Monday, March 01, 2010

The Hermes paradox

Can a brand that exists since 1837 have one of the most inventive website? Yes, Hermes can. It has succeeded to manage a perfect balance between very important criteria: heritage, entertainment and highly innovative user-interface.

The website is built around two parts:

First, “Les ailes d’Hermes”, which is dedicated to the brand awareness. It displays more artistic pictures of the products. It also explains the techniques that the Hermes craftsmen use. This carries the Hermes heritage in a very modern way.

It is also a place where the brand can be “bolder” and interact with its customers. As we said, the website offers very entertaining pages and it’s very easy to flick through those without seeing the time flying by. It exploits the new trends of fashion such as above “customization” of one of its flagship product. A product that you will be able to download, to customize, to print and then to glue in order to create your own paper bracelet.

The second part of the website is the online store which has been ranked in the 100 hot 2010 best retail websites by the Internet Retailer. (http://www.internetretailer.com/article.asp?id=32584#hermes)

Although it doesn’t offer all that you could find in the brick and mortar boutiques, the offer grows every month. The products are always presented with a water-color drawing which displays the very lifestyle of Hermes and make the products less cold.


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Gorilla Marketing

As more and more traditional mega brands tap into the power of viral marketing (now even Walmart is doing it), I have to think back to the first viral campaign for an old-fashioned consumer product that really knocked me out: Cadbury's 2007 spot for its flagship plain Dairy Milk Chocolate product. Featuring a massive gorilla seated behind a massive drum set, the ad builds around the opening verses of Phil Collins's 80's hit, In the Air Tonight. As the song progesses towards the point where the legendary drum section kicks in, the tension rises, with the gorilla closing its eyes, taking deap nostril-flairing breaths. Then, baba-baba-baba-bum, he comes in just on time, beating his drums in an intense (and comic) moment of release and solitary pleasure. Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnzFRV1LwIo

The ad, which features virtually no branding except for a brief image of a chololate bar at the very end, had most traditional consumer goods marketers sniggering and scratching their heads. But it worked: not only was the clip viewed by over 5 million people, it generated 91 per cent awareness among British consumers, breathing life into a dusty brand and boosting Dairy Milk sales by a whopping nine per cent. Now that's return on investment.

F. Patrick Busse
Marketing & the Internet

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In Search of Customer Captivity

Today Google announced its acquisition of cloud-based photo editing site Picnik. Supposedly one of the fastest growing photo sites on the web, Picnik's powerful editing software is currently the default editor for the massive Flickr image repository. But this is likely to change as Google folds the technology into its own competing photo sharing product, Picasa. Makes sense. Except some may look at the acquisition and wonder why Google is competing in the photo space at all? After all, 97% of its revenues come from search. One good reason comes to mind: for all its competitive advantages, Google always has to worry about about customer captivity. In search, defection (and ad dollars) are always just one click away. By increasingly tying customers into their integrated product suite through adjacent offerings such as Gmail and Picasa, they hope to raise switching costs. Furthermore, these adjacent offerings are also invaluable sources of personal user information - and as the idea of social search becomes a reality that could make Facebook a real competitor in the search arena, this information could be critical to Google's ongoing success.

F. Patrick Busse
Marketing & the Internet

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Goodbye Johnny

For some, the publicity around the recently celebrated 10 billionth iTunes music download seemed merely to confirm what most have by now fully digested: physical music sales are a thing of the past, everyone is online these days, and whether you like it or not, the best new model for music in the digital era is Apple's iTunes store. For others, the fact that the billionth download was a 1958 Johnny Cash song drove home a more problematic truth that calls into question whether iTunes really is a sustainable solution: three quarters of digital music buyers are age 25 or older, and so too was the customer looking to get his Johnny Cash fix. Compare that with with Apple's other much-hyped landmark sale: the billionth app downloader was a 13 year old kid, i.e the real future. Out with the iPod / iTouch (whose sales are slowing) and the "static 99 cent music downloads that remain wedded to a bygone era." In with the iPhone and the app store, provider of a "fundamentally interactive experience, tailor-made for the digital natives." But where does that leave music? Mark Mulligan at Forrester Research thinks the solution is to create music products that more strongly resemble apps - i.e. listening to a song should become a more social, more dynamic, and more customized experience. Some may look forward to tweeting, remixing, casually gaming and buying added-value content all while taking in the musical genius of the Man in Black. Call me a hippie, but I don't.

F. Patrick Busse
Marketing & the Internet

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How YouTube and CPM are Changing Newspaper Websites

I would like to address the change I have seen in the websites of newspapers recently. Unfortunately, with the emergence of YouTube, journalists are now reduced to simple collectors of entertaining YouTube clips instead of being mediators of important news. I can’t count the number of times that journalists post articles in seemingly serious newspapers with the sole purpose of entertaining. Whether it’s top 10 lists of teammates fighting in sports (which I read yesterday), a collection of funny George W. Bush quotes, or celebrities who got a make-over, these posts have nothing to do with news and can be pulled out any rainy day when there is nothing else interesting happening in the world.

Another trend on newspaper websites is that editors are going to more and more extremes in their attempts to generate advertising revenues. As if someone did not know how to scroll down in a window, editors now split up an article in two or three web pages instead of collecting it in one long article. Clearly, the sites generate revenues on pay-per-impression (CPM) and a reader who reads the whole article will now visit three web pages with according revenue generation instead of just one web page. This is very annoying for the reader, but is unfortunately a growing trend in a world run by advertising money and desires to entertain.

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