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The New Normal. Dressing up for the Olympics. Brands on Screen. The LatAm Connection. The E-lection? Not Quite. The Female Factor. Highs & Lows of Food Marketing. Big in Japan.
Colin Byrne CEO, UK & Europe
There’s a distinct sporting flavour to this issue of 33 & A Third RPM. While the pampered megastars of international football strut their stuff on the pitches of South Africa, the world looks on in amazement – not just at the skill, athleticism and occasional blatant gamesmanship of these soccer icons but at the capacity for transformation and joyous celebration of an entire country.
Hosting the World Cup has kick-started massive infrastructure improvements and amid the blazing colours and raucous party atmosphere more favourable perceptions of the country are being shaped. As the ‘rainbow nation’ basks in the world’s attention, other countries look on awaiting their chance. Among them is Brazil, which as Laura Schoen notes in her piece Positive Prospects for South America, is hosting both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. Even closer at hand is the 2012 London Olympics, for which the McCann Worldgroup is official marketing services supplier. The tongue-in-cheek headline to guest contributor Shane Greeves’ article about this role, No Pressure Then… makes me smile at the scale of a task encompassing a jaw-
dropping ‘40,000 briefs’ but I’m also confident that the Worldgroup has what it takes to shape The Look of the Games. We’ve packed plenty more besides into this summer issue, including pieces on Japan, marketing to women, the food industry, product placement and election campaigning. We kick off with The New Normal in which our Chief Reputation Strategist Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross delivers her verdict on changing consumer behaviour after a fact-finding tour of seven European markets. Enjoy.
Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross Chief Reputation Strategist, Weber Shandwick
The New Normal.
As the global economy slowly recovers and companies and organisations regain their footing, marketing and communications professionals are faced with trying to answer a central question – what will be our “new normal?” How will we position our companies and brands in this decade of new normality? What will the new environment look like for marketers and corporate communicators when consumers rule, disruptive technologies and social media reign, media is transforming itself, every stakeholder matters and crises prevail? After visiting seven Weber Shandwick markets in Europe to discuss what to expect in our next decade of the New Normal, here are several observations and predictions that were discussed. The “tour” underscored several factors as I travelled to meet with colleagues and clients – no company is immune from recession fatigue, local news is increasingly driving global news, clients are eager to measure the return on social media and balance their investment in traditional and new media, three-year plans are quickly turning into 36-hour plans, face-to-face still matters, and your employees may be your best advocates when crisis strikes. The New Consumer Normal Marketing and communications professionals must adapt to a new Consumer Nation where consumers rule and public opinion carries more weight. They must engage consumers in a world of eroded trust and weakened confidence. Conspicuous Consumption > Conspicuous Frugality Thrift is permanent. Generic store brands are in. Loyalty is out. May the best price win! Info-Overload > Info-Demand Consumers like being in the driver’s seat and getting information when and how they want it. They are not as frustrated by data as typically reported and in fact, feel smarter, in control and enjoy classifying themselves as “researchers.” Trust in Institutions > Trust in Social Networks Trust in institutions continues to slip. Among European consumers, online reviews and recommendations as well as suggestions from friends, family and coworkers lead the list of most influential channels (Weber Shandwick, 2009). The New Media Normal As the number of new online media sites and new technologies emerge and are adopted, marketing communications requires greater adaptability and experimentation. Media Placements > Social Media Triggers Although unlikely to disappear completely, stories pitched to journalists will possibly lose relevance to news outlets that “catch” the next big story taking place in social media. Deferential Press > Pro-Conflict Media Conflict now drives conversation. Polarisation is in. News sells when it takes sides. Companies and brands will increasingly find themselves on the firing line. Press Pass > USB Port Today everyone is a public figure and indexed somewhere. You do not need to be interviewed or photographed by a journalist to find yourself or brand in a story. Old Media Dinosaurs > Digital Darwinism Companies with superior skills of adaptation, such as social media expertise, the ability to ignite advocacy, and the creativity to develop INLINE campaigns, are positioned to flourish. To survive, digital skills and savvy are required. Press Release > 140 Characters or Less Communicators must learn how to make important announcements and respond to issues within the Twitter “what’s happening” box or risk being late to the party or being criticised. The New PR Normal Communicators must fully integrate messages to diverse stakeholders using a vast array of media. They must be consistent, authentic and transparent. Corporate Messengers > Corporate Communications Advisors Communications officers will be more influential. Many now work side-by-side with CEOs (58 per cent report to the CEO according to Weber Shandwick in 2009, up from 48 per cent) as crises erupt suddenly and media stays turned on continuously. Traditional > INLINE Finding the right balance between traditional media and new media is central to a company’s storytelling. Communications – and the stories told – should not be isolated within channels but INLINE. Rank and File > Employee Ambassadors CEOs that spent last year battling the recession are coming out of their bunkers to engage more with their workforce. Employees may yet be a company’s best fans and supporters.
Marketing and communications professionals must adapt to a new Consumer Nation where consumers rule and public opinion carries more weight.
Sleight of Hand > Visible Hand of Government Government’s previously faint hand is playing a more visible role in business affairs. The extended, and visible, arm of government everywhere has now become our New Normal. Awareness > Advocacy It is no longer enough to just be aware of a brand. Brand evangelisation is the new marketing, the new 30-second commercial. The New Reputation Normal Managing reputation has always been complex. Future challenges are only compounded by evolving technologies, decreased tolerance for ethical lapses in leadership, and a 50/50 chance that a firstrate reputation will remain at the top. Like never before, communicators are required to steady their company reputations and calm stakeholders. Google as Search Engine > Google as Reputation Manager “Google is not a search engine. It’s a reputation management system.” When only eight per cent read past the third page of search results, communications professionals need to understand that online presence and search engine optimisation are critical tools.
CEO Stand-By > CEO Reset The reputation of CEOs needs recalibrating or resetting. CEO perceptions have been permanently bruised, with only 14 per cent of American executives holding a positive view of chief executives in mid-2009 (Weber Shandwick). An encouraging sign that CEOs are in reset mode is that CEO participation at top global forums increased 96 per cent from 2007 to 2009 among the top 50 world’s most admired companies. Reputation Camouflage > Naked Reputation Today, people know exactly what a company does and where it does it. Brands can no longer hide behind marketing messages. Reputations are see-through and require daily monitoring and attention to early warning signs. Halo Effect > Pitchfork Effect The reputational tide can turn on companies and the executives who run them overnight. A beloved brand or CEO can go from hero to zero in no time. Reputation protection is mission critical.
Click here for a podcast featuring Leslie discussing the New Normal.
Shane Greeves Global Executive Creative Director, FutureBrand
No Pressure Then…
It has been one year since McCann Worldgroup was announced as the official marketing services provider for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. FutureBrand, part of McCann Worldgroup, has had the exciting opportunity to help (re)shape and guide the London 2012 Look of the Games. The Look is the glue that holds all of the diverse graphic elements of the Olympic visual identities together, such as the Olympic emblem, the pictograms and the mascots. In the extensive application of the Look of the Games, the strength of the diverse talents within our Worldgroup team will be able to shine. The name ‘Look of the Games’ was created for the first time in Barcelona 1992 and has been used for all Olympics since.
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXX Olympiad, are scheduled to take place in London from 27 July to 12 August followed by the XIV Paralympic Games, 29 August - 9 September. London is also the only city to have hosted the Games three times and is the birthplace of the Paralympics. Having inherited a logo that was launched to the world in June 2007, to very mixed reviews, our work is clearly going to be very much in the public gaze. We knew this was going to be a major challenge. Not only to change public perception but more importantly to find a clear creative strategy that could link all of the wide-reaching demands of the identity such as its application for the Cultural Olympiad, Volunteering, Torch Relay, Mascots, Ticketing and the ‘Look of the Games’. We are faced with around 40,000 different briefs! Not something that you would ever experience in the conventional world of branding.
There is a consensus amongst the key stakeholders to develop a consistent look and feel, (or ‘One Look’)...
One Look There is consensus amongst the key stakeholders to develop a consistent look and feel (or ‘One Look’) that will be brought to life throughout London, the Park, host Venues and the country. This will create economies of scale in both development and implementation of the design programme and provide a harmonious experience for everyone that interacts with the brand. Considering the customer journey, each touch point from the arrivals hall at T5 or St. Pancras through to the London 2012 website, Tickets, Live Sites and the Park experience should build brand consistency from a visual, verbal, behavioural and aural perspective. The next phase is now all about integration. We need to be aware of the public experience and take into consideration the many stakeholders that will be creating communications, all of which must appear coordinated. Whilst a modular system for the Look of the Games has been approved for further development by the IOC and IPC, the Greater London Authority feels that if One Look is to be a success throughout London the system must also be relevant and appropriate for wide-scale dressing of the city. The tax-paying public will most certainly take an interest when London gets dressed up for the Games, whether they come into contact with banners and street-dressing in their local borough, at Live Sites, throughout the transportation system or at sporting Venues such as Horse Guards Parade, Earl’s Court and Greenwich Park. There is a high likelihood that city Venues (i.e. those not in the Olympic Park) will cause some disruption for the local population and that people will voice disapproval about the tens of millions of pounds spent to host the Games. Research has shown, however, that a growing number of Britons are interested in the Olympics (up to 80 per cent in London and at least 60 per cent within every region*) and it is anticipated that in the months leading up to the summer of 2012 the mounting excitement of the Games will assuage some of the negative sentiment. Host boroughs such as Newham, Hackney and Westminster will hold street parties and the Cultural Olympiad will come to life across London and the UK with a carefully curated programme of events from various strands of arts and culture, all contributing to the celebratory atmosphere. National pride will undoubtedly grow as the press focus on Team GB and Para GB’s preparation for the Games and the athletes’ goals to win medals on home soil. In the lead up to the Games, the London 2012 identity needs to grow, expand and create a sense of excitement and anticipation, which the Financial Times has called “...the biggest assignment in the history of UK marketing”. Having originally come from Melbourne, I always remember the quote from Sydney’s mayor Frank Sartor who was reported to have said, “You don’t put on the biggest party in the world and not get dressed up for it!” which is true of the ambition for London in the summer of 2012.
*Source: DCMS Survey 2009: Attitudes towards the 2012 Olympics.
Laura Schoen Chair, Latin America and President Global Healthcare, Weber Shandwick
Positive Prospects for Latin America.
Latin America will be among the fastest growing markets for public relations in the world over the next several years. It offers an unmatched potential for both global and local organisations, particularly in key markets like Brazil, Chile and Colombia. For professionals like me, who have been doing business with the region for two decades, the changes in the public relations landscape are striking. Clients’ increased interest and fast-growing communications budgets are in sharp contrast with their previous resource allocation.
The election of moderates on both the left and right provides a strong indication that political polarisation has declined in many countries. Voters have moved to the centre, and are looking for capable leaders who can address their problems. Positive projections The U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, or ECLAC, projects economic recovery from the international crisis to be faster here than expected, with a 4.1 per cent growth overall in 2010. According to ECLAC, Brazil will top the list of countries with higher 2010 growth at 6.5 per cent, followed by Peru and Uruguay at five per cent, Bolivia, Chile and Panama at 4.5 per cent and Argentina at four per cent. ECLAC estimates 2010 GDP for Mexico to be somewhat lower at 3.5 per cent, but due to its proximity to the US, as the US economy starts to show signs of improvement, Mexico will soon follow. Brazil is one of the brightest stars in Latin America, with one of the largest consumer markets in the world, a sizeable middle class, a stable democratic government and an economy that has proven to be resilient to the financial meltdown. It is an ideal market for most industry sectors. The oil sector, for example, is very strong – with large new oil reserves recently discovered and multinational oil companies competing for a piece of the action.
Successful organisations must establish a leadership position and tailor their programmes to each audience.
World Cup and Olympics And let’s not forget that both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics will take place there, offering clients unprecedented opportunity for leverage, along with a significant platform for international visibility. The breadth of opportunity in Latin America, however, is not limited to the region’s economic transformation or upcoming sports events, but also is underscored by improvements in education, a vibrant civil society and increased access for the people to a middle class lifestyle. The growth of activism and the expanding number of NGOs all play a role in the changing communications environment. In this changing context, a significant percentage of Latin Americans are able to attend universities, and public relations and communications are popular majors. Local priorities have also changed, with a greater interest in healthcare, the environment and other public affairs issues. Empowered by a formal PR education, today’s PR professional is prepared to meet the demands of more sophisticated organisations and constituencies.
Leveraging the popularity of mobile technology, interest groups are now able to easily voice their preferences and become advocates. As a result, we see a growing demand for corporate social responsibility, sustainability, green marketing and public health education. One size does not fit all As the profile of public relations in Latin America evolves to meet the challenges of the global marketplace, successful organisations must establish a leadership position and tailor their programmes to each audience. Although Spanish and Portuguese are the two major languages throughout the region, each country has sub-cultures and regional differences which demand unique communications approaches. Brazil, for example, almost as large as the US, has become what can be considered a mature communications market. The digital media is booming. Involvement with social media and mobile technology is comparable to, and sometimes exceeds, participation in the US and Europe. Today, Brazilian PR executives are reporting directly to CEOs and play a key role in managing companies’ reputations. Agencies have also evolved to provide strong professional services such as issues and crisis management, advocacy building,
and litigation support, to name a few. It is worth highlighting a few unique trends such as the increased facilitation of public relations grassroots outreach by social workers working on behalf of agencies and Latin Americans’ insatiable interest in studies that allow them to make comparisons with trends in Europe and the United States. Moving forward Weber Shandwick has been working with best-in-class affiliates in Latin America, and we have plans to increase our presence and deepen our expertise in the region. Like our clients and other global companies with operations in the region, we are convinced that the time is right to broaden our involvement. The region’s growing importance is driving more multinational companies to employ qualified communications professionals to expand market share and protect their organisation’s ability to grow. The influence and impact of public relations as a powerful marketing discipline in the region is just beginning to make its mark.
Published in the February 2010 edition of Frontline magazine.
Kate Kelly Head of Brand Placement, Rogers & Cowan, UK
The Future of Brands on Screen... Deal or no Deal?
Following in the footsteps of Lexus in Cougar Town, Apple in Sex in the City, Coca-Cola in American Idol and Bing in Gossip Girl, paid product placement will soon be allowed on British television programmes under new, recently announced government legislation.
Since commercial television first began in the UK in the 1950s, television broadcasters have been prohibited from including paid product placement from brands in television programmes. Audiences, however, are no strangers to paid product placement, having witnessed brand integration in imported television and film, particularly from the United States, for many years. During this time, these same audiences have accepted the subtle integration of free props into UK television storylines, via prop placement experts including Rogers & Cowan. Adhering to all Ofcom/BBC regulations, we successfully achieve onscreen exposure for clients – and impressive ROI – by aligning marketing communications strategies to reach specific target audiences. Over the last 12 months our team has achieved visual and verbal branded mentions on a range of programmes including The Apprentice, The X Factor, Eastenders, Hollyoaks, Britain’s Next Top Model and The Gadget Show. Free prop placement already provides brands with the opportunity to exist on screen, including the BBC, at a reasonable cost. Following increasing pressure, however, from struggling independent broadcasters to introduce product placement in the UK to boost advertising revenues badly affected by the recession, a massive U-turn decision was made. On 9th February this year Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Ben Bradshaw gave product placement in the UK the green light, as did the other EU member states (with the sole exception of Denmark). They have either allowed television product placement already or expressed a firm intention to do so. Proceed with caution Under the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS) there is no question of prop placement being replaced with paid product placement - they will co-exist to enable clients to explore all options available to them. The UK Government, however, has imposed strict rules under the new legislation, specifically prohibiting the paid placement of products and services in the following categories: • alcoholic drinks • foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar • gambling • smoking accessories • over-the-counter medicines • infant formula and follow-on formula But the supply of products in the above categories (where legally applicable) solely for the purpose of free props, when editorially justified and actively requested by the production, will continue. The restrictions don’t just end at products and services - paid product placement will also be banned from all BBC license-free funded programmes, as well as television news, current affairs, consumer and religious programming. Realistic revenue UK broadcasters predict that paid product placement will increase television programming revenue by £140 million per year. This figure has been based on the US paid placement model - the most established and mature in the world which has grown over decades with advertisers, production companies and ultimately viewers becoming more accepting of this level of brand inclusion in programming. But despite what some might call a premature vision, paid product placement in the UK will undoubtedly be a costly exercise to brands wanting to invest, at a similar expenditure to current advertising revenue spend. Whatever the cost, in terms of maintaining editorial controls, strong programming is key to delivering audiences. Current Ofcom rules using terms such as ‘undue prominence’ and ‘editorially justified’ are subjective and potentially open to different interpretation and understanding by those attempting to implement the rules either in the production process, by the broadcast or by the regulator. Watch this space.
UK broadcasters predict that paid product placement will increase programming revenue by £140m per year.
2010 and beyond Free or otherwise, brand placement integration must not take away the enjoyment from the viewer. Production companies and prop placement experts must work together to ensure this doesn’t happen – signalling paid placements at the credits at the end of programmes is one way to guarantee this. The future of television is changing. As we move further into 2010, we need to be presented with a well-structured and viable trading system, fully researched and agreed upon, before the official introduction of product placement. It must protect the editorial independence of production writers to ensure the artistic creativity of UK programming, to maintain the valued prop placement market and deliver an appropriate commercial environment for product placement to thrive and develop. Stay tuned.
Evelyne Hollands Managing Director, Weber Shandwick Barcelona
The Female Factor.
Marketing to women means business. Some quick facts* highlighted at recent seminar Rethink-her in Barcelona indicate the importance of connecting with women in our communication efforts: • Women represent the world’s largest market, more than the Chinese and Indian markets combined • An estimated 85 per cent of all brand purchases are made by women • 92 per cent pass along information about deals or finds to others • The average number of contacts in a woman´s e-mail or mobile list is 171 • 22 per cent of women shop online at least once a day • The number of affluent women is growing faster than men
However, when it comes to communication, 80-90 per cent of women say that advertisers do not understand them and do not connect with them. In communication, the representation of women remains stereotyped and biased. As Juan Nonzoli, creative director of the Spanish advertising agency Shackleton, explained in the business newspaper Expansión “commonplaces persist and many commercial messages are archaic”. I can illustrate this with an anecdote from my own experience. Last year we received a brief from a leading household product company to develop a PR plan for the launch of a new product aimed at housewives. The product’s biggest benefit is that it saves time. Our immediate reaction was to refocus the target, as that major benefit would be particularly appealing to working women who are eager for time-saving solutions and represent more than 55 per cent of the female population in Spain. Understanding women better is a key to success for a product or service because women go shopping, while men, in general, just buy. For a woman, shopping is like embarking on a journey based on communication, experiences and details. Women buy in a spiral. Before making a purchase decision, they ask around, consult different information sources and listen to opinions in order to find the best solution for their need. And if your brand is the chosen one, you have won a faithful advocate! A recent case study from the US showed that when on a mission to buy a pair of jeans, it took a man six minutes and the equivalent of 33 Euros to buy a pair of jeans in a high street fashion store whilst a woman took three hours and 26 minutes and spent a total of 876 Euros on jeans and a number of other items that caught her eye during the same trip. While this process is obvious in a predominantly feminine product category like clothing, female behaviour is similar in other product and service categories ranging from cars, to travel and insurance. Gender differences exist to be recognised, used and enjoyed. According to Caroline Winnet, Chief Marketing Officer at NeuroFocus, a neuromarketing research firm, women´s brains have more distributed functions than men, especially in language and memory. They rely more heavily on brain areas that contain mirror neurons during empathic interaction. These neurons enable a person to feel what they see another person is feeling. In other words, women have a more empathetic view of the world than men. What characterises an empathetic view is the motivation to create safe havens, the need to solve problems by collaboration and focus on sharing, as well as a decision making process which is deep, detailed and based on rational as well as nonrational information. Jane Cunningham and Philippa Roberts from UK-based agency Pretty Little Head believe the secret of marketing to a female audience is to develop all activity out of the empathetic, mirroring female interests.
Major motivations for women that brands should consider are – improving society and the environment, aesthetic design, cooperation and collaboration amongst people, saving time and reducing risk.
Major motivations for women that brands should consider are – improving society and the environment, aesthetic design, cooperation and collaboration amongst people, saving time and reducing risk. In the Spanish market, new online business initiatives in particular are incorporating the empathetic view, for example HelpMyCash.com, a comparison site for mortgages and Privalia, the leading online outlet store. Both deliver on values like risk reduction, a less complex decision making process, time saving - as well as on the need to feel part of communities of shared interests. So, how can you win women over through communication? First of all, use people power. People are the most important and interesting element of any situation in female language. Speak as a person, show interest in people and use stories and feelings instead of features, facts and status to communicate your product or service. Secondly, go the extra mile by providing plenty of information. Acknowledge that women integrate many goals with every shopping experience and have a longer shopping list than men. Finally, focus on cooperative and collaborative conversations but go beyond words as actions speak louder. Incorporating these guidelines in your communication does not mean being separatist, it just means that your brand is becoming bilingual and attractive to the 50 per cent of the market that represents more business. As Marti Barletta, expert in marketing to women, said, “when you meet the expectations of women, you generally exceed the expectations of men”.
*Source: Mindshare/Ogilvy & Mather 2009 Published in PRWeek Global, May 2010
Alison Dunlop Head of Consumer Healthcare, UK
Dawn of a New Era for the Food Industry.
Every day, when we open a newspaper, we are bombarded with the ‘latest advice’ on healthy eating. Whether it’s salt levels, fad diets, ‘super’ foods or nutrition labelling, with column inches to be filled it’s not surprising that the messages are often contradictory. Media headlines are dominated by issues around topics such as advertising to children, misleading health claims and celebrities promoting junk foods. This media cynicism has been fuelled by the industry’s historic lack of transparency and corporate governance, a significant factor in undermining the credibility of the category.
The extent of the damage is evident from a recent report from market intelligence agency Mintel which highlighted that one in four consumers do not believe health claims made by food manufacturers. At the same time, Deloitte’s Food & Beverage 2012 Report, revealed that eight out of ten leading food and drink marketers ranked health as the predominant external factor driving the industry moving forward. So what does this mean for the industry? One of the biggest challenges that food marketers face in 2010 is building and maintaining consumer trust to protect long-term brand credibility. As long as obesity continues to be the key driver of public health policy, the functional food market will continue to be subjected to close scrutiny, fuelled by an increasingly evolving policy and regulatory environment. The good news for the industry is that 2010 has seen a landmark change in responsible nutritional communications across Europe. The introduction of the European Commission’s enforcement framework for food manufacturers has come into effect, introducing harmonised regulations across the European Union for the use of claims related to nutrition benefits. The resulting ‘list’ of agreed functional food claims, such as ‘low fat’ and ‘high fibre’, will be integral in restoring credibility to the industry. The outstanding emergence of the functional food category means that health has now replaced convenience as the standard in food requirements. Add to this an ageing population concerned with long-term health and an increasing propensity for lifestyle illnesses and it’s not surprising that increased spend is being dedicated to consumer health marketing of functional food brands. The main areas of functional food development are focused on heart health, bone health, gut health and immune system development, with emerging areas including women’s health, mental health and cognitive health. Marketers are therefore increasingly aware of the importance of communicating the enhanced function or reduced disease-risk benefit of their products to ensure longterm success.
As long as obesity continues to be the key driver of public health policy, the functional food market will continue to be subjected to close scrutiny.
With the emphasis on building consumer trust, food marketers are moving away from the more ‘traditional’ consumer communications strategies, recognising that strategic consumer health expertise provides alternative ways to establish health credentials for their brands. Increasingly, marketers are dedicating spend to developing long-term commercial strategies, leveraging healthcare professional endorsement to influence consumer behaviour. As a recognised source of advice and counsel, healthcare professionals are playing an integral role in engaging consumers with specific nutrition messages. Developing messages based on solid scientific evidence is proving highly effective in establishing a relationship of trust with consumers, ultimately shaping behaviour and effecting change. But for long-term consumer behaviour change, it’s interesting to look at where the industry is targeting nutrition education campaigns. As eating patterns tend to be formed by the age of 12 years, industry and food marketers have focused on targeting families with younger children to help establish healthy eating habits for life. Family and community are key to delivering credible nutrition campaigns. The core principle of effective healthcare provision is local delivery – the same principle applies to delivering an effective nutrition campaign aimed at encouraging consumers to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Marketers are increasingly seeking greater insight to understand the influencers, the communications networks and the relationships within a community to identify the most effective route to deliver clear, consistent and credible messages to change intrinsic behaviour patterns. But building long-term consumer trust is not just about reputation management. The industry needs to focus on collaboration, developing clear strategies to effectively communicate with Government, retailers, the media and third party organisations. Working in partnership is without doubt the most effective route to rebuilding its reputation and creating the most favourable environment in which to communicate with an increasingly informed consumer.
Tara Hamilton-Miller Vice Chair, UK Public Affairs
The E-lection? Not quite.
The prediction was that this would be the e-election, the social media election, the interweb at its best psyching up an apathetic nation with Twitter, Facebook and clever viral campaigns. Mirroring Obama’s huge success at smart fundraising it was assumed that similar would happen in the UK. It didn’t. Good old-fashioned posters and worthy party political broadcasts were the order of the day. That, and of course the ‘moment’ when Gordon’s political career evaporated after he was mean about the lady in Rochdale.
At one point the Labour campaign horribly backfired when some leftie thinking he was being clever, photo-shopped David Cameron’s head onto the body of too cool 80’s UK TV cop Gene Hunt. A perfect example of how the left didn’t get it - how could they not know that this character was a hero? The most obvious difference in Election 2010 was the television debates. They created a slightly odd but very welcome camaraderie among the people. The TV channels publicised their own events like a Las Vegas fight with Rocky music and neon lights. It was brilliant, people really got into it - my mum’s vicious friends, the sausageroll queue at the bakers, Peter, my unreliable decorator, everyone was talking about it and that felt great. Even the boring bits had merit. Each contender pretty much living up to his stereotype. After the expenses debacle it was certainly a good climate to have politicians put through the ringer, voters wanted answers. The television debates gave Nick Clegg his moment. Many got terribly excited by his hands in his pocket, pointy, shiny, ‘remembering everyone’s name’ performance. It restores my faith in Britain that the election results showed nobody actually bought it. Why are the Lib Dems so hell bent on changing the voting system? No other party gained more from the shambles than Clegg and Co, the election’s biggest losers. However, the debates set a precedent, and in the future anyone who refuses to take part in one will be accused of being a weak-kneed chicken and have their lunch money stolen. The expected internet-led campaign never happened, some of the blogs were popular but as a tool it wasn’t predominant. Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick’s brilliant Chief Reputation Strategist describes using Twitter as a communications tool as part of the ‘New Normal’. It will be interesting to see how this evolves and if it will be taken on board as such in politics.
It is all the rage to write off print and current affairs programme as archaic and on their last legs; this campaign proved that it is not the case.
During the exhausting coalition process the Tories really embraced new media. When William Hague traipsed off for the final marriage counselling, he ‘Twittered’ that he was going to the Cabinet Office for further talks. This was a crucial meeting; it decided the future of Britain for the next five years. To think this historic moment was announced in less than 145 characters... how terribly modern. It is all the rage to write off print and current affairs programmes as archaic and on their last legs; this campaign proved that is not the case. A few weeks before the General Election, Weber Shandwick commissioned a survey to identify what types of media influence how people vote. The results were quite surprising; even though we were told this election would be led by the internet, British voters are still overwhelmingly influenced by press and broadcasting. This may change over successive elections as a new generation of voters comes of age.
So who is this new breed of Conservatives with their slightly hybrid add-on of Liberals, like the bizarre Vacanti mouse experiment with an ear on the side? Most Tories feel very uncomfortable, doing double-takes every time they see Cameron or Osborne striding side by side with Clegg or Cable. A couple of the Liberal Democrats who landed top jobs have the grace to look lucky to be in such a position. Others, not so. The honeymoon will be a brief one, with or without Twitter.
Click here for details of Weber Shandwick’s UK election survey that examined the changes in voter attitudes and behaviour resulting from the 2010 General Election campaign.
Aki Kubo President & CEO, Weber Shandwick Japan
Japan – Finding a Future Hello Economy.
Japan remains the world’s second largest economy with a GDP of USD 4.141 trillion (2009 est.) and is home to 51 Fortune Global 500 corporations. The 2009 Country Brand Index (CBI), a joint research initiative between Weber Shandwick and FutureBrand, ranked Japan as number one in six categories: “advanced technology”, “quality products”, “nightlife”, “most conducive to starting a business”, “best place to hold conferences” and “authenticity”. Yet the same study notes that Japan ranks poorly in the category of “transparency”, a telling insight in terms of the perception of Japan’s place in the global economy.
In recent weeks, the nuances of Japanese corporate culture have been put in the spotlight as a number of leading corporations have faced intense international media scrutiny. Yet it is these same companies that have dominated their respective market sectors for years. So what are Japanese companies doing right, and where are they falling short? To address these questions, Weber Shandwick in Tokyo surveyed international journalists with an interest in Japanese business, to understand better their experiences interacting with Japanese companies. The survey revealed that while several individual Japanese multinational companies are highly regarded by the media on many attributes, only one third of respondents consider foreign media to be served effectively, or somewhat effectively, by PR offices and/or agencies of Japanese companies. Corporate Japan, it seems, has a long way to go to advance its international communications approach compared to global competitors. According to the survey, access to senior management is the single most important area for improvement. Notably, where organisations have appointed foreign nationals in leadership roles, there appears to be a willingness to demonstrate greater transparency and engagement. Meanwhile, more traditional Japanese companies seem to be challenged by the linguistic and cultural barriers that override the required interaction with a more global media audience. “A highly secretive and yet very interesting company that would do well to open up more, especially to foreign correspondents,” suggests a journalist, when asked specifically about a Tokyo-based company. Other areas that need to be addressed, according to foreign journalists, include the slow speed of response to (foreign) media enquiries, an apparent lack of proactive engagement strategies, limited English-language proficiency and the perceived unfair treatment of foreign correspondents. Japanese companies, it is believed, focus their attention on building and maintaining relationships with the domestic press. These issues highlight the common, traditional stance prevalent among many Japanese companies — favouring collectivism and preservation of the status quo. As one journalist puts it, “At the best (Japanese) companies, PR collateral, such as websites and annual reports, look professional, but in terms of personnel, PR managers are generally conservative, closed-minded types who consider their main job as ‘protecting’ the CEO from journalists.” All the more strange since some Japanese companies have proved such sophisticated international brand marketeers. The evidence suggests that Japanese companies continue to consider PR as a reactive measure, managing the potential for negative exposure but minimising the positive opportunity to be drawn from the PR function. One journalist pointed out, “Too many Japanese (PR) executives come to the Foreign Correspondents Club to approach journalists merely to say ‘yoroshiku onegai shimasu (hello, it is nice to meet you)’ rather than pursuing opportunities to create news and publicity for their company or organisation.”
In recent weeks, the nuances of Japanese corporate culture have been put in the spotlight as a number of leading corporations have faced intense international media scrutiny.
Pleasingly, this approach does not hold true for every Japanese company. Some, especially the larger multinational corporations, have openly embraced proactive public relations in order to deliver their messages to stakeholders and audiences both at home and abroad. Of these companies, survey participants openly voiced their praise. “The company had an English-speaking PR manager who was social, proactive and always willing to help. I consider his professional attitude as helping improve the company’s image among foreign journalists.” “They have a PR practice similar to that of western companies; more open and more proactive.” “Access was unlimited, and even embarrassing questions were addressed with significant comments.” Such positive feedback from foreign journalists suggests an encouraging trend in Japanese companies’ willingness to embrace a more proactive, accessible and transparent approach to communications. And this could not come at a more important time. Japan’s demographics show an increasingly top heavy population, where almost 30% of nationals are over 60, and the childbirth rate is among the lowest of developed nations. A future-focused Japan must better communicate and interact with the rest of the world to ensure its economic survival. Weber Shandwick in Japan is committed to play a role in this evolving communications process. As part of the agency’s initiatives to support the development of global communications practices of Japanese companies and institutions, it will continue to monitor and report on the international perception of Japanese companies in an effort to contribute further media and market understanding of Japan’s place in a global economy.
Published in PRWeek Global, April 2010
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