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Friday, 17 April 2015

Living in a world of Consumption

Today's contemporary society lives in a culture full of consumtion where one must consume in order to survive. However, if you love fashion and consuming carbohydrates, you will love this article!

New York designer Chloe Wise exhibits her artistic interests in her new collection “ Pissing, Shmoozing and Looking away”, of sculptures that look good enough to eat! Through the duality of the word consumption - defined as both an indulgence of food and a surplus of spending - Wise has created a number of sculptures based on the notions of luxury and consumptuon by recreating some of the fashion industry's most notorious merchadise with a diverse range of breads.

Wise states that she “wanted to show the parallels between the idolatry for luxury items in fashion with the equivalent importance of the commodity in the art world”.  Reimagined in pancake, toast, bagels and pastries, Wise recontextualises the pricey products as art objects intstead of purchasable goods, where food and fashion are rid of their value and become soely symbolic of the frivolity of excess.


(Source: Artnet)
Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Mergers & Acquisitions – Brand Building 101

In the past month or so there’s been a lot of talk about different brands in the fashion industry being taken over, or merging with other companies. Although it’s not an unfamiliar occurrence in any industry, two big names have come up in the conversation so far; the first of which is Karmaloop (an online retailer specialising in street wear), and the second is Net-a-Porter (an online retailer stocking luxury womenswear).

Having recently filed for bankruptcy, many different investors have shown their interest in purchasing the cult street wear retailer Karmaloop, but it’s Kanye West’s name which has attracted the most press. Those of you who have been paying attention in the fashion-sphere will know that West has recently been collaborating with super-brand Adidas, as part of what seems to be an on-going clothing, footwear and accessories collection. The Adidas x Kanye West Season 1 show was the most viewed fashion collection of the Fall/Winter 2015 season (beating out Chanel for the first time), and was a line that was positioned at the lower end of the ready to wear market (with Yeezy Boosts only setting you back $350).

Kanye West x Adidas Collection (Source: HIphopdx)

Although the purchase of Karmaloop by Kanye West and business partner Damon Dash has yet to be confirmed, it seems like a match made in heaven as West has previously declared that he’s looking to make his brand of fashion available to the masses, and having his own shop seems like a step in the right direction.

Despite the fact that controversy follows West wherever he goes, he has an undeniable passion for fashion, and a respect for branding that may turn Karmaloop around in a short span of time. When it comes to re-branding, the options are varied, but most of the time it involves stripping all the old associations away from the brand, and building it anew. For West, this could involve bringing in his Adidas for Kanye West line as an exclusive, and then curating the stock-list to support up and coming designers, as well as a complementary list of well-known street-wear brands.

Natalie Massenet – Founder of Net-a-Porter (Source: The Australian)

Putting the sale of Karmaloop aside, Net-a-Porter has also confirmed that it’s merging with rival online retailer Yoox, which has a unisex product offering, but a slightly less ‘luxury’ positioning in the market. Given the combined sales of these two online retailers (US $1.4 billion), the merger makes great business sense, as it aims to bring about greater efficiency in the online luxury sector by grouping resources and leveraging each brand’s strengths and assets. Yoox has been known for its logistical prowess, whereas Net-a-Porter has strong industry ties, and an unmatched stock-list of the most luxury of luxury brands. As mentioned by Net-a-Porter founder, Natalie Massenet, the merger results in the formation of “the world's biggest luxury fashion store…a store that never closes, a store without geographical borders.”

It’s going to be an interesting few months ahead for the online retailing sector in the fashion industry, so for now we’ll have to issue a ‘watch this space.’

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 13 April 2015

Apple’s great leap in to wearable technology

The much-anticipated Apple watch has almost arrived with pre-orders being accepted online this week. Smart watches are no longer a new phenomenon, with rivals such as the Samsung Gear and the Pebble already hitting the shelves over a year ago.

However, this week marks a significant milestone for Apple in to the world of wearable technology. Following the success of both the iPhone and iPad is no small challenge for a company who has a history of innovating and changing the way customers interact with their products.

With more power on your wrist than the NASA computers that propelled man to the moon, wearable tech could be a game changer for marketers to promote their products and services. Some of these changes can already be seen in the tactics used by companies through relatively new platforms such as smartphones and tablets.

Source: http://cdn2.knowyourmobile.com/sites/knowyourmobilecom/files/Array/apple-watch-6_1.jpg

Wearing a device on your wrist is an even more intimate experience for the user, as it quite literally connects them physically to their technology. This brings a whole host of potential opportunities and possible pitfalls for companies looking to reach out to customers. The challenge for aspiring marketers is to take advantage of this new platform by creating new ways to connect using the small but ever present screen. The most effective communications will be short, concise and easy to consume while on the go. Marketing communications that fail to adhere to this criteria could be seen as intrusive and a disruption to the user.

The new Apple watch is able to collect a whole host of data on everything from the user's heart rate to even how many steps they have taken in a day. The wealth of data available to marketers offers a fantastic insight in to consumer habits.  This new platform could give rise to a whole new ecosystem of apps for monitoring health and fitness.

The limitations of such a small screen with no keyboard poses problems of how to best utilise smart watches for marketing purposes. Companies who simply try to port their existing apps to such a small device will likely be unsuccessful. It might be better to think of wearable tech as an extension or companion of existing smartphones and tablets rather than a stand-alone device.

While companies like Apple may find it more difficult to convince us we need a smart watch on our wrist than a computer in our pocket, I am in no doubt that wearable tech is here to stay. Apple has a fantastic track record of success and this launch could be the rocket fuel needed to launch wearable devices to the mainstream. The question is, are we ready for the vast amounts of data that users are willing to share with us?

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 6 April 2015

Sub-Competition

If only Australia knew what Publix was….the best and freshest supermarket ever! I will admit that Woolworths provides a close rivalry, both in design and services, but for some reason, Publix just makes me want to buy food, and here’s why:

Publix is host to fresh, New York style deli's, even though the chain is typically operational in the South and Midwest of the US. Additionally, these deli’s offer many services, from cold cuts to freshly made sandwiches. When living in the Orlando, Florida area, I began to time my shopping trips around meals, so that I could easily grab a fresh and customised lunch while I ran my errands: completely effortless. Less driving around, more efficiency. I’m sure some marketers spent a great deal of time studying shopping behaviour in that area to find how much people hated driving in the crowded city.

(Source: The305)

Seen above is the outcome of a typical deli order. You can create a meal including a sub, a drink and chips. Sounds familiar right? Well, rumour has it, Publix is about to create stand alone deli services to rival Subway. Talk about a disruption and expansion strategy! Lucky for Subway, previously there were minimal fast food chains pitching health food items, or at least, healthier options. Whereas McDonalds offers a crispy chicken wrap and calls it healthy, Subway always let people customise their wraps to their own taste and health level, such as Whole Grain bread options, or Spinach Wraps, etc.

But now, since us Floridians have been buying our lunch and dinner deli items at Publix anyway, we can plan food stops separately from our normal shopping and spend some more time enjoying it, since Publix Products are made in front of you, instead of coming out of the freezer or fridge, clearly visable.

Interestingly enough, Publix plans to do the majority of its testing with this chain in Florida. But Publix plans on implementing the concept on a more global basis, given that Subway has the most locations of any fast food store (in league with McDonald’s here), and it will be hard to compete on convenience. This is a beautifully tailored disruption strategy, offering a premium fast food option, and the exclusivity should even aid them even more in this instance. I just hope they can come to Australia and everyone here can start loving deli sandwiches - No more Pies!

This semester, our newest cohorts of Master of Marketing students are enrolled in a course known as Marketing in the Global Economy. There, they will learn how to break through such boarders/barriers with products of their own choosing. Strategising and implementing local information will be able to aid them in truly finding a need for their product in certain markets. In this instance, Australians may really not like deli sandwiches, or alternatively, there could be the capacity for the idea to take hold - just make sure you all do your homework before making the jump!

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 2 April 2015

MetaData

Apparently, everyone is up in arms about a new law in Australia being passed which will allow Telcom companies within Australia access to tracking-type information produced by mobile devices and internet usages for personal users.

MetaData is typically known to give up information, such a specific location, particular views, searches, phone calls, text messages and more. The reason why everyone is so up in arms about it is because people want to keep their private life, private. Australians wonder why their government needs to read their text messages in order to provide safety? Additionally, they wonder why they have to pay taxes to the government which will possibly fund the Telcom companies to produce and monitor this data.

The following video explains, in a very funny, yet serious, way, how this very small matter has been made very big, and exactly how it could impact you:

http://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/the-project/extra/season-6/metadata



At first, I was listening along, and getting into it. I was feeling kind of angry. Why do they need to know who I call and potentially read my messages in order to keep me safe while temporarily residing in Australia? It was a valid question, until the news cast continued to explain the similar, if not more aggressive, pathways the USA has already implemented for a very long time to elicit the same data from people residing on its soil. Basically, we’re left between a rock and a hard place: Its understandable purely to help keep us safe and pin point people who are not using certain technological resources with ethical/moral intent. But on the other hand, if the Telcom companies are responsible for it, they could simply sell out our information to the highest bidder.

Enter marketing firms, advertising agencies and big businesses who want new moves. This is the exciting stuff. Personally, I even love data mining. It’s way better than reading a story. It’s like reading a story about a bunch of people who are completely real and who can lead you to an incredible amount of new ideas to help make you and your company a whole lot of money! As hypocritical as that all sounds, marketers aren’t the bad guys here. Marketers will simply just want to use the data, should it exist, but also have other means of capturing relevant information about their consumers for the time being.

So what do you think? Should metadata be for sale? Should it be collected in general? And, where do you draw the line between private information and relinquished rights under terms of usage? If you don’t do anything questionable, don’t trigger any red flags, then what do you have to hide anyways? Honestly, there are probably bigger things to worry about then some company checking your search history to identify child pornographers or terrorists who pose potential threat to the greater community.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

#Foodporn re-defined

Ok, I admit it. I am a self-confessed foodie! If you have a passion, infatuation or yearning for all things food like I do, and have a secret obsession with Instagram, you would have definitely heard of the notorious hashtag #foodporn. For those that have not, Food Porn is an image or video of irresistible looking food that is created to make you desire what you’re seeing. San Francisco based Lingerie Company, “Naja”, has come up with a new juicy lingerie line that puts the “porn” in “Foodporn” – a cheeky, naughty collection of panties with prints of hamburgers, fries and milkshakes, as well as sushi and sake at the front. If you want the all in one package, your wish is their command. Naja has called their pantie package “the Happiest Meal” for $50! Pretty clever I say.

Source: Naja

What is even better is that a portion of each pair that is sold will go towards the Golondrinas foundation that aims to educate single mothers in Colombia. So not only will you be satisfying your cravings for those meals that are “so bad they’re good”, but you will also be helping a great cause! A win, win I say.

Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 30 March 2015

Big Bands & Branding – What lies ahead for One Direction?

From left to right: Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik & Harry Styles (Source: Sugarscape)

In news that had teenagers all over the world gasping for air, Zayn Malik announced his departure from One Direction after spending five years as part of the chart-topping British boy band. As a low-key fan of the group (and dedicated marketer), what I was most concerned about was the impact Zayn’s departure would have on the One Direction brand going forward - especially considering it was up until now one of the most lucrative musical acts to have ever existed.

In 2013 Business Insider estimated the worth of One Direction as close to US$1 billion, with earning sources ranging from concert ticket to record sales, movie tickets, DVD sales, and a wide range of memorabilia and merchandise (including an official fragrance). Forbes also estimated that the group earned $75 million in 2014, and listed them as the 7th most powerful celebrities on social media, 17th in terms of earnings, and 44th in terms of overall press coverage.

So given all these stats, I was left wondering how the departure of one member of this group would impact the overall longevity of ‘One Direction’. If history were any indication, I would predict that like many other bands before it (Spice Girls, Take That, Boyzone etc.), One Direction are headed towards an eventual disbanding, perhaps with one last album and tour under their belts.

Part of the charm of a boy (or girl) band is the togetherness and chemistry between the members, and so to loose a vital player leaves an unforgettable void, and one that will always be referred to with scrutiny and comparison. They’ll never be just One Direction anymore – it’ll always be One Direction before/after Zayn – and this is perhaps the crux of the problem, as although the band isn’t just one person, the balance in personalities is what lies behind their success, and so it’ll be incredibly difficult to fill this void and to carry on without fans feeling like something (or someone in this case) is missing.

Aside from the overall branding concerns, the process of removing one band member from the picture may prove to be an extremely costly exercise – and one that the band may not want to repeat if another member leaves. Not only will all official merchandise need to be updated without Zayn’s signature or face on it, so will the external licensing deals that have proved to be cash cow’s for the band, and will now need to either be renewed, or changed to account for Zayn’s departure.

I would compare this whole situation to someone losing an arm or leg (as graphic as that comparison is), because at the end of the day you can still function to some degree, but your movements will always be limited, and that’s something One Direction will no doubt experience in the years (or months) to come.
 
Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 27 March 2015

Something’s Wrong with this Picture…

I commute to work every day, and I’ve noticed a bunch of interesting advertisements placed in the bus stand media window. First, it was for the old computer game known as “The Sims”, where you build a little life and a house for your virtual character. It was super fun, but even more fun when you figured out the cheat code to make yourself more money and build a bigger house! It was cool to see this company trying to make a comeback for the game. But then, I saw the below ad:


(Photo by Christine Drpich - Waterloo)

Please excuse the sideways and poorly taken photo, however, I think the point is still captured. There are definitely professional athletic Australian women on TV and featured on sports channels! At first glance, I thought the ad and promotion was only featuring men's sports, which would be even worse. But after reading the small print at the bottom, I’ve come to realise it’s actually for multiple sports channels, which go unlisted, but I’m still assuming they highlight women’s sports as well. So why aren’t women featured on the ad?

Your first thought might be, well women’s sports may not have as many followers, and therefore not evoke the kind of revenue that allows them to be televised or afford that publicity. But if they aren’t on TV, then they’ll definitely never be able to achieve a widespread following like the men’s sports. It’s kind of like the question, which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do you need to be publicised to create the following, or do you need the following to earn you the publicity? Regardless, women work just as hard as men, and often at the same exact sports that the men play. Why aren’t they featured here?

Another thought may be, well, there aren’t as many professional women’s teams, or there aren’t as many games played to be televised. Again, another faulty logic. If that’s the case, all of the teams, individuals, games, matches, etc. that there are, should be extremely well highlighted. Out of all the countries in the world, Australia is one of the most progressive in gender equality, so the least they could have done was highlight some of their female professional athletes who are just as lean and mean as the male rugby players here. I tried to reason through the ad with my little knowledge of Australian sports, and wondered if maybe every male featured on this ad was truly from a different sport. I counted: NRL rugby team member, Union rugby team member, Formula One racer, two soccer players, an AFL footy team member, and then another two rugby duplicates. Those spots easily could have been given to women in those respective sports. Or even women in different fields such as tennis. Australia has incredible tennis players, and tennis is probably featured on at least one out of the billion sports channels you get in this Foxtel package.

It’s kind of sad to see yet another ad missing the women’s perspective. I wonder if this ad was created by a male? To be honest, I didn’t really look for or even acknowledge these small inequalities in ads or publicity, until I attended the International Women’s Day Breakfast as a guest of the Business School about two weeks ago. I was typically of the belief that acknowledging these little inequalities was petty, and only further perpetuated the inequality and the thought there of. However, I would like to see Foxtel redo the ad and incorporate some of Australia’s professional athletic women. They work just as hard, compete just as much, and love their sport and their fans, just as much.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Snickers Cashes in on Clarkson Controversy

The controversial television presenter Jeremy Clarkson has once again created a storm within the senior management of the BBC. Last week the popular yet polarising presenter was suspended after a ‘fracas’ with the highly successful show's producer. The alleged incident occurred after a long day spent filming an upcoming episode which has since been put on hold. The angry presenter launched a tirade of abuse at the producer after catering were only able to provide him with a cold meal for his dinner. The news sent shockwaves through the media in the UK as they began speculating if fists where raised as well as tempers. 

In a clever publicity stunt, the Snickers Brand, owned by Mars, Inc, tweeted a picture of a box of its chocolate bars addressed to the BBC Top Gear studios. The tagline for the brand, “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry”, was posted on the box with the following message: "@JeremyClarkson you may want to have some of these on set next time you are #hungry…" As of writing this has been retweeted more than 5,000 times on Twitter and gained exposure in several main stream media outlets.

Source: Twitter

The challenge for Mars was that people simply weren't thinking about buying Snickers when out and about. So they needed to remind people why, and most importantly when, they could enjoy a Snickers bar. Their TV advertising campaigns were centered on the celebrity diva Joan Collins, who is notoriously highly strung. After enjoying a Snickers bar she transforms into a level headed footballer who has cured her hunger cravings. You're not you when you're hungry moments happen when people were in the vicinity of a chocolate bar and needed the instant fix of a Snickers. Over the 12 weeks of the launch campaign, Mars saw an increase of 705,000 units of Snickers bars sold in the UK.  

The narrative of Clarkson’s latest blunder fit perfectly with the provocative branding used by Snickers. They were able to successfully piggy back off the topical story and gain positive publicity with their core audience of followers. Many companies would not have wanted to associate themselves with the presenter who has previously been in hot water after a string of misdemeanours and allegations of racism. In cheeky fashion, Snickers took the initiative and made the most of the free social media marketing. The hilarious tweet was well received by the media and public, although whether or not Jeremy Clarkson saw the funny side of the publicity stunt remains to be seen. 

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 23 March 2015

Dolce & Gabbana and The PR Disaster

The last week in the fashion industry has definitely been an interesting one, but what topped the conversation was an interview given by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana (obviously of Dolce & Gabbana), where they questioned non-traditional family sets, and were quoted saying the following: "I call children of chemistry ‘synthetic children.’"

Although this article fell fairly under the radar at first, it wasn’t until it came into Elton John’s notice that their words began to be picked apart, especially by John himself who posted a very passionate response to the interview on Instagram, defending both his children (who were born of IVF) and family values.

What I wanted to really focus on in this post was how D&G responded to John’s call for people to #boycottdolcegabbana, and whether it was the smartest move given the size and mass-market awareness of the Dolce & Gabbana brand. I personally would have thought the designer duo would have kept quiet, and then issued one statement in which they laid the issue to rest (similar to what Beyonce’s PR team did following elevator gate last year). Instead, what they’ve done is essentially add fuel to the fire by reposting messages of support, or the thoughts and conversation of those who have been marred by their words, on their personal social media accounts (Fashionista.com counted almost 50 instagram posts addressing the topic on their respective pages).

Although I’m no PR expert, from a branding perspective taking a very defensive approach, and drawing out the issue seems very counterproductive. Once the damage was done, they should have just reached out to John and apologised for the misunderstanding (they later regretted their choice words, and clarified their acceptance of all family sets). What they’ve instead done is made people question the values of their brand, and potentially alienated key customer sets who are from or support non-traditional families, or have had children via IVF.

It’ll be interesting to see how this whole debacle affects D&G sales over the next 6 months, but D&G definitely have their work cut out for them in resolving the dissent their words have caused, and re-building positive associations surrounding their brand.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Uber: Breaking through both cities and generations

I was surprised to hear last week some interesting reviews from my friend's parents about how much they loved Uber X. To be honest, I was kind of surprised - could our parents really understand and utilise an app and service that works so fast I almost can’t even keep up? Well of course they can! They’re competent, and intelligent, and most of all, still young at heart - and that’s why I think they really love Uber X.

Uber, the alternative and customised taxi-like car service, has tailored a unique car-pooling service to young college students or part-time available car owners. These car owners can work a few hours a day, with their own personal car (model has to be newer than 2006) and make some money picking up fellow stranded city-goers. Not only does this create jobs that are flexible to people with pre-scheduled activities, but it opens up safer transportation to people who would potentially not have enough money to pay for an official taxi service, or who would drive their own car otherwise and not necessarily be capable of doing so safely.

(Source: uber.com/cities/sydney)

Speaking of affordability, above you can see the base rates and continuing rates for Uber X. In this case, you’re meeting a potential new friend and saving some money! No wonder all of the parents love it. It’s quick, cheap, and has many “on demand” options to fit their needs best. Additionally, our parents have been our long time supporters and budgeters, so they definitely know how to pick a deal when they see one. After all, having an app that stores your credit card information securely, removes the hassle of payment at the end of your ride, customises your ride to your needs, and can pick you up at your exact pin point location, hasn’t really forgotten anything.

Following the type of company Uber runs and the services they provide, you begin to wonder how they even create all of these masterfully solved city “puzzles.” Well, check out their company culture throughout this video.

Company culture is not only an aspect of crucial internal marketing, but it is also the fundamental core of doing business and being adaptable. Companies like Uber that have now gone multi-national, have truly mastered an understanding of people, functionality, and even law in the cities/countries in which they are involved. Additionally, capturing the business and consumer market needs and wants is only half of the business. Again, you have to remember they’ve already solved two core problems in the market that has helped bring to life new jobs: making travel cheaper, and making it more accessible. Some taxi companies may fight the disruptive tactics being utilised by Uber, however, disruption just makes for more creative solutions in the future, so I suggest we sit back and relax.

So maybe I should get back on my Uber X game, as I have only ever utilised Uber Taxi. Additionally, I would encourage my car-owning counterparts at uni to get in on this flexible and accommodating job. You may end up with our Uber X-loving parents in your car, but we kind of owe them some driving around after the many years they’ve done it for us.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 16 March 2015

The Whole Truth – Personal Brand Building 101

As of the last week, social media has been abuzz following claims that Belle Gibson, founder of The Whole Pantry health and well-being app, may have lied about suffering from a terminal cancer. The context of these allegations is that she’s essentially built a brand out of her personal health journey, and documenting her battle with this illness.

I don’t want to focus on the validity of these claims – that’s Belle’s story to tell, and it’s not productive to speculate on what is essentially a rumour at this point in time. I do however want to draw upon the undeniable power of personal story telling, and how it can both build and completely ruin a brand.

Perhaps the best example of this scenario is that of Lance Armstrong – a cancer survivor and seven time Tour De France title holder who was found out to have been using performance engaging drugs during the span of his cycling career. Lance’s battle with cancer and eventual comeback was a heroic tale of sheer determination and a fight against all odds. This story became the backbone of his brand, and later formed the basis of his sponsorship deals with Nike, Michelob, Trek Bicycles, Easton-Bell Giro Helmets, Honey Stinger and Lance Armstrong branded 24-Hour Fitness gyms. These brands bought into the athleticism of Lance Armstrong, so when it emerged that drugs may have aided his success, his brand story fell through and so did his various sponsorship deals.

Cyclist Lance Armstrong (Source: Esquire)

Where Armstrong’s situation differs from a fellow sportsman such as Tiger Woods (who faced a highly publicised cheating scandal back in 2009), is that Wood’s sportsmanship never came into question – he may have cheated on his wife, but he didn’t cheat in the game, which is why key sponsors such as Nike stood by him throughout the scandal.

So when it comes to personal branding, the key takeaway from these situations is that your brand story (and values) are essentially what consumers/followers/admirers are buying into. When any part of this story starts to fall through, so does the trust people instil in your brand; so always tell the whole truth!
 
Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 13 March 2015

Virtual Social Media

(Source: Next Galaxy Corp)

The confluence of technology, innovation and ideas is producing the most rapid expansion of human capital possibilities the world has ever known. Freed of regionalism, and the tyranny of traditional workplaces, our minds are freer to explore potentials in new environments than ever before.

Social media enables connection, intimate and transient, to occur over an infinite distance of both time and space. Records persist, and our desires for immortality captured in digital data manifest in streams of tweets, blogs and posts. Content is prodigiously produced, with no chance to chronologise or qualify beyond the immediacy of peers’ recognition through likes, retweets and amplification. Perhaps one day looking back upon the sum total of our earthly achievements, these metrics will be a reassuring reminder of a life well spent. But the shallowness of these quantifications may leave our minds wanting for the richness of the moment. If only we'd taken seconds to record deeper experiences, perhaps through literature, art or music. These heavily time invested modalities of recording cultural memory already feel relegated to the annals of a slower, more considered time. Yet the lustfulness of their vitality persists.

Capturing digital media currently exists within a limited dimensional spectrum. We record on smartphones the still and moving images of our lives, complemented by aural landscapes sufficient to jog memory. With super computers in our pockets and narcissistic intentions in our hearts, we diligently capture and share every moment with willing and unwilling audiences, seeking public recognition of our feats. But the momentary richness is lacking when we replay these moments, recalling bits and replaying bites.

Virtual reality technology, the domain of Lawnmower Man dreams, failed to deliver collective 90s fiction. Until now, a human’s ability to suspend visual disbelief has not been fooled by technology. But as the virtual reality regains momentum and approaches the critical point of consumer products, the platform seems ripe for media consumption of a massive scale.

Our willingness to record, replay and retweet our every moment is well established. The technology to relive these experiences in a virtual, immersive environment is not far off. The final component will be the ability for consumers to capture their experiences immersively, through three dimensions of space, as well as that of time, to replay and share at their hearts’ content.

When these elements combine, we’ll see the emergence of a new social phenomenon - one that will further polarise the cultural, social, environmental and economic landscape, while at the same time mending contemporary points of dissonance. When people can capture their experiences using 3D technologies and share these through established channels of social media, to be consumed anywhere in the world immersively through virtual reality, we will see the rise of Virtual Social Media.

Imagine a mother sharing virtual reality photographs of their newborn son with their grandparents half way around the world. Or an orthopaedic surgeon able to advise a local general practitioner on the best way to set a bone cast in Africa. Or a conference call between an American biotechnology company streamed live via 3D cameras mounted on a drone to a potential customer in Germany.

These confluences of recording technology, media consumption and the rise of social media will drive a paradigm shift in how we record, share and consume our personal media. It will lead to more restrained rationalisation for travel and subsequent decreases in environmental degradation. It will bring us cognitively closer together while physically keeping us apart. It will privilege those with access to technology, while alienating and impoverishing those left behind.

As we move into a world of Virtual Social Media, the directors of this change must be the custodians of our collective heritage, where a society is judged on the treatment of its most impoverished citizen. As we write this new future, recording the achievements of everyman, everyman must be included, and no one left behind.

Duncan Bell
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

THE Dress & Leveraging Viral News Stories

You’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard about ‘the dress’, because from now onwards any talk about the colour combinations ‘black and blue’ and ‘white and gold’ will always whittle back to this one item of clothing. To catch you up, a picture of a seemingly plain dress went viral last week after sparking heated debate on Tumblr (not a hard feat to achieve) about its colour. A range of scientists, celebrities and ordinary people have weighed in, and it seems that there is still a significant divide between the people who see it as a white and gold dress, as opposed to those who see it as clearly black and blue.

Now we won’t get into the scientific details of this dilemma, but instead I wanted to focus on how brands have bought into the hype of this debate. Although most brands have taken the tongue in cheek approach of questioning the colour of their products (L’Oreal put their gold and blue eye shadows head to head), only one has really used this debate to spark a much greater one about domestic abuse. Playing off the connotations of ‘black and blue’, the South African arm of The Salvation Army (TSA) put out a campaign featuring the dress in question (see below), and instantaneously had us questioning our willingness to talk about something so trivial, in lieu of discussing real social issues.


TSA Campaign Image One (Source: SMH)


TSA Campaign Image Two (Source: SMH)

I think there will always be a camp of people that will find brands leveraging off viral news stories as a fickle way to gain engagement, and although it is, I do believe that the means justify the ends in this case. TSA has created a really compelling message out of this previously trivial issue, and although the imagery is confronting, it probably needed to be to really get the message across. The dress in this instance becomes the prop to the overall campaign, and in doing so it became less about the dress, and more about the issue and it’s relevance to society (they quoted that 1 in 6 women are victims of domestic abuse).

This isn’t the first campaign of its kind, but it was a welcome one amidst all the tired jokes and internet-memes surrounding ‘the dress.’ Hopefully other brands will take a page from TSA’s books and leverage viral stories in a more socially responsible manner – there will always be an opportunity to talk about your products, but to impart an important social message leaves a much more lasting impression.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 9 March 2015

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green…

So where were you this past Saturday night? Somewhere over the rainbow by any chance? Well, if not, you should have been!

Introducing some of this year's main contenders for best brand campaign at Sydney's Mardi Gras: "Out since '99" by Frucor and "Disco Infono" by Telstra. Specifically, Frucor highlighted its primary brand, V, an energy drink, and Telstra highlighted it's phone and wifi services. The purposes of these campaigns were not only to show support for being a judgement-free company, but also to help create a connection between their products and an event in which their product can hopefully create value for consumers.

First, V developed a limited edition rainbow can followed by an advertisement playing on its original release date in 1999. The ad explained the brand's contribution to the sponsorship of the event as well as support for the people which the Mardi Gras was celebrating. Being a part of the festivities helped personify the sensitivity and understanding of the brand and its company's non-judgmental culture. This is an important part of creating value for consumers and potential new customers because it builds trust, and informs users of the company's awareness of current events and sentiments. Additionally, since the ads displayed a play of words on their own history, people actually had to spend time understanding the ad and learned a little bit more about the brand!

(Source: mUmbrella)

However, creating awareness, funny little jokes, and value, didn't necessarily work for everyone. Large companies that attempt to make a connection through small services offered at large scale events can sometimes successfully redefine consumers perceptions of their business culture. Telstra was attempting to do just that, in my opinion. The disco phone booths are a great throwback in combination with a fancy new way of getting connected, especially with their free wifi hotspots. Although this yet again displays their support for the community, it doesn’t necessarily elicit a change in consumer behaviour. Chances are it didn’t cost Telstra that much to produce, and I’m sure people loved their free internet. But, the question remains, does it really make the user more confident in Telstra’s ability to provide an affordable and reliable phone or wifi service? Telstra may now appear to have connected with the community, recognised their identities, and built a more human connection, but now that Mardi Gras is over, will we still get our free wifi? Will it be a good connection? And, most importantly, will more people trust their services and their mission?

(Source: mUmbrella)

Mardi Gras was officially supported by a combination of a hundred or so companies or organisations. Both “V” and Telstra were official supporters and suppliers. They were successful in creating their brand awareness, but only the future will tell about any potential changes in user behaviour. You can find out more about the type of Mardi Gras partners here.

Another interesting application of Mardi Gras brand analysis comes from our Marketing Communications course. We learned a critical analysis technique known as S.C.O.R.E, which stands for Simplicity, Creativity, Originality, Relevance and Ethicality. This analysis helps define whether or not the ad or campaign really helps create value for the consumer and change for the brand. In this instance, V would probably SCORE higher because their ad contains one clear, simple and easily determinable idea - It is impactful and you will notice the change in the can design and purpose; can design change has been done before according to themed events, but it’s the words on the ad that have not been used in the same way; the ad and can are both relevant to the event and the sentiment of the community; and finally, the context of the word “out” is used responsibly and considerably, and the can is decorated in coordination with the event and the sponsors' agreements. All in all, this is a very exciting way to look at advertisements and activations, and where better to create such displays than at Mardi Gras Sydney!

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 6 March 2015

Welcome to all

Last Thursday, the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School was proud to welcome close to 30 new students to our community. Dr. Pennie Frow offered orientation sessions prior to the induction ceremony, at which Salil Kumar and I had the pleasure to meet a bunch of new students. Honorary Associate Professor Terry Beed once again executed a phenomenal evening for the program.

We all were also able to welcome guest speakers and industry professionals, Wayne Kingston, Ineke Williams, and Master of Marketing alumnus, Olivia Holtz. All of the speakers told interesting stories about their experiences, but more importantly, projected important forecasts onto the next generation of marketers sitting in the room.

(Photo by Salil Kumar)

The most exciting parts of the guest speaker's information was in regard to the importance of digital technology and the advancement of it. Both Wayne and Ineke felt very strongly about the integration technology and digital services will have with both life and business in general.

Over all, the new students seemed to enjoy the night and we are looking forward to connecting everyone with their new buddies - that way they can get accommodated and introduced more to the program and start connecting with all of their new group and cohort members.

Salil and I also had some time to reflect on the journey we’ve taken since one year ago when we arrived as new students to the program. Now having completed our consulting projects, the road ahead seems more open than ever. We have truly been a part of excellence and learned a lot from our peers, and now, look forward to seeing our friends continue on in the program and the new students thrive as well.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

How Jamie Oliver can teach us more than how to just cook Carbonara

A chef. A restaurateur. A business man. An author. A TV personality. A campaigner.  A publisher. A brand.

Yep, there’s no denying it. Jamie Oliver is one busy lad.

However, if you peer beyond the flannel button-ups, cheeky grin and cockney accent, do not be fooled, as this “boy next door” is definitely no accidental global sensation.


British Chef, Jamie Oliver – More of a brand than a chef, Source: Daily Mail UK

Unlike many of his British counterparts such as Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal, Jamie’s journey as a chef hasn’t been trickled with Michelin Stars or public tales of Kitchen Wars. Indeed, it could be assumed that if an almighty cook-off were to take place, Gordon and Heston would probably win through food tales of foams, confit and multisensory cooking techniques. However, if we were to compare the size of each chef’s global empire, the significant advantage old Jamie has stems from a marketing and branding strategy that is characterised by rigid discipline.

“Jamie Oliver” the brand follows a classic character archetype of being an “everyday guy - who just happens to be a passionate everyday chef.” Creatively, this identity has been executed both visually and consistently across every brand touch point around which his friends, fans and future customers interact. 

His marketing team have leveraged the concept of content marketing to an entire new level by focusing on traditional story telling techniques that enable the reach of his brand to go beyond cultures, geographic locations and personalities. Furthermore, by implementing a personalised communication strategy that plays throughout his business, brand, social media, books, press and even clothing attire, it enables customers not only to recognise what his brand is about, but most importantly, recall it during a decision making process. Like any strong relationship, the value proposition that is fundamental to Jamie’s overall success is that his fans feel as if they are learning from a “friend they know well and can trust”.

Indeed it is clear, Jamie Oliver is man with a very clear mission. Yet there are some pertinent facts that all of us as marketers could take away from the branding successes that this original “Naked Chef” has had. Yes, we all know attention to detail and creativity within a kitchen is key, but when assessing a brand’s overall marketing and communications strategy, there maybe one or two points we could take from their books.

Food for thought … Marketing 101 from a chef’s perspective:

Chef Rule 1: Freshness of Ingredients
Using stale produce, ingredients or vegetables in a dish are as detrimental to a chef's or a brand's reputation as having a stale online presence, imagery or collateral.

Chef Rule 2: Availability of Produce
Utilising limited / exclusive produce for a dish raises the overall value of the final meal. Similarly, strategically limiting the overall exposure of the brand within the appropriate target audiences increases the overall value of the produce / brand.

Chef Rule 3: Price

Using cheap or discounted produce or ingredients devalues the overall value of the final dish that a chef serves. In the same way, if the pricing strategy of a menu or product doesn’t correlate with the brands positioning strategy, this once again will devalue brand from the customer’s perspective.

Chef Rule 4: Customers
A dish is always created with a specific customer in mind. The chef would assess how the meal would integrate with the values, lifestyle and attitude of their customer base. Similarly, a brand’s website / digital presence has to be created with the intention to build and develop a consistent online community - a community of not only fans of the brand, but eventually also friends of the business.

Chef Rule 5: Partners
For any chef, the produce suppliers they work with and the partnerships they forge with them are key to the overall success of their restaurant and business. Similarly, the success of any branding strategy is dependent on selecting marketing partners (photographers, graphic designers, strategists, creatives, etc) who share similar values and goals. At the end of the day, your final dish is only as good as the suppliers that are used.

Natasha Menon
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 2 March 2015

Google Targets the Collaborative Economy

The term ‘collaborative economy’ has been floating around a lot in the past few years, with companies such as Airbnb & Uber transforming their respective industries by providing services as you need them, and through much more efficient (and usually cheaper) means. For those of you unaware of this term, it basically refers to an economic model within which people obtain goods and services from their peers – ranging from food, money, accommodation, transport and basically any (reasonable) good or service they may require.

Although Airbnb, Uber and oDesk have been at the forefront of the collaborative economy, it seems that Google is now gearing up to join them and will play a major role in this market going forward. Not only is the technology giant literally joining them (Google initially invested $258 million in Uber and is partnered with Airbnb), it’s also developing it’s own offerings to rival these businesses, and to provide solutions to other consumer problems that are better met within a collaborative market.

The most intriguing venture that Google has taken on is the ‘Google Self-Driving Car’ project, which as the name suggests, involves developing autonomous cars. Where this really hits home from a marketing perspective is how it’ll change consumer purchase behaviour within practically every industry imaginable. The automotive market is perhaps the first, with there most likely being a turnaround in car ownership as people begin to share or rent cars when they need them, as opposed to owning them outright. Other industries that may also see a complete turnaround are the fast-food, clothing, and grocery industries, with people becoming even less inclined to actually go and shop in person, and instead order and have good and services delivered to their homes.

The Google Self-Driving Car Prototype (Source: BBC UK)

It’ll probably be another 5-10 years before the Google Self-Driving Car and other technologies in this market really come into play, but it’s eye-opening how many industries are likely to be overhauled by the collaborative economy. What this does suggest is that in many cases, we as people are better able to meet each others needs by sharing and collaborating, instead of relying solely on third party sources. Although the collaborative economy won’t be the answer to all our problems, it does seem to address some, and is doing a pretty good job of it too.  

To read more about Google’s recent investments in the Collaborative Economy, visit the Web-Strategist blog.

By Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School