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Apple’s Christmas Ad: Why Storytelling Works

  
  
  
  
  
I spend a lot of time talking about storytelling and why it is a superior form of marketing to the traditional sales focused ads. You know the kind, ads from car companies and retailers telling you to buy often and buy now.  Storytelling goes hand in hand with content marketing as an approach to change perception, build trust and drive customers to action.  It does this by creating an emotional connection with the customer.

Storytelling works because it is how we are hard wired to learn – our earliest memories are of hearing stories, fables and myths from parents and teachers.  Storytelling is effective because when we hear the story we instinctually put ourselves into the narrative.  How we would react?  How is this like my experiences? Is this something I aspire to?  

All of these elements are present in this holiday ad from Apple.  There has been some online debate over its effectiveness and the usual groans from Apple haters, no doubt tweeting it on their giant Samsung phone.  My point is to illustrate the power of a narrative with a beginning, middle and twist at the end.  The key to the impact of this story is that everyone can see themselves in the ad from their point of view – the grandmother, the parents, the older sister and of course the seemingly sullen teen.  If smartphones and the web existed in 1980, I would have been that kid, my head down lost in my world.  Of course he surprises us at the end, evoking emotion from everyone.  The choice of music is perfect, as it stirs something in just about everyone. Another strength is that it is on brand for Apple.  Their brand promise is about enhancing people’s lives through technology - mission accomplished.

Final ThinkTank post of 2013, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  See you in 2014.









5 Major Digital Marketing Trends for 2014

  
  
  
  
  

This article by Gordon Plutsky orginally appeared on imediaconnection.com

2014 Marketing and Media Predictions and Outlook, Part 1

  
  
  
  
  
Happy New Year 2014 resized 600Part I: Predictions
Part II Larger trends for marketers

Everything is connected: 2014 will see a lot of buzz and progress in the connection of non-computer devices to the Internet.  Sometimes called the Internet of Things, driving this are improvements in underlying technologies (such as wireless networking, communications protocols, shrinking silicon chips, etc.) and falling costs, which allows more objects to become easily embedded with sensors, gaining the ability to communicate over the same IP as the internet.  Apple’s iBeacon and new products such as wearable tech (watches, glasses), appliances and cars will take advantage of these improvements.  Addionally, there will be an uptick in mobile payments and m-commerce.  Mobile is becoming the dominant platform for customer interaction and content consumption.

Native advertising is advertising posing as relevant content.  The hottest trend in advertising is really an old idea going back decades to the advertorial.  Seeing it in a digital platform blurs the lines between ads and editorial even more than it did in days of magazine special sections.  More brands will move traditional ad dollars to this tactic in a big way resulting in possible ad clutter.  Just what they were trying to avoid in the first place.

We have just seen the beginning of provocative headlines promising a life changing emotional moment though a viral video that you just have to click on right now.  The battle for clicks and referrals from social networks will rage through 2014.  More here on how it works.   

The Twitter/TV connection will get stronger as broadcasters have found a way to make watching on their schedule relevant once again in the age of on-demand content.  It works best when it happens organically among viewers allowing brands to message to them in context.  It does not work well when forced or when TV hosts read selected tweets on live TV, which can be painful to watch.  The mighty, yet humble #Hashtag will grow in cultural significance.

The buzz around content marketing will continue to grow as brands (big and small) build content engagement strategies. They will need to decide how they are going to the fill the tremendous need for brand content for their web sites and social channels.  There will be vendors to fill the void offering inexpensive and automated content solutions.  This may not be the best way to engage customers in meaningful conversation by adding insight and driving customers to action.  The key to successful content marketing will be the ability to get customers to share it with friends and family.  Brand content of low quality or duplicative with other ubiquitous web content will fail.  Changes in the way Google treats keywords puts even more demand on the need to have quality content.  

Distribution strategies will become more important to content marketers.  Creating content that no one sees is not helpful.  Smart strategies to amplify owned media with paid, earned and share will be a major theme in 2014.

In the first ever cold weather Super Bowl, there will be plenty of empty seats in cold MetLife Stadium by the 4th quarter as either the Seattle Seahawks or SF 49ers will put a serious beat down on the AFC participant –likely the Broncos, Colts or Patriots.  Several brands will try their hand at real time social media marketing during the Super Bowl and one will fail big and be mocked.

A big political year – the GOP will easily hold the House, but will only come close to taking the Senate, keeping control in Democratic hands.  President Obama will stay below 50% approval all year as the conversation shifts to the 2016 election.  The end of 2014 will see Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie seen as clear frontrunners.   The Dow Jones Index will end 2014 above 18,000 and unemployment will only slightly scrape under 7% due to Boomers leaving the labor force.  

The subscription/on demand model for media will grow even faster as Netflix, Pandora, Amazon and iTunes become the dominant sources for content when and how you want it.  The long-term trend will continue away from network TV viewing, while cable subscriptions and music sales will continue to decline.  PC sales downturns will accelerate in a tablet-first world.  Mobile shakeout will begin, as there is not enough room for the Windows or BlackBerry platforms among developers and customers.  

Facebook matures in two ways – young people continue to turn away to other alternatives and have no interest hanging out with their parents and grandparents.  Facebook also goes “all in” with pay to play – don’t count on anyone seeing your brand’s content post if you don’t run an ad campaign.  Free ride is over.

Part II tomorrow on big trends for marketers.




























New Book on Multichannel Marketing Best Practices

  
  
  
  
  

A new book, Multichannel Marketing Ecosystems, has been published with a variety of leading authors contributing chapters including King Fish’s CEO Cam Brown.  Cam’s piece is about using the tried and true technique of storytelling and content marketing to drive sales for your brand. 

Should Retailers Open On Thanksgiving?

  
  
  
  
  

More and more retailers are opening on Thanksgiving with some notable exceptions like Nordstrom and BJs.  This has wide ranging implication for brands and their perceived image and relationship with customers.  In the social era you share your brand with customers and people have become media; they can be your biggest advocates or detractors.  On Nov. 26, King Fish CEO Cam Brown went on FOX 25 in Boston to discuss the implications for both retailers and consumers.

Content Strategy Roundup - August 9, 2013

  
  
  
  
  

A collection of articles from around the web to help content strategies and digital marketers

Turning Point for Media: Digital tops TV

  
  
  
  
  
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A major threshold has been reached in the evolution of U.S. media.  Adults now spend more time with digital media than TV according to eMarketer’s latest estimate of media consumption.  Stats and tables are here and here.

Content Strategy Roundup - August 1, 2013

  
  
  
  
  
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Here are some insightful articles from the past few weeks.  We hope you find them useful. Click on the headlines to link to the articles.

New Free eBook: Content Marketing for Customer Engagement

  
  
  
  
  

Please download our newest eBook: Content Marketing for Customer Engagement: Four Steps to Success

The Apple Lifestyle vs. The Samsung Device: Tale of the Tape

  
  
  
  
  
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The battle between Apple and Samsung is heating up for both smartphones and tablets.  Apple has a lot riding on the release of iOS7 and the new iPhones and iPads that will follow.  Samsung has a more varied product line and leads with the Galaxy 4.  Both product families are excellent and it often comes down to personal preference or your carrier.  The contrasts between their marketing/advertising approaches are as different as the phones.  It is a case study in how you create and leverage a brand.

Samsung’s history as a maker of devices and products is evident in their marketing – they advertise the “thing”.  And, they do like to spend.  They have always tried to bludgeon the competition with huge media buys across several products categories. Their ads focus on the features and the cool stuff you can do with the Galaxy such as the larger screen or the ability to wave your hand for a command.  This clearly appeals to people who watch a lot of video and play games, and don’t really think of it as a telephone.  The devices are stand alone in that they don’t really tie to any other Samsung offering, but rather the Apps offered in the Android store.  

The ads have another obvious theme – they are not Apple and it’s not an iPhone.  This plays on two factors, first, a blowback against the popularity of Apple and their famously devoted fans.  Secondly, they are trying to create a movement that they are the “next cool thing” and preferred by the young and hip, by contrast, Apple is for boring middle age people who drive a Camry and have 401Ks.  


Here is a long form ad that is a combination of cool gadgets and young people befuddleing their elders with their magic machine





I am not a fan of this as a long-term strategy because hinging on being the new cool thing has a short shelf life.  By definition something can only be new and leading edge for a short amount of time – ask Vine.  Also, you may be writing off or insulting a large segment of consumers.  There are not a lot of people 40+ who aspire to be a 25-year-old hipster, but they do have a lot more disposable income.

Apple’s approach is clearly illustrated by their new commercial you can see below.



When asking the famous question “what business are you in?”  Apple would never answer with anything to do with devices, phones, computer etc. Those are just the means to the end.  Apple is in the experience business – they enhance your life with information and entertainment and empower you at work.  Their have created an entire interconnected ecosystem that works together seamlessly in the cloud.  Apple is the ultimate lifestyle brand with a strong emotional connection between company and customer.  This sometimes borders on irrational (i.e. waiting online overnight for a phone that will be available everywhere within weeks), but that is what emotions are all about.  

Watch this Apple ad on how they bring you Music






















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