Friday, October 07, 2005

Some Other Notables from Day 1 in Hamburg

There were some other notable presentations, beyond the ones I've already mentioned, from Day 1 of the Hamburg conference.

Fergus Hampton from Millward Brown had a very interesting talk. Here are some highlights:

- The most successful example of WOM is religion, in its various forms.
- People are media. Everyone is (or can be) a journalist, advertiser, editor and publisher.
- He is interested in why so many people trust customer opinions or reviews on websites (one study cited 61% of people trust these sources as honest and fair.
- One helpful distinction between offline and online WOM is that offline is more powerful (in the sense of higher trust and higher impact to the conversation) while online is more versatile (there will be an expert on something somewhere online). [Online also has more potential reach, esp. in a shorter amount of time. Some would argue that influencers for certain brands and categories are likely to be online and thus their WOM can be more easily tracked].
- Some key take-away points about what engaging WOM means: 1) relinquishing control, 2) recognizing consumers as brand participants, 3) transparent and honest behavior, and 4) abandoning marketing speak (or what Lois Kelly called the "doglish" problem).

Strawberry Frog was very interesting. Their tagline is that they bring "the discipline of brand marketing and the populist power of grassroots movements". The most interesting thing I took away is their sequence for planning communications: 1) start with a powerful idea that can define a culture and is on the rise; 2) create a set of actions or events or communities to draw people in to this idea; 3) use mass communications to amplify the message for broader reach; 4) active WOM with PR and placement of content; 5) create media that people can own in both online and offline formats so people can keep talking; 6) Use direct marketing and promotions for those who are ready to buy. Thus, the point is do the grassroots work first, then go mainstream.

Two other agencies -- Fallon and Crispin Porter + Bogusky -- also spoke. They showed some impressive and entertaining advertisements they used to generate WOM. Both spoke about the need to create content that engages audiences. A high point of Fallon's talk was an ad for a Sony TV set. Crispin Porter + Bogusky showed a lot of their work with the Burger King campaign and how they sequence it (subservient chicken and "The King"). In both instances I thought how cool and innovative the ad agency was to come up with the ad but less about the products or companies the ads were about.

Be sure to check out Scott Foe (Games Group of Nokia) and Alexander Macris' (CEO of Themis Group) presentation on how to achieve WOM in the gaming industry. They have a proven approach that starts with a great product, then targets key influencers in the gaming industry (what they called "Superconductors"), creating ways for them to engage with one another, as well as creating ways for their fan bases to be involved as well. Their idea is to get the hard-core fans involved through the influencers, and then use traditional media to get mainstream audiences interested in the games (esp. print and web-based trade publications that then move to more mainstream magazines). I wondered how they could also use WOM strategies to move the games from the hard-core to the mainstream as well.

Learned a bit more about podcasting from Bill Flitter from Pheedo, Inc. Looking forward to his Part Two later today.