Monthly Archives: June 2013

Dear GoPro

Go Pro Be a Hero

Dear GoPro,

Thank you for the 5 minutes of utter awesomeness that you’ve put together to promote your HERO3: Black Edition:


And utterly.


And completely mesmerising, not to mention inspiring.

Thank you



Dear vision express


Dear vision express,

Thank you for working in collaboration with a celebrity…as opposed to just using their image in the hope that some of their kudos will rub-off on you.

Spot him? He was in there. Near the beginning. Your brand ambassador.

Nice, light touch that.

It would have been so easy to think: Who’s a famous glasses wearer? Ah yes. Heston Blumenthal! Let’s do a deal with his agent, bung him some dosh and get him to wear some of our glasses in an ad. Job done.

But you’ve been so much smarter than that.

He’s baked-in. He’s part of the brand. He’s one of you. His creativity and innovation are your creativity and innovation.

People are fed up with contractually obliged disinterested celebrities faking their brand loyalty. We all know that they’re doing it for the cash. And we’ve all got used to it. It’s OK. Even if it does make us feel like mugs.

The difference between your relationship with Heston and Santander’s recent “effort” with Jenson Button, Rory Mcllroy and Jessica Ennis is inspiring and depressing in equal measure…

Now I suspect that Santander is trying to be ironic. Rather than have celebrities act appallingly badly, why not have them deliver their lines in such a wooden and dead-pan fashion that there can be no mistake that they’re doing it on purpose?

(Was this a hasty creative change once Jenson, Rory and Jessica appeared on set and their limited acting talents became apparent? Actually I think Jessica’s interpretation is pretty good…which cannot be said for the other two)

Viewed through that lens, the Santander ad is quite funny. But I’m not sure people will pick up on the irony if it’s intended. They’ll just think that Santander is the bank that spends loads of money on celebrities because they’ve got loads and the boss likes Formula1 and Golf…and feels like he should balance things up by having a woman in there too.

Think the irony-radar may also have been faulty when this was made, but it’s a good laugh.

Well, they were only just out of the ’80s I suppose.

Thanks again


Dear Sudocrem

Sudocrem LogoDear Sudocrem,

Thank you for being an iconic brand that’s on the move.

Too often category leading iconic brands rest on their laurels, failing to capitalise on and leverage their equity – they’re known for being good at one thing and that’s good enough for them.

But not you.

You’re not satisfied with being the category defining grey-pot-with-white-gunk-in-it-that’s-good-for-nappy-rash-and-some-other-stuff-too and I thank you for being a great example of a brand that’s not just sitting back, comfortable with business as usual.


I want to thank you for your new ad, the very clear takeout from which is that you’re no longer just a nappy rash brand, but now a brand for all sorts of everyday skin scrapes and scratches.

Aside from being a clever little parody of that famous scene from Jaws (a reference which I suspect might be sadly lost on many people), this ad states very clearly that you’re no longer just for babies’ bums.

Of course people have been using you for much more than nappy rash for many years (i.e. as an antiseptic healing cream) and indeed your packaging has said as much – Eczema, Surface Wounds, Minor Burns, Acne, Bed Sores etc.

But it’s great to see you embracing and making a virtue of these alternative usages and applications.

And it’s a notable change in direction from what you’ve been communicating in the very recent past, which firmly consolidated the perception of you in the Nappy Rash trench.

Secondly, I want to thank you for your recent innovation.


Sudocrem Mousses Logo




A bold but logical step into an adjacent category and of course leveraging all of Johnson & Johnson’s skincare expertise…I don’t know what ProDerm Technology is, but it sounds good, just what my kids need.

And thank you for taking on a triple innovation challenge

  1. Going into a new category (sun protection)
  2. With a new format (sunscreen mousse)
  3. Requiring consumers to adopt a new consumer behaviour (as in “Wayne, will you ask the nanny to mousse baby Klay, ‘cos I cannot reach from my sunlounger?”

I admire your courage and self-belief.

And thank you for your previous innovation – a skin care cream.

Sudocrem Skin Care Cream

sudocrem skincare for grown ups


Thank you for broadening your frame of reference, overtly going after a new target consumer and underlining that you’re about so much more than Nappy Rash.

If it had been me, I would have done the Mousses first and then the Skin Care Cream, but that may be being overly strategic and purist about things.

No doubt you had loads of adults using Sudocrem anyway, so it made sense to develop a product specifically for them, the chances of picking up new users and incremental volume significantly outweighing the inevitable cannibalisation effect.

And who doesn’t want incremental volume?

I do have a slight question mark in my mind about what sits at the heart of the brand at the masterbrand level – the big idea that ties it all together and sits above the Antiseptic Healing Cream, Mousses, Skin Care Cream sub-ranges, but I suspect that will come in due course and I’m looking forward to it.

Thanks again


Dear Microsoft


Dear Microsoft,

Thank you for describing – with an apparently irony-free straight face – the huge, massive and vociferous global outcry to the planned restrictions on the new Xbox One as ‘candid feedback’.

Well that’s one way of putting it…!

Xbox One

I mean, come on.

‘Candid feedback’ is what you should have been seeking BEFORE you announced one of your biggest strategic innovations and competitive plays of the decade, not gathering once the shit has hit the fan so spectacularly after the event.

Have you not heard of market research?

It’s when you talk to your consumers and explore how they might react to the sorts of things that you’re thinking of doing.

xbox gamers

One focus group, just one focus group, with one tiny sub-segment of ‘gamers’ would have told you that restricting the sharing of games, restricting sales of pre-owned titles and requiring daily online authentication might not have been such a hot idea.


The last ‘game’ (as in computer game) that I played in earnest was Snake on my trusty Nokia 3210, c.1999, but even I could have told you that such a fundamental change dictated so prescriptively was not going to go down so well.

But I am being purposefully facetious and doing you a disservice.

Of course you did market research. Of course you did.

But I suspect you only heard what you wanted to hear.

I think you were seduced by positive responses to intriguing new features such as the ability to access your game library from a friend’s house.

I think you only heard the things that fitted with your strategic vision for a new era of digitally-centered console gaming with a forward-looking approach to games distribution, inspired by iTunes and PC gaming service Steam.

I think you were listening too hard to the games designers and publishers who are (understandably) sick of losing out to piracy and second-hand sales.

In amongst all that noise I think you forgot to listen, to properly listen, to the people who are actually going to go out and spend money on your stuff. The gamers.

But having said all that, thank you (and I’m thanking you on the behalf of the ‘gaming community’) for putting things right.

XBox and Playstation signs at Electronic Entertainment Expo

Sure it’s an embarrassing U-turn, a humbling climb-down, an admission that the other guys (namely Sony with the PS4) got it right and you got it wrong. (Oooh, their gloating must have been vexing for you.)

But the important thing is, you’ve put things right and all is not lost – and you’ve got until November to make it seem like none of this ever happened.

Thanks again



Dear Swatch

Swatch Logo

Dear Swatch,

Thank you for being a brand that is genuinely – and I mean actually, properly, really, stuff-the-rest-of-you-wannabes – entitled to call itself innovative.

Classic Swatch

99% of brands aspire to be innovative and many of those make the pointless error of putting the innovative word on their brand definition format, often more out of hope (if I say it enough times, it will come true) and corporate wishful thinking than any real inherent innovative DNA.

But you Swatch – The Second Watch. No. You, you’re different.

No doubt you have flinched at the minor inaccuracies of the countless case studies that have been written about you over the years, but what a complement it must be to have people describing you in such flattering terms – the saviour of the Swiss Watch industry, no less – over and over again. 350million units sold and counting. Wow.

Thank you for taking the fight back to the rampaging Asian digital offerings back in 1983…they were doing some pretty funky things back then.

Casio Calculator Watch

Thank you for being a brand of my childhood. My first Swatch was acquired c.1987…still works perfectly today and has been joined by an eBay-fuelled set of companions.

Thank you for staying on the innovation treadmill, producing new and different collections every year: Maxi Swatch, Pop Swatch, Scuba, Chrono, Automatic, Loomi, AquaChrono, Irony, Solar, Access, Skin, Irony Scuba, .beat, Fun Scuba, Fun Boarder, Swatch Jelly in Jelly, Swatch Chrono Plastic.


Thank you for being collectable…as it happens around 95% of your watches are not right for me – but 5% are (the dark, non brightly coloured ones) – and that still gives me loads and loads to choose from.

Thank you for being innovative in everything you do – packaging, retail, limited editions, collaborations, associations. And yet remaining true to your core – a relatively inexpensive fashion watch that you can wear to reflect your mood or say something about yourself.

These days Apple, Innocent, Netflix and Method are the knee-jerk case studies – but what about you? Has there ever been a more innovative category rule-breaking brand? The perfect case study.

Thanks again


Dear The British Army

British Army


Dear The British Army,

Thank you for making me ponder the difference between two of marketing’s most fundamental levers with your latest Step Up ad.


  • Brand recruitment (aka penetration)
  • vs.
  • Brand retention (aka loyalty)

You see I’m not sure whether the ad – which on the face of it is designed to recruit new soldiers – actually works harder as a means to retain soldiers.

Which may be no bad thing of course, as nor am I sure whether or not, if my theory about the ad is right, you’re doing this on purpose.

OK, let me expand.

It’s a smart insight to identify that a uniquely special relationship exists between a soldier and their boots. I can attest from personal experience* that it does.

And this piece of insightful understanding leads to a neat creative idea that brings alive the rich variety and benefits of life in the British Army…as shown from the perspective of the boot in the ad…and particularly when linked to the motivating Step Up call-to-action.

But here’s the thing.

Until you’ve been a soldier, you don’t have that special relationship.

british army boots

As a potential army recruit, boots are just boots. There’s no meaning there.

As a current soldier, you’ve spent hours and hours polishing them. They’ve been your constant companion on your adventures across the globe. They’ve been through thick and thin, swamp and dessert. They’ve probably been in the presence of the Queen – in all their shining glory. Your most vital bit of kit. You’ve been instructed to love, cherish and care for them. And you do.

Which is why I think this ad does a great job for retention and not such a great job for recruitment. The core emotional hook sinks deep into current soldiers, but skims by potential recruits.

Having said all that, retention might be your intent anyway. You’ve trained them up at considerable expense after all. And it’s well documented that employees feel a disproportionate glow when they see their brand being advertised, demonstrating that their company and by extension they, are doing well.

How Brands Grow Byron Sharp


Byron Sharp has caused a veritable marketing storm with his book “How brands grow” – the central thesis of which is that brands should forget about loyalty and go all out after penetration – and it makes a fair amount of sense given the evidence he presents.

So according to Byron’s view of the world and if my theory about the ad connecting with existing soldiers rather than new recruits is correct and the possibility that you might be doing this on purpose, then you, The British Army, have got yourselves into a royal regimental mess here.


Thanks again


(*As an aside, I developed a very strong bond with my boots despite once being told by an over-zealous Sargent Major (aren’t they all?) that I was a liar on account that I hadn’t polished them – which in fact I had, just not rigourously enough to be to his liking)