As most Canadians already know, Winnipeg was in the nation’s spotlight last week as we played host to the 103rd Grey Cup game. At his state-of-the-union address in the days leading up to the big game commissioner Jeffrey Orridge unveiled a new logo and promotional video branded with the slogan “What we’re made of” for the Canadian Football League.
The image on the left is the new CFL logo, accompanied in the row by its direct descendants. The three laces in the new symbol, the unveil told, are a nod to the three downs in the Canadian game. Will anyone seeing it for the first time without explanation pick that out? I doubt it. And didn’t graphic designers already exhaust the slivered arc in logos much earlier this century? The presence of the maple leaf, the unveil also told, is proudly Canadian, though I find it disproportionately tiny and insignificant. The claim was that the new logo is modern and young (of which I am neither) so they may not care what I think. But I am a passionate fan and know that my first reaction is similar to most of the reactions I’ve heard and read – I don’t like it. In fact, my first reaction was “I hate it.”
In fairness to the league, the new logo was easy to read from a distance on the field. And though the promo spot didn’t do much for me when I first saw it on my iPad I thought it, and the logo, looked great in high def on a large flatscreen during the game.
The league hopes the brand transformation will bring new, younger fans to a game that has flatlined in attendance and dropped in television ratings of late. The new marketing efforts will include apparel from adidas (I saw a guy wearing a hat with the new logo so large I’d need a five head, not a forehead, to make it wearable), and there will be revamped websites and mobile apps for the league and its teams to better connect with fans. As a sports fan in general, and huge fan of our three down football, real-time statistical updates and league information at my fingertips is something I desire. I’ve always felt in past that the CFL was lacking in fulfilling that desire.
The league’s new website (cfl.ca) launches on Wednesday. “There will be more to come. Much more to come,” is what Orridge said at the unveil.
I’m hoping he can deliver on that promise and I’m sure I’ll eventually warm up to the new brand. I really hate being a hater.
In 2008, I took a bit of a leap from my then 16 year old advertising agency to form a technology company with investors and developers and some crazy ideas. That has been one of the most transformative experiences in my business life. But that’s not what I want to talk about here.
Our first rollercoaster ride was into virtual reality. In 2008, when nobody was there and Facebook probably hadn’t heard of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset (which they bought in 2014 for $2 billion), we built a virtual world online dating site because it had been proven that daters would go to that very elusive second date if they experienced each other virtually first.
Then we thought Augmented Reality might be an interesting adjunct to VR, which is a way of meshing the real world with the digital. Think – you’re looking through your iPad screen via its camera and when it sees your friend it turns him or her into Chewbacca from Star Wars. As she walks around, she is Chewbacca as long as you keep looking at her through the iPad screen. (It had to recognize your friend first and then wrap her in Chewbacca skin.)
We were early with both these innovative technologies and we later discovered that they had huge opportunities in marketing (see video above). The times are changing and the market is ready for virtual and augmented reality.
We see virtual reality being used already in tourism where you see the place you’d love to visit in virtual reality – as if you are there. We see augmented reality in allowing you to try on clothes virtually, using both VR and AR to accurately size you. We also see it in amazing form in this example of demonstrating a refrigerator without having to go to the store. LG Fridge example
What do you think about these new experiential technologies and how much more likely you would buy if you could use them in your shopping experience?
Content marketing has moved from a niche brand offering to a marketing-must in a big way. It’s hard to think of a brand that doesn’t offer some kind of personalized content for its audience.
These days, people have unparalleled control over the ads that reach them. They can skip commercials, exit online ads, and skip YouTube pre-rolls after four (long, anguishing) seconds. Traditional advertising is now served up alongside the content that people are really trying to engage with – whether it be an article, Mad Men episode, or viral cat video. What’s different about content marketing is that it provides engaging and relevant content in and of itself.
That’s not to say that content marketing should stand alone. A brand can’t start a blog and end all other marketing and advertising efforts. More importantly, a brand can’t launch a blog without strategy. Content marketing should weave flawlessly into social media marketing and complement traditional advertising. It should match a brand’s personality, and be in-tune with its audience.
Good content marketing engages people and gives them something to come back for. Doing it well takes imagination, intuition, and strategy. And though every business should offer some form of content to their audience, they shouldn’t do it without strategic planning. It takes work and focus. But a successful effort can further brand awareness in an unprecedented way.
One success story we can speak to is Spark, a fashion and lifestyle blog we developed together with St. Vital Centre. Even though Spark was something we had envisioned for a while, it took years to come to fruition. There were marketing phases we had to undergo to ensure that there was an engaged audience ready to consume our content. We created a plan that was multifaceted, moving in stages from awareness and branding, to social media engagement, to content offering.
Early in our relationship with the Centre, we worked on increasing brand awareness with billboards, transit, and in-Centre signage. We spent time creating awareness of St. Vital Centre as an accessible and relatable lifestyle brand. Once awareness was achieved, we began to work on creating a more interactive and engaged brand, by building a social community and focusing on two-way advertising versus the traditional one-way. We created a social media presence for St. Vital Centre, and engaged audiences with contest microsites, quizzes, and frequent giveaways. We also began to elevate the fashion facet of the brand, producing unique style and beauty content for social media and seasonal campaigns. The high audience engagement and overwhelmingly positive response confirmed both the desire for this type of content, and its ability to affect sales.
For us, a blog was a natural fit for St. Vital Centre. Their brand is stylish and fun, aspirational but attainable, in-the-know without being a know-it-all – the perfect voice for a fashion and lifestyle blog. There was a void of high quality fashion blogs in Winnipeg, and we saw a perfect opportunity to fill that void.
Spark has been producing content for just over a year now, and together with our client and a talented support team, we continue to produce content that excites us as much as it informs and delights our audience. Developing good content is no easy task, and involves ongoing planning and post writing, coordinating and directing regular photoshoots (including booking models, photographers, and videographers), website maintenance, and more. Aside from content development, we are also in charge of bringing traffic to the blog. We achieve this through social media, contests, email subscriptions, in-Centre hoarding and backlit posters, and even in-store, on our “As Seen On Spark” product tags and stickers. Spark averages over 4,000 hits per month, and is steadily increasing.
And most importantly, the Centre has continued to report ongoing sales increases in key categories since the blog's inception.
We have all invested time and energy developing our branding resources to use when working with clients on their brand identity. Now Scott Thomas of Simple.Honest.Work. in Chicago has maybe come to our rescue with what he believes is the ultimate tool to make it even simpler and more effective.
With the help of Mark Temkin, one of the people behind the game “Cards Against Humanity”, Thomas has created a deck of cards with adjectives used by many of us to help clients define who they really are and are not. Each team member gets their own deck to sort through and then as a team decide what really applies to them and what definitely does not. Pretty simple.
Instead of funding the project on their own, they turned to Kickstarter.com to crowd source and have so far raised more than their goal. They are now also working on a “Not safe for the workplace” version, again with the “Cards for Humanity” people (I wouldn’t want to accidentally mix those decks up).
This venture will be interesting to follow and although I believe we will stick to our own tried and true methods, I can see these cards showing up in some branding agency boardrooms, or more likely, the “not safe” version being played every Friday afternoon in the lounge. Check it out!
An ad for Just Liquid Soap states, “If you aren’t totally clean, you’re filthy.”
I recall fighting tooth and nail over some of the ideas my creative team would come up with in years gone by. With a sly smile, they would show me something that was way out there, something that could be argued was in the land of controversy…while others might say, in the land of bad taste.
“But it will get attention! And that is what we are all about! It will stop people in their tracks and make them pay attention."
“But it will royally screw up their brand," I would say.
Here’s one that you might remember that went viral in 24 hours and got 15 million views on YouTube in just eight days. The ad agency was tasked with dealing with Kmart’s out-of-stock issues. It’s absolutely brilliant and funny, but…
…but maybe too much and off-brand, with kids sounding like they’re swearing on TV.
Kmart is a family-friendly retailer. And this campaign was counter to their brand image. It gained incredible attention, but did it sell product? Kmart’s sales fell over 2% in that quarter. The lesson learned here, I think, is that if you want to be controversial, it has to fit the brand and you have to create that edge in the shopping experience. Kmart didn’t and people who loved the ads found nothing new and exciting at Kmart. And those that hated the ads shied away from shopping there.
Here’s one that worked, but everything fits (and I received it in our office Christmas gift exchange…and (testimonial warning) it works!)…
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