Category Archives: Technology

Dear Energizer

energizer-ecoadvancedDear Energizer,

Thank you for reminding me about the power of claims…and the various psychological heuristics (or biases, such as anchoring or focusing) that affect how we interpret what we hear.

Now I’m full of admiration for what you’re doing…driving the agenda when it comes to battery  recycling and pushing yourselves forward with your “leaders always go first” brand vision / purpose.

But “made with 4% recycled batteries” feels a little underwhelming to me. Even if it is a world first.


My biases (and in fact my basic grasp of numbers) tell me that 4% just isn’t very much. At all.


And the 4% claim is especially underwhelming when compared to your adversaries over the way at Duracell…

Even though it does relate to a different attribute, “Up to 10x [longer]” just sounds a lot better than “made with 4% [recycled batteries]”, even if I do buy into your higher purpose. Which I do.

But please do keep at it. Without achieving 4% today, you won’t be able to achieve the 10%, 20% and 50% etc which I have no doubt you are gunning for in the future. Bravo to that!

And as a slight aside, thanks for reminding me of the king of claims: Dyson.

“Twice the suction power of any lightweight cordless vacuum in use”.

Now that’s a claim worth shouting about.

Thanks again





Dear Aviva

Aviva_logoDear Aviva,

Thank you for The Aviva Drive App Challenge…you’ve given us game changing innovation that’s a killer manifestation of a global brand vision and strategy. For a proponent of vision-led innovation like me, this is the stuff of dreams.

10/10 Aviva.

  • An innovation with that much sought after but rarely delivered Triple-Win of benefits: The Consumer Benefit (lower insurance premiums); The Brand Benefit (consumers now have a genuine reason to choose Aviva over the other 1000 brands that the comparison websites spit out); The Societal Benefit (safer roads)
  • An innovation that not only is a wonderful demonstration of your new global Good Thinking brand strategy / vision, but also has the potential to radically disrupt the car insurance category – for the better
  • An innovation that harnesses technology for a genuine consumer benefit – for real people in the real world as opposed to the 1% / early adopters who usually get this stuff

And what an execution – I love it. I really love it.

Malki’s line “I know I’ve got to prove myself now to win this competition” is beautifully reminiscent of what we hear on the Saturday night TV talent shows. Memory structures = tapped. Nice.

Cannot wait for the next installment, in which I anticipate and hope that you’ll communicate some more of the functional features of the proposition – i.e. “Aviva Drive is a free app that monitors your driving skills. Once you’ve driven 200 miles, you’ll get an individual driving score out of 10. Safer drivers scoring 7.1 or more could save an average of £150 on Aviva comprehensive car insurance – a saving which could be achieved by 44% of them”

Thank you again Aviva.


PS – And thank you for your Press Release – everything spelt, with perfect clarity, in less than a page. Lovely.

Dear Three

Dear Three,

Thank you for Please Spam Responsibly #holidayspam…despite not being a sophisticated, or even engaged, social media user (especially on holiday), it makes me smile every time I see it.

The combination of Social Proof (one of Robert Cialdini’s 6 key principles of influence), and the satirising of both social media behaviour and language (tanningfails and #livelikealocal) brilliantly bring to life what could have been a fairly functional claim.

Three - use your phone abroadNow I don’t know whether or not that’s a genuine point of difference, representing a truly innovative aspect of your overall service package and pricing plan (vs. EE, Vodafone, O2 etc)…but because you’re claiming it in such a differentiated way, it might as well be. It’s what people will remember you for.

And thank you for casting Michael Buerk to do the voice over. What a perfect choice, given his newscaster and 999 history. He delivers his lines brilliantly.

As he did in this wonderful, much written, complained and probably tweeted about ad from Marmite:

Thanks again






Dear Snapchat



Dear Snapchat,

Thank you for helping me ponder the difference between price and value – and more specifically, how the Price someone is willing to pay for a company is not the same as its Valuation. 

Much has been made of Snapchat’s $3bn “valuation”, on account of the buyout approach made by Facebook.

People left, right and centre have been throwing their hands in the air, chuntering about how seeing as you’re yet to turn a profit, you cannot possibly be worth $3bn.

Evan Spiegel

And of course they’re right. You’re not technically worth $3bn. Not in the sense of a traditional, objective, valuation (some kind of multiple of turnover or profit) anyway.

But $3bn is the price that Facebook were apparently willing to pay for you. You were clearly worth $3bn to Mark Zuckerberg and his shareholders. So “value” it seems is in the eye of the purchaser…which is then reflected in the price they are willing to pay in exchange for the value they perceive, a somewhat more subjective matter altogether.


The “value” Facebook saw was in your potential. Or perhaps the danger of not having you. Or maybe in someone else getting you instead of them.

I know it’s only semantics really, but when the likes of the big auction houses or even estate agents value a painting or a house, what they’re actually doing is providing a guide price and then hoping that someone values the item enough to match or exceed that price*.

The Scream

Which clearly was the case with the individual who was willing to pay $120m for one of Edvard Munch’s hideous messes. I’m guessing they saw value in its potential, scarcity and what others seemed willing to pay for it, as well as artistic value – the first three I get, the last, well, not so much.

Perhaps this confused and cyclical relationship between value and price goes someway to explain why Vince Cable and Goldman Sachs are getting it in the neck to such an extent at the moment.


They valued Royal Mail using objective criteria for the basis of the listing price. But as soon as shares became available, people were willing to pay a significantly higher price for them than the listing price. Which leads people to conclude that the valuation was wrong in the first place. But has Royal Mail actually become more valuable because its shares have a higher price now? Does it turn more profit, create more jobs and deliver economic growth now that people are willing to pay a higher price for its share?

My suspicion is that once the furore has died down – and a few years performance have passed under the bridge –  the share price will stabilise and the original valuation will be proved to be about right.

But what do I know?

Not a lot to be honest.

But it’s diverting to think about it.

Thanks again

PS – I would have taken the $3bn. You crazy?

*In fact I suspect it’s the hoopla-makers in the Media that bandy the valuation word around, not the auctioneers, but anyway




Dear Adobe

Adobe Logo

Dear Adobe,

Thank you for finally demonstrating why you might be useful to me. I mean actually useful.

And thank you for giving me a good laugh too…whilst showing us the power of story-telling within an ad.


Up until now, my sentiments towards you have been perfectly summed up by a simple infographic I stumbled upon on one of my favourite blogs: ilovecharts

Time Spent with Adobe

(Sadly I don’t have the link to the original blog so thank you to whomsoever created this clever little chart.)

But now that I have a more than passing interest in eCommerce (thesnoozery), and now that I’ve seen your new ad dramatising your potential benefits (or rather the risks of not using you – or someone like you), I’m beginning to think that the time spent with update requests and restarting might be time well spent.

Thanks again




Dear Apple

Apple Logo

Dear Apple, 

Thank you for demonstrating that marketing is a tightrope, that the lines between getting it right and wrong are so fine that even so-called “great” brands blunder from time to time. 

A few months ago you came out with this brilliant and visually mesmerising piece:

The very clear out-take being that you put people at the heart of your design process. Which is good. And does well to counter-act the somewhat curious and self-referential Designed by Apple in California strapline that you’ve adopted. (Sure, people care about the provenance of their food, but do they really care where their phone is from? Maybe they do, but I for one don’t) 

But now you’ve come out with this, which may well be representative of real consumer behaviour, but it feels contradictory and pretty depressing to be honest:

As Mark Watson states in his blog titled In 20 years, We’re All Going to Realise This Apple Ad is nuts, you appear to be encouraging people to choose the “experience of their products over the experience of other people” and you even go on to say that it’s your “products, not the lives they serve, are what matters.”

But I thought it was all about the people, and the products were just a means to an end? People matter, products just help, right? 

No doubt you’ll sort it out, but thanks for showing that it ain’t easy to be brilliant all of the time.

Thanks again 



Dear O2

O2 Logo

Dear O2,

Thank you for giving us the best line of advertising copy so far this year: “Carpe Diem. It means Grab the Frisbee“:

Whilst Be More Dog has given me a good old laugh, for which I’m grateful, it does feel a little bit “off-brand”. Where are the bubbles? Where’s the blue sky? Where’s the water? After all, you’ve spent 10 years establishing those codes, why go and throw them all away now?

But hang on a wee second Mr Brand Purist. (Not quite sure why I’m referring to myself in the third person here, nor affecting Scottishness…but anyway.)

As it happens I’m coming up to the end of my 24 month contract with you. And even after nearly 4 years with you, we don’t have much of a relationship.

You send me monthly emails telling me how much money you’re going to take from my account.

You send me texts informing me that I’ve got through my monthly 100mb data allowance – which seemed loads 23 months ago, but now just seems pitiful – and would I like to Bolt-on some more for only £3?

You send me PRIORITY Moments texts announcing concerts and other stuff, 99% of which don’t interest me, although are still worth receiving if it means I can get early dibs on Coldplay tickets like I did last year. (Barclaycard did the honours this year helping get my mother-in-law and I to Hyde Park to see The Rolling Stones.)

EE Logo


My current plan is to switch to EE (formerly Orange who I switched from to you to get my first iPhone), get a nice new shiny iPhone (possibly hanging on for the iPhone 5S rumoured for an October launch) and then get my home broadband through them too (with a nice new shiny router).

I’m fairly certain I can be bothered.

But this Be More Dog thing has piqued my interest. OK, so there’s no bubbles, but as your Priority Moments is not bad, I was intrigued to check it out. Which I did.

Be More Dog Landing Page

Hmmm. This O2 Refresh thing sounds good.

And there are the bubbles. Ahhh, that’s better.

And O2 Tu Go sounds kind of interesting.

O2 TuGo


So on-brand bubbles or off-brand cats and dogs but no bubbles, Be More Dog has alerted me to some service and product innovations that you’re offering that otherwise I would not have known about.

So perhaps you can thank Be More Dog for retaining me as a customer for another 24 months. Perhaps. No switch to EE. No hassle. New phone for me probably on a more expensive contract.

Which I’m guessing you’d classify as a success.

Thanks again