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

Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

Finance ‘n Chips

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No mushy peas to be seen












This week one of the most interesting issues to come on the tech radar here at Inferno was in the world of chips. Besides Tyrrells announcing a new flavour of potato chip, the major news came courtesy of the current credit bite.

Early this week we saw news that semiconductor market is continuing its slide. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association January saw an 8.8 per cent slump compared with the same month last year, following a forgettable December during which sales fell by 11.9 per cent on the year. Late this week we have also seen Taiwan announce that they will restructure the country’s struggling D-Ram chip industry by buying key technology from foreign competitors and consolidating the domestic market. All interesting stuff, but what’s next?

As the electronics market, which feeds this industry, continues its dip into the red stuff how will we see these manufacturers react to sure up their brands?

Traditionally in an economic downturn FMCG companies ramp up the marketing to sure up sales but this approach isn’t so easy for companies whose chips the public aren’t conscious they are consuming. We will wait with baited breath here at Inferno and see what the industry has up its sleeve but would be interested to see what everyone else thinks…

Matt L


Written by pilotlight

06/03/2009 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Business, marketing, PR, Tech

Tagged with , , ,

Hordes hold (Earls) Court

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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

Wherefore art thou Iggy?

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Shine on you crazy diamond....One piece of marketing heresy I have come across recently is the latest campaign from Swiftcover Car Insurance. They have taken one of the world’s greatest visionaries and reduced him to a car insurance salesman. I’m not sure whether to throw up or start drafting a letter to David Bowie to say “With my dearest sympathies…” expressing my condolences for the death of a lifestyle born of broken glass and heavy distortion in a room in 1960s Michigan.

But who’s to blame for this punk charade? Is no ground sacred for advertising, marketing and PR anymore or has the credit crunch started to squeeze the sales of rocks last remaining legends? What next? Radiohead bin liners?

I guess the irony of the whole situation is they have someone selling car insurance who is most famous for being The Passenger.

Matt L

Written by pilotlight

19/02/2009 at 11:20 am

Suitably clad

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It’s always a bit of a struggle, but finally we’ve got our new website up and running.

I’ve always found picking the theme, the tone, the style – even the colour of the hyperlinks – a bit like picking what to wear when going out somewhere new. Say, to a bar that you’ve not been to before, where people could be in jeans, havaianas and t-shirts – but could just as likely be doing the ‘jacket and jeans’ look that men of a certain age (yep, author included) and Will Young cling desperately to.

In the case of the sparkly new InfernoPR.com, we knew we wanted the ‘look’ of the site to demonstrate a step change from the previous site. Which is a grandiose way of saying we briefed the design team to ‘get rid of the fire pictures’. We also wanted to ‘broaden our palate’ (= ‘be more interesting than grey, black and orange’). Additionally, we wanted the site to show off our most important asset: our people. So rather than just having bland biographies of the management team, the new site contains quirky and, in some cases, rather worrying photographic insights into what makes every single Infernal click – from the lady that hits us around the head for not submitting our expense claims on time to the managing director, who hits us around the head for different reasons.

Anyway…it’s live now. Hopefully we’ve clothed our brand in a suitable way for those outside that will be looking in – either to see what we’ve done for clients past and present, or to weigh up what kind of crowd we might be to work with. Let us know what you think – outfit horror or jolly well dressed. We’re proud but thick skinned, and everyone loves constructive criticism on the way they look, don’t they.

Matt S.

Written by pilotlight

28/08/2008 at 8:39 am

Smells Like Clean Spirit

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Hope they are well paid

I found myself chuckling in the gents just now, looking at a can of ‘Fresh Linen’ air freshener. I’ve noticed a current vogue for ‘fresh’ or ‘clean’ linen scents for the home, domesticated little chap that I am – including scented candles and the rather higher-tech plug-ins that people in exclusive suburbs/Essex opt for.

It made me think: surely linen doesn’t have a smell – surely the smell of freshly laundered linen that I do, indeed, love, is actually the scent of the detergent the linen has been laundered in, not of the fabric itself?

Then I suddenly felt rather cynical about the whole thing, and wondered whether this was another Unilever-esque way of pumping out multiple brands within one product category, meaning proceeds from Bold, Ariel, Daz and Fairy Super Lemon Excel GreaseBuster Plus all line the same collective pocket.

Are we being subconsciously, psychosomatically programmed to lust after the smell of washing powder – to the point where there’s a mid-decade trough in sales of natural scents like lavender or citrus or eucalyptus, and a spike in ‘things that smell like other products we buy’.

Then I realised I’d probably inhaled a bit of the said air freshener, explaining why I was having such odd thoughts.

Matt S

Written by pilotlight

02/05/2008 at 8:52 am

Posted in Business, marketing, Media

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Blunting the ‘Tipping Point’?

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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

Puppets, muppets and blogs

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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