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The £150million Prison

I read in The Metro this morning that Norway have just opened a £150million Halden Prison. Each room is equipped with plasma TV, en-suite bathroom and barless windows-oh- and just in case prisoners are feeling creative, there’s a huge music studio along with gigantic sports hall and gym.

So let’s look at this logically. One commits a murder and is transported, (by chauffeur driven limo?) to this haven of polished luxury; undoubtedly nicer than where said murderer currently bases himself. Said criminal can bask in the muralled court yard, lie back within his spacious room and check out Film Four on his glistening plasma screen. Or, perhaps in want of some fresh air, he can take a stroll in the prison’s landscaped grounds, whilst contemplating on the crime he has just committed.

…I don’t know about you, but I’m slightly sceptical. The Prison music teacher says that the aim of Halden is to ‘give all the prisoners-our pupils-a meaningful life within these walls’.

Surely though the whole idea of a prison is to make inmates realise that they had a meaningful life, and through theusualstark, minimal surroundings WITH barred windows, it makes them crave this once again.

What do you think?

Brands Merge With Film

In a world of high engagement, static advertising is starting to seem somewhat old fashioned. Some may argue that I would say this of course, as I do champion the experiential discipline, but the proof is in the pudding. Instead of planting themselves on billboards or magazine pages, brands are now taking the next step and subtly merging with the world of film, through product placement, sponsorship, or the generation of their very own film content.

For example, Ketel One Vodka has teamed up with Future Shortsto host often very elegant, chic film nights. Gillette have also jumped on the ‘brandwaggon’ and produced their very own uncut music documentary series. Coca Cola too have also come up with the film ‘Lives Of The Artists’ and Muller Light have secured the lucky sponsorship spot of the next Sex And The City Film.

So why have they done it? Well the film industry is glamorous and owns that element of ‘the cutting edge’ that all brands are looking for. With YouTube’s power as a search engine rising by the day, the reach grows also grows with it.

So what do you think to brands holding the clapper boards?

Festival Activation

With so many festivals on the horizon this summer, brands are somewhat spoilt for choice and arguably, there’s no better arena to home in on the target consumer. The sheer number of those Secret Gardens, Bestivals, Glastonbury’s, Glades, Global Gatherings, Love-Boxes and Big Chills are bound to provide a challenge for brands and send any Marketing Manager into a spin.

Not only is there clearly more competition from brands, but questions like which festival to choose, how to create cut-through and how to engage consumers in an already engaging environment are certainly at the forefront of any initial concerns.

One thing I would say is that it’s important to not get carried away with the latest trends and lose sight of your marketing objectives. It’s imperative that marketer’s campaigns have tangible, long lasting results and brands must be very aware of who they are looking to engage, making sure that once they achieve this, a real connection is established that lasts long after the stages are packed away.

-Dom Robertson-

Who’s Having The Last Laugh?

I’ve come across a number of very humorous adverts online recently, the punch lines of which have almost always stayed with me throughout the day. Not only this, but each time, I was compelled to share these moments ofhysteriawith others in order that, like me, they too could add a touch of comedy to their day.

This got me thinking about how powerful simply‘having a laugh’ can be and how effective it is when it comes to advertising. What my experience suggests- and I know I’m not alone here- is that consumers are far more likely to remember the product on show if the advert was funny.

Heineken are of course great advocates for this. The prank they played on the hundreds of innocent boyfriends tricked into believing they were being dragged along to an opera as opposed to watching the biggest soccer game of the season was cheeky and as a result extremely funny; in fact this viral has since been viewed 559,440 times on YouTube.

Heineken have also produced the ad ‘Men With Talent’, which shows a group of men gripped to a program entitled the former, in which various men are shown demonstrating circus like skills using pints of Heineken in front of a cheering TV audience.

To back me up, a survey conducted by Marketing Week in March this year, revealed that ‘funny and entertaining [ads] are ranked most effective’ and somewhat ironically, the ads regarded as ‘serious topics’ ranked the least effective.

So, is humour the most powerful marketing tool yet? I would say yes, although we could argue that these reactions aresomewhat to be expected ofa British audience. In a society filled with miserable faces, drizzling rain, congestion charges, rush hours and crowded tubes, we all need a little giggle to lighten ourselves up; especially if the weather won’t. I’m convinced thoughthat the power of the laugh should not be ignored…what do you think?

-Stephanie Wollenberg-

It’s Good For The Environment

Everyone knows it’s good to be environmentally friendly. This topic is especially prevalent at the moment, as each political party discusses how they’d like to shape the future. Labour in fact say they aim to make Britain greener, cleaner and less polluting, reducing Britain’s CO2 emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020.

Well, they’ll be pleased to know we’re giving them a head start.

For our CRUK Cancer Awareness Roadshow, we’ve specially developed two environmentally friendly mobile units. They’re both run on our uniquely designed solar system with battery storage, which means that all the lights, power outlets, touch screen PC’s, central heating and water heaters all run from the battery bank. The units are completely silent running keeping the councils happy, and of course there’s zero pollution, ensuring Gordon will be satisfied.

-Daniel Moylan-

Apple- Hoax Or The Real Thing?

I’ve read today that Gizmodo, a website full of the latest gadget and technology reviews, has got its hands on the latest, top secret iphone, through the mishap of a clumsy Apple engineer. Gizmo claims to have found the prototype, ‘disguised as an i-Phone 3GS’ in a local German bar near the iphone headquarters in California.

The technology savvy website have subsequently taken the fourth generation iphone apart, listing all new and changed features, as well as adding an array of photos of the product for all to see. They’ve also postedup a copy of a letter sent to them by Brian Lam, the Senior VP at Apple New York, demanding the phone is returned.

Now, this story has spread over the internet like wild fire, and as a result,we’re all thinking about the next Apple iphone. So, I ask, a cunning marketing ploy by Apple or accidental slip?

Art & Experiential

Currently gracing RPM’s reception area is a double sided canvas stand dominated with distinctive doodles by artist Jon Burgerman. His graffiti-like style is quirky and lively to say the least and, we believe,is unquestionabley one to watch.

Burgerman is slowly but surely making his mark on the art world- his latest projects have included the development of a range of Ripcurl clothing, a series of soya surfboards and he’s also adorned the walls of Miss Sixty’s swanky hotel in Italy with swirls, shapes and scribbles.

Uniting art and experiential works extremely well. In fact, it pretty much dominated our Tiger Translate event held last year at Hearn Street Car Park. In the run up to the event, we hired a studio for a week to allow a group of artists to create work for it. They then took part in a live graffiti competition held in the evening.

Alternatively, what also works well is allowing the consumer to take over role of artist. For example, at Smirnoff UR The Night we created an interactive graffiti wall where designs were created using digital spray cans onto a screen canvas. These were captured and mailed directly or sent via Bluetooth to the consumer’s phone for them to share with friends.

Art is provocative, engaging and of course extremely cool; effective for engaging any audience.

All In The Flavour

Max Lenderman’sExperience The Messageblog discusses the 19 new flavours of Kit Kat that have recently been launched in Japan. Lenderman calls this an ‘experiential extension’ and such tactics in the culinary world are always successful in attracting attention to a brand.

A couple of years back, Walkers crisps similarly releaseda bizarre flavour range, yet unlike Kit Kat they took the experiential to a whole other level of consumer engagement. Through their Do Us A Flavour campaign, consumers were challenged to create the wackiest, most absurdly eccentricflavour. The flavours were judged by Heston Blumenthal and, if successful, the creators of the besttasting crispreceived 1% of the profits for life, as well as £50,000. This competition was so succesful, it has now advanced into theWalkers Flavour Cup, although not everyone is impressed with the flavours.

With this in mind, perhaps Kit Kat have missed a seriously effective marketing opportunity here?

The results ofDo Us A Flavourwere indeed extreme. ‘Cajun Squirrel’ was one of the winning taste bud ticklers, although I prefer the less successful entry inspired by Sponge Bob Square Pants: ‘Deep Sea Water and Pineapple’.

British Is Best

It’s recently been reported thatClipper Tea are returning to the concept of the British Tea Lady in their latest fully integrated experiential campaign. A ‘Revival Team’ will arrive at offices throughout the UK, serving up a mid morning tea party whilst explaining the benefits of Green Tea.

The Tea lady is an iconic, nostalgic figure of British society-and something tells me this campaign will work simply because of this return to a classic British comfort. On a similar vein is the Mr Kipling brand. In the latest TV advert for Oatibakes, we zoom in to the kitchen of a country house, where we see Mrs Kipling, a typical English house-wife, sat eating breakfast in a kitchen dressed with charming English ornaments. Already we cannot help but to warm towards this familiar scene, and without even seeing the product, the brand has already succeeded in tugging at those British heart strings.

Brands often turn to the strength of British tradition to carry out very successful marketing campaigns; yet doing the opposite often can truly have a negative effect. When Kraft first threatened to take over Cadbury, there was uproar that the endearingly warm tradition of the Cadbury brand would be destroyed and replaced with something far too polished and American. Let’s not forget that since 1824 Cadbury has been English, and fully part of British identity and culture. Perhaps the biggest set-back here is that we Britain’s don’t like change and we’re pretty un-accepting. Especially towards the Americans. Even more especially when chocolate is involved.

Just over a year ago, Innocent sold a 30% stake of their business to Coca Cola. So arguably not so innocent anymore and even the best of the British, Man United, are owned by an American businessman- Mr Glazer.

So with this industry in mind,so set on engaging the consumer, let’s be proud of our British heritage and use it to it’s full, glorious advantage. Remember, tradition is always best.

Now someone put that kettle on….

-Stephanie Wollenberg-

Ian Irving On The Power Of Staff Engagement

Live events are an extremely powerful communication tool – especially when used in unison with other communication channels. Today’s conference and B2B meeting organisers are utilising the latest wireless and HD technology. When audience interaction, education and content sharing is required, we are seeing an increase in the use of interactive and touch screen technology as well as brands embracing the use of social media and digital platforms to share, measure, and amplify their events. There are so many new and innovative ways to inspire and engage the corporate audience and developments in areas such as digital theatre and content sharing are creating a revolution in the corporate communications and event arena. In this day and age there is no excuse for “death by PowerPoint” and I am certainly not referring to virtual events.

The recessionary budgets coupled with the challenging business environment of 2009 forced many internal events to shed their frills and focus on getting the message right. This confirmed to many, including organisers and clients alike that the most important part of any event is just how powerful face-to-face communication is, and how it is still the best method for delivering business content – not the ‘whizz bangs’ that can surround it. This education over the past 12 months will have a positive impact on conferences and exhibitions in 2010.

Experiential techniques, once the exclusive property of the marketing department are now transcending into the corporate world and being used to engage their staff. Never before have we seen so much distrust in big companies, but business leaders across the world agree that an engaged and motivated work force is the first step for corporates to take to reconnect with their customers and claw back this trust. We are all consumers, so treating staff as such and ensuring that all methods of internal communication are as engaging and relevant as the external marketing messages is key.

-Ian Irving- Head of Corporate