Strategy safari

Alfa Romeo
I read this article about the new Alfa Brera in Evo magazine. In it the designer of the Brera, one of the great Italian car creators was described as the “Georgio Armani of sheet steel”. Nice insight, bish bosh, bash one strategy for the Alfa Marque.
Alfa Romeo. Couture in sheet steel.
Yellow Pages
It’s the ads stupid. Everyone bangs on about peculiar useage opportunities or the comprehensive nature of the listings but the real power of the Yellow Pages comes from the ads it carries in which hundreds of thousands of businesses tell them loads of intimate details about themselves. This intelligence is the heart of the brand whether it is delivered in paper form, on the telephone or online.
More of a phrase than a pithy statement but my idea is:
Yellow Pages. More businesses tell us more about themselves so we can tell you more about them.
If you give money to most charities and NGOs you end up saving some humans. If you support Greenpeace you save humanity (contrary to their assumed interest in whales and the like).
Greenpeace. Save the humans.
The Daily Telegraph
Not my read of choice but I was interested in giving this paper a role in more people’s lives. Given how redundant the Conservative and Unionist party is as an effective opposition to Labour the media has had to step in and fill the vacuum. This is a role that a paper like the Telegrpah should embrace with open arms.
The Daily Telegraph. Her Majesty’s official opposition.
ING Direct
This is a low cost, high rate direct banking operation. I’m interested in exposing the economics of direct banking and striking up a reciprocal deal with the consumer. You leave us alone as far as possible, our costs stay down and your rate stays high. Very adult to adult. Very ‘you scratch our back and we’ll scratch yours’.
ING Direct. Reciprocal banking.
To be honest this would work for any airline brand. I got to thinking that the competitve threat airlines face isn’t other airlines it is not travelling and doing whatever it is you want to do by phone or online. Virtual communications are the enemy for an organisation that specialises in the rather superior idea of face to face communications. Emirates needed to reposition themselves as the champion of face to face communications.
Emirates. The face to face communications company
The Science Museum
Arthur C Clark has 3 Clarks laws about scientific discovery. The third states that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” And if you think about it every major scientific achivement from the steam engine to manned space flight to genetic engineering must have seemed an act of pure magic when first experienced. Voila, an exceptional new positioning to engage the Potter obsessed generation.
The Science Museum. A history of magic
I’m tired of coffee strategies built around taste and sociability. This is possibilty the greatest recreational drug discovered by mankind – a fundamental facilitator of civilisation. By replacing alcohol as the beverage of choice in the western world it created an populous that was wired and wildly creative rather than drunk the entire time. Little wonder the establishment has always been more interested in closing coffee houses than pubs. Coffee continues to play a potent role in human mental endevour making our brains sharper and more agile – albeit in short bursts. What is interesting about coffee is what your brain can and does do while caffeinated.
Coffee quickens the genius
I worked for the Wales Tourist Board and lost it to Wiedens in a statutory review. All’s fair in love and advertising and the Wiedens’ work is very good if not very ambitious. Here was my strategy. I wanted to say something about Wales that was competitive globally not just against the local competition and for me that had to come from the people and not the landscape – a people that have an eternal loathing of the establishment and establishment values. From their resistance to Saxon invasion, the survival of one of Europe’s most ancient languages, non-conformist religion and the radical politics of the twentieth century Wales has fought for values that run counter to the orthodoxy. Infact for its thousand years of spirited opposition to the status quo I vote Wales the original counter culture, a place that makes Amsterdam, Haight Ashbury or Marrakesh look positively lame.
Wales. The original counter culture
Mothercare is all about motherhood and its been in all sorts of trouble over the recent past. It is missing a trick and the clue is in its name. These days mums need one thing more than anything else – their mums. Traditionally a mums mum would have supported her daughter throughout pregnancy and the childhood of her kids. Not any longer. One of the results of women having children later is that their mums are themselves alot older. It is years since they will have been a mum themselves and even if they haven’t forgotten the score the theory and technology of child rearing has left them behind. Add to that the greater distances that mums mums live from their daughters, decades of being told to butt out of her life and the rather more attractive role of grandmother and you realise that mums need their mums and the latter no longer play ball. Mothercare should take on the mantle of being a mum’s mum.
Mothercare. Care for mums.
No way am I telling you about this – hope springs eternal that they will knock on my door. Its genius though.

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19 Replies to “Strategy safari”

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you on the airline strategy -the real reason why one travels is to experience something personally, not virtually. The power of looking someone in the eye, shaking their hand, or giving them a hug will never be replicated by virtual presence.
    In fact, I liked this idea so much that we used it (at my last agency) as the basis for our 2002 re-launch of Air New Zealand with the strapline “Being There Is Everything”.
    And it worked, which was nice.
    (see )

  2. the science museum one is beautiful and un-obviously so true – just the look at kid’s faces when they’re amazed by science.
    Why the history thing on it though? I would have gone with something about magic being real or everyday…
    all very good stuff, thanks for sharing

  3. Thanks ant kind words.
    I guess the history thing was just trying to remember that it is a museum at its heart for all the contemporary stuff and the educational role it plays for science in general.
    When you see Stevenson’s Rocket (the real one mind, the actual thing|) you are witnessing the history of magic. It is no longer amazing as piece of science, its potency is in thinking how awesome, scary and magical it must have seemed to a farm labourer witnessing it pass for the first time.

  4. I think theres an interesting point about how kids/teens think the word science is dull, and that the word museum is dull… but put them together and they often think its fun!

  5. Think you’re off with the ING DIRECT one,
    but do like Save the Humans.

  6. The Coffee concept is a sure hit one for creative usage.
    But since we are dealing with specific brands, it need to be applied to only one.
    Find a brand which has more centered caffein dosage.
    The Green-peace is amazing. How could they let it go ??

  7. Eddie,
    The strategy was developed for the Coffee Council but I always felt it would have been a way to add some guts to the flacid Nescafe thinking and work that pollutes our day to day lives – ‘its all about you’ bloody hell isn’t there a planning hall of shame somewhere?

  8. Firstly – thanks for sharing your ideas. It’s not everyone who puts something out there like this. Secondly, I think there are some really great ones in there. I’d be interested in why you think the clients didn’t buy them (or maybe they didn’t get to hear them).

  9. Thanks Mark,
    Reasons why they never made the grade:
    1) I think a good planner carries around in their head what I call latent strategies. These are hypothetical strategies either attached to a brand or just category generic which if they ever got the chance they would use. Motehrcare is an example of this. Indeed it amazes me when I inteview planners that most hardly think outside the categories they work on.
    2) Sometimes clients are scared of bold strategies – many prefer blander strategies and then leave it to the creative to do all the work with the consumer. As an industry we are far better at nurturing and protecting good work than we are at doing the same with good strategy
    3) Sometimes agencies lose their bottle in a pitch and go for a blander option. This double guessing rarely works and this is what happened on ING leaving us all with advertsing featuring orange things and an irritating tune.
    4) Sometimes the work doesn’t live up to the promise of the strategy or the strategy doesn’t actually yeild good work. Our strategy was more interesting than W&K on Wales but I think their work was better.
    5) Sometimes you are just plain wrong as a planner – but the process of thinking like this keeps you sharp nonetheless.

  10. hail there, old friend.
    A couple of spectacular over head kicks that screamed over the bar from my history.
    No one knew how, when or why to drink Campari so….”Campari : the Italian Gin” i.e. drink it after work, with tonic, its red (blooded), its stylish etc. (BTW this completely foxed the Italian clients. Perhaps its a bit like being told when in Rome that Gordon’s is the English Campari. Confused? They were…)
    And from the era when BMW owned Rover. “Rover : 50% German. 100% British.” (apart from the client running a load of old tosh from M&C, it would have been interesting if he had taken the thinking up the line to Munich : they sold the company to Phoenix for a tenner a week after the pitch. Still it was beautiful to dream at the time..)

  11. Jon,
    Still use the campari example to this day to show that radical strategies can be incredibly simple – it’s possibly my favourite brief from you. the other one was the Sqeezy strategy to make washing up sexy.
    Rover is still impressive simply cos no one would have hte balls to pitch that idea any longer now the DLKW’s CHI’s and VCCP’s dominate the business.

  12. Didn’t Amnesty use ‘save the humans’? Before or after your post?
    WH Smith – I know, ‘would you like a HUGE bar of chocolate with that?’
    Love this sharing idea, a tad concerned that planners could shoehorn in their fave ideas in order to be right, or to be admired

  13. Hmmm, Not sure about the Amnesty thing. Maybe they do use it but rather disappointing if they do. This is about defamiliarisation – if Amnesty say it people think no shit sherlock but it is counter intuitive for Greenpeace to claim they are saving humans rather than the environment the humans are screwing up.
    Also the point is that Amnesty may save the odd human but Greenpeace are in the business of saving all 6bn or the whole of humanity in other words.
    Don’t worry about the shoehorning thing – I think this approach is just about honing ones strategic skills for the day to day.

  14. Resons why they never made the grade:
    Point 4) Spot on, the creative didn’t do the strategy justice.
    Shame, I loved working with you.
    It must be the most frustrating bit of a planners job when an excellent strategy isn’t realised at creative stage.

  15. you make it sound so simple.
    how do you reach these thoughts?
    i know what we’re seeing here are the end results and there must be a lot of mind maps scribbled along the way.
    how do you know which area to explore – do you pick a few that are true to the brand and then develop them as far as you can go to see if they click? or is it a gut feel thing?
    apologies if someone has already asked you a how do you plan question which you’ve answered somewhere on your blog.
    by the way i think ing direct is spot on. i can’t even remember their uk proposition although the jingle does stick in my head. it’s a shame some multinationals are just too scared to recognise cool ideas.

  16. I have mentioned this elsewhere so apologies if I am starting to sound repetitive but my start point is always what is the most interesting strategy this clinet could ever employ and then I go about proving it’s right or discarding it. I think its really easy if you try it this way round.
    That said I now realise that all my planning comes from somwhere and needs a kick start – I’m not sure that planners are creative geniuses who just come up with stuff out of the blue. By and large this is either a personal insight (I’m a big fan of planning from within) or something I have come across – a quote or a book usually (how many times do I have to say – read weird shit). the ING one was some stuff in an analysts report saying that their revenue model was screwed if anyone phoned them more than 18 times a year. Bingo – consumers love a reason why (note the way IKEA go to such lengths to explain why they can bang out lights so cheaply) and here was a rational for why the interest rates were eyewateringly high – they depended on you lettting them get on with generating interest rather bothering them too much.

  17. We have a recente poster\print coffee campaign going on in Portugal all about “the things you miss when you’re sleeping” … or something like that. I still love Sydney Saatchi’s campaign … opps can’t recall the brands’name, but I do remember the message: “Wake up and smell the coffee” and it had a interventive political tone of voice. Nice, different!

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