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Support tennis like never before

by Nicolas Billieres in News

Our client, BNP Paribas, a long-term supporter of tennis, approached us last year with a request to create a global campaign that would make tennis fun and accessible to all.

They wanted to change the way people support the game, to give more power to fans. All this was to correlate with the new brand positioning of BNP Paribas: The bank for a changing world. We responded to this challenge by creating a campaign that would “Support Tennis Like Never Before”.

We wanted to make tennis more fun and uninhibited for supporters, with a campaign that had social thinking at the centre. So, we decided to help fans of the notoriously reserved game build their collective voice and grow their visibility in the stands. We wanted tennis fans to become super fans who go beyond their limits, just like the players themselves.

We needed an ambassador to embody the campaign, so we chose living legend, John McEnroe – the perfect choice due to his ‘outgoing personality’ on the court. McEnroe has a crucial role – to lead our We Are Tennis Fan Academy, a ‘school’ that will help crowds in tennis stadiums become passionate, committed and united. We want to train the supporters of the future.

John M

We’ve already been inspiring fans globally with our ad – but that’s just the beginning. The first real life We Are Tennis Fan Academy will open its doors on July 16th near the Queens Club in London, to welcome the first class of super fans!

Fans from France and the UK can try their luck to become part of the academy, by submitting a 15 second video showing off their motivational qualities. Only the most creative and motivated individuals in their videos will get a chance to confront John McEnroe to prove their worth. But applications close this week, so be quick!

Présentation PowerPoint

The Academy’s first task will be to light up the quarter final of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas between France and Great Britain, taking place from the 17th-19th July. So if you’re a tennis fan and you think you can give the great John McEnroe a run for his money when it comes to tennis passion – what are you waiting for?

Digital trends in the US market

by Luke Carrell in News

The Guardian recently published this article by me about current digital trends in the US marketing landscape. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below.


The US digital marketing landscape is a vast, complex and highly competitive place. While it’s by no means the only player in the digital and social innovation space, many still look to the US as an indicator of what’s coming next.

Below I’ve outlined a number of trends that have cropped up in the US market recently, whether they originated here or have been embraced by the market. While these are certainly not exclusive to the US (very little is these days), they’re a good indicator of what we’re going to see more of globally in the near future.

Personal branding for (mostly) good
Altruism is good. People knowing you’re altruistic is even better. The reward for consumers to do social good is much more defined than dropping coins in a collections box; giving back online justifiably comes with bragging rights attached. This is what makes “social good” such a winning concept for brands.

Brands that give users tools to create interesting content, to tap into a larger moment/trend, are ruling the internet. Good examples of this include our client Van Heusen and its #GiveaShirt campaign, which enabled social media users to donate a shirt to US charity Career Gear to help give someone’s job prospects a boost.

Likewise, Toms’ #WithoutShoes campaign, which asks people to photograph their feet so a child in need gets free shoes via Toms, has been an Instagram hit recently. It taps into the same human behaviours that made online movements like #nomakeupselfie and #icebucketchallenge so popular.

Social thinking
Step away from the platform. Brands have really started recognising the value of great social thinking. But it’s a common misconception that “social thinking” means executing on Facebook, Twitter or the latest hot channel. In fact, it’s about understanding the concept of social insight. While traditional insights focus on individual motivations, social insights put this understanding in the context of our interpersonal relationships, communities and society.

Many of biggest winners at Cannes Lions last year were shining examples of social thinking. Take Australian train operator V/Line’s Guilt Trips campaign, winner of the Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix, or Happy ID from Coca-Cola, which also picked up an award.

Happy ID

These human-centric ideas – built with culture at their core – are what people want to share, talk about and get involved with. They don’t belong to a singular platform or channel; they’re too big for that.

Push into consciousness
According to information and measurement company Nielsen, smartphone owners in the US use, on average, 27 apps each month, spending 65% more time on them than they did just two years ago. More apps and services means more competition for user attention, but there’s only so much time in a day. People don’t want to dig for value; they need it to be upfront and easy to personalise on the fly. Enter the push notification.

Formerly the digital equivalent of an annoying buzzing fly, better push notification implementations can actually help users economise their attention. Messaging services are a natural gateway for easing users into this new state of play. Facebook has reinvented Messenger as an app hub like WeChat and is using push notifications to extend its offer beyond the platform itself.

If you need proof of how push notifications are building new engagement spaces beyond mobile, desktop, apps and websites, look to the Apple Watch. At its core, the world’s leading wearable device is a very complex notification management tool. Getting the balance of push notifications right is going to be key to the success of new technologies such as this. People want to be informed – they don’t want to be annoyed.

Innovating from within
Not content with waiting for suppliers to push the boundaries, many big brands are taking up the innovation challenge themselves. US companies have been particularly active here. @WalmartLabs, for example, now has a team of 3,500 (1,000 of which joined in the last year) and is producing mobile apps, e-commerce and social tools for shoppers.

Then there’s Westfield Labs, the San Francisco-based innovation arm of Aussie shopping centre group Westfield Corp, and Zappos Labs, created to help the online shoe business develop new lines of business and experiment in retail beyond e-commerce. My personal favourite is home improvement brand Lowe’s Los Angeles-based lab, which recently produced robots that help you with your shopping.


Branded content
More and more, brands are seeking out great, high-quality content, which is why some journalists and TV producers are finding themselves sought after by digital and social agencies. They need people who know how to grab the attention of an audience with something they actually want to watch: relevant, quality and engaging content, not the shove-it-down-their-throats broadcast approach. Restaurant chain Chipotle was ahead of the curve with its hugely successful Scarecrow campaign, Grand Prix winner in PR at Cannes last year.

More recently, women’s health company Hello Flo tackled one of the most notoriously difficult sales jobs of all with its hugely successful First Moon Party campaign, using humour to tackle the subject of periods, tying it perfectly to its product.

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #263

by Rhoda Sell in News

Twitter CEO steps down
Dick Costolo announced on Thursday that he was stepping down as Twitter CEO, after six years with the company. The move comes after investors called for change following months of a struggling stock price, low user growth and stalling ad sales. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey will be taking over as interim CEO while the board looks for a permanent replacement. I’m still hoping it’s Snoop Dogg.

Facebook gives free beacons to retailers
Facebook is letting businesses apply for free beacons to support the launch of Place Tips, a service that shows users posts and photos about specific retailers when they open the app in-store. The beacons send signals to a person’s smartphone when they come within a certain proximity of the device, giving retailers the opportunity to push information and deals to consumers who are in a perfect position to make a purchase.

Facebook expands News Feed ‘Buy’ button
Previously, the Facebook Buy button was only available for a select few e-commerce businesses, but the platform has now opened up the tool for all Shopify retailers. The call-to-action button sits within brand page posts and adverts to allow users to initiate purchase within the News Feed, rather than clicking through to the retailer’s website. This update closely follows the announcement of the similar Pinterest Buy button and is another step in Facebook’s quest to nail social commerce.


Facebook Pages now show customer response time
One for the community managers out there – Facebook is now reporting on response rate to customer questions and comments on brand pages. The feature is currently only appearing on a few pages, but it looks like Facebook plans to roll it out to all in the near future. Users visiting the page will also be able to see a rating on the brand’s responsiveness.

Play games within Facebook Messenger 
To continue the theme of Facebook’s attempts to own (almost) everything you do online, the social platform’s instant messaging service now supports in-app gaming. Earlier this year, Facebook opened up the Messenger platform API to encourage developers to create apps for the service.  Now, the first ‘true’ game for the platform has been spotted – ‘Doodle Draw’, akin to Draw Something, which was popular a few years ago. Here’s one I’m happy to say I did not make earlier.


Twitter scraps the DM character limit
Instant messaging is the current trend du jour with apps such as WhatsApp and WeChat leading the way. In a bid to compete with these market leaders (and to improve active user figures no doubt), Twitter’s Direct Messages will no longer be capped at 140 characters like its public posts. The move gives Twitter the opportunity to be considered as an instant messaging tool, squaring up against services like Facebook Messenger.

Twitter makes conversations easier to follow
One tweet can lead to thousands of separate conversations, which is pretty confusing to follow. So to help resolve this, Twitter is now looking to improve the way these conversations appear in users’ feeds. The platform has begun grouping conversations together using a line to show the order of the replies, as well as highlighting the most interesting or engaging exchanges immediately below the initial tweet.


Twitter advertisers can now target by apps
Last week, Twitter announced a new type of audience targeting, allowing advertisers to reach consumers based on the apps they have on their mobile (and therefore, their interests) such as gaming, health or music. This move to make ad targeting more relevant and effective is another example of Twitter’s continued attempts to improve its ad offering to brands.

Wendys joins Pinterest
Fast Food brand Wendy’s is one of the first high-profile brands to launch a Pinterest campaign using the new Cinematic Pins ad feature – the platform’s new Gif-like videos that activate only when a user is scrolling. The campaign promotes Wendy’s new Strawberry Fields salad, using four animated pins to show the journey of the strawberries from farm to kitchen. The target audience of women also fits closely with Pinterest’s user demographics.


AirBnB launches Pinterest competition
AirBnB has partnered with Pinterest to run a ‘Pin Your Dream Trip’ competition in the UK. The Pinterest user with the most compelling and inspiring travel board of their dream destination will win an all expenses paid holiday with a friend. Whilst away, the winner will be encouraged to pin about their trip, as you’d expect.


WARC winners show how social is evolving

by Mobbie Nazir in News


I recently had the pleasure of being one of the judges for the second ever WARC Prize for Social Strategy, whose winners were announced earlier this morning. The award is focused on recognising social ideas that drive business results and, as such, is a fantastic showcase of best practice within the marketing industry.

It was clear from looking at the 32-strong shortlist just how much social communications have evolved and continue to do so. We’re seeing more longer term, strategic use of social to build brands, or create a meaningful role for brands in people’s lives. We saw the most effective brands and organisations shift their mindset from focusing on social platforms, to using social insights to create integrated ideas that people naturally want to share, talk about, and get involved with. And, from the more mature, large-scale efforts to the clever, low budget activations – all were working towards delivering real business value, not just likes and shares.

A number of key themes stood out for me. The first was the increasing recognition of value of social thinking to extend the impact of the creative idea. Three’s #HolidaySpam (Gold and Special Award for Channel Strategy winner) is a great example of this, turning a strong social insight into a robust channel strategy, amplified by clever, shareable and relevant content. Three focused on the consumer fear of huge roaming charges, and created a business case for dropping its own, in what was an industry-first. The “social” impact of this business strategy was increased holiday bragging, but it wouldn’t have made a real impact without people really buying into the idea.

So, while Three promoted the move with a tightly integrated campaign across TV, print, digital and social, it didn’t take a traditional broadcast approach – it created a major social content strategy, focused on high quality, sharable assets which gave consumers the tools to join in and become part of the idea. The result was a beautifully executed, creatively integrated, socially-led campaign, which shifted Three’s net social sentiment from -12% to +7% and produced positive results for Three’s business – in stark contrast to the loss one would perhaps expect from a phone company dropping a profitable revenue stream.

A second key theme for me was the power of social ideas to engage hard to reach audiences, of which Grand Prix winner Project Architeuthis was a great example. America’s Navy knew that cryptologists often stayed out of sight in the real world for fear of being branded a ‘geek’, but did talk to each other online. They were also in huge demand from a number of intelligence agencies, including the CIA and FBI. No amount of paid media behind a social post was going to help the US Navy reach this community. So, they launched Project Architeuthis, with the insight that “the brightest cryptology minds can’t resist the aroma of a nearly impossible puzzle”.

Without any media spend whatsoever the Navy created a furore on social media in this hard to reach community. Social was the perfect platform for the campaign – while a billboard or print ad is by nature, not particularly sharable, in Project Architeuthis participants used online and social platforms to spread the word amongst one another – even creating their own communities to help solve the puzzles. The campaign led to 100% achievement of the Navy’s goal for new cryptology recruits and proved that even the most of elusive audiences can be connected with, given the right idea and execution.

The third theme I thought noteworthy was an increasing awareness of the value of planning for social impact; that is, creating the right context and environment for your story to be at its most effective. Immigrant Council of Ireland’s Tinder Sex Trafficking Awareness Campaign, Bronze and Special Award for Not-for-Profit winner, jumped on the fact that Tindr was a new, exciting platform that was generating a lot of interest – and was strongly associated with sex. This combination of factors meant that executing a campaign on the platform that raised awareness around issues to do with sex – specifically, sex trafficking, was both relevant and very PR-able. On a low budget, Immigrant Council of Ireland generated a 700% increase in web traffic and a 73,333% return on investment. Better still, following the campaign, the Minister for Justice announced the Irish Government would introduce new anti-trafficking measures with legislation due for publication in early 2015, which was its main business goal.


Newcastle Brown Ale’s “If We Made It” campaign, Silver and Special Award for Channel Strategy winner, is another great example of a brand meticulously planning content for social effect. To do this, they identified the key media and content “codes” of Superbowl advertising, then mapped out common media rollout tactics, knowing that if they subverted and leveraged these, they were far more likely to generate a social response. The result? 1.1 billion impressions, an 18% increase in purchase consideration and a 22.2% increase in sales volume.

These campaigns are just a small snapshot of the quality on show at the prize this year. It’s been a fantastic experience to see the work that’s driving and influencing the future, not just of social communications, but also the wider marketing landscape. Understanding social thinking will be crucial for brands and agencies to create meaningful work that connects with their audience, while delivering real value to a business.

Broadcast battle royale: viewers in control

by Don Anderson in News

If you’re a content creator, owner or broadcaster, the power that you wield over viewers is nowhere near what it was five, or even two years ago.

That was one of the clear messages delivered during the recent Video Matters panel moderated by MinerLabs Managing Director James Miner. “We are a digital first region,” proclaimed Miner, suggesting that 53% of all video consumed over the Internet in Asia is now at prime time.

Look no further than the recent arrival of Netflix in Australia to witness the impact of this dramatic shift of viewer behaviour to digital platforms. According to Miner, total broadband internet traffic increased 30 per cent within a week of the launch of the on-demand video service.

Video Matters moderator James Miner with panelists Michelle Landy, Malik Ducard, Amy Finnerty, Alex Light, and Antoine Nazaret. Photo Courtesy Branded Asia.

“What is broadcast today?” said panelist Alex Light, Head of Content for Vice Australia, in reference to Netflix’s immediate rise and partnerships between TV networks and independent creators. “What this means for the commercial networks is they can’t not afford to take risks anymore.”

That may mean further recognition of a collective of YouTube creators who, in many ways, are responsible for the shift in power from traditional broadcast to more on demand and interactive content models.

“I think viewers are increasingly wanting content anytime, anywhere, across any device, any platform and in any language. I think viewers also want — in fact demand — social interaction around content,” said panelist Michelle Landy, Chief Operating Officer for FreemantleMedia Asia.

“Forty-five percent of people are utilising second screens while watching television. They want to extend the experience with other fans, (they) want behind-the-scenes and exclusive content.”

Landy referenced the recent Asia’s Got Talent grand finale in Singapore, the first pan-regional version available across cable, free-to-air channels and digital platforms. They enlisted YouTuber Dee Kosh as their ‘digital host’ for conducting interviews with contestants and talent.

Increasingly, YouTubers like Kosh are cementing the connection between viewer and content. Take for instance UK-based YouTube content creator Joseph Garrett aka Stampy Cat, who produces educational, story driven content using the Minecraft game engine, and in 2014 delivered one of the world’s most watched YouTube channels.

“We’ve kind of dubbed him as the Mister Rogers for this generation,” said panelist Malik Ducard, Global Head of Family and Learning for YouTube.

At last count, Stampy’s YouTube channel had accumulated close to 6 million subscribers and over 3.5 billion views since launching in July 2011. After each episode a map of the Minecraft world from the episode is made available for download, providing viewers an extended immersive experience.

YouTube has since established a partnership with Stampy to create a new show called Wonder Quest in partnership with Maker Studios where every episode ties into educational curriculum so when kids watch the show “they don’t feel like they are learning anything but they are,” said Ducard.

“Going back to (the discussion of) this generation who don’t see borders, this generation also doesn’t see borders between creator and viewer. The creator is the viewer,” said Ducard.

It’s that recognition of the viewer that has propelled the likes of YouTube creator PewDiePie to close to 37 million subscribers for his quirky, video game-oriented channel, and over 9 billion video views since April 2010. The magnitude of his following suggests a borderless ‘fan love’ that has never really be seen before.

“That intimacy with the audience is so important and being consistent allows the talent to again experiment and create content for all kinds of platforms,” said Amy Finnerty, EVP of Talent for Maker Studios, which represents the enormously popular PewDiePie.

Likewise, Dailymotion is encouraging its content creators to follow their audience, said Antoine Nazaret, APAC Head of Content for the platform. It’s no longer about going to viewers with a message of “here’s my channel, go see my content,” said Nazaret; it’s now about the battle for attention.

“It’s a great time for viewers where, in terms of content, supply is way bigger than demand. They have great content coming from classical media, original programming, co-programming — every model. They don’t care where it is coming from. The key point is how do you grab the attention, how do you grab the engagement.”

Don Anderson is Managing Director, Singapore of We Are Social and Chair of the Asia Content Marketing Association.