Write the future – Nike’s amazing new tv ad

I’m not that easily impressed with TV ads, but this one from Nike is truly amazing.

Select the 1080p version so you see it in all of it’s glory, go full screen, turn the volume up and enjoy. It’s humorous, beautifully and epically filmed and the ad of the year so far for me.

Why Tesco want a minimum price for beer

Tesco - Every little (piece of government intervention and price fixing) helps
Tesco - Every little (piece of government intervention and price fixing) helps

Maybe I’m being simplistic, but to me it seems pretty obvious why Tesco are campaigning, along with the government, for a minimum price for beer.

They’ve never behaved altruistically before, I hear you cry!

Well, they’re not now either.

It is pure self interest.

If there is minimum retail price for beer in the UK, do you honestly think that will affect their buying price in any way at all?

No me either.

With the huge growth of global beer brands such as AB InBev, who own the likes of Stella Artois (wifebeater), Budweiser (simply vile) and Becks (iced water), it will allow tesco to do even better deals and grow their buy/sell margin to an even greater level.

Yes, the smaller retailers will have some protection as they will still be able to get their £3 for a four pack, but they’ll be paying £2.40 to Tesco’s £1.20 from their supplier and yet again the little man is crushed.

Beer brands are going through a mad level of consolidation and whilst I have written many times before about a brand backlash and choosing guest ales over the mega brands when we visit our local, it seems that more casualties are coming.

With Bass, Boddingtons and Flowers all up for sale by AB InBev, it seems that we will have fewer and fewer big regionals and be left with globals at the top and tiny locals at the bottom.

This has to present the most amazing opportunity for a decent entrepreneur in the middle ground to buy up one of those three amazing beer brands and build them back up again.

I’d be happy to help with the branding! (and tasting if required)


It would appear that the Bass brand isn’t really up for sale. In this great article by Pete Brown in the Publican, he gets to the root of what is really for sale. What AB InBev are actually selling is the UK only rights to sell the beer as a draft product. No rights to the name, no rights to the International business and no real chance of anyone being interested in that particular offer. What a real shame for beer drinkers. I certainly didn’t know that Bass and the famous red triangle was the first trademark in the UK. Globalisation isn’t really a good thing is it? It just makes it easier for our historical brands to be destroyed internationally, ignoring all the years of heritage they have created.

HSBC 100 Thoughts

I just had this rather cool email.

HSBC 100 Thoughts winner
HSBC 100 Thoughts winner

Congratulations, you’re our second HSBC 100 Thoughts winner.

As a winner you are invited to one of the HSBC 100 Thought events. These events are taking place around the country and there will be a number of business thinkers and influencers making up the panels. You will get exclusive access to the panel at your chosen event.

Your thought will also be entered into a public vote and if you win you’ll receive a one to one consultation with a globally renowned business guru (who we will be announcing very soon).

I’ve listed the events below for you to choose from. Not every panel has been firmed up yet but I’ve entered the ones we know for you. They start fairly early and are finished by around 10.30 so you shouldn’t need much time out of work to attend.

Please let me know which event you’d like to come to. We will pay for travel, via standard class rail or mileage rates approved by HM Revenue & Customs, to and from the event and this will be reimbursed after the event.

And the thought?

“#100thoughts if you really want to improve your business, why not give your customers a really good listening too.”

Which is something we have been talking about for ages anyway, as the problem with most social media strategies is that they involve a lot of talking and not enough listening.

Funnily enough, my other entry “#100thoughts if you can’t change the people, change the people.” didn’t get picked!

Just to prove it’s one we believe in, we did employ a bit of good listening only yesterday to our good friend and client Lisa Harlow, who has given us some direct feedback as to how we can simplify our own presentation at Purple Circle. Her idea is being actioned now and will be live on our website within the next day or so! It works.

So i’m off to the Nottingham event on July 15th.

Social media is really antisocial for B2B

Edith Boundy - 95 years old on Tuesday and better at listening than 95% of all businesses that use social media as marketing tool
Edith Boundy - 95 years old on Tuesday and better at listening than 95% of all businesses that use social media as marketing tool

I’m a big fan of social media, it’s great fun and quite sociable really. But is it right for most brands or is it just a great big distraction?

Having given this lots and lots of thought, I’m becoming more convinced that a social media strategy for many B2B businesses is nothing more than a total waste of time that will ultimately serve to undermine their business.

A big statement, but lets look at the facts.

Email marketing
Sending lots of emails to your clients keeps them abreast of what you do.
If you’re doing well, as a B2B business you may have a 40% open rate. This is a 60% NOT open rate so more of your customers are choosing to not even look at the information you are sending them.

Lets say this takes 4 hours per month

I blog loads and loads that build links and web presence
But how many people read it and how is this adding to the SEO of your own company? It is far better to use all of your hard work blogging to populate your business’ site with lovely searchable words that Google can crawl all over and rank you more highly for than build an external blog presence.

You have to be incredibly committed to build an external blog with a Page Rank that will make the link back to your business site worth the effort. Realistically, one link from Linkedin to your business site will do more good.

To do this well will take 15 hours per month

I’m always Twittering
Unless you make the effort to build an engaged audience, you may as well not bother. How many people are actually listening to what you say. Most (over 80%) of twitter accounts are effectively dormant, so who cares? Are you shouting your thoughts in an empty room.

To do this well will take 6 hours per month

It’s nice to see your business down their with the kids and yes it’s a huge fast growing audience base. But for B2B. Hmm, not really.

Will you sell more widgets, buns or B2B services by having a Facebook fan page? I doubt it. At least once it’s up, maintaining it is pretty simple, so lets say we allow 2 hours per month.

For consumer brands it can be completely different, they try to build religious fervour where people seek them out and want to know more and more. Their reputation can grow like wildfire with consumers looking for information in every available channel. So yes, I can see why you just have to have it here.

But if you’re a B2B supplier, wouldn’t the TWENTY SEVEN hours every single month, you’ve just saved be better spent hanging out with your clients and giving them a really good listening too?

The new .co domain

Domain names - a nightmare for the business owner. Which ones do we buy and which ones do we ignore?
Domain names - a nightmare for the business owner. Which ones do we buy and which ones do we ignore?

There’s a new domain on the block and it’s a .co

Not a .com, a .co.uk, or even a .uk.com, but a very simple .co

You can find more out about it here.

But I have already made my decision that as an individual and a business owner I will not be buying the .co domain.


Surely it will only be grabbed by cyber squatters if we don’t and filled with porn links to scare me into buying it?

I was asked my thoughts on the new domain the other day and it got me thinking.

Because it is so similar to both the .com and the .co.uk my belief is that people will auto complete it anyway. Whether they do this physically, by the computer autocorrecting it and adding the missing letters, or in them just assuming that there are letters missing mentally, doesn’t matter. The fact I think will be that people will assume there is something wrong with a .co domain.

It’s also my thought that domain endings are slightly less important than they used to be anyway as they are just becoming a parking place for a website to be held and therefore less prominent.

In July 2008 Google carried out 7.23 billion searches. In Europe in July 2008, 87% of all online activities started with a search according to TGI Europa.

If it’s true that 87% of all Internet activity starts with a Google (or other) search then that means that a max of 13% directly key in a domain name anyway. So therefore ranking on Google and other search engines will be far more important than the domain on which the site sits.

I believe within a few years we won’t even see the domain ending on branded ads or maybe even within the info bar on the browser. It will become something geeks look at in the source code.

So sorry to the people of Colombia who’s country owns the .co domain. I’m not going to be a customer.

Thanks to http://gujtar.pro/ for the image

Robin Hood movie review and trailer – Nottingham Gala Premiere

Russell Crowe as Robin Hood in the new movie Robin Hood that premiered tonight in Nottingham's Cornerhouse Leisure and entertainment complex
Russell Crowe as Robin Hood in the new movie Robin Hood that premiered tonight in Nottingham's Cornerhouse Leisure and entertainment complex

This a story hot off the press as I have just arrived back from the gala premiere of Robin Hood held at the Cornerhouse in Nottingham City Centre. The film stars Russell Crowe as our hero Robin and Cate Blanchett as Lady Marion Loxley. She played a simply superb part and whilst this wouldn’t be the sort of film that would normally get Oscar nominations, I thought she played such a strong part that i’d be surprised if she doesn’t feature amongst the nominees.

The film itself is a long and epic affair painting the history of Robin Hood before he was outlawed. As such, it’s a prequel before the sequel. As scene setters go, it is one of the most enjoyable films I have ever seen. I have read a few early reviews that have been mixed, but this has to have come from film hardened critics and not the general public like myself who will be enthralled by the story, amazed by the cinematography and drawn in by the plot.

When we started working on the brand values for Robin Hood as part of the Sheriff’s Commission, we wanted him to be a strong, fearless character with huge integrity. So he fitted the character of our City. Crowe has done this in spades. What we couldn’t have expected (but what we really, really hoped for) was Cate Blanchett to play a strong brave and independent thinking woman. She certainly delivers this and more.

There’s a bit of humour, some great historical placement, no real attempt at regional accents (apart from a bit of Welsh thrown in) and a good balance of action without it being ever gory or blood thirsty. The photography is just stunning. as they camera flies you through the valleys of the South Downs and the Woods of Nottinghamshire, you will be spellbound.

I think you know what you can expect with Ridley Scott and this certainly doesn’t disappoint. I loved it. I’m going again at the weekend with my family and I hope you do to. To whet your appetite, here’s the trailer.

Waterstone’s – A ‘pointless’ rebrand

Waterstone’s appear to have rebranded from their old sharp pointy logo shown here:

Waterstone’s old logo - a nice pointy thing with some classic typography
Waterstone’s old logo - a nice pointy thing with some classic typography

And they have replaced it with this somewhat ‘pointless’ effort:

Waterstone's new logo - a rather pointless effort in every respect
Waterstone's new logo - a rather pointless effort in every respect

But I find myself asking why. They have 303 stores and to even replace the fascia and a few bits of POS around the store will cost them an absolute minimum of £10k per store to actually implement the change of logo. This gives them a bare minimum bill of £3.03 Million to update the stores. Cheap by some comparisons, but will it help them sell any extra books?

Not in my opinion.

Again, if we assume they made £2 on every book they sell (which seems highly unlikely), then that means they have to sell over 1.5 million extra books even to stand still. I can’t see a logo that looks like some old lady’s droopy appendages actually driving a single extra customer to buy from them, let alone to buy more and more from them.

Rebrands need to mark the change in a business and show that what it has done previously will be left behind in favour of it’s new way of behaving going forwards. If it is a line in the sand then this marking of the change can be beneficial. But not if the change is to make them look less authoritative and stylish than they did before.

In my opinion (and i’m happy for anyone and everyone to disagree with me), this is the worst sort of rebrand. A bad and pointless one that will continue to give our industry a bad name.

Why have the Liberal democrats done so well? – A brand perspective

BBC debate - showing Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats at the centre of the stage
BBC debate - showing Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats at the centre of the stage - effectively getting a supermarket listing for his brand

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few weeks since the first debate and thought it would be good to relate the huge surge of support for the Liberal Democrats to a consumer brand – which they have effectively become when they are ‘advertised’ in such a high profile manner.

I think the answer is simple.

By allowing Nick Clegg to stand on the stage next to the two major brands of Labour and Conservative, they were giving them the equivalent of a supermarket listing for a minor brand.

For a minor brand to get a listing in the likes of Tesco, they are immediately given the assurance that ‘if it has been chosen by Tesco to be sold, then it must be okay’ as the overarching brand is that of Tesco as a distributor and comes with their own big brand reassurance. Similarly, a place on that platform came with the assurance that they must be broadly equal in stature.

Likewise for Nick Clegg to be ‘offered for sale’ alongside the market leaders it comes down to whether the consumers like the packaging and the price and feel like a change from the main brands. He’s a good looking bloke (I haven’t got a man crush or anything) and he speaks well. He also constantly refers to the other two parties as the OLD parties – a really important differentiation for the younger voters/buyers.

I have asserted on many occasions that the future is unbranded, and many of us will always choose the guest beer in a pub rather than being herded into the mainstream brands – This is the same principle. It is a brand backlash against the mainstream brands and may be here to stay.

So the mistake came in agreeing to the debate in the first place. They gave they Lib Dems a listing that their previous size may not have warranted. There was no place for UKIP, the awful BNP or the SNP, despite their late court protestations.

If the Lib Dems do sweep into some form of shared power then I believe it all stems from their amazing move to get themselves onto the debate platform in the first place.

I can’t wait to see the outcome on Thursday night.

Jimmy Bullard’s Wash and Go Ad

It’s all very funny and that , but in what way is this adding to the brand value of Wash and Go. As an April fool it may have worked, but this came out in mid March. What on earth were they thinking? He’s ugly, not too well known and very few of us would aspire to his look. I think size zero models can be a disaster for many brands and real life could be where it’s at, but this is a badly executed, badly filmed parody that should have stayed as a joke amongst the creatives.

For the record, here is one of the original ads from 1991. (the year we started Purple Circle!). I wonder what happened to Vidal Sassoon?

Polishing the Rhubarb

I was on a Purple Circle photoshoot the other day for McArtney’s Catering and tried out a new App for my iPhone called iCamcorder, which adds video functionality to the iPhone 3G. It seems to work pretty well. I also couldn’t quite resist adding some music from the mad TV programme Rhubarb and Custard, which seems to suit nicely. Victoria Blundy is the Rhubarb Polisher.

Oh, and I should have added a picture of the finished shot. So here it is: Nice work by Keane Beamish.

The Rhubarb - Nicely polished
The Rhubarb – Nicely polished