All the things you’re not

These are two dumb billboards:

ASB is not a kiwi bank.  They were sold to Commonwealth Bank of Australia (as the name would suggest, a publicly listed Australian company) in 1989.

Eh? Nobody picks JetStar because of the quality of the onboard service.  They are a discount airline – cheap and cheerful.

Why do they choose to highlight the exact things they are not?

Both obviously feel they need to respond to their competitors’ advertising.

Kiwi Bank nicely mocks the “Australian banks” in their ads.  And, Air New Zealand has done well to position themselves as the slightly-more-expensive-but-worth-it alternative, by highlighting all of the hidden extras that are not included in the discount airlines’ prices.

So, what should ASB and JetStar do?

Why not focus on the things that are important to customers that they actually are.

JetStar just needs to highlight their prices and ask the question: “how much are you paying for that tiny lolly mix?” or “how much are you paying for those airpoints?”

ASB is a more difficult example, because, it seems to me at least, that Kiwi Bank has them on most of the areas that customers care about.  Perhaps the long slow queues at Post Shops, including people trying to send their Trade Me parcels, is one area of weakness to focus on?

Either way ASB need to stop talking about the things they used to be – kiwi owned, leaders online (where is the ASB iPhone app?), etc – and find a current point of difference.

Whatever happened to BankDirect, I wonder?  They had a great brand, but it seems to have been left to rot on the vine recently. I remember one ad with attitude they had years ago which said something like: “Our credit cards are black, because we think they look cool” – it convinced me to switch!

This is just another good example of something that smaller companies seem to find much easier – talk straight and be yourself.

Some Recent Posts

Bonus (not so recent, but related):

  • TVCs, 21 December 2008




In the last couple of weeks I’ve spoken to two different web companies who are considering a TV advertising campaign.

Maybe I’m just tainted by the specific companies I’ve worked with, but I find that to be a frustrating and disappointing approach to marketing, and one which I expect to fail.

Here is the question:

Can anybody give me any example of a web-based business that has achieved long-term benefits from a TV advertising campaign?

Temporary spikes in traffic don’t count, as the evidence suggests that this quickly reverses once the ads stop.

There are lots of companies who have tried over a long period of time now.

I’m open to the possibility. But, all of the companies that I can think of who have burnt cash on TV ads don’t seem to have much to show for it.

Remember the 2000 Superbowl ads like the ad above?  Yes, they were creative and in some cases funny, but did they achieve anything apart from exposing the people who foolishly paid millions of dollars and then watched it go up in smoke in 30 seconds?

The most obvious example in NZ is Ferrit – we’ve been bombarded with their terrible ads for the last couple of years, and where has it got them?

To quote Ian Morris (yes, that’s right, Tex Pistol!), who has an entire web site devoted to stupid ads:

“I have no idea who these ads are aimed at. Certainly can’t be me, or my children, or any of my friends, colleagues, acquaintances, relatives, football team members, or any of their children, or their pets. I have yet to find anyone who finds these ads – and Mr Stupid Pants and Tank-top – anything other than awfully, cloyingly annoying.”

On the other hand, there are lots of companies who have taken a more organic approach to growth, who seem much better off for it – for example, Lance posted about Torpedo7 last week.  

So, please, don’t waste your money on TV ads that probably won’t work.

Invest in a website that people love to use, and make sure you give people a reason to keep coming back.

Get those things right and you’ll be able to afford TV ads, but won’t need them!

Get a Mac

The Mac and PC characters have become famous on the back of the Apple ads. Recently they’ve appeared in some cheeky online ads which have been running on a few tech sites.

The actor who plays PC even appears as a guest star in one episode of the Flight of the Conchords HBO series.

Here in NZ we get the US ads, but in some other countries they have their own local variation, and it’s interesting to see how they transplant the humour.

For example, in the UK they use comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb from the Peep Show. Some of the ads are straight copies of the US scripts, but some are new …

And in Japan they have these two guys (is it just me or are the physical differences between Mac and PC a bit more subtle in this incarnation?) …

And, my favourite, South Park …


(Ironically Firefox crashed with a spinning beachball of death when I tried to preview this post … is somebody watching??)

Giving people what they want

Andy Lark has a nice post on The Power of Community.

This quote of his has stuck in my head:

“Marketing programs, clever PR and community activation aside, nothing really beats giving people what they want.”

Too true!

As I’ve noted before, one way to market a product or service is to build something that people love to use and happily tell their friends about.

He also maks an interesting point about how much of the iPhone story has been told in community-driven sites like Digg et al:

“Apple is launching the iPhone at a time when content aggregation sites like Digg, Techmeme, and even Google News can put a potential customer before hundreds, if not thousands, of possibly interesting stories about the product. All Apple has to do is trickle out information every now and then, as it has done in the weeks leading up to Friday’s launch, and watch the frenzy take hold.”

Here’s an interesting comparison along those lines:

The Official Nokia N95 site

A pretty standard marketing site: slick, flash-based, but doesn’t really tell me much about the product that I really believe.

The Nokia N95 page on Wikipedia

A pretty good summary of the phone and it’s features, including some of its flaws:

“Nokia N95 handsets supplied by Orange and Vodafone in the UK have had the VoIP facility removed from the phone to the annoyance of many users. Vodafone’s explanation for removing the facility was that ‘it doesn’t believe it’s a mature technology’.”

“It should be noted that the N95 does not support US based versions of UMTS/HSDPA; UMTS features in the US versions of this phone are disabled by default (but can be reactivated if needed).”

Which is more useful to somebody considering a purchase?

Touchy feely

This coming week is the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in the US.

Expect the buzz around the upcoming launch of the iPhone to reach fever pitch by the time Steve Jobs takes the stage.

Check out this competition, where people had to make their own iPhone advert (via Michael Gregg). Amazing free publicity for a product which isn’t even released yet.

This entry is a bit wacky:

I could swear those are kiwi accents too. :-)

And so the anticipation builds.

Meanwhile, for those sitting on the Windows side of the fence (or for that matter Apple fan boys in NZ who will no doubt be waiting a while for the local release of iPhone) … no need to feel totally left out of all this touchy feely stuff.

Check out the just launched HTC Touch, which runs Windows Mobile and has a touch screen interface.

Sounds great in theory. But when you look closely at the photos of the physical design of the phone or see the user interface in action, it seems to lack the final 1% which makes the iPhone appear magical.

As Joel Spolsky wrote this week: it’s a games of inches.