Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Tarantino’s challenger brand lesson for brand leaders

Sunday, January 20th, 2013 by Jon Clements

How far does a company need to deviate from its established brand identity to achieve “cut-through” or “stand-out”?

It’s understandable that mature brands feel they have a lot to lose by taking risks with their customers’ expectations and this can result, with brands becoming inherently conservative in their marketing communications; in a competitive B2B or B2C market, brands can begin to look increasingly homogenous.

The challenger or upstart brand, conversely, isn’t inhibited by such mundane considerations.

Take “Brand Quentin Tarantino”…

This weekend his latest film, the violent Western and slavery drama, Django Unchained, opened in the UK, after three weeks in which it became the director’s highest grossing film in the US market ever. And despite high profile criticism from African Americans such as fellow film director, Spike Lee, it appears a large proportion of the US black population is unperturbed by accusations of disrespect for its ancestors, with 30% of the audience coming from that community.

However, 25 years after his first film, Reservoir Dogs, was released – establishing Tarantino as the new “enfant terrible” of independent cinema – the director is no longer the upstart brand, with “Django” placed fourth in the US box office top 10, ahead of blockbusters including Les Miserables and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.

I was fortunate enough, in 1993 – as arts reporter for the Nottingham Evening Post – to interview Tarantino as part of the UK premiere of Reservoir Dogs at the city’s Broadway Cinema. The young writer-director was a highly-engaging study in obsessive and infectious enthusiasm for film, and his inaugural piece of work made me walk out of the cinema, mid-film, in disgust. Not that I was afraid of challenging films, but the violence – particularly the infamous ear-slicing scene sound-tracked by the Steeler’s Wheel song, “Stuck in the Middle with You” – seemed like cinematic shock for shock’s sake and neither clever nor innovative.

But Tarantino wasn’t making films typical of the time – Home Alone 3, The Bodyguard or Wayne’s World, for example – and he didn’t need to care about big film studio box office. Of course, my myopic viewpoint on Reservoir Dogs was wrong and Tarantino’s work changed not just independent cinema, but all cinema thereafter.

And while the blood-drenched, Tarantino-esque violence remains an integral part of his cinematic “brand”, his films have clearly extended their appeal to a more mainstream audience since 1993.

But what he’s done to make each successive film continually stand out – while simultaneously broadening his mass appeal and becoming a mature fixture in cinema – is by taking familiar, well-trodden celluloid territory and giving it a fresh and unexpected feel. His Jackie Brown added another shade to crime film noir, the Kill Bills put new kick into the Kung Fu genre and, now, Django Unchained is a brilliant homage to the radically diverse Westerns of John Ford, Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah. With each new film, the audience isn’t alienated, but reassured, that it’s being led into a world it knows, but then thrilled with Tarantino’s daring take on that world.

And so, a well-established brand needn’t be afraid of taking a previously unheard-of risk in its marketing communications, if the customer or other audience has already a high degree of trust and regard for the quality of what it provides. In fact, taking a calculated risk might be the only way to really stand out during a period of competitive consideration by the customer.

Risk is a relative concept, and only you know how far you need, or should, go to stand out in your business or industry. But Tarantino, 25 years on, is still taking daring risks in his work and attracting flak from some quarters while, at the same time, clowning around as a guest on Graham Norton’s late night light entertainment TV show. You can’t get much cuddlier than that, can you?

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

A Manchester agency “biz dev” makeover

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 by Jon Clements

Finding and winning business is the ever-present elephant in the room for those working in the creative agency world. And it comes with no small amount of teeth-gnashing, as agency business development people try to get through closed doors and make an impressive first impression while prising open tightly-knotted purse strings.

But help is at hand, as Manchester creative agencies – PR, advertising and digital – were treated to a business development makeover with the help of The Art of New Business initiative last night.

Deftly delivered in two halves, the event split into client-side managers sharing their views on the good, bad and ugly of agency new business approaches, alongside agency-side practitioners showing what had the made the difference in growing their businesses.

On the client-side panel, we had:

And their advice to agencies about how to stand out from the crowd was direct and no-nonsense:


  1. Ask more questions!
  2. Tell us what you know about us.
  3. Give examples of  how you can help.
  4. Discover – find out what’s important to us.
  5. Learn about our business – make yourself credible
  6. Come with a relevant opinion about us – we’ll be more likely to listen.
  7. Network and build relationships that can last a lifetime.
  8. Target managers lower down the chain – get in on ground level.
  9. Ask your clients who they can refer you to.
  10. Don’t forget, clients are looking at the market too – what will they find out about you?

And when it came to the topic of agency credentials, Tony Spong grabbed the microphone with the frenzy of a man who would clearly opt for Chinese water torture rather than listen to another mind numbing creds presentation. Dispense with the predictable and focus, is his advice, on “what’s your story?”; be brave, be clear and come quickly to talking about what agency and client can do together.

From the agency side, Adrian Lomas of digital agency, Blueleaf, spoke of having a “clear map and compass” that guides your business and helps inform the right decisions. In Blueleaf’s case, its mantra is “What would the best digital agency in the world do right now?” Chris Marsh of Melbourne Server Hosting showed how building a family culture with staff – and a stimulating working environment – rubbed off onto client relationships, giving them complete peace of mind about the commitment of their supplier. The “creative entrepreneurs” approach taken by Simon Calderbank of Studio North is more about finding the right clients and rejecting the wrong clients than taking on business at any price and finding companies that can relate to the agency’s “DNA, values and aspirations”. Former McCann boss, Brian Child, put it simply: “You will lose every account”; hence the “obsession” anyone running an agency needs to have about new business development.

As Sarah Bradley from event organisers and new business consultancy, Acquire, said:  “With marketing your business, there is no magic bullet – you have to do everything!”

STOP PRESS: Digital Marketing consultant, Mark Kelly, has blogged even more great tips for business development from The Art of New Business event and a Manchester digital event.


Jon Clements is an independent Chartered PR consultant based in Manchester




About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

New Law Turns Legal Eyes to Marketing & PR

Thursday, June 21st, 2012 by Rob Brown

The arrival this year of Alternative Business Structures (ABS) for UK law firms feels like a typically dry subject for a profession that has a reputation for upright and conventional.

The truth is the change has the potential to be revolutionary – changing the way we use and access lawyers and introducing brands to the market.   Previously law firms had to be owned by lawyers, now any organisation can provide legal services with non-lawyer involvement at management level or as an owner or investor, so long as it is granted licence by the Law Society or other approved awarding bodies.

It has been labelled the Tesco law despite the fact that Tesco have shown no interest in entering the market.  The Co-operative Group on the other hand was one of the first organisations to be granted a new ABS licence.  This means that law firms will have to adapt to withstand the pressures of competition from organisations that know all about effective marketing.  They will have to review their business models and can’t continue to rely on word of mouth recommendation as their only route to new business.

Getting to grips with online and digital will also be vital for the larger firms.  Let’s be honest most people don’t use solicitors on a daily basis so when they do and they enter “solicitor+my home town” into Google they might see some local firms in the top results, but not for much longer if the new national players have their way.




About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).

Marketers need to stretch into the future

Thursday, October 20th, 2011 by Jon Clements

Attention marketers – if you want to be a chief marketing officer (or marketing director on this side of the Pond), then be warned: “the market is moving faster than the function”.

So says Jon Iwata, IBM’s senior VP of marketing and communications, who shared his thoughts in Harvard Business Review’s recent “Changing role of the CMO” webcast.

Based on the findings of an IBM Global CMO Study, he was joined by his counterparts at Yahoo – Elisa Steele – and at Schneider Electric – Aaron Davies – to examine how the most senior marketing role has changed and what the future holds.

And the kick-off point was the CMO’s job to “close the gap between [a company’s] desired corporate character and reality”. Iwata quoted no less a figure than Abraham Lincoln to make the point that “Reputation is the shadow, character is the tree.” In other words, how  a business is perceived externally is only as strong as the truth underpinning what that company actually does rather that what it claims to do.

Steele highlighted that we’re living in the “age of accountability” in which the volume of conversations about brand and customer experience hit CMOs where it hurts! But the availability of data and analytics means marketers who are not exploring the “science bit” are unable to support company growth in the way they should. As Davies metaphorises, “customer data is a gift, if you unwrap it correctly”. Perhaps masochistically, he also suggests that – for the marketer – “failure is a gift as well”.

Coming, inevitably, to social media and the CMO, Iwata describes IBM’s approach as empowering people to be good and responsible with it – especially as the collective number of IBMers on LinkedIn (300,000, apparently) and their 1st order contacts constitutes a larger community than visits every day. The combination of people and the content they create is a real opportunity, says Iwata, while Steele describes the social media-induced “collapse of the marketing funnel”. And despite the fact that social media ROI remains hazy, Steele feels that, intuitively, it’s the right thing to be doing.

Iwata acknowledges the obstacles at policy level in companies when it comes to social media, with finance heads fearing leakage or disclosure and HR balking at any online criticism of management. But, he says, “you can’t just use it [social media] for listening and co-creation but turn it off when people are criticising or saying things that make you uncomfortable”. Conversely, he sees social media as an investment that pales (in cost terms) compared to traditional marketing approaches.

But the effectiveness of using social media has “not been fully cracked”, according to Iwata, adding that “Web 2.0 is still in the mode of sending messages to individuals”.

However, traditional marketing still has its place, according to these leading marketers: Davies, despite calling digital “the wallpaper in many organisations now”, says there is “a place for everything still”, citing his experience of a 50/50 split of online and traditional marketing in China right now.

Leaving the final word to Jon Iwata, his advice for those aspiring to be future CMOs is “stretch yourself into new spaces”. After all, it’s the character of your company that’s at stake.




About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Food Fight – Is this a Price Cut War?

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 by Hannah Newbould


Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA? That is the question on so many consumers’ minds at the moment.  Where will customers get the most out of their money and which shop offers the cheapest deals?

Competition for shoppers’ cash has become increasingly aggressive as economic uncertainty, wage freezes and high inflation have squeezed consumer income.

A couple of weeks ago we saw that following the announcement of slow growth from the UK’s largest supermarket chain Tesco, the company would launch an aggressive £500million ‘Price Drop’ campaign meaning 3,000 price cuts on its products, including milk, vegetables, fruit and bread.

Soon followed ASDA with a knee-jerk marketing campaign, pushing its continuous promise to be 10 per cent cheaper than any other supermarket, and now Sainsbury’s. Tomorrow we will see the launch of their ‘Brand Match’ campaign, a technology Sainsbury’s has invested in allowing customers to compare prices of their branded products in their baskets to the same products in Tesco and ASDA.  From this Wednesday, Sainsbury’s will issue customers with coupons to the value of the difference between its branded goods and those of its rivals. This has been launched exactly two weeks after Tesco’s campaign.

“The launch of Brand Match across the UK represents a revolution in retail and is fantastic news for hard-pressed shoppers,” said Sainsbury’s commercial director Mike Coupe.

In saying all of this, it has been announced today that ‘cheaper’ supermarket, ALDI, has seen a growth of 25% share over the 12 weeks leading up to October, the complete opposite of Tesco, which is seeing slow growth. Morrisons is currently the best performing supermarket out of the ‘big four’.

It will be interesting to see which of these campaigns will really lure consumers into spending at each of the supermarkets and if we will see a bigger growth in the cheaper supermarkets such as  ALDI, LIDL and Iceland.


ASOS Feels The Digital Love

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 by Julie Wilson

ASOS, Very and are the three most loved digital brands, a study by Tamar has revealed.

The BrandLove25 report explores the degree to which consumers demonstrate their support and enthusiasm for a digital brand through their social interaction, and ranks companies on a number of different metrics including numbers of Facebook fans, Twitter followers and revenue.

Joining the companies in the top ten are:;;;;; and

Whilst it is of no surprise to see ASOS and Very feature in the top spots, both companies having been amongst the first fashion retailers to adopt and embrace social media effectively into their marketing strategies, credit has to be given to for achieving such a respectable position.  In just five years since launch, the online fashion retailer has firmly established itself as one of the UK’s top online providers of women’s fashion, picking up a number of industry awards along the way and, as this report shows, positioning itself firmly at the heart of consumers.

What makes a brand engaging could be said to lie in the eye of the consumer but there are five key principles to which companies should adhere if looking to achieve the social medial top spot:

1. Know your customer and identify their wants and needs

2. Stay true to your brand and ensure your voice conveys your personality

3. Maintain consistent participation and invite consumers to be a part of the conversation

4. Address the balance – commercial message delivery versus general interest

5. Provide real added value

Speaking on the results of the report Tanya Goodin, CEO of Tamar said:  “In the current climate many ‘traditional’ bricks and mortar brands are struggling but pure-play digital brands are powering from strength to strength.  However, this second edition of our Best-Loved Digital Brands league table shows that, even within the digital sector, some brands are performing much better than others.  The size of social media communities give an immediate and very visible way of measuring the ‘love’ customers feel for brands and reported revenue gives us a clear indication of how that ‘love’ translates to sales.  The brands here have demonstrably capitalised on the seismic shift from ‘bought’ to ‘earned’ media and are seeing stellar financial performance as a result.  Digital brands who don’t make the Top 25 table need to look at the stars appearing and take note.”


Jaffa Cakes launched into digital world

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 by Hannah Newbould


United Biscuits has launched its biggest ever digital campaign in order to promote popular juicy biscuit brand, Jaffa Cakes. The brand has been launched into the social media world in a campaign to increase its online presence.

Media agency, MEC interaction has assisted United Biscuits in launching the integrated social media campaign.

The social media drive consists of two main microsites , ‘Cult of Jaffa’ and ‘The Jaffa Cake Broadcasting Corporation’ (JCBC) – both pages created and managed by MEC.

Cult of Jaffa is an ‘underground’ organisation that has been safeguarding Jaffa Cakes for over 500 years from the likes of the House of Garabaldi. It allows Jaffa Cake fans to become council members, inviting Facebook visitors to become a ‘Grand master, a ‘Jambassador’ or a ‘Keeper of the Scrolls’ .

Fans are encouraged to upload detail of why they should be recruited for the selected role. This acts a community platform and cult members are selected to promote the brand on and offline.

The campaign will roll out two phases over nine months, building a cult of ambassadors and then following the chosen team into their induction.

Sister site – JCBC is a spoof news site that lists news from Cult of Jaffa – today’s breaking news ‘Biscuit Boss in Mega Injunction’. The headlines play on the current news agenda.

Both sites are also supported by Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Flickr in the hope of increasing Jaffa Cakes’ online presence .

Their online strategy presents an interesting use of social media from both microsites and they host a creative platform in which fans of the brand can interact and engage.  It is a fun strategy with lots of tools for visitors to involve themselves in the activity.

Cult of Jaffa requires you to upload a video or photo of yourself being a bit Jaffa crazy and may require too much effort for people to apply. But who knows? Just because I dropped out at the  ‘upload video of self’ stage, it doesn’t mean that the population’s Jaffa crazy people will.  We will see…..


Getting the right focus on newspaper campaigns

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 by Mark Perry

Forget the media campaigns about the rights and wrongs of injunctions, the Hull Daily Mail has shown that a focused campaign can make a real difference.

The newspaper has taken up a cause that matters to the community it serves and led a change by helping create a skilled workforce.

The Mail’s Apprenticeship Challenge aimed to get 100 apprenticeships in 100 days – in fact it helped 157 young people find training. The newspaper joined with local colleges and agencies and has succeeded in widening opportunities and encouraged companies, who don’t already have schemes, to look at helping get the young into work.

As assistant editor Jamie Macaskill said: “Together with our partners we have made a real impact on the future of scores of young people.”

Just a fortnight on from Local Newspaper week, this campaign has shown how important local newspapers are to their communities. With circulations are under pressure, from a PR perspective newspapers should look carefully at campaigns newspapers they could support or even initiate.

It could help them to re-engage with their communities particularly among the younger age groups who have less affiliation with newspapers and can provide the future live blood.

 The Hull Daily Mail is a great example of what a local newspaper can acheive.

About Mark Perry

Mark has more than 25 years’ experience in PR and corporate communications. He is a founding director of B2B consultancy Melville PR.

Consumer benefit – the key to campaign success

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 by Julie Wilson


It’s an obvious statement to make, but I’m a strong believer that for a consumer engagement campaign to be truly effective, it must offer real consumer benefit.

The following campaign by Coca-Cola is a prime example of one that does just that.

Stunningly simple, the brand turned the headache of a grid-locked journey home into a live and entertaining brand experience.

Engaging all of the senses with a cinematic experience amplified through drivers’ in-car stereo systems, the drive through or perhaps more accurately put, traffic stand still, movie experience provided frustrated drivers with a welcome distraction.  What’s more it provided the perfect platform from which to sample the brand’s new Coke Minis to an engaged and appreciative audience.

A great campaign, which put the product into the hands of target consumers when they needed it most.  A fitting promotion for the brand which strives to “spread happiness.”

Is your marketing concept fit for purpose?

Thursday, April 28th, 2011 by Jon Clements

Being a PR person, my professional bedtime reading has tended to be – as you might guess – PR books. Yes, really.

But when an urge pushed me to branch out into new topics – ahem, marketing – I really didn’t know where to start when it came to outstanding reading matter.

Three weeks ago, I asked fellow members of the Chartered Institute of Marketing LinkedIn group what they would recommend; bookworms and their favourites positively fell out of the digital woodwork!

And then, just today, the nice people from publisher, John Wiley & Sons, sent over the first edition of The Marketer’s Handbook by Laurie Young.

Now, this book I like!

First, Young – whose career has brought him up close with marketing on many occasions – says the results of using various marketing concepts over the years “shocked” him.

Which has led to this book addressing a whole host of marketing approaches and asking, succinctly, “Does the damn thing have any credibility and does it work?”

Arranged into easy-to-follow, alphabetical chapters, it’s a handbook in the purest sense; perfect for dipping in and out of, depending on what area of marketing communications you’re interested in.

Then, each chapter follows a useful structure, describing the marketing concept, its history, further reading and – finally – the bit that will, I imagine, start the most fights at the water cooler – Young’s rating of the concept. This goes from “Practical and Powerful” for those concepts “founded on good, analytical and experiential evidence” to the “Toxic” which can “do real damage to your shareholders’ business and your career”.

Some of the time-honoured marketing concepts that come in for a beating from Young include Ansoff’s matrix, AIDA, Boston matrices, Branding as packaging and product life cycles not resembling s-curves.

Young also lists what’s not in the book and why, such as “Value-based marketing”, which he dismisses as “dubious” and “unsubstantiated”.

Maybe as important as what the novice marketer should know is what he or she should be circumspect about – and this book serves both purposes.

And forgive me for being partial, but Public Relations gets a “practical and powerful” rating. For that alone, I suggest this is a must for the bedside table!


About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''