Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jacket fiasco update


Just today Naked released research findings on the effects of their campaign
(All comments about 'protesting too much' to be sent to Mr Shakespeare).

I'll let you read the full SMH story.

But one figure caught my eye. Naked and Witchery maintain that the campaign has been a roaring success with the consumer, with "only a quarter saying they had lost respect for the brand".


25% of consumers losing respect for your brand is a good thing? If Witchery gave me the account I bet I could lose the respect of only 10% of consumers. Spare me!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The jacket that blew up in the client's face

How would you like your brand name mentioned on most TV news programs and News Papers across the country for several days in a row? How would you like your brand to be discussed at BBQs on Australia day? And how would you like all this coverage without spending a cent on expensive TV media placement?

A Marketing Director’s dream come true, right? Well in the case of Witchery the dream that started out so wonderfully soon turned into a rather messy marketing nightmare: the one where you go to work with no pants on.

Rather than loosing his pants, a male Cinderella leaves his jacket behind. A pretty young woman, Heidi, in an impossibly neat almost art directed bedroom, posts a YouTube search for her man.

It’s a great idea based not only on a human truth but a fairy tale that is burnt into most English speakers minds. Brilliant.

But there’s an evil stepmother waiting in the wings of this story.

The various journalists, who had been ‘seeded’ with the story, understandably had some questions. (You didn’t think that viral campaigns went viral without lots of help, did you?)

They soon found Heidi, real name Lilly, who claimed the story was 100% authentic. They found that jacket was a Witchery one and that Lilly/Heidi had modelled for Witchery in the past. They then found Witchery’s Agency, Naked, who present themselves as anything but an Ad Agency, but are in fact ... an Ad Agency. Senior Naked executives claimed a surprising ignorance of the whole affair.

The story completely unravelled in a few short days.

THEN another YouTube video was released allowing Heidi/Lilly to confess all on behalf of her employers … and to do a little retail spruiking while she was at it.

Adam Ferrier is planning partner at Naked and he is quoted in B&T as saying, “We are very pleased with the start to the campaign – it has got people talking. No one I have spoken to has felt deceived. Everyone seems to be outraged, but they are not upset about it personally. It’s a playful campaign that creates a sense of intrigue. The word deception implies an element of harm. This campaign hasn’t harmed anyone, not even close.”

In 1974 then President Nixon is reported to have said, “It’s the lie that gets you.” That is, wrong actions are often forgiven, but deception just makes things worse.

I believe that is what’s happened here.

I’m sure (or I hope) there was a plan to eventually come clean and roll into the next stage of the campaign. But the fakery seems to have been tumbled much earlier than hoped. The agency and client seem to have variously panicked, hidden, taken a holiday, been untruthful, told us that being untruthful is OK if no one is harmed, and created a ‘come clean’ video after being sprung! At best they were off message. At worst they created an utter shambles.
What can we learn here? Several things.

- Consumers do not like being lied to, even if they are not being harmed. This campaign has variously been described in the non-advertising press as a hoax, a scam and a fraud.

- Too many industry players are disconnected from the real world. If Ferrier really knows no one who felt deceived, he needs to get out more. The builders, accountants, IT people, HR people, and teachers that I discussed this with feel VERY deceived.

- Any publicity is NOT good publicity. Naked has damaged Witchery’s brand image. Naked doesn’t look too smart either.

- Clients need to remember that Viral Campaigns are NOT free TV campaigns. They are 90% PR and 10% creative/production. Such a high level of PR means a loss of some control.

- Viral campaigns need to be planned EVEN MORE than traditional media. Undesirable outcomes as well as the desired one, need to be considered and prepared for. In this case a great idea has blown up in the faces of all concerned mainly because they had no plan for the direction it took.

After this brief but exciting part of the Witchery campaign I feel like we’ve all learned a lot about the still new channel of Viral + YouTube.

Will consumers and clients ever trust Witchery or Naked again? That I’m not so sure of.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Are you paying too much for creative work?

Strong creative communications and advertising ideas are immensely valuable marketing tools. But what are they worth? How do you know that you are paying a fair price for something as ephemeral as an idea?

Let’s go to my kitchen to find out.

My kitchen mixer (or tap or faucet) had died and begun to leak all over the place. So I bought a new mixer and started the job of removing the old one. It soon became clear that the old mixer was held in by a single rusted bolt that didn’t want to budge. The job was a bit beyond me so I called a plumbing company.

He arrived, took a quick look and flipped open the price book. My eyes nearly fell out of their sockets when I saw the figure of $508. This is to install a kitchen mixer that I had already bought, mind you. The guy was an employee and the price was not negotiable.

I politely said, ‘No thanks, I’ll get a friend to help me get it sorted somehow.’
The plumber then offered to do the job for the company hourly rate: the hourly rate being $250. You may not be too surprised to hear that this was still too rich for my blood.

As I thanked him and showed him the door, the plumber then offered to do the job for $100 cash. Now he was talking sense! ‘You bet’, I replied. $100 is about what I had expected before he came.

The new mixer was installed in 10 minutes.

How does this relate to creative pricing?

Here’s how. Each of the prices quoted to me came with a bundle of advantages.

- The original $508 was fixed and known. This is very similar to paying a communications agency a monthly retainer. The costs are high but you know where you stand upfront. This method is good if you haven’t got a clue about what’s involved in the job.

- The hourly rate of $250 was half the fixed price. The risk I took was that the job would drag on. This is the same risk a marketer takes when they pay an agency by the hour. Where does it end? Is there any benefit in the supplier working quickly?

- The final figure of $100 was what I had in mind from the start. In the same way a marketer who states a price as part of their brief seldom gets cost blowouts.

But the really important parallel between my kitchen and your marketing communications is this:
The very same job can cost you up to 500% more!

- It will cost you more if you are unaware of the process. Acquaint yourself with the costs of similar jobs done in the past.

- It will cost you more if you want all the bells and whistles. Agencies with nice furniture, water views, free lunches, lots of staff: who pays for all this stuff? You.

- It will cost you more if you don’t set a realistic budget as part of the brief. Good creative suppliers will work to your stated budget.

So by following the tips above, you’ll get what you want for the cost you want.

Now, I’m going to have a chat to my kids about a future career in plumbing.