Monthly Archives: August 2011

Dear BBC iPlayer

Dear BBC iPlayer,

Thank you for making me feel that I’m vaguely up to speed with technology…I consider myself to be more of a technophile than a technophobe, but boy it’s hard to keep up.

I’m sure the really early adopters have been connecting their laptops to their TVs to watch you for ages now, but for me it’s a relatively new thing.

And now that I’ve bought a connector thingy that means the sound now comes out of the TV, not the tinny laptop speakers (via an HDMI cable and the “Thunderbolt port”), you’re pretty much like watching a DVD. Great.

Also thanks for helping to shift perceptions of the BBC brand.

Perennially accused of being a stuffy, unwieldy behemoth, significant but relatively small things like Doctor Who, 1Xtra and 6 Music certainly help to modernise the brand, but the parts don’t really add up to a greater, more modern, whole.

But now that the Beeb is beginning to get you – BBC iPlayer – into the license-paying mainstream, it feels like Auntie is living up to her Charter once again. Informing, Educating and Entertaining people. But on their terms. Power to the people, individual tailoring, engagement – all excellent brand (relationship) building stuff!

In the most simple terms, you go to show that delivering the same thing (in your case content) via a new channel can dramatically affect how brands are perceived – both good and bad.

Draught Guinness at home on the sofa? From a Can? Thanks to a “widget”?

Good for convenience and therefore volume, not quite so good for the brand magic created by the two-part pour, the swirl and settle, and all the anticipation that goes with it, that I get down at the Dog & Duck.

A trade-off worth making in my book, but it reminds us that absolutely everything a brand does affects how it’s perceived.

And finally, thanks for giving me the chance to watch Secrets of the Pop Song.

I missed it first time round, but seeing Guy Chambers at work has completely changed – in a good way – how I listen to the radio. Sadly no longer available – please can you put it back so I can watch it again, again?

Thanks again



Dear San Miguel

Dear San Miguel,

Thank you for coming up with (yet) another excellent positioning.

I hope for your sake that you manage to hold on to this one:

I very much like this effort to carve out some space – “A life well lived” is pretty much what we all aspire to isn’t it?

Having said that, I thought your previous positioning was also excellent:

It’s just a shame that you were pushed off this positioning post (outspent?) by Kronenbourg 1664 (who I in fact thanked here when perhaps I should have been thanking you as you got there first) .

I was actually less convinced by your positioning before that…

…But maybe that’s just because I have a thing about brands that claim “passion”.

For me, “passion” is an over-used, introspective and empty word. It’s a bit of a lazy, catch-all, lowest common denominator short-hand used by brands that are too busy thinking about themselves and not enough about their consumers.

Well that’s jolly good for you, I’m delighted that you’re passionate about baking – or plumbing, or hairdressing, or pencil sharpeners. or whatever you spend your time making to sell to me – but what does that mean for me?

Don’t get me wrong, “passion” is a good thing if consumers take out that you’re passionate, as in “My god those guys are passionate about what they do”. But not so good if you’re having to remind people just how passionate you are at the top of your voice – it just rings a bit hollow.

It reminds me of one of my favourite marketing cartoons of all time:

Sorry – I ripped those images from somewhere so long ago that I have no way of crediting it to its originator. But, whoever you are, thank you.


Dear Coors Light

Dear Coors Light,

Thank you for reminding us that if a brand is determined to own the generic macro benefit of the category in which it’s operating (in your case “Refreshment”), then it’s got to pull another lever in order to make itself stand out.

And humour is usually a pretty decent bet:

Van Damme’s customised denim-leisure-suit and white-socks-black-tassly-loafers combo (plus obligatory tously mullet) makes me laugh almost as much as what he’s saying.

The script is not quite as slick as the Old Spice Man, but Van Damme’s delivery is hilarious – maybe there is an Oscar in Muscles from Brussels after all…


PS – Here’s the Old Spice Man, just for good measure. Too many other blogs on him for me to add anything new.