AdLib: The new bosses - today's consumers
Media and marketing
Customer experience and urging consumers to tell each other about brands rather than the age-old habit of allowing companies to set the marketing agenda is the message Dialogue agency founder Michael Killeen wants to propagate. Killeen, pictured left, says Ireland's marketers need to refocus and get up to speed on how consumer power is taking hold.
While marketing used to work in a vacuum, customer experiences now dictate how well brands perform. Killeen, whose background is in sales promotion and direct marketing, is reinventing Dialogue as a customer experience agency. "It's about giving customers an amazing experience so they sell your brand on your behalf," Killeen says.
Dialogue works to a six-point customer experience model developed in the US. They are personalisation - individual attention to create emotional ties; expectations: managing, meeting and outdoing consumer demands; time and effort; integrity - being trustworthy; resolution - turning a bad experience into a great one, and empathy - understanding customers to drive relations.
With that in mind, Killeen teamed up with Amárach Research to ask 37,000 Irish consumers with which brands they engage. Stir.ie and KPMG Nunwood are partners in the initiative, which is based on Nunwood's Customer Experience Excellence Centre - or Cexi for short - a non-profit subscription service which allows Irish companies research, analyse and apply customer best practice from around the world.
Nunwood's customer excellence ranking in the US shows that American brands outstrip their UK counterparts due to a strong service culture, digital know-how and a relentless focus on patriotism. As Walmart founder Sam Walton remarked: "There's only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else."
Killeen hopes to have about 35 Cexi clients by the end of the year. Among the companies that have signed up so far are Irish Rail, Permanent TSB, UPC and Vodafone. A league table of Irish brands will be released at the end of August.
To show that Cexi is about enabling people to 'Have a Nicer Day', everyday consumers will gather at an 'unconference' in Dublin in October. They will discuss what they want from customer experiences, rather than the other way round.
Thierry Henry may still be classed as the ultimate enfant terrible by some Ireland soccer fans for a certain handball incident in Paris, but Carat's Dave Winterlich - a Manchester United fan - doesn't appear to hold any grudges against the former Arsenal striker.
In a blog posted on the agency's website, Winterlich extols the virtues of the new Sky Sports ad as Henry takes viewers on a trip down memory with scenes from various matches.
Winterlich admits that as someone working in the business he may have become desensitised to ads and can be overly critical of campaigns. But he's most impressed by how Sky Sports is trying to lay claim to being the home of Barclays Premier League football.
Winterlich describes it as an ad that "just gets it right". He says Sky has made ads promoting their football coverage for 23 years, right back to when they didn't even need to bother as they were "the only show in town". BSkyB paid £4.2bn for the rights to show 126 live games a season between now and 2019, while BT forked out £960m for 42 games a season.
Winterlich also gives BT's campaign with Jose Mourinho the thumbs up. He describes it as a classical challenger ad with Chelsea's manager as the ultimate rebel. Henry is pictured in the Sky Sports ad, positioned magically alongside Manchester United's Roy Keane for the infamous tunnel incident against Arsenal.
QFrench insurer Axa has put its media buying up for review as part of a statutory pitch lead by the company's procurement division. The presentations are expected to take place in mid-September.
The incumbent is WPP's Group M lead agency Mindshare, run by Bill Kinlay. Havas Media, run by Graham Taylor, will also pitch as they handle Axa in some overseas markets, including France. Accenture's Grace Gallagher, who will manage the process for Axa, may have her work cut out trying to line up other major agencies for the contest. The usual suspects are all riddled with head-on conflicts.
At Core Media, Starcom looks after AIB and One Direct, while MediaVest has Aviva. Carat has FBD and OMD works for AIG, while Initiative's clients include Zurich.
TV3 is waiting on the nod from Sky so it can proceed with the launch if its HD service in time for next month's Rugby World Cup (RWC). Action from all 48 matches will be shown live from Friday, September 18. Former Munster and Ireland scrum half Peter Stringer has joined the TV3 panel.
The commentary team will be led by the BBC's Conor McNamara. In the studio will be Matt Cooper and Sinead Kissane, pictured top with TV3's Niall Cogley and panellist Keith Woods.
Michael Cullen is editor of Marketing.ie: firstname.lastname@example.org