also.
The President of Publicity
The king of publicity during 2012 was Barack Obama. If he wasn’t the President of the United States, he would be the world’s best spin doctor. Master of the photoshoot, his White House pictures always grab your attention. My personal favourite was the picture of Obama playing with one of his staff’s kids who was dressed as Spiderman. Needless to say it proved to be a hit.
Not content with that, Obama took every opportunity on his way to regaining his place in the White House to garner a few more votes. What other politician in the world would go on the Jimmy Fallon show and do this.
Nostalgia is going to be a key theme that brands look to exploit over the coming years in Ireland due to the ongoing economic downturn. In his book, the Brand Innovation Manifesto, John Grant describes nostalgia as the “fondness for things thought of as belonging to a past era. The feeling of fondness often relates to memories of childhood.” In Ireland, the fondness relates to memories of better times. I think this picture of Monster Munch’s packaging brings this to life wonderfully. The copy on the packaging reads “Old! Bigger like they used to be.”
Image courtesy of David Airey.
When competitors are shrinking their product in order to focus on financial savings, it’s a very simple and effective way to communicate value and to grab consumers’ attention.
The ASAI has announced that it has extended its current digital remit to include marketing communications on advertisers’ profile pages and other non-paid-for space online, under advertisers’ control. The extension of remit will be effective from 2nd January 2013. However there will be a three month grace period when the ASAI will investigate complaints but will not refer them to the independent Complaints Committee for formal adjudication.
One of the interesting aspects of the briefing document the ASAI has made available is how it will affect celebrity endorsements and reviews by consumers on social media. Specifically the briefing document states:
UGC content created by individuals would not generally be considered to be a marketing communication. For example, user posts on their own social media pages or on advertisers’ pages which are not subsequently adopted and incorporated by advertisers on the advertisers’ page. Other examples are blogs and reviews written by private individuals. If the reviewer/ blogger has not been paid or otherwise induced to write a review, then this material would not be considered marketing communications. If, however, a company has influenced the review either through direct payment or, for example, through the provision of free products, it is possible that the material would be considered a marketing communication. This is in line with the code requirement which states “an advertisement feature, announcement or promotion published or electronically broadcast in exchange for a payment or other reciprocal arrangement where the content is controlled by the advertiser should comply with the Code. It should also be clearly identified and distinguished from editorial matter.” (Section 2.58). In addition, the Code requires that “A marketing communication should be designed and presented in such a way that it is clear that it is a marketing communication.” (Section 2.57). Advertisers should ensure that if they have paid or offered an inducement (and influenced the content of a post, blog, review, tweet, etc,) that it is clear that they have done so, as if it is not clear, they could be found to be in breach of the Code.
This is interesting for a number of reasons. For starters, it implies that any promotional content published by celebrities will need to clearly indicate that endorsement is involved. Similarly agency staff that use their personal accounts would need to highlight that they are publishing content on behalf of a client. Therefore agency staff would appear to need to include copy like “(client)” somewhere in the content. This is already best practice, so shouldn’t be much of a change. Celebrities however would also have to include similar copy like “(sponsored)” to make it clear to the reader. This is already the case in the UK.
Where it gets more complicated is how it applies to blog posts or tweets where the publisher has received an inducement (i.e. a trip or freebie.) The “advertiser” needs to ensure that the publisher makes this clear in whatever they publish. It could technically mean that a music reviews website has to indicate that it received a free ticket or CD to conduct the review. This would result in a level of transparency that isn’t required from traditional media. I doubt that it will require this level of compliancy in practice, but it will be interesting to watch if any complaints are received during the grace period and how the ASAI responds.
On first impressions the ASAI looks like it is adopting a common sense approach and the guidelines are to be welcomed.
There has been a lot of talk about recent changes to Facebook fan pages, whereby the reach (and therefor engagement levels) of pages has declined (less fans see content posted by the page). As a popular Irish music/comedy act points out in the tweet below, numerous people who have devoted a lot of time and energy to building a fanbase now suddenly find themselves unable to access their audience unless they pay to promote their content.
270,000 facebook fans and unless we pay a grand each time we post, only 10% can see it. Bad form Facebook. Crushing the independent artist.
— Rubber Bandits (@Rubberbandits) November 7, 2012
It’s a clever move by Facebook in some respects. People have questioned how exactly they would charge for their platform and this is a very effective way to do so, having built up a huge network. It’s no different from any media organisation charging a premium to advertise with them based on the size of their audience.
In the past organisations advertising strategy would simply consist of paying for reach, ensuring that an audience could see their page or content in order to attract fans. Now they have to also pay for engagement, to ensure that their content is visible to the audience they have acquired.
It is this new strand of advertising revenue that will ensure brand manager will question their spend on Facebook. There has always been a touch of the Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome about social media in terms of brands building presences on Facebook without having clear objectives in place from the outset.
Now brand managers will have to ask themselves the question ‘I have 20,000 fan on Facebook, so what?’ Particularly if they have trouble engaging with the audience they have paid to acquire. As a result, they will have to weigh up the return on investment of Facebook in comparison to other digital platforms. Some brands have already started to move to other platforms as a result.
Regardless of what platform they use, brand managers need to realise that it’s their creative proposition which ultimately drives engagement. Therefore their focus should always be on investing in developing content, as opposed to simply investing in a platform. On a related note, make sure to check out this report by BrandGym “Can social media show you the money?” (pdf)
There are no recent tweets.
Musings about PR, Marketing, Advertising and Current Affairs by an Irish Public Relations Consultant
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- The Joke Is On The PFA
- Why An Apple Watch Might Make Sense After All
- Trends To Watch in 2013
- Why YouTube and PVRs Will Never Kill TV Off
- Five Things We’ll Be Talking About In 2013
- 2013 Irish Results For Edelman Trust Barometer
- Top Publicity Stunts of 2012
- Nostalgia – Everything New Should Be Old Again
- The ASAI’s Digital Remit And Its Impact On Brands
- Why More Brands Will Question Their Facebook Spend