Pilot Light

Inferno is a PR consultancy. This is not. This is Inferno’s blog.

Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Advertising, but on a really bad day

leave a comment »

It's good to walk

It's good to walk

Last night while watching television I came across an advert for Berocca vitamin drink, featuring generic looking suit-types using gym equipment. Set to an awful piece of 80’s nostalgia courtesy of Blancmange’s ‘Living On The Ceiling’, the advert is supposed to illustrate how an orange fizzy drink can help ordinary people be ‘you, but on a really good day’.

The advert is clearly a copy of a YouTube video by Chicago rock band, OK Go, who similarly used a bank of powered treadmills for ‘kooky’ effect. Except that like most rip-offs, it’s not a good as the original. Not even by half. It always amuses me how ad creatives can dupe clients into thinking that they can copy something which is extremely popular and get the same results.

Clearly, social networking sites offer advertisers (and PR’s for that matter) a great vat of creative juice which we can use to influence our own campaigns, but to copy it so poorly and blatantly strikes me as lazy plagiarism. Unfortunately, this won’t be an isolated case. As I speak, I’m sure there’s advertisers up and down the land pitching ideas to clients which contain the following words: flash mobbing, Liverpool Street and dancing…



Written by pilotlight

16/04/2009 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Advertising, Business, PR

Hordes hold (Earls) Court

leave a comment »

It was a tight squeeze at the TFM&A show

It was a tight squeeze at the TFM&A show

The vicious rumour doing the rounds over the past several years, since the sad demise Comdex in Las Vegas and the toning down of CeBit, is that trade shows are dead. People, so the rumour goes, no longer have the time, inclination or willingness to spend the day in what amounts to an aircraft hanger basically being sold to.

But while some tech trade shows may have had their day, it seems people still have appetite for learning. Attending the Technology for Marketing and Advertising show yesterday at Earls Court, the education seminars were not only full, but people were being turned away by bouncers at the entrance – a scene unheard of at most trade show seminars.

The Google seminar centred on website analytics was, as expected, full to the rafters half an hour before the event even begin. It seems even if Google is slipping out of favour with many, the power of its search engine cannot yet be overlooked by those with websites and e-commerce portals.

Other seminars such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing were similarly busy, even if they had slightly smaller presentation theatres. The real eye opener was that even the sponsored seminars, which are, let’s face it, are tantamount to someone selling to a large audience via a PowerPoint presentation, were jam-packed.

But what is the reason for all of this keen-bean enthusiasm? The first is the content. As with all things these days, content is king. And the content of this trade show was right on the ticket – social media, cloud computing, marketing and advertising in a recession, digital marketing.

Added to this that the show was free to enter so the only outlay for most businesses is the time of the attendee, which when weighed up with the possibility of increased web traffic, better customer engagement and more knowledgeable staff, is a no-brainer.

Another reason is that presentations and seminars are trade shows are now a lot better than they used to be. Gone are the hour-long pitches and death by PowerPoint. Instead companies have woken up to the fact that the audience wants something; that they, as presenters have to give value to their audience, whether in terms of knowledge-sharing, research, discounts or just hints and tips, no longer is it about pure selling.

A change in culture also has a part to play too. As we are beseeched by this digital and social world, employees know they need to know more in order for their companies to thrive – although this could also could be selfish reason that they want to increase their own knowledge for career progression or alternative jobs. In the tight economy people look for new ways to invent themselves and with the hype around social and digital media, becoming an advocate cannot do any harm and it enhances their personal brand.

The seminars from the show are available here

Sara Driscoll

Written by pilotlight

25/02/2009 at 3:53 pm

Refuelling a dead brand

leave a comment »


With the majority of the news fired onto our front pages last week
revolving around Prince Harry secretly being whisked off to a war zone,
it was reassuring when some interesting NEWS chugged into the press on
Thursday. This didn’t accelerate onto the front page like a royal
scandal but merely idled in the background of the business section.

The news was the announcement that car conglomerate Renault-Nissan paid
$1.17 billion USD for a 25% stake in Russian carmaker Autovaz and is
planning to recharge their most famous brand, Lada. The deal would lead
to an initial public offering in London in September or October and by
the end of 2009 we would see a new Lada model released.

This news will be lamented by automobile enthusiasts as in the past the Lada has been seen as a little more than a Soviet thorn in the side of mechanics and lovers of style the world over. What I can guarantee though is we will begin to see more PR, marketing and advertising around this old marque as we witness a tired and troubled brand like try to refuel itself.

The deal takes Renault-Nissan-Autovaz onto the podium as the third
largest car-making group in the world behind General Motors (GM) and

Toyota. What is going to be interesting to see, from a marketeer’s
perspective, is whether they follow the lead of the bigger players in
their marcoms roadmap or adopt a style all of their own. Following the
lead of the bigger players would mean one of two approaches – localised
marketing and PR campaigns or “One Size Fits All”.

If they choose to take the GM route, they will localise their businesses
and marketing by selling cars under a native marque and give each
marketing campaign a local flavour. For example GM in Korea is Daewoo, in Australasia it is under the guise of Holden, in Europe it is Opel and in the UK it comes in the form of Vauxhall.

Toyota, the world’s leading automobile manufacturer, on the other hand
steers their brand with a one size fits all approach. Toyota take the Japanese approach to marketing and believe in best of breed and that the quality, build and sheer superiority of their vehicles will make them sell. This is taken from their world famous “kaizen” management style and pushed out to the entire marcoms strategy.

So from a marketing and PR perspective there is an interesting road
ahead. How can the world’s third biggest car conglomerate refuel a tired
brand and become a driving force in an established industry? Will they
decide to drive down the GM and Toyota track and take the “old brick” to new markets? Or will they just stick to the BRIC economies… Only time will tell.

You never know, before too long we may even see a Lada Riva take to the
Top Gear track and post a record lap time. We will have to wait and see
whether the lap time and the brand can make it to the front of the

Matt L

Written by pilotlight

04/03/2008 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Advertising, Business

Tagged with

Blunting the ‘Tipping Point’?

with one comment

Too true

This got some buzz on BoingBoing and is well worth a read.

Like many in the trade, I read The Tipping Point years ago and loved it. However, since then I have heard it was not rigorous enough and confused complex, multi-causal trends with quick, simple solutions celebrated by interested parties. In the case of NYC crime – zero tolerance targeting of antisocial behaviour was important, but was just a part of the puzzle compared to abortion law changes, highly accountable and computer-assisted strategic policing, economic growth, etc. In all marcomms, where there is so much chance at work, it can be very tempting to search for magic formulas to help us understand (or, ahem, sell, our services).

Yahoo’s own Duncan Watts has been featured in a US article trashing the concept of ‘influentials’ (and selling a new technique of his own). He makes some great points about how those who cite influentials rarely describe how and why they do their influencing. Joe Bloggs can be just as important to getting a trend going and the word out than a young hipster. Watts by and large rejects the idea of influencers in favour of traditional forms of mass marketing, enhanced by some digital good sense and goodness. He also seems to suggest that if pitched right, reasonably good ideas presented at the right time can make an impact. Watts also has the courage to see how chaotic the world can be and admit that a lot of marcomms is a question of dice rolling rather than dart throwing.

However, I would argue that in the B2B world (and in specialised, small markets generally, like high fashion, professional cameras, etc etc) influencers do exist and are powerful especially on the blogosphere. People can base, or at least justify, brand preference using them like celebrity endorsers.

There are no answers yet in this game that will satisfy every question and never will be but Duncan Watts is a thinker to watch.


Written by pilotlight

30/01/2008 at 3:56 pm

Pockets get sci-fi?

leave a comment »

What’s in his wallet?

Well well well. The future is not what it should have been. New airliners are marketed on the basis that they can cram more people into economy class and are quiet on takeoff, rather than blast you to Tokyo in style at Mach 3 (sigh). It seems as if existing stuff gets a little better or more connected. All so marginal.

However these small revolutions can come slowly and boringly but before you know it lives are made better. Anyone unlucky enough to use the Tube recently would have seen plenty of guff about Barclaycard OnePulse. Lame vistas of a future London (where the Battersea Power Station is defaced with a pointless windfarm etc) urge punters to get hip to the future of debt and rapacious fares by visting an uninteresting website. OnePulse combines a credit card with an Oyster card. You can make small payments in ‘participating’ shops by just touching it Oyster style and have one less card in your wallet.

So far, so pointless. However, proximity sensor payment cards like these have been around in Japan and other more advanced nations for a while and are somewhat nifty. Imagine rather than queuing to use a gob and grime covered ticket machine at Paddington while already late for a train, just waving your magic card at the gate – scanning your own paper and waving a card rather than waiting around, fumbling for change or getting your finger covered in obscene residues by tapping in a PIN on a grubby pad etc.

OnePulse is not it though. It is a credit card which we (or at least I know I) use far too much anyway and you’d have to be mental to use it for small purchases all the time. Now if a clever firm sold or licensed the technology to a wider variety of banks and there was a debit card version as well, that would be more interesting.

Written by pilotlight

26/10/2007 at 9:23 am

Posted in Advertising, Business, PR, Tech

Tagged with ,

Puppets, muppets and blogs

with 2 comments

Buying the Blog

Sometimes it seems like we live in a permanent cycle of crazes. No sooner has Leonardo sheathed his Ninja sword on his turtle shell than Dr Who brandishes his sonic screwdriver. The hypey world of technology and social media is no different. No sooner has Friends Reunited faded than Facebook comes along and so the cycle continues. It can be difficult to work out which is the puppet and which is the muppet.

Twelve months or so ago, blogs were at the “peak of inflated expectations”, to use Gartner’s Hype Cycle metaphor. But blogging was then a mainly consumer activity. With a few pioneering exceptions, businesses weren’t blogging. Simply put, its value as a business tool was not proven. Then some US studies started to examine the case for business blogging, some books on the subject were published and it seemed the business community was waking up to the power of social media.

But, while the US can be a good indicator of future UK behaviour, there are enough differences between the two countries to see the need for a UK-centric view of business blogging. How many UK businesses are involved in blogging? Do they see it as a valuable business tool and if so, in what ways?

At Inferno, we wanted to know the answers to these questions and rather than wait for someone else to do it, we decided to research the matter ourselves. So, we asked Billy Hamilton-Stent at Loudhouse Research to look into the matter for us. The result was a research report called “Buying the Blog” which we launched at the Lords Media Centre last week. It surveyed 300 managers from UK companies of more than 250 employees on their views of blogs and blogging.

To help us launch it were Hugh McLeod, Neville Hobson and for an overview of the research findings, Billy Hamilton-Stent. The audience of senior PR and marketing practitioners were raving afterwards about how valuable and interesting they found the event – so thank you guys!

Reaction to the results themselves varied. I was surprised that as many as 50% of UK companies are now involved in blogging, but others were less surprised. What was clear though, is that a full year or more on from the peak of blogging hype, those UK businesses that took a more cautious attitude to business blogging are now ramping up their involvement in the blogosphere. The survey found that 64% of UK corporate blogs have been launched in the last 6 months. And, perhaps most encouragingly 86% of companies that have a blog credit it with generating more business opportunities for their company.

So, the trend is clear – UK businesses see the value of blogging and are now experimenting with how it can add value to their businesses. As we said at the launch, the risk is that businesses rush headlong into blogging without thinking and start to behave inappropriately. A blog is not the place to sell, it is the place to start genuine relationships that offer indirect value to their businesses. Some will need some help to get the balance right, which is where businesses like Inferno will be needed.

We thought you may like to see some of the presentations that Grant, Billy, Neville and Hugh gave at the event. The video highlights are posted below (if you are using a reader scroll down to see the four separate posts). There are also some great photos which can be viewed on Flickr.

An overview of the research report’s findings can be found on our website. If you would like to see the full report with all the different nuances of data, then drop Grant Currie (Inferno’s MD) a line at grant.currie@infernopr.com and we’d be delighted to take you through it.


Written by pilotlight

21/09/2007 at 5:35 pm

leave a comment »

Inferno’s Buying the Blog research launch 1

Written by pilotlight

21/09/2007 at 5:32 pm