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My year of winning competitions

When I first moved to Sydney, for some reason I started entering competitions, quite obsessively in fact. I’d always scoffed at those people who enter competitions for a living, but very quickly I started to win stuff. It wasn’t even like I was entering loads of competitions – just one or two a week. And it worked unbelievably well.

That’s not to say all the prizes were that good – I found the key was to enter competitions indiscriminately. So for every VIP yacht trip, you end up with something pretty shitty like a family pack of tuna, or a desk fan. But hey, that’s the competition roller coaster right?

Here’s a summary of what I got in 12 months:

  • Audi A3 for the weekend
  • A days sailing on a VIP yacht at Sydney Regatta with unlimited champagne
  • Sailing lessons on the harbor
  • Henry Lloyd jackets  and polo shirts
  • Designer sunglasses
  • Tickets to Sydney outdoor cinema
  • Tickets to ‘summer music festival’ Moore Park
  • Tickets to Chinese Laundry garden Party
  • Best of VICE hardback photo book
  • Pair of tickets to see Ladysmith Black Mambaza at State Theatre
  • Kings of Leon tickets at Sydney Entertainment Centre
  • A case of fine wine
  • Numerous cinema tickets
  • Ten bowling passes at AMF

And that’s it. I’ve since become disillusioned with competitions and don’t enter them anymore.

Image used under Creative Commons, courtesy of All Seeing Angler

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Four trends for 2012

It’s always around this time that pundits line up to give you their view of what’ going to happen in the year ahead, whether it’s music, fashion, food or politics. While we’d love to talk around all of these issues, we’ve decided to keep it simple. So here’s a quick overview of what the team at Lucre predict is going to happen in the world of marketing in Australia throughout 2012.

Social media comes of age

Ok, so Australians are the most ‘engaged’ in the world when it comes to social media – but when it comes to corporate Australia, embracing social media is more hit-or-miss. But 2012 will see a groundswell in businesses shifting from tactical social media activities – maintaining a sole twitter page for example – to much more strategic, integrated, and therefore much more effective, social media executions.

Agencies move from specialist to generalist

The last few years have been dominated by niche agency players, whether it’s SEO, PPC, above-the-line, below-the-line, whatever it is. But client-side budget constraints and the desire for true integration will drive a shift towards agencies becoming more of a one-stop-shop. This is being particularly driven by social media, with agencies of all disciplines recognising how complimentary this channel can be to their offering, not to mention increased client demand for expertise in this area. So that means everything from experiential shops bolstering their team with PR and social specialists to SEO and digital agencies recognising the need to offer a more meaningful and conversation-based social media activity.

Mobile commerce and social commerce

According to eBay stats, 1.3 million Aussies are using M-commerce platforms, and are shopping using their smart phones. As traffic continues to grow on mobile channels in this country, we’re likely to see huge growth in this area. Not only that but ‘social commerce’ – the layer of ‘social engagement’ sitting above an e-commerce site, is going to be big news in 2012, with online peer-to-peer recommendation playing a huge role in driving purchasing decisions.

ROI becomes more important than ever

With further budget constraints and a slow-down in consumer spending, companies are wanting – more than ever – to see concrete ROI from their marketing activity. The often ‘intangible’ mediums of PR and social will be especially under the spotlight, and agencies won’t be able to hide behind smoke and mirrors (not that they should’ve been hiding in the first place…) when it comes to demonstrating effectiveness of campaign work.

Image used under Creative Commons on behalf of t0msk

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Four of the best gambling publicity stunts

Sydney, the original ‘sin city’ has this week played host to the annual Australasian Gaming Expo, the region’s largest gaming equipment trade exhibition.. It’s a big deal in the gaming industry, especially given that the event comes at a time when the political spotlight on the Australian gambling industry is shining brighter than ever.

So I thought it was a good time to revisit some of our all-time favourite gambling marketing stunts. With the media reticent to cover gambling, creativity is the order of the day and brands look for increasingly audacious, wild or tasteless ways to reach consumer directly. The result: a lot of fun!

1) A British man bets it all

While controversial, Ashley Revell’s plan to sell everything he had, including his clothes, and place all the money on red at the roulette table in Plaza Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, Nevada, certainly garnered publicity. Revell placed a total of $135,400 on red, and luckily – for all involved – it came good and he came away smiling.

2) Casino of Venice create roulette at the airport.

A simple idea well executed, when the Casinò di Venezia turned the baggage carolsel at Venice airport into a branded roulette wheel, there’s few people who wouldn’t have seen it, not to mention the pages of media coverage generated from this smart stunt.


3) Golden Palace – every stunt under the sun…

Where do you start with GoldenPalace.com? The online casino carries out by far the most audacious stunts, which, time after time, generate mass publicity. Past activities include sponsoring a real-life birth, a woman changing her name to GoldenPalace.com, and sponsoring Dennis Rodman at the running of the bulls in Spain. Here’s one of our favorites (and one of the most disgusting!)

4) Circus Casino’s Perfect Poker Face

Ok, this is one of my own, and it never reached the lofty heights of William Shatner, but achieved real media cut through all the same. We thought: what does the ‘perfect poker face’ really look like? To find out, Circus Casino analysed the faces of the 10 most successful poker players of all time…and this is the (slightly scary) result: the $40m face!

Let me know if there’s any I’ve missed!

 

 

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Farmville and the Virtual Goods Market

So, it looks like FarmVille (you know, the game that everyone seems to be on each time you visit Facebook) is big news. Really big news.

Its vast number of players are handing over millions of dollars each day in exchange for virtual goods, like land, farm equipment and animals. In fact, the game is so successful, that its developers, Zynga, are reported to have harvested (excuse the pun) revenues of more than £91m this year alone.

Hold on a minute. The virtual goods market? This is the kind of concept that would blow the minds of most people over the age of 50. People paying for virtual goods? Whether it’s a $1 bunny icon on Facebook or a plot of land in Second Life, why are people paying for what is essentially a load of digital 1s and 0s?

But they are, and the market is now thought to be worth $1n this year, according to the Virtual Good News blog

James Hong from dating site HotorNot explains it quite nicely, he says: “Virtual objects aren’t really objects – they are graphical metaphors for packaging up behaviors that people are already engaging in. [Our] virtual flower service has 3 components: there’s the object itself represented by a graphical flower icon, there’s the gesture of someone sending the flower to their online crush, and finally, there’s the trophy effect of everyone else being able to see that you got a flower.”

This is interesting stuff, not least for for media businesses, struggling to find a revenue generating model outside of online advertising (Rupert Murdoch, anyone?),  the Virtual Goods market could be a compelling way for consumers to pay for content. And in a way that avoids the monthly subscription model that may media owners are flirting with, and undoubtedly, puts many consumers off.

On that note, I’m off to take a delivery of some virtual stock.

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W*nk work bingo anyone?

We all know this industry is truly terrible for jargon. I’ve certainly been guilty of it, and sometimes I’m in a meeting and I just think are you for real when someone drops an absolute classic.

This reminded me of a story I did for the very-excellent agency prego* a year or so ago, which was based around a piece of research bemoaning the use of terrible jargon in our industry. I re-read it and it cracked me up so here’s a few classics –

The ‘least favourite’ jargon words emerged as

–          ‘Let’s take this offline’ (44%)

–          ‘Bespoke Solution’ (18%)

–          ‘On message’ (14%)

–          ‘Web 2.0 (12%)’

And on a more serious note –

–          The ‘department of shame’ which used the most jargon words emerged as Digital, with 20% of people voting for this.

–          97% of respondents thought people used marketing jargon as a way to hide gaps in their knowledge.

–          91% said they were NOT impressed when they heard a colleague or agency using jargon

–          53% admitting they sometimes used it themselves to impress others.

W*nk word bingo anyone?

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Twitter or Twatter

In the (contrived) words of David Cameron, do too many Twitters make a Twat?  Possibly in my view, and over the past 12 months, as Twitter has gained mass adoption, there’s been, frankly, too much talk about it from people who should know better.

Now I’m not negating the effectiveness of it as a marketing channel. Brands can use it as a brilliant extension to the customer facing marketing strategy, like Dell , and brands can use it truly terribly, like Habitat . But, for all the hype and rumination around this channel from the marketing industry, I see it as just that – one more channel, albeit, one which can be extremely effective in the right context.

I had my epiphany a recent NMA  briefing, which, while interesting to a point, involved a large number of senior people spending hours intellectualising Twitter, and talking about high-level Twitter theory and strategy. Guys – get over, it’s just one of many, many communication channels out there that can be used to get your message across to your audience.

Now Twitter isn’t going away anytime soon (though interest will doubtless level off as soon as the next hyped application comes along) and it can be extremely useful (as I have found out with several clients). But, with a few exceptions, you can’t build a whole campaign around Twitter, just as you’d struggle to build an effective campaign around, say, a single Facebook profile. For an idea to reach it’s potential, I believe it’s all about integration; that’s when you’ve got a truly powerful campaign.

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It’s a free phenomenon

Interesting piece from John Owen in Revolution on the free phenomenon when it comes to apps in the social media space. He points out that:

” The smartest companies will be those who realise that low cost might as well be no cost, and give their product away for free”

And, to illustrate the point, he gives us the current hero’s of our age; Yahoo! (unlimited email storage) YouTube *unlimited bandwidth) and Google (unlimited processing power).

But of course, there’s countless others. The sheer potential, and speed of development in the online arena can be put down to the millions of developers, prolifically creating applications. And this is obviously a good thing becuase it means people like us can do almost anything our imagination allows. But, wading through the crap can be a massive ball ache and just keeping up to date with it is an almost impossible task, but to be a true specialist in the field, it is essential.

So here’s a couple I want to share – I learned about these from the excellent Rik Haslam at the recent NMA conference.

Social mention – it seems pretty impressive, and is basically like Radian6, but for free. Not convinced how accurate the data is but certainly a useful snapshot tool for getting clients to think about their footprint in the online space.

The Way Back Machine – gives a retrospective look at what websites used to look like – not quite sure of the application but absolutely fascinating.

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