What can brands learn from the recent General Election?

Right, the General Election is over and no matter who you voted for, as marketeers we can all use it to our benefit.

So what did we learn that’s relevant?

Repeating your message doesn’t mean you’re driving it home

Strong and stable leadership.

If we heard it once, we heard it a thousand times. It became Theresa May’s answer to almost any question. However, what the Conservative Party failed to grasp with this mantra is that it offers no hope. There is no promise of a better life. Yes, they did try to make it relevant to people by adding, IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST. But to the average person in the street, they rarely think about the national interest. They’re far more concerned with simpler, more fundamental issues, like are their wages going to go up? Will the issue of immigration be tackled? What’s going to happen with Brexit and will the NHS be saved?

So no matter how many times this phrase was repeated, it had no emotional engagement.

And that’s the key.

When you’re looking at your marketing strategy and subsequent messages, make sure that they have emotional engagement. More, give people something to wish for. As Orson Welles said “Don’t give them what they want. Give them what they never dreamed of.”

Choose the channel that’s right for you

What was interesting about this election was the shift from traditional media towards social media.

This new battleground was filled with videos paid for by the leading parties that were viewed millions of times on Facebook. A Conservative attack advert featuring snippets from Jeremy Corbyn speeches was watched more than 7m times.

According to data from Who Targets Me? analysed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), the last few days of the election showed that the parties attempted to reach specific constituencies with tailored messages. For example, the Conservatives issued adverts to Facebook users in constituencies with nuclear industries – such as Derby and Chester – with a message that Corbyn and Labour “would put nuclear jobs at risk”.

Who Targets Me? and the BIJ identified at least 1,036 unique political adverts issued by the Liberal Democrats and Tim Farron, the leader of the party, 314 by the Conservatives and Theresa May, and 241 by Labour and Corbyn.

From this simple statistic you could conclude that the Liberal Democrats were at least dominant in Facebook.

However, research by Enders Analysis found that most shared news and opinion on social media was pro-Labour. It also showed that Facebook was the primary digital advertising platform for the Conservatives and Labour, but added that only half of the UK electorate are active users.

And here’s the crux.

While the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats wanted to use Facebook and logic dictated that they were right to do so, they didn’t make the inroads that were needed.

Rather than continuing with this heavy spend, they should have looked at where their supporters were and should have targeted these.

Let Labour spend their budget dominating Facebook where they would only ever reach at the most, 50% of the electorate, instead they could have saturated another channel.

The problem was logic and past experience told them that they should use Facebook, and their strategists weren’t flexible enough to change and go where there was less competition. Don’t make the same mistake.

Try the reliable channels, but also review them on a regular basis to make sure that they’re performing as they should. Then, if the statistics tell you that a channel is under-performing, adapt and try something different. After all, at this point you’ve nothing to lose.

Be memorable, for all the right reasons

Unusually for a political election campaign, there was no single standout creative execution for any of the parties this year. Rather, all the memorable moments came from two sources. Either politicians making fools of themselves in interviews, or it was activists and the politically engaged creating their own content. And this for me was a missed opportunity. No one party truly realised that their most effective marketing tool were their fans. Now, more so than ever is the time for harnessing the power and the reach or your fans and having the confidence to allow them to create on your behalf.

The brand strategy for 2017 you can believe in

Why Brand Tribalism has been replaced by Brand Believers.

The theory of brand tribalism has been around for sometime since its perceived inception circa 2006. However, as far back as 1960 the public intellectual Marshall McLuhan stated; “The ‘simultaneous sharing of experiences as in a village or tribe’ through telegraph, newspaper, radio, telephone and TV, ‘creates a village or tribal outlook and puts a premium on togetherness’ and ‘mediocrity as a means of achieving togetherness”.

But what is brand tribalism and why is it so important?

Well, it is defined as a community of individuals who are united by an emotional attachment to a product or brand. A brand tribe consists of “formal or informal groups of consumers whom share the same awareness, passion and loyalty for a brand or portfolio of brands” (Gallagher, 2013).

The reason brand tribalism has become so significant is that with the dominance of social media within marketing over the past decade, agencies and brands alike have seen this as the best way, if not the only way, to generate loyalty and in turn, sales.

However what we’re now experiencing is a rising fragmentation of these groups as individuals are able to find increasingly localised and specific content to fuel their passions. This fragmentation is being compounded with the disintegration of consumption patterns.

“A recent study from the Connected Home UX (CHX) group at Strategy Analytics has explored consumer usage of multiple devices when watching TV. The increased size and enhanced quality of screens of smartphones and tablets over the years have encouraged more activity and usage of multiple devices when watching TV. At present, most second device use is unrelated to the content being shown on the TV at that time, as consumers like to be active, rather than passively consuming TV for long periods.”*

What we’re seeing now is not simply an increasing rise in ever-smaller distinct groups, but they are also becoming harder to reach through any one particular channel.

This means that increasingly there are going to be two types of successful marketers. Those that have the budgets and resource to create and deliver content across an increasingly broad breadth of channels and platforms, and those that decide to turn marketing on its head and empower their ‘fans’ to market the brand for them. This new wave of fans we call BRAND BELIVERS.

To believe you must have confidence in the truth or reliability of a brand. This conviction is not based on blind-faith; rather it is grounded on credible information. Brand believers inherently want to share their newfound convictions with like-minded people. It is this organic, informed sharing which makes Brand Believers so influential. They then share and inform their own micro-groups creating new Brand Believers as they do so, who then in turn, share with their friends.

Where Brand Believers differ from Brand Advocates, is that a Brand Advocate simply shares their brand experience, whereas a Believer has real knowledge. They understand a brand completely and know why products are right for them.

It is conveying this depth of information that many brands struggle with as they’re still at the stage of conveying messages they feel are most pertinent, as opposed to being more open. While they may talk of two-way conversations, these are still very much under the control of the brand. However, through open and honest sharing of information, a brand can empower their audience and can give them the knowledge they need to take the message forward.

For those brands that dare to be ahead of the curve and embrace the strategy of creating brand believers, not only can they manage their budgets more effectively, they can reach those individuals who are going to drive growth in their sales. Now, that’s something to believe in.


* www.strategyanalytics.com

What has Brexit taught us about marketing?

Irrespective of whether you were for staying or leaving, the one thing that I heard people asking for time and time again, were facts.
They just wanted to be able to make an informed decision.
Not one based upon embellishment, but simple, easy to understand details.

However, politicians and their agencies (although I suspect they were just following orders) failed to deliver these.
The result?
Consumers made a judgement call.
Not because they wanted to, but because they had to.
They simply wanted to be involved.

The trouble is, this sort of marketing arrogance is starting to become commonplace.
All too often I see campaigns that tell you nothing, yet rely on hyperbole to convince.

Take the latest round of Virgin Media ads using yet again, Usain Bolt.
These dramatise 9.58 seconds, the time it took him to run 100m.
Now it’s a lovely piece of work.
Beautifully shot, written and directed, but it what’s it got to do with Virgin Media?
How does this convince me that they’ve got the service, the products and the support that I’m looking for?

The answer is it doesn’t.


Because the client’s decided that’s not the story they want to tell.
Irrespective of whether or not it’s something customers, or potential customers want to hear.
They’re telling it.

A bit like the Remain and Brexit camps.

They carried on telling everyone the messages they wanted to tell, irrespective of whether people wanted to hear these or not.

And that’s the point.

Far too many clients and agencies are telling, rather than listening.
If you listen, truly listen, then you get to hear what people want to know.
And then you can tell them something relevant.
And then you start to make connections.

Not by doing something different, but simply by doing something some seem to have forgotten.


Image taken from the latest Virgin Media commercial by BBH.

MONK helps Samsung Techwin Europe launch a new marketing campaign

MONK helps Samsung Techwin Europe launch a new marketing campaign to reposition the brand as a category leader.


Following the recent appointment as lead agency in 2015, MONK has been working with Samsung Techwin Europe to position it as ‘the’ brand of choice within the surveillance sector.

The strategy aims to break down preconceptions of what security means in the world today. Samsung Techwin Europe is at the forefront of this market – winning countless awards for their high performance and resilient products.

MONK has refined the brand look and messaging to ensure that there is a consistent communication and confidence across all channels in their approach to market. The global campaign as shown below will include press, print, direct mail and event collateral.

2016 – what lies ahead in the world of marketing

Where 2015 was a year for establishing and building on the innovation of previous years, 2016 promises to be a year of huge change.
While no one can predict with perfect accuracy what lies ahead, there are certain trends you should be prepared for.

Budget flex
While you would expect the coming year to be championed by those larger brands that have the budgets and the desire to innovate and to lead, 2016 will see smaller brands challenging in ways never before considered possible. In part because costs have relatively speaking, come down, but also because consumers are now leading brand communication. Interestingly this will make it increasingly hard for behemoth agency groups to meet these needs. (As an aside this may well lead to even more brands using smaller, more dynamic agencies.) That’s not to say that their days are numbered, simply that their budgets will either shrink, or in an attempt to be meet the requirement for even more localized content, will grow.

Content, content, content
If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that consumers are getting increasingly lazy and want their entertainment spoon-fed. Whether you like it or not, this means now, more so than ever, brands must have a plan for ongoing video content. Content that is updated on a regular basis and meets the expectations of smaller, rather than the larger amorphous populace.

The rise of macro clusters
You may think that it is becoming increasingly easy to reach large groups of people, while this is in part true, what we’re also seeing is the rise in ‘macro clusters’. Groups of individuals who are connected by their love and their passion for specific content. Spanning demographics in age these niche groups, are well-informed and if you can connect with them and supply them with the content they crave, make for highly motivated brand ambassadors.

Smart everywhere
2016 will finally see the commonplace use of smart, wearable technology that connects consumers with the world around them. From fridges to heating, heart monitors to music, the boundaries of what was technology have finally been blurred and the brands that embrace this fundamental shift this year will have a huge leap on their competitors. For instance Firefox OS has already made the leap and has shifted to become Connected Devices – giving a clear indication of where they see the future to be.

Data comes full circle
Big data and been around and has been used by most brands for sometime now, what this year promises though is, thanks to smart wearable technology, data that is even more detailed and personal. While this will obviously be highly beneficial for brands and will afford them even greater understanding of their customers, consumers will for the first time start to realize the value of this data. Therefore they’ll start to look at ways that they can either control the flow of this personal information, or may even go a step further and will start to consider cutting off its availability completely. All of which means brands are going to have to be more transparent with the data they’re collecting and will have to start looking at ways they can reward consumers for sharing this intelligence.

However, for all of this, it will still be those brands, large or small, that listen to their customers and have the willingness and the ability to be fleet of foot that will continue to prosper.

MONK wins xln pitch

MONK is excited to announce that following a competitive pitch they have been appointed by xln to help drive the businesses marketing forward for 2016. xln are leading suppliers of broadband, phone, fibre, energy and card payments to small businesses across the UK.

The brief was MONK’s first from xln and work will cover raising brand awareness, telling the story of xln and it’s founder and group CEO Christian Nellemann and assisting in driving significant sales growth.

xln have a competitive offering, their price promise means they will not be beaten on price for broadband, fibre, gas, electric or card payments. 85% of all queries from existing customers are solved in one phone call. They offer the UK’s maximum speed and performance for broadband and fibre and the fastest possible switching time guaranteed.

In this new partnership, MONK will be actively involved in the planning and approach to drive the business forward and is expected to deliver creative ideas against every brand touch-point. Expect to see work across 2016.

Marketers need to fully understand whom they’re selling to

I could write endlessly on the fact that marketing seems to have forgotten that its main aim is to sell. Combined with this, many brand managers seem to focus solely on the 25 to 35 age group; seeing them as their key target audience. I contend that rather they should shift their preconceptions and look towards the demographic that has a higher disposable – namely Generation X – or those over 40.

However, it is more than that. Millennials and the so-called Generation Z are emerging as consumers for whom more doesn’t really mean very much. They shudder at past generations’ over consumption and have perhaps witnessed their parent’s pay for everything with endless credit, which has spiraled out of control. They have witnessed the bankrupting of an entire planet, both financially and morally. They know the true meaning of having everything and then losing it. These emerging consumers are not looking for the ubiquitous – they are looking for the scarcities that encompass things like wellness, honest and one-of-a-kindness.

Marketing and therefore selling to a generation that doesn’t ‘do’ average is tricky – gone are the days when a tempting banner ad will generate sales. This customer base wants something unique – something that they have co-created. For them, being able to customise a product to suit them is really where it is at – if they can’t create their own version of something they won’t buy it – end of.

And yet, at the other end of the age spectrum we have those over 40 – typically ignored by marketers who seem to go after the pink unicorns that are the younger generations.
Crazy really, when you think this bracket has the most disposable income and were the daredevils of their time – who do you think introduced us all to skate and snowboarding?

However, they are not an easy group to influence – tending to fall into four groups. And once you understand these clusters, then you can see how your brand can appeal to them. I wrote about this in a previous blog, but believe it is worth highlighting the four different segments of Generation X again. They can be classed as Pragmatics, Disenfranchised, Thrillers and Quality Seekers.

“Pragmatics” is the Generation Xers most interested in information and the Internet. They understand the intricacies of media and marketing. While they’re sometimes considered cynical, there is an underlying optimism in their outlook.

The “Disenfranchised” are those dissatisfied with the world and who feel they often are overlooked as they’re wedged between aging Baby-boomers and Gen Y who are now growing up.

“Thrillers” Thrillers are the adrenalin junkies who refuse to grow old. They contributed to the rise in extreme sports, such as snowboarding, skateboarding and skydiving. Remember the Olympics have now legitimized snowboarding.

Finally, the “Quality seekers”. This group is at the sweet spot of personal wealth and sophistication. Quality Seekers are almost cult-like loyal followers of high-quality, localized brands. Quality Seekers are willing to spend more to get superior ingredients and they are more likely to champion premium brands. They have become the trendsetters and the early adopters for their generation.

So, before you automatically write 24-30 year-olds or 35-45 year-olds in the Target Audience box on your Creative Brief. Pause.
Marketers need to ask themselves whether there is a better, more sophisticated and wealthier audience they could be talking to? An audience that is at best ignored and at worst, being patronized and wrongly stereotyped.

And remember, whether we are targeting Generation Z or X, thanks to the power of tech platforms, where the power of profiling and preference-collection is accepted, these digital consumers also expect communication to them to be unique. Traditional demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, family status and more can no longer define consumption patterns.

A modern reworking for a cathedral of creativity…

5 days a week, 52 weeks a year we spend our waking, and often sleeping hours, thinking about our clients and what amazing pieces of creativity that we can deliver for them.

Finally though, enough was enough.
It was time to do something for ourselves.
And top of the list was looking at our office space.

It needed to feel fresh and exciting.
It couldn’t be too visually dominating otherwise it might ‘inspire’ our designs for other clients.
Naturally, it also needed to reflect not only MONK’s ethos and approach to projects, but also somehow capture our general leaning towards irreverence.

Early on in the design process we embraced the concept of a stain-glass window.
These canvasses of light are not simply used in places of worship to dramatise inspirational stories, they draw the face upwards to the heavens. Asking the viewer to look towards something greater than themselves – in our case, creative inspiration.

These windows would also allow added light in, would change colour with the seasons, while all the time maintaining our privacy.

Cubes of colour were connected with geometric shapes that spills out of the widow and spread across the walls, changing into origami creatures. Animals and objects that echo our traits of strength, determination, inspiration, response and playfulness. These designs also blur the boundaries between the window and the wall, creating a space that feels larger than in actuality it is.

Made from folded paper and using black and the MONK dark blue, the two key messages of CREATING BELIEVERS and NOTHING IS SACRED fill opposite walls.

The result is a room that transforms with the seasons and changes with the passing of the day – both inside and out. Becoming a beacon of light at night that draws the casual passerby in, and tells of something rather special and unusual happening inside.

More than that, it’s simply a nice space and one that we’re all happy with. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?
at night - outside-sm

light on wall2-sm

monk wall 3-sm

monk wall3-sm


monk window1-sm

Influencers – reality or just smoke and mirrors?

The accepted definition of an influencer is ‘a person who is well-connected and who is regarded as influential and in-the-know; someone who is looked to for advice, direction, knowledge and opinions’. So, essentially we are talking about people like CEOs, CMOs, PR Professionals, Creative People, Bloggers, Journalists and other Experts. And that’s fine and to true – to a certain extent, but it could be argued that we are all influencers in our own right.

Most of us are on social media – to a greater or lesser extent – unless you have chosen to shun this brave new world and live in a cave and knit your own food. We all have a social media following ranging from one or two people to several hundred or, if you’re very cool, thousands. Whenever we ‘like’ a brand or comment on a tweet, we could be seen to be influencing our followers – whether they chose to take any notice is another matter entirely, but we are putting our opinion and preference out there into the social media ether.

Today, it is the aim of most brands to target influential people with large networks and getting them to help boost the coolness and interest level of those brands, products and ideas. It is seen as an increasingly effective way of spreading news. Apparently, the right influencers can help build your brand by sharing your brand story through their networks.

However, I am not convinced. I wrote an article about brand engagement a while back. It became clear whilst I researched this piece that ‘engagement’ was the Holy Grail for brands. What I discovered was pretty interesting. Let’s take the Pepsi Challenge as an example. 72% of Pepsi drinkers also buy Coke* – shock, horror – and so much for the Pepsi Challenge and brand loyalty for that matter. I bet the reverse is also true – most Coke drinkers would also have a Pepsi. You might now be screaming ‘who cares?’ at your screen – but the fact is that brands care and so do those that work hard to advertise them.

The main issue I think is that we tend to confuse audience with influence. Having a massive social media following will not necessarily allow you to drive action; it can only really allow you to drive awareness. More important, I believe, are what we used to call the ‘brand ambassadors’ – ordinary people who are passionate about a particular brand, who will wax lyrical about how amazing it is, because that is what they genuinely believe and are more than happy to recommend it to anyone who will listen. Real passion and enthusiasm is worth more than a celebrity or blogger who couldn’t really give a shit about a brand but feels they need to be seen to comment on it or who is so obviously being paid to promote it.

And this is really the nub of my point. Influencers, much like content is just a load of smoke and mirrors. Brands see these as ‘must have’ commodities. My advice is nurture the people who may not have thousands of followers but are genuinely passionate about your brand, you may have to put in a bit more effort, but I reckon the returns will be greater than an army of so-called ‘influencers’ who couldn’t care less.

Is content simply a commodity for brands?

The phrase ‘content is king’ has been bandied about more and more since the social media boom and the expansion of the Internet. Everyone from stay-at-home mums to the world’s largest brands is jumping on this increasingly saturated bandwagon – but to what effect?

Most of us will remember the time before the Internet, when display advertising, TV and radio where the mainstays of brand interaction with consumers. Nowadays, however, brands have huge opportunities to engage with their consumers in a myriad of different places in more meaningful ways. The media landscape has transformed and social media sees consumers expecting brands to engage with them directly.

Due to fast-paced market conditions, brands have rushed headlong into publishing, thinking they will miss out on opportunities if they don’t – but few have been successful in their forays. In my opinion, one of the major reasons brands fail is that they lack the strategic vision, talent, infrastructure and genuine audience understanding to succeed. So determined are they to create ‘content’, that their resulting efforts usually bear no resemblance to the brand and is seen by business leaders as just another commodity.

As such, this ‘content’ has little intrinsic value and its cost can always be driven down. Of course, there are exceptions, and while clients will often wistfully look towards these, at the end of the day they are looking at ways to deliver the required ‘content’ for the least expenditure.

If, as a brand, you want to maximize your chances of cutting through the content bullshit, then an asset audit is the best place to start. It will allow you to really understand the value of your content assets and how to maintain them.

Furthermore, brands should have useful content that serves its different audiences and customers. The purchase path is far more complex than ever before and as such; content needs to be served at the various points of their consumer journey. However, brands need to be able to create fast, flexible and often reactive content – sign-off procedures need to be slick and a war room assembled for big events – look how brilliantly Oreo handled the Superbowl blackout with it’s ‘you can still dunk in the dark’ tweet.

Most importantly, brands need to align their content strategy with their overall mission. Everyone is familiar with the peaks and troughs of a media plan, but to succeed as a publisher, brands need to adopt an ‘always on’ approach and that takes serious investment in the right people to keep the operation from falling off the rails. Before creating reams of content, brands should take a step back and look at how their content strategy aligns with the overall business plan. They need to be in-sync. Content is there to support the overall business mission and serve its consumers.

Lastly, brands need to think about what they want their content to achieve. Is the main aim to build brand awareness, sell more units or drive registrations? It is not enough to pump out a ‘one size fits all’ piece of content and expect to reap the rewards. Properly crafted content that knows its audience and serves a purpose will gain the desired traction, while the rest will just add to the increasing amount of noise being created that has no real purpose at all.