Saturday, 7 June 2014

Beats by Dre | The Game Before The Game

Here's the Ad Week write up:
"Good lord, Beats by Dre is getting great at sports commercials.
We wrote at length last month about how the music company and ad agency R/GA have teamed up to make some of the year's best sports ads—with Kevin Garnett, Colin Kaepernick, Richard Sherman and Cesc Fabregas. But nothing could prepare us for this five-minute World Cup extravaganza. It's about pregame rituals, yes, but Beats is proving to be surprisingly adept at all aspects of the sports ad game—which at times like these is supposed to be the purview of Nike and Adidas...."
Read full article at Ad Week here

Monday, 29 July 2013

New York Red Bulls Bring in R/GA to Boost Profile, Sales

From AdWeek - Article here

When it comes to attracting the attention of sports fans, the New York Red Bulls play in the most competitive professional market in Major League Soccer. The Red Bulls are competing against more than 10 professional sports teams (Yankees, Mets, etc.,) for fans not just soccer teams. Adding to that challenge is next month’s debut of the relaunched Cosmos, and in 2015, the New York City Football Club, a new team funded by the deep pockets of the U.K.’s Manchester City franchise and the New York Yankees.

If those new entrants underscore the belief of soccer’s potential in America, the Red Bulls—who as the MetroStars was a founding member of the MLS—illustrate the difficulty in winning over adult fans of a sport better known on school fields. Earlier this year, the Red Bulls hired R/GA to boost recognition and ticket sales.

“Soccer is the third-most popular participation sport in America after basketball and baseball for kids,” said Tony Effik, managing director of R/GA media and connections. “But there’s a big difference between people who like soccer and people who go to games.”

Last year, the Red Bulls advertised on soccer-specific sites. The team had a little outside media help but developed a strategy internally with a focus on existing fans.

But preaching to the converted would only sell so many tickets. The Red Bulls would have to raise its profile.
“We have conducted a recent trial and awareness study, and it confirmed that we have work to do,” acknowledged Daniel Marrett, the team’s director of marketing.

R/GA broadened its target to adjacent audiences familiar with soccer but not attending games. To reach soccer moms, the agency promoted the Red Bulls’ camps for kids. Spectators are being wooed with wild postings—large numbers of ads posted in high-traffic areas—near soccer bars and playing fields. The Harrison, N.J., Red Bull Arena is near the PATH station, so R/GA used outdoor ads and train takeovers with the theme, “The beautiful game. Beautifully close.”

R/GA analyzed season-ticket data and found most of the sales were by people living within 30 miles of the stadium. After mapping out those tri-state fans, the agency found its marketing hot spots. “Soccer is a local game,” underscored Rory O’Flaherty, R/GA group media director. “Geography is very important in who we target and where we invest our money.”

The agency also sought to increase Red Bulls’ fan targeting through Facebook and Twitter content and ensure Facebook content is consistent with overall messaging. While search is still the best channel for ticket sales, Facebook now follows it.

Using real-time optimization, the Red Bulls have been able to learn from what isn’t working as well as seeing what generates results.

“We now have different styles of digital campaigns, both targeted and broad, and can make adjustments on the fly,” Marrett said.

R/GA And McCormick - AdWeek Article

McCormickA Dash of Data In the Media Mix - full article here

McCormick isn’t just in the seasonings business—it also offers meal inspirations by way of recipe suggestions on its website. With more consumers as budding chefs and Americans developing more of a taste for ethnic and gourmet flavors, that digital real estate has become even more important—and especially so considering that the company is going up against much larger rivals with fatter media budgets and with pure-play sites like that of Food Network thrown into the mix.

“Recipe views, in many respects, are a proxy for a sale,” explains Tony Effik, managing director, media and connections at the brand’s agency, R/GA, New York. “While McCormick is a significant business, it’s generally outspent by competitors, so we had to figure out a way to outsmart them by leveraging data to execute earned and paid media plans. We do media. But we also come up with creative, and data is the thing that holds all of that together.”

In 2012, McCormick spent $43.3 million in media, per Kantar. Compare that to $404 million at Campbell’s Soup. When the agency started working on the account in 2011, McCormick was getting 12 percent of the category’s total unique visitors, per comScore, and rivals outspent the brand four to one. Now, McCormick’s gets 25 percent of that traffic, and with only a minimal increase in the media spend. “What’s closing that gap is creating efficiencies through the use of data,” says Effik.

With its Responsive Media System, R/GA analyzed the online recipes market, seeking out anomalies and undervalued strategies. The agency studied media-spending patterns and set up a series of algorithmic rules across media channels including search, social, real-time media and promoted videos. R/GA then took what it unearthed and applied it to paid search for McCormick’s Lawry’s brand.

McCormick’s and R/GA decided to leverage Lawry’s West Coast heritage in a test using search and Mexican recipes. The agency split Lawry’s media budget between Western states like California (where Lawry’s originated) and the rest of the country. Two data points were key: the clickthrough rate and cost-per-recipe view. The national market did well for clickthroughs. But more interestingly for R/GA was data from the West Coast where the post-click action rate was 20 percent to 60 percent greater than in the rest of the country, prompting it to tailor the media plan geographically.

“That learning allows us to explore the same rule in other channels, so now we can run display advertising in a more focused way on the West Coast if we want to,” says Effik. “We’re thinking about how the budget responds to the market and how we make changes, sometimes in real time, against the dynamics of the marketing using data. Response for us is not whether something succeeded or failed—it’s an opportunity to learn. What we’re learning from search we can apply to other areas of marketing.”

Sunday, 4 November 2012


Here's a recent article from AdExchanger on the work I am doing at R/GA:

R/GA’s decision to launch a media division one year ago was an unusual step for an agency deeply associated with its creative product. The firm has always talked a good game about data, for instance using personal health data to support the award winning Nike+ and Fuel Band products. But that’s a far cry from executing media buys using first and third-party audience data and optimizing those campaigns on the fly.

Get the full story at AdExchanger

Friday, 28 September 2012


If you are free on Monday at 3PM please join us for our talk at The Times Center, where we will present "Moving At The Speed Of Markets - A New And Creative Media Ecosystem" Here is the link to registration on the Advertising Week site.


We know video is experiencing explosive growth across the web, which is good. But we don't want to ape the world of traditional media, and leave video as a purely passive medium.

Check out this very interesting, interactive YouTube video that is essential a tribute to London, my hometown. Very impressive. Hat tip to Lau Moyano. There is an interactive version and a non-interactive version. Click the buttons at the bottom of the video that says :Start Again" and then follow the instructions to select the track to add next (You will need to have annotations enabled.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


It's SXSW Interactive talks selection time. And I'm looking for votes for my SXSW talk on algorithms. If you find the topic interesting (or you just want to help), clickthrough to vote and share.

Here's the description:

Watson won on Jeopardy. Deep Thought beat Garry Kasparov at chess. Algorithms are everywhere. Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm drives almost everything you see. Google's success is based on algorithms – its original PageRank algorithm is arguably the most valuable in the history of man. Amazon and Netflix’s recommendation engines fuel their profitability and growth. There are countless other algorithms, ranging from those that guide what we see on YouTube, through to what's trending on Twitter, to what online ads you see or don't see.

Algorithms now govern the market and define whether you have a successful or unsuccessful campaign. Brands must respond to this reality. For now, these systems still lack deep intelligence and creativity, so conceptual creativity can outsmart the computational brute force of algorithms. If you beat the algorithms, you beat the market. If you don't, then you are at their mercy

Questions Answered

  • How do algorithms rule the digital ecosystem? 
  • How do algorithms work and how does this effect brands? 
  • How will algorithms increase in influence in the future? 
  • How is creativity an antidote to the raw power of algorithms? 
  • How can brands outmaneuver the dominant algorithms?
Vote here

Monday, 13 August 2012


NBC achieved a 31.1 million average primetime viewership for its coverage of the Olympics. The best for non-U.S. Summer Olympics in 36 Years. This number tops Beijing by 12% and Athens by 25%.

If like me you were pissed off trying to watch live the most exciting parts of the Olympics in the US, you might be stunned at this number, but also perhaps grudgingly respectful at this media sleight of hand. The hashtag #NBCFail exploded across Twitter.  Influencers across social media screamed out their disapproval to anyone listening. Check out some of the tweets here on #NBCFail.

NBC's TV strategy was simple, broadcast the 'tier 2' sports during the day live, and then rebroadcast during primetime the 'tier 1' events, when they could accumulate the most profitable advertising spend. If you really wanted to watch live events, and you had a cable subscription you could live stream it over the net. Few people were happy with this solution, including me. I got pissed off, others got even more pissed off.

You'll see below a timeline of the tweets, showing social media anger throughout the Olympics, topped and tailed by criticism of broadcasting of the opening and closing ceremony.

This starts to show two things for me:
- The social media audience is influential, but only amongst the social media audience. There are broken links in the social maps that connect society through social media. Not everybody can yet be reached and influenced through social media. And even when they are reached, it's not clear how influential that is.

- Winning in ratings isn't always winning. Their strategy was so transparently manipulative that it has damaged their brand.  NBC rightly believed that if you have the content that people want, however pissed off they get, they'll still tune in and watch. Like me, people were pissed off with the time delay, and the fact you already knew the result before you watched, but you still just obediently tuned-in and watched   NBC won, but it was a pyrrhic victory, that has left a lot of people very unhappy with them.  But perhaps this is what it now takes to make money in these tough time for content owners.

Saturday, 4 August 2012


Great Nike spot.

Monday, 11 June 2012


I like the idea idea of the 'tunnels' in this anthemic spot for Nike. This is how I see digital TV going in the next few years. Tunnels of content you can disappear down depending on what interests you at that moment. Watch the video all the way, and then you open on a new version with the tunnel interactivity.