It’s November, therefore it’s very cold and there are thousands of Mo-Bro’s on the streets of the UK. Commuting on the tube or bus, you can spot moustaches perched on the top lip of many a young gentleman. A knowledgeable nod from one Mo-Bro to another, this simple sign is more than acknowledgement is it camaraderie.
What is it? Movember is a charity committed to funding research into the causes and cures of testicular cancer.
What’s makes it so different? There are many male orientated charities (albeit not as many as female ones), so what makes Movember any different? I believe there are 2 main differentiators,
Looking at each of these points we can dissect them to determine their impact. Firstly, the consumer side of Movember is focussed into one month, November, this underpins everything within the brand starting with the name: Movember. If you asked 100 brand owners if they would like 100% market coverage of their brand spread evenly throughout the year, you would get 100 answers saying ‘yes!’. This is one of the major reasons behind my ‘Mo’ love, because they have gone out of their way to singularly focus and narrow their consumer touch points and fund raising into one month of the year – that’s less than 10% of the year! A completely different strategy to the vast majority of other charities and in complete contrast their competitors (yes even charities have competitors). It could be argued that because the Movember brand is withdrawn from the consumer for 11 months of the year, they have been starved and then when given the chance to show some ‘Mo’ love people fall over themselves to be involved. It’s a clever, but more importantly a very brave, brand owner who adopts this strategy – hence my Mo love!
The second benefit is that every male can publicly demonstrate that they’re a Mo-Bro, actually some chaps struggle to grow a moustache, myself included as mine is a sparse mixture of thick blond hairs and some rather whispy bum-fluff – not a great look! Yet I walk down the street proudly showing off my lack lustre Mo. Large numbers of charities and other organisations realise the strength and value of letting their supporters publicly show their support (great examples of this are the Yellow wristband for LIVEstrong and the Poppy from The British Legion) yet the Mo for Movember is the only one that you have to grow and cultivate and it’s on your face, nobody can miss the fact you are a Mo-Bro. The beauty of the Moustache is that it harks back to older times before we had the modern instant gratification syndrome in which we all now live – because you have to wait a couple of weeks before showing off your Mo and you have to love, stroke and trim it whereas you give LIVEstrong a couple of quid and you are given a wrist band straight away.
So to summarise, I think the Movember brand and its values are a perfect storm of a great cause, creativity, unique strategy and nostalgia – and I will continue to support Movember every November.
Northern Rock has been sold and depending on your media source may affect how you view the deal. The fine print and details will leak eventually and we imagine that the tax payers will not have lost as much as reported. The upshot is an attempt to increase the competition in the banking market place, this will hopefully lead to greater products and services for the customer, us.
Branson and his Virgin brand have tried before to expand in a number of domains in the past but have been rebuffed for one reason or another (National Lottery and Concorde spring to mind) so it is good to see a new contender enter the arena.
From a design perspective our interest lies in the branding of the bank, rumour has it that the Northern Rock branches and assets that were bought will be branded Virgin Money. This makes total sense as the Northern Rock brand is pretty tarnished by the issues that started in 2007 it is prudent to disassociate the new business with the issues of the past pretty quickly. Even if Virgin hadn’t acquired a business that was as sullied, Virgin is a bold, fun and brash brand that would not weaken themselves by merging with an existing identity. The key to the re-branding will be how they package the existing values into the more corporate customer facing banking world. The danger with Virgin is that if they play it too fun then it will be difficult to build any confidence, whereas the customers will not want more of the same.
When Virgin bought NTL they had acquired a failing business and attacked the new industry with gusto, I think it’s fair to say, with limited success. It is only after a period of years that Virgin Media has differentiated itself from competitors and is beginning to make an impact. I would expect some lessons to have been learnt here and the move into banking to be smoother.
At the absolutely least, expect a lot of red and at least one press image of Branson holding a wad of cash though.
Although, it would have been fun to see a merging of the brands, if only for the occasion when you can proudly announce that you are going to make a deposit a Northern Virgin.
We don’t normally dabble into analysing The X-Factor from a business perspective but the news of falling viewing figures and consequently lower revenue based on the assumed reduction in phone votes and loss via advertising has got us thinking.
The X-Factor is a behemoth of an entertainment show; I have avoided calling it a talent show as it is tantamount to calling WWE wrestling a sport. The show has spawned many hit singles, successful tours, creates untold column inches, re-launched the career of some of the judges and has long sat at the top of the viewing figures for the last few years. However, The X-Factor is essentially a brand; if you want a brand to increase its profitability then new markets are often sought. Simon Cowell has chosen this option and taken The X-Factor across the pond. By hoping to use leverage his profile garnered on American Idol, create hype by hiring and firing judges and having a large prize fund; the show was pretty much a shoe-in to be a success. In reality, the US viewing figures have been less than stellar, Cowell allegedly wanted 20million viewers and he got around 12million for the season premiere. This sounds respectable but American Idol clocked in a massive 28million for their season premiere, this certainly puts things into perspective.
The reasons for the relative failures in both the UK and US markets are slightly different.
The UK market had a brand that was trusted, we liked our judges, the format was settled and eventually the best artist won after we got over the novelty act phase. The producers have always tweaked the format but they may have gone a ‘tweak’ too far.
The changes that have occurred this year seem to have been too significant to overlook. The number of adverts has increased (there to increase revenue) meaning the show is much more disjointed, the change in the judging panel does not seem to have been appreciated and the selection of the acts has been mystifying. Again, if you look at the early shows then it is clear to see who is in the later stages as they have interviewed the people in their homes, often many miles away. So at this point we know that the judges haven’t picked the majority of the people who are in the later stages. When they do finally get a chance to choose the acts they seem to use a Magic Eight Ball. So why trust what the brand is saying if it is contrary to what we being told to believe.
I have been involved in the audition process and I can state that the show is staged to an incredible degree. No stone gets left unturned during research so if there is a ‘shock’ or a ‘scandal’ then it is highly doubtful that this has not been managed and orchestrated by the show itself. After all you want to be in control of your brand, monitoring how it will be perceived to ensure maximum impact!
Assuming we take a different product like a packet of cereal; you have a product that will remain pretty much consistent, perhaps a small change to the packaging every now and then but if you like it then you would never really change. If the cereal box was enlarged but you got the same amount of cereal, the packaging changes to something you are unfamiliar with and the flavour is very similar but just not the same would you still want it? If there are too many changes then the consumer will no longer want what is being sold.
The US audience is subject to different challenges. Firstly The X-Factor is new and the market is pretty saturated, with American Idol and The Voice performing particularly well. Secondly, The X-Factor is not in a great timeslot up against another successful show, Modern Family, and their timeslot often shifts to accommodate the baseball. Further compounding the issues are the facts that The US are less keen on the UK format (particularly the inclusion of the crazy folk) and they also appear less taken with Nicole Scherzinger after she replaced the well-received Cheryl Cole. Quite a few challenges for a fledgling show!
So back to the cereal analogy, you introduce your new cereal on a shelf next to a successful competitor, you then move it around frequently, you also include some fruit pieces in the cereal even though they have only really been tested in other markets and then alter the packaging after a few weeks. Obviously this is a simplistic analogy but you can start to see why The X-Factor is struggling to gain traction in the US.
Creating a brand is difficult, expanding it has additional challenges, but taking your eye off the ball and resting on your laurels are a dangerous game and in the case of The X-Factor the brand expansion is not paying off at home or abroad.