Topshop is no stranger to creating social media sensations. Last year, Topshop took the high street fashion chain’s social presence to a global level when they collaborated with Facebook on a “Customize The Catwalk” experience during London Fashion Week (see my summary of it in my previous blog post).

This year, the brand worked with Google+ to create yet another multi-dimensional experience. The trend for brands to work with social media platforms takes the definition of ‘the medium is the message’ to the digital age. The benefits for brands to co-create content with social media platforms directly is to tap into the expertise of the technology and jointly exploring innovative ways to connect with consumers.

It also guarantees a certain level of exclusivity during content-rich season such as the London Fashion Week when every brand is now producing live streaming of some sort and winning the consumers over unique experience is important.

Brands are also able to make the best use of data collected from various activities. While live streaming, and other ways to give consumers digital access to runway fashion, was more of a marketing tool at first, is now being seen as a research opportunity.

Here I would like to give a brief summary of the key elements of the campaign to illustrate how they are all inter-connected with each other:

Teaser: On 12 Feb, a trailer “The Future of the Fashion Show” (as featured below) was released as teaser of the upcoming activities, giving hints on the ‘storyline’ that would unfold in the following days leading up to Topshop Unique show at London’s Tate Modern on Feb 17. It’s also a crucial step to invite fans to get onboard Google+ that essentially acts as the hub and springboard of the Topshop ‘story’ of the season.

The Future of the Fashion Show – the trailer:

Creating buzz: On 14 Feb, Google+ and Topshop installed a “Be The Model” photo booth in Topshop’s flagship Oxford Street store in London. Customers can try on Topshop outfits and snap pictures in the booth, the device creates animated GIFs users can share with others on their social networks. Organically growing the number of followers and Topshop fans were turned into brand advocates through peer-to-peer recommendation.

Connecting with professional influencers: On 15 Feb, Topshop unveiled behind-the-scenes videos of the models and creative team preparing for Sunday’s show on its YouTube channel, and invited bloggers and fans to join a Google Hangout with Topshop’s creative director Kate Phelan and the Topshop design team. Specific content targets at the fashion circles that in turn act as credible voice for the brand – to give ‘a 360° view of what goes into creating a catwalk show’

Real-time experience: On 17 Feb, Topshop activated its full portfolio of interactive tools. 3-D Google Map technology was employed to give fans access to the show’s space in The Tank at Tate Modern. To create pre-show buzz, 30 mins before the show kicked start, Topshop broadcasted Google Hangouts between fashion bloggers, Topshop fans, and celebrities on their way into the unique space. More opportunities for the content to be widely spread on various platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Hangout Live Backstage Before Topshop Unique AW13:

Topshop Unique AW13 – The show:

Multi-platform distribution of content: The Topshop Unique Show was streamed live on Topshop’s owned website, as well as on Google+ and Twitter (Tweek Walk), in embedded media players on news organization websites and various fashion blogs, and on a giant screen in the window of Topshop’s Oxford Street store.

360° Interactivity: Runway models’ outfits and accessories were fitted with ‘Model cams’, HD micro-cameras powered by SIS Live’s Hawkeye techonology. The tiny cameras broadcast model’s-eye video in the corner of the show livestream, giving audience an opportunity to experience stepping out onto the catwalk through their favourite models’ eyes.

Content optimization: Other spin-offs were adopted from the success of the previous season’s livestream “Customize The Catwalk” initiative. These include the very successful “Shoot and Share” feature for fans to take still shots from the webcast, and various ways to prolong the experience by allowing fans to download the catwalk music tracks (this year the music featuring tracks from the Smiths, Beats International and Saint Etienne) and purchase the make up range. Every single element was fully utilised to extend the lifespan of the campaign.

Data intelligence: “Be The Buyer” post-show custom Google+ Hangout app was launched so that every clip from the runway will be swipable into a ‘wish-list’ which will then be featured on Topshop website. The data from the Google+ Hangout app will help the buyers decide what they are going to actually bring to retail. Fans feel like they are literally taking control of what they are going to buy.

It’s exciting to see how brands embrace digital channels to produce experiences that consumers really enjoy. The use of data also allows designers for the first time to make a very educated decision about how to plan. I believe the clever and seamless application of technology without making consumers feel like they have been put under the microscope is the key to success. As we know, the worst things happen to some of the digital campaign is that they tend to make consumers feel like they are generating content on behalf of the brands rather than having an enjoyable experience.

I would also like to see how this kind of co-creation could evolve to a global level, creating universal experience for consumers from different markets joining in the big event. It also allows brands to understand what works where globally. That could well be the next big news in global digital content creation.

Every so often brands rise up to the challenge to communicate the brand on an emotional level. Rather than just merely telling people what the product is, it tells people what the brand means. Mattel had just done that. The new TV spot created by the Mattel Barbie marketing team in LA conveys what the brand means – Barbie is not just a character with beautiful clothes and make up, it gives consumers a channel to spread their dreams. All of a sudden, Barbie is not just a toy; it’s a medium, an inspiration. That, to me, is a brilliant idea.

And what could be better to express the emotion than a TV commercial with great production value. The universal aspirations that it projects work across generations and culture. I can also see how it could work very well globally and potentially become an international sensation.

Barbie is reinventing herself in some of the newly developed markets such as China. Last year, Mattel opened a unique concept store in a country where parents consider their only child as ‘little precious’. The Barbie Store in Shanghai has furniture, fashion range and even a café and a spa. The potential of the product extension is enormous. I start to see Barbie ballet school, Barbie scholarships on its way.

I always believe that true creativity goes beyond short term sales increase, it builds brands for the long term.

TVC link: http://youtu.be/bz_XFdPBkLY

Finally, someone is working hard to make sure the fact that the contribution of creativity to the effectiveness of marketing campaign is well recognised.

In a report commissioned by IPA, the UK trade body and Thinkbox, who represents the television industry in the UK, has confirmed this. Based on the work collated by the Gunn Report, the campaigns that had been rewarded with the great number of accolades for their creative work were 11 times more successful in positive results in both effectiveness and efficiency.

There are more numbers for those who love statistics:

74% of the creative award scores contained in the Gunn Report were for TV spots…

44% of the creative awards were handed out to campaigns that were essentially “emotional” in character, while just 19% were “rational”…

35% of shoppers agreed they “highly liked” campaigns featured in the Gunn Report, compared with 20% who said the same for campaigns that did not attain such a status…

It is not easy to take something intangible and subjective like creativity and try to prove its tangible results. “What is the ROI with the new creative campaign?” your client may ask. It is even more difficult to judge what actually makes a marketing campaign creative. Is it the creative idea itself or in fact the innovation behind the product? (Apple Mac is a good example)

The report is, after all, great news to anyone in the creative industry, but it only gives evidence to one side of the bigger picture.

True creativity is not just a clever headline or catchy phrases; nor is it just an ad. True creativity is a dialogue with consumers and a well orchestrated plan taking the consumers on a journey from knowing the brand to building a strong lasting relationship.

For a global brand, true creativity is the ability to present the brand with a single voice all over the world while winning the heart of local consumers in the most culturally relevant way.

Like creativity itself, benefits from excellent creativity may not be easily quantifiable, but certainly can be articulated and demonstrated through real practice. Next time, don’t just talk about ROI, talk about return on creative investment!

Marketing magazine reported that Coca Cola has gone ‘back to basics’ with latest TVC (marketingmagazine.co.uk, 08.04.10). To my knowledge, the commercial is almost certainly not a new campaign. It had been adapted in many different languages for many markets.


Combining visual analogy with tailored made voice over treatment – is certainly a typical ‘formula’ of a global idea. However, whether this will really go an extra mile in reinforcing or even reminding the consumer of the emotional value of Coca Cola require a strategic creative adaptation technique.

Base on the same ‘formula’ of the execution there is an opportunity to stretch the idea further and create voice over that is more creative or even leverage on ‘topical’ issues relating to the local consumer in each country. There are also untapped opportunities to create scripts that reflect different consumers’ special interests – targeting towards consumers in different ‘channels’ (for example the voice over for the spot airing during X-Factor could well be different from the voice over for the spot airing during the World Cup season!). In doing so the commercial can remain current and relevant at any time. In my opinion, this is where the real potential of the idea.

The arrival of multi-channel media consumption had greatly fragmented the viewing habit of consumers. The web and mobile and instant messaging have also changed the consumers’ relationship with media from passive to active. It certainly won’t work anymore adopting a force-feeding and ‘uniform’ style of communications. The new ways in which companies connect with consumers need to be personal, exclusive, unpredictable and participatory. The commercial’s net takeaway message of Coca Cola being ‘a drink for every occasion’ simply won’t have the power to cut through the clutter.

Just like the approach of digital contents, TV commercials of today need to be ‘dynamic’ rather than ‘static’ – meaning the content needs to facilitate frequent updates and able to be customised for specific channel. Brands need to avoid generalised claim such as ‘for everyone’ but convince consumers that the message is genuinely tailored for them, and talks to them on a personal level.

Link to above TVC: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1847321790?bctid=76595062001

Same campaign for different markets:


HTC Channel_you  Yahoo it's You

Putting consumers as the focus in advertising message is not new. What had become increasingly a ‘fashion’ is due to some of the changes in the form of personal communication these days. We all have answered these questions on social networking sites on a day to day basis – “What are you doing?” (Twitter) “What are you doing right now?” (MySpace) “What’s on your mind?” (Facebook) “What are you working on?” (Linkedin). We also have to personalise our Google or Yahoo homepage to reflect our mood…all these have made self-absorption almost obligatory.

It is not surprising that recently, advertisers seem to be obsessed with communicating how their brand relates to the consumer and how the product or services had personalised to suit the individual’s needs and aspirations. However, the similarities in their positioning and executions have created confusion among consumers.

In September this year, Yahoo! introduced a new slogan: “It’s Y!ou”, which incorporates the traditional Yahoo! logo and signature exclamation mark. The first set of ads for the brand carried straplines such as: “The Internet has a new personality: Yours”, and “The Internet is under new management: Yours”. The aim was to reflect how the internet now has been at the centre of people’s lives and how Yahoo, literally, is within ‘you’.

The new commercial featured slice of life of the people around the world…“where news travels faster, friends come closer, and you go further; where you can consumer, share, buzz, destroy, earn, flirt, watch, and wonder, in new ways, ‘you’ ways, place that will launch a billion viewers, place that shapes like you, brought to you, made by you, it starts with you, starting today. Yahoo. It’s you.”

All very upbeat, brilliant production value and with a fanfare in multiple markets all over the world…

Enter HTC…

In October, HTC, the Taiwanese smartphone launched their first image advertising. The new campaign focuses on, who else, “You” the consumer. Sounds familiar? The commercials portray individuals from various walks of life using their phones for work, life and play: “It’s the first thing you see in the morning, and the last thing you see at night, it stresses you out, it calms you down, it helps you remember, it helps you forget, it keeps you connected, it’s the only thing you own that’s always within arm’s reach, which is why you don’t need to get a phone, you need a phone that gets you, and you, and you, and we are HTC.”

Consumers must be so flattered in this day and age, when brands claim to focus so much on them by offering products and services that complements them “just the way they are”. The problem is a message being told too often, will end up to be a cliché. In terms of creative execution, anthem style multiple vignettes execution seems to be a bit over used, and at the end losing the look and feel, and the unique personality of the brand.

With products such as Youtube, Myspace, and tagline such as ‘My City My Metro’ (Dubai Metro), ‘Your Move’ (Reebok), ‘It’s on Me’ (adidas), just to name a few. The ‘you’ phenomenon could soon become a generic proposition.