Wednesday 19 September 2018

AdLIb: Sutherland urges creative touch

An Post head of media Fiona Heffernan, and keynote An Post Early Bird Club speaker Rory Sutherland
An Post head of media Fiona Heffernan, and keynote An Post Early Bird Club speaker Rory Sutherland
MCCP’s Kay McCarthy. Photo: Andres Poveda

Michael Cullen

Wine tastes better when poured from a heavier bottle. In Japan, there's one vending machine for every 20 people.

While you might consider it odd, many of the machines are plonked right outside shops selling exactly the same merchandise - it's an indication of how people like different ways of buying goods, be it a can of Coke or a Mars bar. So says Ogilvy chairman and behavioural economics speaker Rory Sutherland.

Addressing top marketers at An Post's early bird breakfast in Fallon & Byrne restaurant, Sutherland referred to a study which claims that if you were to close down all the business schools, it would improve commercial standards. The reasoning is that business schools are basically all about indoctrinating the same principles and encourage students to conform - promoting mediocrity, while stifling creativity.

Take transport innovations, for example. Or, as Sutherland prefers to tag them, "innervations". Airline passengers fly through airport baggage check armed with clam-shell bags. When asked by security to open them, their underwear inevitably hits the ground. Sutherland suggests airports should have more table tops, allowing travellers to open and shut their bags with less difficulty.

Some commuters resent having to stand all the time on packed trains, so why not include spaces where people can lean on something? People hate airport buses. But EasyJet found a way around it by telling passengers there's a problem on the tarmac, but don't worry, we've found a way of dropping you off right next to arrivals. To paraphrase comedian Frank Carson: "It's the way you tell 'em!" Don't always do what people expect you to do. If armies did that, they'd lose every conflict.

Restaurant patrons can be told something in a way which needn't discomfort them. Rather than ordering diners to turn off their mobiles the minute they walk in the door, put up a sign which they notice on entering the restaurant. It reads "Please remember to switch back on your mobile when leaving. Thank you." As the meerkats would say, 'simples' - but clever.

Consumers pay more heed to something where there's an upside. You can't do it with a parking ticket or a tax bill. Preparing customers for the worst-case scenario rather than using language which raises expectations is a wise ploy. It usually produces happier customers. Getting back to airlines, if Ryanair or Aer Lingus tell their customers that their flight is "delayed", they might as well have "miserable" up on the board.

Sutherland insists economics is used as a default to strengthen rational choices. It explains why economists have no truck with marketers, who prefer to trade in creative propositions.

* MCCP, run by Kay McCarthy, reports that PornHub's data analytics are second to none. PornHub has been mining its users' data and matching its service to not only meet demand, but to safeguard its browsers' privacy. Now, it is ensuring visually-impaired people don't miss out on any action. It offers enlarged text and customised colour contrasts, for viewers with limited visual sharpness or colour-blindness. It plans to introduce keyboard shortcuts to make navigation easier for the blind and add alternative text to better describe images.

* On the movers front, Niamh McCarrick has joined Kerry Foods as customer engagement manager from EirGrid, where she was marketing communications specialist. Sarah McDonagh has taken on the role of corporate propositions business partner at VHI. She worked with Permanent TSB since 2006. Alan McAuley is now digital media director at Mediaworks, having joined from iProspect.

* In a bid to urge transition-year secondary students to take more interest in reading newspapers and keeping up to speed on current affairs, press lobby group NewsBrands Ireland has launched Press Pass 2017. Since its debut in 2012, Press Pass has helped about 70,000 students. The Department of Education and Twitter are programme partners.

* Creed is a new agency started up by Mark Cassin and Tim Britnell. Cassin founded DMA, while Britnell has worked with various agencies, including McCann Blue, Huskies and Dynamo. Branding themselves as a "multi-disciplinary boutique agency" promising quick results, Creed got the ball rolling with a welfare cheats campaign for the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

* The Public Relations Institute of Ireland can expect a large turn-out for its annual conference in the Printworks at Dublin Castle on October 19. That's because Ryanair is on the bill. Normally it's up to Kenny Jacobs to extol the airline's virtues at public gatherings.

However, on this occasion, it'll be the job of communications manager, Robin Kiely, to talk the talk amid the prevailing turbulence. And given the extent of the current tempest, it's not just the airline's fuselage that needs balls of aluminium.

Michael Cullen is editor of;

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