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Five things on Friday #357
Things of note for the week ending Sunday November 5th, 2023.
As I write this entry to you now, it’s 23:11 on Thursday November 2nd. I’ve had a decent evening. My friend (and co-founder of Today Do This), Robbie has been over (hi mate). A poorly Mrs meant we had to skip a party and instead head home to eat chips, chat politics, and watch Kevin Eldon lose £83k on the celebrity edition of The Chase.
It’s now Saturday. It’s 22:00. We go again.
Last night, Friday, I was in Brixton seeing friends (old Oreo pals - and more). My mum had the kids and we partied late, stayed over, and slept in.
It was a great night - made all the better by a brief stop at Westminster on the way to see easily the biggest thing Diva has done since I joined the agency: a full building takeover of London County Hall for the launch of Call of Duty: Modern War III.
Literally painting the town red.
You can expect a full proper edit (with real actual drones, not fake ones) at some point next week. But in case you can’t wait, this is what it would’ve looked like to the several thousand people who were walking past at the time: I shot this video from the Westminster Thames Clipper pier on the north side of the river.
I can’t believe how great it was. That sound was live! And so loud. Mazin.
What else can I tell you?
Thank you to all the lovely replies last week. I’ve got to most of you. I think i’ve got two more left (will do it after I hit send on this - promise). It’s November. It’s my birthday soon. Better make some plans…
In the meantime however, it’s getting late - and I don’t think this will go out until Sunday. I’ve done a bit of prep on the links, so I know what’s going where. I’m hoping not too dilly dally too much with the opinion and just get you the juicy links. But let’s see how we go?
Shall we go then? To the things?
1. DAVID S. PUMPKINS
It's been halloween this week and while it is customary to write about these things in the lead up to the event, I've spent perhaps more time than I should’ve laughing about and reflecting on DAVID S PUMPKINS again.
(I say ‘again’ because I’m adamant I’ve written about him before but you can bugger right off if you think I’m checking).
OK, so. David S. Pumpkins who?
Some of you will know who he is. Some of you won't. Some of you will get this. Some of you won't. The thing is, I am massively here for those of you the latter party.
BECAUSE THATS WHY IT’S FUNNY.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about then of course you MUST watch the original SNL skit, right here (on Five things on Friday). Any questions?
A genuine highlight of my week.
2. ADS DONT GET TIRED, MARKETERS DO
“Data shows there’s no such thing as advertising ‘wear-out’, so save your new campaign budget and spend it on making your current ads effective for longer.”
Now I know, as someone who has spent most of his professional working life working on the creative side of the advertising business, admitting or sharing this information is a death knell on the retained agency’s need to launch a new and different brand campaign every year.
But the data is inarguable and if it means finding new and creative ways to share the same message, or more creative ways to drive effectiveness through additional channel rollouts, cut-downs, partnerships - etc (the point is, lads, your first idea shouldn’t just be a script, yeah?)
Ritson continues - in a pitch perfect description of how a good marketer works:
“Gaze back at the last decade and the effectiveness concepts line up beautifully. Any newly minted CMO who knows their advertising onions is going to follow the script.
They will appreciate the pre-existing size of their brand has a massive impact on current strategy and future impact.
They will use excess share of voice (ESOV) to assess the right overall level of advertising investment.
They will split it into long and short baskets based on the nature of their category, brand and market.
They will brief the correctly selected agencies on a handful of objectives, with clarity on target audiences and position.
The power of the creative idea will be paramount.
The work will need to be distinctive and studiously apply distinctive brand codes throughout. It will employ emotion, especially for the branding part.
The work will spread across multiple media channels in an integrated fashion. It will prioritise reach over extended frequency.
It will take into account the varied attention metrics of the different channels.
And the marketer will use a blend of econometrics, market testing and brand tracking to optimise the campaign’s effect, assess its ultimate impact and produce learnings ahead of its next iteration.
Whether all of this stuff then gets to be applied is an entirely different, more practical question.”
Aside from the broader point of the piece, which we’ll come to momentarily, that last part is bang on. I have worked with some incredible marketing directors- and you know when you get to the good ones because they’re the ones that have not only done the work but also are equipped with the toolset and ability to ask the right questions. All of which can only be at their disposal IF (big if) IF they’ve done the work outlined above. If.
So yeah, about Ritson’s point. Over 50,000 ads reviewed… and:
“There is no evident impact of how long the ad has been running on that ads’ performance…”
The full data (from multiple, well respected and well-researched agencies), seems to suggest if you’re rolling out a new brand campaign every year, then maybe that’s something you should reconsider.
Or, maybe better yet, perhaps delve back into the archives and see if there’s an old ad that demands a modern twist.
Go read Mark Ritson with your MUST READ Marketing read of the week, you’ll see what I mean.
3. THIS WEEK IN GAMING
We’ve had a fairly big gamery opening so I’ll try and keep this week’s section brief.
In last week’s edition of Five things on Friday, I mentioned how daft it was to make assumptions about EA’s apparent failure with the launch of FC24. Using incomplete data is a sure-fire way to end up with nothing more than ill-informed opinion.
Go the extra click, I said.
Double check the data, I said.
Given that the brand marketers at EA aren’t idiots, I thought FC24 would be OK. But let’s wait and see what happens at the earnings call, I said.
Well, the earnings call came and went and guess what? It turns out Electronic Arts and FC24 did alright after all.
‘…bUt rEtAiL SaLeS wErE dOwN 3o%?’
Just go the extra click.
It isn’t hard.
Related: if you’ve ever gone near any version of FIFA, this podcast episode from The Athletic is a great listen.
Quick News Bites
‘Black Games Archive is a multimedia, public-facing database of games, digital resources, accessible scholarship, and designer interviews that are relevant to the intersections between Black culture, games, and play.’ - GO. SEE.
I am sad for the situation at Bungie. One of my favourite studios and creators of the game that’s had the biggest impact on my life, Destiny 2. I hope it improves.
Black to the Future, top storytelling voices on demystifying genre is a great watch.
The FT asks: How long before gaming sheds sexist attitudes? This is a good, data-led look at the m/f split of the people making the games we all enjoy. Important.
And finally in the news:
Arkham Knight, the 2015 smash hit third and final (?) game in the superb Arkham Trilogy, hit the news this week as a skin from THE BATMAN (R-Patz version) was seemingly added then removed in the space of a few days.
Per the IGN article linked, it makes sense for this to be an early / accidental release to be timed with the slightly delayed arrival of the Arkham Trilogy on Nintendo Switch (originally slated for last month, now due in December). Either way, when (not if) it drops, I look forward to trying it out.
Regular readers will know Batman has a special place in my heart and he has followed me around in my career over the years.
I’ve worked on brand partnership campaigns for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (at 1000heads for Nokia), ARKHAM KNIGHT (at Ogilvy for Pizza Hut), and THE BATMAN (at Publicis EU for Oreo). But this is the first time two of those things have been smashed together in this way. It’s kinda nice.
Incidentally, if you’ve ever got a Batman brief in, I’m your man x
What is James playing?
Well, you’ll be wholly unsurprised to learn that I’ve completely finished Spider-Man 2. Platinum, the lot. This game has been incredible and I think a clear runner for my GotY. Insomniac Games’ dedication to emotional depth and growth, on top of a model that it knows works, is key to its success. So much depth.
I think my favourite missions were side quests (exploring the history of black music; flying with ‘sea birds’ - my heart). Arguably the first game that makes the PS5 a must-purchase machine.
FWIW, the whole thing clocked in at around 35hrs. YMMV. And I wouldn’t let young young children play this. There’s a couple of scenes in there - specifically with Kraven - that I would not want my 9 year old to see. FYI.
Once Spdey was out of the way, I also managed to knock over Cocoon. I’ve talked about this already but it’s on Game Pass and an amazing little puzzler (especially tricky towards the end) but I loved it.
So to answer the question, I’m playing
Assassin’s Creed Mirage. I want to finish this before moving to the recently purchase Alan Wake remaster (which I want to play before moving onto AW2)
The Finals Open Beta - what fun!
Aaaand I’m also one of the SIX MILLION people that have returned to Fortnite for the OG update. Insane.
What are you playing? :)
4. GOOD BONES
5. SOME GOOD ADS
And not one of them is Christmas-related. I promise. Not yet at least. We’re a good month away until I do any of that stuff.
We've not even had bonfire night yet for crying out loud.
So yeah, here are some ads that you have probably heard of or seen already but I felt like shining some light on because good work needs to be celebrated more.
I really like this triplicate of New EE ones that sit behind the New EE work from Saatchi & Saatchi and Digitas UK.
Huge credit to the client for signing off three large production TVCs to communicate three different messages in one distinctive creative expression. Outstanding music choices (across all three), and the editing and directing is superb. Honestly, I can’t love them enough - for all the reasons given and more.
Telecoms (in the UK at least) generally is hard. A saturated market with 98% coverage from all networks and hardware exclusives few and far between (what number iPhone are we up to now)?) - the general consensus of any commoditised marketplace, from a planning perspective at least, is that you either compete on price (big no no) OR you differentiate on brand.
This is why people pay £7 for Nurofen vs 99p for own brand of the same product.
And so it follows in Telecoms, right?
Can’t wait to see the effectiveness paper, gang 😘
PS. I used to work with some of this lot, I briefly touched some EE stuff YONKS ago. But none of this is my work, I just know the bunch behind them are mega talented x
I really like this new Uber One ad… ‘Best friends’
CAN YOU IMAGINE being in the room when you’re pitching Asa Butterfield and Robert De Niro in a 3min ad with the line being ‘for people who eat food and go places’ - ?!
The audacity. I love it.
Congrats to all involved.
And finally, I really like this new Doritos Gaming AI tech one.
Arguably this could be in the gaming section above but I’m putting it here because it's actually mega refreshing to find a brand/game activation that not only works in a way to address a real player problem (I used to get so much grief from my mates for joining a Raid night with a packet of Thai Sweet Chili Sensations on the go) BUT ALSO uses technology in a meaningful and helpful way (vs say a ‘hand wavey BS’ way - you know who you are).
I’d be interested to know/see what the take up is and, of course, whether it works for all crisps or if it’s specifically Doritos.
Ten points to everyone.
THIS IS THE BONUS SECTION. BONUS LINKS THAT BUMP US OVER FIVE THINGS BUT DUE TO TIMING AND SELF-IMPOSED WRITING RESTRICTIONS ARE LIMITED TO PITHY COMMENTARY ONLY.
I've not really followed much of the FTX story. 'Another white man over-invested in by idiots loses other people's money' - sure. BUT, this article is great.
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes has my money on the strength of the first three films alone (I hope it’s good).
The girl that spent 738 days living in a Redwood Tree (a high point of humanity)
Get you a partner that looks at you like this dog ignores everything else.
Alien marine farts = proof of life?
Old age is a nasty surprise - Billy’s warning you. Listen.
Judi Dench on Graham. Saw this happen live, was so impromptu and just flat out incredible; I could watch her for days.
The best London meme accounts had me crying with laughter this week. The Soho House ones especially (more so because I’ve helped with the copy on an apology letter before - the things you do for your line managers, eh?) - oh the lols.
Facebook and Instagram could start offering ad-free plans. One could simply not use them?
‘It’s OK to get emotional on the purps’ - I really like the ‘It’s OK’ sign in this post. Suzy, can we get a few for the office please?
I posted on threads: ‘Shot entirely on iPhone’ in this context is like showing a lasagna and saying 'made with an entire carrot' ( I mean it's true but doesn't really include anything else use to deliver what you’re seeing) - and was appalled to discover how many people don’t use a carrot when making any kind of bolognese.
Poking fun at McKinsey feels like shooting fish in a barrel these days (and I wonder if all this negative PR is almost certainly good for business. If you're not a great company but you're buckets of money in bad ways - and you need help - you're probably the kind of company that would want these charlatans) but still, John Oliver was eviscerating on them recently. Neil Perkins has the links.
I’m sure you need more newsletters in your life but THIS HERE never misses.
YOU ARE REACHING THE END OF THE NEWSLETTER. MIND THE GAP.
Right. We made it. It’s 11:45am on Sunday November 5th.
I wanted to write quickly about some of the responses I’ve had to this section last week talking mental health.
Jay, for you - for your brother - I watched the Norwich City FC film ‘You are not alone’ - what an incredible piece of work. Thank you. I’m sharing it here, as promised.
Holly, brilliant and bright-star-shining Holly, I’m sharing this excellent resource on how to find the right therapist or counsellor for you.
If you sometimes feel like your mental health suffers BUT you’re having an OK time of it at the moment, then this is the perfect time to find someone to talk to. Please don’t wait for it to hit crisis.
You men especially. There’s a danger zone and once you’re in it, the speed at which you’ll become a scarf on the back of a stadium seat is frightening.
You are not alone. And it’s OK to not be OK.
There are other ways out - and they don’t have to be final.
Until next time,
Whatley out x