Archive for the ‘ Real Marketing ’ Category

Some Statistics for Digital in South Africa.

I have been meaning to write a blog post just after I got back from doing A Digital Masters in New York at HyperIsland. An experience that really changed me, not only the way I think or see the world but the way we are supposed to deliver work for a new digital world. That blog post will come, eventually. Below one of the Key Insights from Tim_Leake & Mark Comerford

It is definitely no longer a question, we are living through a digital revolution. It is about time my generation get to really live through something, from mobile phones, the internet, personal computers, digital cameras, social networks, augmented reality, online shopping! The list goes on.

We are also living through a Financial crisis, and it was very interesting this morning on Sky News – they were talking about increasing unemployment rates and the slowing economies globally, even Germany which has always been seen as the sustainable master of economies experienced below expectation growth. I couldn’t help but turn up the volume when the conversation turned – Digital Media Companies, Social media consulting firms, Digital Marketing Agencies, Mobile Application development houses etc these are all businesses experiencing tremendous growth, and I am not just talking about the tech / social network bubble with inflated  IPO’s ( Groupon, Linkedin, etc) we are all expecting to burst anytime soon. It is the entire eco-system, from ecommerce, ecommunication, IT, software houses, conferences, development houses, hardware etc – all together serving the modern consumers and business’s holistic digital experience need. The industry slowly infiltrating every single other industry on the planet, serving the need of everything and everyone going online, social, in the cloud and mobile.

Apple briefly became the largest listed company last week – overtaking Exxon Mobil. And American Express saw an increase in their share price after their deal with Foursquare. President Obama is on Foursquare now. And Social Software is exploding. The times of seeing everything in isolation is over, we have entered the era of Social Business Design where Technology, Business and People come together.

And yet, I have meetings here in South Africa where people are still asking the question – is this just a digital fad? Is this really where our country is going? It is completely understandable taking our current social and economic situation into account, majority of our population live in poverty. No one can see into the future, but we can have a look at statistics indicating the current situation and growth of Digital as a whole in Africa, and more specifically South Africa.

Below is a couple of my favourites to share:

Happy Wednesday 🙂

The Changing World We Live In

We all have different opinions and experiences influencing our perception of when the world started changing, personally for me it all started back in April 2005 when Thomas L. Friedman published one of the most influential books probably released that year –
We were entering Globalization 3, and it happened whilst we were sleeping. The world has changed from:
Countries ——>    Companies ——>    Individuals
The world became a flat global playing platform, the product of:

horizontal convergence of the Personal Computer, Fibre Optical Cables, Workflow Software & Standardized protocols, The Internet and later the WWW which brought about a technological revolution that transformed every aspect of business, life & society, which not even the Global Conglomerates could have prepared for.

My favourite flattener and most indulged concept since, that day in April 2005 when I read the whole book in one day, have always been “The Steroids”
“ Technologies that turbo charges and enables information  – digitization; at high speed; wirelessly (mobile) shared on personal devices –
FASTER< FARTHER<CHEAPER and more easily!

And this is exactly where the Google’s, the tweeters, the ipads, the Facebook’s of the world fit in.Soon after the “The World is Flat” , the discovery of things exploded as more and more journalists, authors and bloggers  illustrated the changing world we live in, and each in their own individual right trying to make sense of this phenomena we find ourselves living through.

Think, Freakanomics, Tipping Point, Google, Life Inc, 7 habits of highly effective people, Good to Great, Who moved my cheese? , The Power of Now, The Innovators Dillema and more recently – SUPERCONNECT

Snippets below from a presentation illustrates where my thoughts are floating:

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Opening Keynote at the Creative Company Conference by arne van oosterom (SOURCE)

Soon organizations started changing, with unconventional ways of thinking, where the old age of bureaucracy and people management are influenced by the changing world we live in –

The MEDIA REVOLUTION – key ingredient in the changing world we live in:

And today we are presented with what is called Web 3.0:

Digital convergence is taking on new meaning as we start seeing the proliferation of  the internet across television, mobile devices and any other electronic devices both online & offline. The word interactivity takes on new meaning.

Technological innovations both online and offline brought about a modern day culture recently defined as the “ Innovation Insanity “ The media realized that the power are shifting into the hands of the consumers and publishing took on a different style of make up. People all over the world are realizing the playground is becoming smaller, and we are moving into an era where soon it will be one Global Technologically Connected world we live in.

The impact on society stretches into every industry where technological innovations and the internet changes the workplace, medicine, dating, drinking, eating, feeling, communicating, publishing, designing, developing, etc

In marketing, or real marketing as I like to call it, I feel the fight for digital can end now. It is no longer about budgets shifting or modern vs traditional or above, below, through or ontop of some silly line that no one even knows what it stands for. Technology is supposed to be integrated; it is about making lives better and bringing more relevant offerings. It is about increasing marketing effectiveness, lowering costs for research, it is about involving the customer. It is about publishers – no longer simply producing content, but rather “ packaged information” tailored according to behavioural and social habit analysis.

It is about connecting the dots, between people, products, places, information and this thing called life.

It is about the changing world we live in.

Integrate it.

A project I just Love

And sometimes when you see something it ignites a feeling inside, similar to how the guys at Epipheo Studios are changing the world of online video advertising.

The internet is designed to share experiences.

Everyday change is happening around us, every day we discover new things. Innovations are happening by the minute, innovations that changes the way we live our lives. Today I stumbled upon this article, and as it is relevant to my current project at Nedbank, I read it. And I liked the thinking behind it. So I shared it. And this I do about 20 times a day to about 20 people. You do the math…

Bank of America and Visa Working to Bring Mobile Payments to the Masses – click here to read full article.

Real marketing is no longer a word I just made up, it is a reality. The global vision is here.

“Create products that make our lives better”  “Tell us about things that will make our lives better” “Tell us in ways that ignite good feelings”

Companies are realizing that they have to start listening to what people are saying. True or False – well until I saw this new joint venture, I might have been in doubt. But now I know, that even the smartest of them all are realizing this. So new companies are formed – like this one. (I actually found this article in an Egyptian newspaper – random piece of information 🙂

Nielsen and McKinsey form Joint Venture to Help Companies Use Social Media Intelligence for Superior Business Performance – click to read full article

So i think it is safe to say, that the world of marketing is changing, it is forced ( unfortunately that is, i mean it is a bit idealistic to think that people will actually create things that are good for other people, willingly and make money, i mean who will buy that right?) – forced to change the way they used to do things, make things, communicate things, deliver things in order to make peoples lives better. In a more corporate way of saying it – as per the public relations officer over at NM Incite – ” The initial areas of focus are measuring and improving marketing effectiveness, product launch optimization and customer service experience ”

And that is what real marketing is all about, or at least the way I like to define it.

And as said in the beginning of this post, sometimes when you see something it creates a feeling inside, and my feeling for the day is this Project I just Love.

Imagine it actually happens. I might go to Time Square then next time I am in New York. Either way, the thought is there, the project is there, the movement is there, and that is a good start. Now all we need to do is share.

Watch the video – CLICK HERE

Times Square to Art Square Teaser from Times Square to Art Square on Vimeo.

So it can be safely assumed, that we are living in a fast, flat and rapidly changing world, which is probably going to be the heading of my next post…

In the Know, Do you know?

I could not help but to get a warm fuzzy feeling in my mind, when I saw 3 of my favourite newsletters in my inbox about an hour ago – CoolHunter, Trendwatching & TED.

From the coolhunter

This is what i want to capture in my snap store today – everywhere all around the world, people are searching for information, some stumble upon it, others follow trends religiously, others are forced to through education, majority probably just satisfying some desire to find something, but one common thread seems to be coming through – we all want to be in the know, are you in the know? Living in a country with so many different cultures, social circles and living situations translating into a variety of lifestyles, beliefs, opinions and well, ” knows” – makes me wonder – what is the know?


That in the end, with all of our “know how” and overflow of information and connectivity, is it possible that we still want what people have been wanting for years?

Everyone wants to be unique, except those who truly are… Do you know?


Real Branding – as i like to refer to it – Is really what my mind has been occupied with. Today I found a new man that I will probably keep an eye out for online:


twitter is such a magical platform to milk the minds of those you find interesting, without the negative connotations usually associated with being an information junkie – such as constant questioning, waiting for answers and explanations, or simple story telling of experience. I now find my answers in real time without bothering anyone on my phone.   # i am a trend and social media shopaholic.
So in my shopping bag today, I have a few random links I would like to keep in my snap store. Perhaps I have not yet connected the dots between them – but I think often the lines of relevance and interdependence comes during the exploration phase. If you look closely enough, everything is related, or at least in my 25 years of exploring various elements of the world as a whole, I have noticed – PEOPLE. BRANDS. TRENDS.  – WE. IT. THEY. – all connected.

Firstly, I just have to touch on Google Wave – just because I haven’t yet, and I think it will be silly to leave it off the list, as it fits so perfectly into the maze of connecting the dots.  This video is really what got me excited:

Secondly, I mentioned Paul Isakson earlier, and this presentation is  what made me realize that REAL branding, is not just a word I came up with (refer to some of my earlier posts) – it is a reality and hopefully –  we will be able to see local brands adopt the mindset, sooner rather than later.

I always find it most enlightening when what has been rolling around in my head, gets summarized and set out coherently by someone else, so that I can pass it on to the world in a less upside down manner.

Paul perfectly illustrates how things are changing. Our new generation of marketers and brand builders who got taught with open source platforms, unlimited access to information and the downfall of traditional media – soon realized – it is time to put people back inside the world of Branding. Similar to Business – global awareness of “triple bottom line and increased focus on corporate governance and sustainable business development”, puts people back inside the world of Business. Think of the increased focus on organizational structures and corporate cultures, Google as a prime example, puts people back inside the world of occupation and careers. And as Tom Friedman illustrated in the World is Flat, COUNTRIES – to – COMPANIES – to – INDIVIDUALS.
We are all connected. And we are all human.
This is what brings me to my last bit of trend shopping for the day. Sixth Sense Technology. Not only did I watch this video about ten times, I simply couldn’t stop myself from trying to imagine it in my own life, and the resulting consequences and impact on the way we live our lives, simply by connecting the dots.

And Lastly, Just for fun:   ENJOY MILO!

Till next time, keep on connecting the dots…


Once again life has taken me on a rollercoaster ride, this time through thousands of brands. This post is perhaps a bit random, but mostly motivated by “storing” and documenting moments experienced in the lives of the B R  A N D S  I have worked with – ultimately shaping the way I view and contribute to the world of branding.

brandz 100

Apart from the logo, the packaging, the emotional & inspirational elements, communication and associations, modern brands are becoming real identities striving for integration into our lifestyles.
So before I embark on a journey with one of my favourite South African Brands – I thought it will be worth my while to list the brands that helped to bring me to this point. The knowledge, experience and ultimately insight derived from working with the brands below, is definitely worth capturing in my snap store ☺
1.    Cell C  –  gospel market
2.    T-Systems – employee involvement
3.    Dunhill – the power of design
4.    MTN – infrastructure
5.    Amdec – heritage
6.    Melrose Arch – style
7.    Evergreen – niche markets
8.    Nokia – trends
9.    Tom Ford – innovation
10.    Gateway Shopping Centre – customer relationship management
11.    Cape Town Alive – passion
12.     Blues Restaurant & Bar – repositioning
13.     Glaceau vitaminwater – real public relations
14.     Sirdar – corporate governance & vision
15.     Lifebouy – CSI
16.     Colgate – product
17.     Tastic – health trend
18.     Revlon – glamour
19.     ProSano – no nonsense
20.     Spekko – variety
21.      Twenty – south african
22.     Camel – activation
23.      Sanex – functional benefits
24.      Maggi – convenience
25.      Amstel – experiental
26.      Windhoek – target market
27.      Foundry – finding the gap
28.      Strongbow – branding
29.      Heineken – knowing their “flavour”
30.      Smirnoff – reach
31.      Johnnie Walker – the power of aspiration
32.      Jose Cuervo – calling it by name
33.      Captain Morgan – appeal

My involvements with each of these brands have been to a different extent, but each one taught me the power of a different branding element. Viewing, analyzing and simply being exposed to the “innerworkings” and blue prints of all of the above brands is really what got me thinking.

HOW REAL & HONEST are South African brands? Do the story really exist, or is it simply made up by a bunch of marketing guru’s in the chase for yet another award? I couldn’t help but notice that the Brands succeeding to connect with me on a level that will make me “live the brand” far beyond the little work I did for it, are the one’s who told a real story. It will be interesting to inspect the sustainability and success of these brands in the long term…
Yesterday I read a very interesting quote by Farran Adria –

“The only way to be creative is to be honest, and it is hard to be honest”


I found this quote on one of my favourite websites –
–    a South African Strategic Agency which managed to break straight into my thought patterns with unconventional thinking.

Another addition to my “snap store” is from one of my favourite newsletters brightening up my inbox once a month –
Disney, CNN, MTV, Hyatt, Burger King, FedEx, Microsoft, Apple, Gillette, AT&T, Texas Instruments, 20th Century Fox, IBM, Merck, Hershey’s, IHOP, Eli Lilly, Coors, Bristol-Myers, Sun, Amgen, The Jim Henson Company, LexisNexis, Autodesk, Adobe, Symantec, Electronic Arts, Fortune, GE, and Hewlett-Packard.

These iconic companies were all founded during periods of economic recession – I couldn’t help but share in the excitement for their upcoming Sept 1 book launch for EXPLOITING CHAOS, which has already been named one of 800 CEO Read’s books to watch in 2009.

A final addition to my snap store today is something I couldn’t help but to share –
– my ever so informative friend Chris Rawlinson brought this to my attention and it was with inner delight that I indulged in yet another brand bedtime story. The top 5 brands came as no surprise – but the rest of the report definitely contributed to how I am going to breathe light into my new baby brand… top5 brands

In a world where consumer preference is changing by the day, what are the special ingredients that keep the flavour of a brand sizzling? Perhaps something I will learn over time, but for now, it seems like one main ingredient – real honesty. Lets see which South African brands will manage to make it into the “Real Marketing” case studies…

Real Time Branding, for REAL South African Brands.

This is a bit of a quick post – but I know if I dont post it now, i never will. I just read this article about Real Time Branding Online – it is so relevant to what is currently happening in the industry that I couldnt help but to think – How do these insights impact OFFLINE Real-Time Branding.

Please have a quick read through this article – just so that we are on the same wavelength 🙂  – then see below – my ever twisted interpretation and adaptation of online principles to offline branding:

1. ” Audiences were happy to fall for the dream and not shout about the reality; but with the arrival of social media and the real time web we are seeing, these same audiences not only answer back but take control and engage in the brand experience itself on a minute-by-minute basis.
This directly affects the way you should manage, monitor and measure your online branding campaigns – in real time.” – BUT WHAT ABOUT OFFLINE?

I believe the same has to be applied to offline branding. People are no longer interested in anything that is not a REAL representation of the brand, accompanied by a means for them to interact – BUT – how do we measure offline campaigns in real time? Here is how,  whether it is through offline below the line activations, promotions, events where “REAL PEOPLE” are there to facilitate two-way chat or a redirection to some online platform for them to interact – SOMETHING has to be developed for everyone to CHAT.

2. Real time reputation – if only it was as easy as opening up a BrandsEye account to measure and control offline reputation. But it is not impossible. I like to call it “Modern Public Relations & Research” – What I mean by this is, is actual public relations, not media relations, but actual REAL interaction with the PUBLIC – people who use and love the brand. Hand in Hand with this goes – REAL research. Not just completing some survey in a controlled environment – but rather a CHAT getting real information from REAL people in REAL time. Once again it makes sense to make use of an online platform to facilitate this, think brand blogs, brand online communities, or non-brand specific think – ; BUT can also be done offline at below the line activations and events. Think – every single promoter in store, brand ambassador at an event, or any person representing a brand offline – equiped with a video phone, or which ever mechanic makes sense – getting real time information about people using their products, by having a simple CHAT. The world where the media controls peoples perceptions of brands are changing, PEOPLE control peoples perceptions. And OFF LINE campaigns have to make use of REAL PEOPLE. This takes us to point nr 3.

3. Brand ambassadors: no more them and us

” Establishing who a brand’s key online ambassadors are – that is to say those who are already advocating your brand – and being able to identify their influence amongst other potential brand advocates is now one of the key foundations to building a successful online brand campaign.”   – this is exactly the same offline. Establishing key offline ambassadors – well connected people who are already advocating your brand and being able to identify their influence. A company that i was very involved with called PHATSET – gets this right. Making use of a customer centric approach to product and campaign development is far more valuable than what the current adoption rate of this approach may show in South Africa. Having consumers (even though i hate calling them that) – PEOPLE OF THE BRAND – much better – involved in every step of the process, might be a little bit more time consuming, BUT the rewards and impact will far override the extra time spent. I suggest giving PHATSET a call now!- see image below 🙂

This brings us to nr 4



4. Are your employees your brand?

Similar to the online industry – where Janet talks about – “UK company recently who fired an employee for stating in her Facebook account that her job was ‘boring’, this is probably not the best way forward to enhance your brand image.”

This is the same offline, as mentioned before in one of my posts, i was privileged enough to be involved in the execution of the glaceau vitaminwater launch here in South Africa. It taught me a lot about living the brand, i will continue to live the vitaminwater brand – and not because they asked me to, but because i want to. More importantly though, it highlighted the importance of INTERNAL MARKETING

At university, this was a very important chapter, but in the REAL world, it seems to have been left behind. I managed to do a couple of degrees at university, where my indecisiveness seemed to have paid off in the long run, as i got to come across the very important alignment hidden in the chapters of my organizational psychology and my marketing textbooks. In the REAL world, i was pleasantly surprised to notice that these two departments do not work together all that much. Internal Marketing is somewhere between a staff party and internal training – but HOW MUCH DO EMPLOYEES REALLY LIVE THE BRAND? HOW MUCH DO THEY KNOW ABOUT CURRENT COMMUNICATION? DO THEY REPRESENT THE LIFESTYLE OF THE BRAND?

It is actually so logical, perhaps a bit ideal, but it makes perfect sense, job satisfaction and offline word of mouth must be correlated to some degree. People who form part of the brand lifestyle and experience must be far happier working for the brand than someone who falls without the lifestyle and the brand experience. I would love to perform a study on this, perhaps someone else has already. The point I am trying to make is that South African Brands spend so much time and money on their marketing campaigns, to a point where agency professionals know more about the brand than some people in the company. Some Sales People communicating and interacting with consumers everyday, exchanging valuable REAL TIME INFORMATION – it is almost CRUCIAL – for BRANDS to capitalize on these CHATS, whilst developing an organizational culture where information is shared and everyone feeling part of the brand and brand development. PEOPLE are connecting with other PEOPLE everyday, and BRANDS have to be pay more attention both online and offline – to ensure that REAL information is exchanged in REAL time everyday. Online Platforms facilitates this, Offline interaction has to as well. As she says in the article –

“Your brand is now open to the world and is defined by those who use it, interact with it and by how they view it on a second by second basis. Brands can no longer hide behind the advertising boards of the 20th century.”

SO lets just drop all the marketing jargon, and become REAL brands for REAL people in REAL time 🙂

Idea: – Videotorials – Combining the marketing and organisationl pshycology worlds through REALITY like TV shows / online videos – to provide both consumers and potential employees with REAL information in REAL time about REAL brands!!!

The Line

i have not posted a blog in so long, i have a back log of content and thoughts and now i dont know where to start. one thought that did come to mind first, especially now living in johannesburg where it seems to be a lot more prominent – is the line.

Above the line, below the line, through the line, “on the line” what is this line we live by communicating our products and services?
In a world where access to information is a simple click of a button, it is only a natural progression for brands to be more authentic. It is all about being real and honest in communication, so how does this influence the way we market? And how long does it take for a brand to forget about the line and talk to the consumer like a real person?
My favourite brand I have worked on so far is glaceu vitaminwater. I have been lucky enough to experience a global strategy that is sure to make headlines in all modern marketing text books.  Like with everything in life, each situation is unique and it does not necessarily mean that what works for a will work for b. But, what I did learn is that if you focus on communicating the true value of your product in a way that is best suited for both the brand and the person buying, then, purchasing becomes the natural next step. Further down the line, innovation will deliver continuous satisfaction and creative ways of providing more for less will sustain sales. Energy and belief in the product from all involved will make sure that everyone wants to be a friend. So in essence, it is really simple. The moment brands stop trying so hard and let the consumers be part of their lives is when the brand will really become part of their lives in return.

This leads me to think about this line, which I have not figured out just yet, but at the moment see as the life path of the brand. Similar to the life of a person, it is all about where you are along the path of life and your own personality that will determine what is best for you. I think our structured conventional way of categorizing communication based on a line, is becoming an obstacle in reaching the right people and providing them with an opportunity to purchase. Merely moving “below the line” because of budget cuts is like feeding a baby cereal because food is too expensive, it is a dangerous thing to do, in fact it may kill you.  But truly understanding where the baby is a long the path of life will eliminate wasting money on incorrect nutrition and expensive doctor bills.

It is no different with brands, if a little bit more time is spent on truly understanding the brand, where it is in life, and who it is really “hanging out” with, it will be a lot easier to provide the perfect mix of everything it needs in order to be a good friend to everyone, those already a friend and every new person a long the way.

I am so happy that we are moving into an era where it is no longer about influencing people to buy products they don’t need, but rather providing the right people with the right information to make better purchasing decisions. Like the shift from fixed marriage arrangements to online dating ☺

It will be interesting to see which brands make a concerted effort to be a little bit more honest and organic in the way they let the lives of their brands evolve, and to see the line for what it really is – a life rather than another man made marketing criteria.

Lets take all the marketing jargon, forget it and start over swapping the  “strategically thought out headline”  –  for a simple, honest chat.

Just for fun – my two favourite online newsletters worth checking out – & the cool hunter! – see, a simple chat 🙂 happy winter everyone.

personal branding

So often i have all these great ideas, and for a brief moment whilst sitting in traffic, or waiting in a que, or possibly most often the few minutes right before i fall asleep – i write. Not only a blogpost, but a novel. Only problem is that it hardly ever seems to escape the presence of my own mind. Inconsistency has delivered crazy experiences – but in the blogosphere, it is all about constant & relevent content.

In a world where EVERYTHING is online, a google cv seems to be more and more important everyday. I recently did my wealth dynamics profile, and for those who know me it might not come as a surprize that i fall within the Star profile. (check out wealth dynamics here – very very interesting) Following the natural pattern of how my mind works, finding immediate connections between topics in my life, it brought me to the realization that having an online presence may start without exercising any control over it. Organically every person develops an online presence, which may have detrimental consequences in the long run.

Personal branding online 101 – if the web shows it all, why not be transparent and put yourself in control of your online identity before someone else does it for you… Found this online somewhere – thought it might be worth sharing.

1. Buy the URL of your name.

Here are a list of sites that allow you to search for your URL and buy it:

Network Solutions
Go Daddy

2. Create a website

Here are a list of free website/hosting sites out there that are extremely useful.


3. Get Linkedin

4. Start a Blog

5. Make some comments

Another easy way to get your name out there is to comment on articles and blog posts.

6. Be a critic

if you’ve read a book or two, bought a TV, played a game or traveled anywhere, write a review about it on a popular site (Amazon, Best Buy, Tripadvisor, etc.). It will get indexed for search.

7. Be shameless

By now I am sure you’ve heard of Twitter, the microblogging tool that’s taking the geek world by storm. What you’ll notice is that the folks who are really good at getting followers always post helpful links. Do the same. But every once in a while, post a link that goes to your website or blog. If you’ve got something interesting for people to read or see, they’ll follow you. You can also post your blog or web URL when you make comments. If it’s too long, just go to Tinyurl to shorten it. You will also want to ping search engines when you have a new post to your blog. Here are some popular tools:


8. Be consistent

Building your online brand isn’t tough, but it takes consistency to make sure it stays where you want it to be. If you follow all of the previous steps and drop them all a month later, rest assured your search rankings will fall into obscurity. Also, everything is time/date stamped by the search engines. If someone does a search on you and the most recent thing is from 5 years ago, what does that say about you, other than you’ve been living in a unibomber shack in the woods.

Thank you Rodger – I really find the above makes total sense, and would be interested to see if i can fight my inconsistency with a strong enough intention to successfully create my unique online personal brand.