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Showing posts from May, 2017

Building a brand without research

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8 things I learned from a chocolate magnate

I always enjoy hearing from entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses, especially when they tell stories that I knew little about beforehand.

I heard one such story last week at Insight Intelligence’s Market Research Summit and it got me thinking about the role of market research in a company’s success.

The speaker was Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green & Blacks, the premium chocolate company she launched with her husband, Craig Sams, himself founder of the Whole Earth organic food company.

For those that don’t know it, Green & Black's is a British premium chocolate company, founded in 1991 on an ethical platform of sustainability and championing the virtues of high cocoa content, dark chocolate.

True to its ethos, it became the first chocolate brand to be awarded a free trade mark and has been declared one of the UK’s coolest food brands for 10 years in a row, as voted by Coolbrands.

Green & Blacks sold to Cadbury’s in 2005 …

When the customer loses her voice

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Why companies need to listen more to avoid humiliating back-downs.

So, McDonald's have become the latest company to withdraw a new ad campaign following a backlash from the general public.

In case you haven’t seen it, the McDonald's ad uses the theme of childhood bereavement in a clumsy attempt to promote their Filet-o-Fish product.

The ad was misjudged at best, cynical at worst and gives the impression of having been created in a corporate vacuum where no-one during its gestation had the nous to say “Are we sure this is a good idea?”.

Advertising like this does not just turn up fully-formed and ready to air.

A lot of people will have been involved in its development over many weeks at McDonald's, at their ad agency and at the film production company.

Approval processes must have been followed along the way.

And unless McDonald's – a family restaurant let’s not forget – had some wider agenda, then it seems bizarre that no-one could have seen the backlash coming and pressed …

Not another conference?

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Why I’ve changed my approach to get more out of conference season.

Been to any good conferences lately?

On May 25th, I’m off to one in London. It’s called the Market Research Summit. It has an impressive range of speakers and promises some thought-provoking sessions - I’m really looking forward to it.

In recent years, I’ve spent lots of time at all sorts of industry conferences, sometimes presenting, but more often just sitting in the audience. I’m sure many readers of this post will be the same.

But for every conference I’ve been to, there have been many more that I could have attended if I had the time, inclination and budget – like many industries, mine certainly loves a good conference.

A few conferences I’ve attended have been consistently outstanding, but most tend to offer a handful of highlights at best, with the rest being rather forgettable.

Previously I’ve tended, rather simplistically, to associate a forgettable conference experience with a low-quality conference, convenie…

The power of insight-led advertising

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...or why I think the new Qantas Australia campaign got it right.

Having spent much of my formative working life in advertising agencies, I have always remained a strong advocate of (good) advertising.

I have a perhaps unhealthy interest in discovering new campaigns from around the world and absorbing them as both a consumer and a communications professional.

I have seen first-hand examples of the impact that a powerful, advertising campaign can have on people, brands and even society.

Great campaigns are rare, but when you come across one, it stands tall like a lighthouse, towering above an ocean of mediocrity.

But whilst such exceptional work may come in all shapes and sizes, if you dig beneath the surface you’ll find that it typically contains two things in common:

Firstly, it has taken a creative risk to ensure that the work will stand out from the competition and get talked about - great campaigns don’t follow category convention, they subvert it.

Secondly, it is based on an aut…