2019 UPDATE: Are TV ads worth it? Super Bowl musings Part 2




Last year we did a two part series (part two is below and you can find part 1 here) on Super Bowl advertising and how digital can be intertwined and why small and medium enterprises should think BIG. We enjoyed it so much we thought we would take a look at the ads for this year and see if they passed muster.

Get ready for Grammy Winners, Oscar Winners, Hall of Famers and a Super Model to boot. We’ll use a fairly simple grading system Great, Good Enough, Meh, Bad.


ADP – Good Enough

A simple enough premise with pumping music and ADT made a good choice of spokespeople/influencers. You might not know their voices but when the “property brothers” come into frame one is like “oh, yeah, I like those guys”. There might be a bit too much negative language “it’s not about…” but it does a good job of appealing to wide audience and makes the stale idea of security warm and family friendly.


Amazon – Bad

I hate this ad – it’s too frenetic; it wants us to be on the joke but we aren’t, it makes no sense and just makes them look like eff-ups. I am not sure if you needed stars for this ad Harrison got an OK role but Forrest, Abbi and Ilana were left high and dry (or quite the opposite) being wasted. This ad just feels like we had a big budget for this ad lets waste it all.


Audi – Good

It’s funny, it’s aspirational, it has a message. It’s brand building for Audi done the right way.


Avo From Mexico – Good

It’s our first installment from a brand that isn’t familiar in Australia. Overall it sticks with their usual style of humor for their ads, they’ve used Kristen Chenoweth not sure if she was needed but why not throw her in there. It gets a good because it has broad market appeal.


Ban & Viv – Meh

Mermaids appearing on Shark Tank – I like the idea but the payoff at the end isn’t good enough for it to be a reveal. Interesting product and an interesting way to tell your products story.


Bubly – Good

At last, an actual smart use of a celebrity, I knew we would get there. It’s cute, Bublé is well liked and does a good job.


Bud Light – Good

Very interesting alignment, GoT is great at killing off our favorite characters but it’s a bold move for the ad’s mascot to be killed.


Bud – Good

Budweiser is notorious for the use of nostalgia in its branding. We are American as apple pie and baseball. This is an interesting ad for them because they play on old-fashioned values but also introduce the environmental element to the company. I’m giving it a good for their market although I find it personally a bit boring.


Bumble – Good

Strange as it may sound, I genuinely was looking forward to this ad I’d heard about it coming in an article about Serena but I was left wanting more. But then again I am not the target market – and the visuals and music are first class.


Burger King – Bad

I just dislike it, it’s boring who cares if it’s a found footage ad from a documentary. I don’t care how Andy eats his burger and are they insinuating that they don’t put enough sauce on their burgers?


Colgate – Great

Luke Wilson is well liked, simple messaging and good backing track – it’s good clean fun just like your teeth should be.


Devour – Meh

Risque can always mean risky and in America it might be too full on for the average audience but it was executed fairly well and an interesting nugget.


Doritos – Meh

Star power with Chance the Rapper and N’Sync; a funky beat but just feels lame – the mashup between the two seems forced. But it does deliver the message that Doritos is cool but now hot. Almost good.


Expensify – Good

Who doesn’t love Adam Scott; Two rap stars in a row. It does automatically give you street cred but does it lose street cred for the rappers? Regardless again the scene is set up nicely, there’s humour and the messaging is on point.


Google – Meh

Did this hit you right in the feels? It didn’t for me – it felt like the kinda schmaltz that you expect from a multi-national but not really Google. Humans are good and so are we…


Hulu – Good

Very different, very interesting, and with an already popular product Hulu did a good job.


Hyundai – Great

Why would we need to tout how good our cars are when we can tout the least important part of a car the buying of it? It main sound like a silly concept but it’s actually quite ingenious – because most people don’t like shopping for cars but also most people won’t go on many test drives so if you can be one of the few by offering a great experience buying. And I have a huge soft spot for Jason Bateman.


Kia – good

Not that we would know it in Australia but Kia have tubthumped their American factory often for the US audience so when the Super Bowl is being played so close to your factory why not try and cash in. It may not work for me but for the intended audience – it works.


M&Ms – meh

M&Ms are well known for their humorous, childish personified red and yellow M&M characters. And this is a great twist on the rambunctious kids in the back seat trope but it is more than a little jarring to see a mum say they will eat their kids… even if it is Christina. Maybe I am holding them to a higher standard but that’s only because they have set that standard themselves.


Mercedes – bad/good

Mercedes are for… ahem… wankers and I guess this may appeal to that market. Bad for me, Good for them.


Michelob Light – bad

One part of a good ad is being memorable, and this off the wall idea might have worked especially with a young fan favorite like Zoe. But in the end it just comes off as pretentious.

My word there are a lot of ads in the Super Bowl… Don’t worry we are passed the halfway mark


Microsoft – Great

Where Google failed Microsoft succeeded you don’t get to say that often anymore – but this human interest story is a winner. I was hooked.


Mint Mobile – Great

A brand I am unfamiliar with but it has all the elements of a solid ad: gross-out factor, animal mascot, smart language, and a good deal to spur action.


NFL – Great

This is clearly a winner for the Super Bowl audience. The targeting is on point! The humour is there – even if you don’t get all the references you can have fun with it. It does a great job of including the female audience. It embraces the leagues history. The only thing I am wondering about is that it is the end of the season why unveil it now?


Norwegian Cruise Line – Good

This achieves its intended purpose makes the ship the star of the travel. Rather than the picturesque destinations it will take you to. It may slightly try to make everyone happy, a couple relaxing on the same boat that kids are zip lining and go karting on? not too sure if they want to be on the same cruise. Overall it’s a bit of fun and might convince some people that hadn’t considered cruising yet.


Olay – Good

A really nice change from the stuffy world of adult moisturiser advertising. Another celeb making an appearance this time it’s Buffy!


Pepsi – Good

More star power for Pepsi with Steve Carell, Cardi B and Lil Wayne. Interesting concept trying to reposition itself rather than the alternative or the ok. Simple, effective.


Persil – Meh

Not much here – a few bells and whistles although the FX could be better.


PLanters, Mr Peanut – Meh

A few more celebrities to go in the countdown, in this installment we have Sheen and ARod, it might appeal to their target market (assuming someone that would watch two and a half men). Do we use footy players in our summer ads, NO and America shouldn’t be putting baseballers in their Super Bowl ads.


Pringles – Meh

I’m not sure if I get this one. Is stacking your Pringles with different flavours a thing or are they trying to make it a thing? Either way more power to them if they can get more people opening different flavours at the same time sounds like more profit. Plus I think it might be a bit too hipster leaning for me.


Simplisafe – Meh

I know our worldview would tell us that Americans especially viewers of a certain channel are peddled with fear on their news all the time but this ad seems to lean in too hard, especially as they are a technological product and making technology out to be a fearful thing. Interesting concept although I think it’s too exaggerated to elevate it passed “meh” for me.


Sketchers – Meh

Tony Romo is likeable, he is a football dude makes perfect sense for the Super Bowl. The messaging is ok but not nearly as inventive as they could have been.


Sprint – Good

Another athlete this time Bo Jackson – this one is simple and effective.


The Washington Post – Good

The best celebrity get so far Tom Hanks, the star of The Post. Although, it may seem to earnest to some – this spot works well in the context.


T-Mobile – Great

I could say this is derivative: a mobile screen typing or the often used what are we for having for dinner dilemma or a little on the nose music choice. But it works together really well and the thought of free tacos is a winner.


Toyota Rav 4 – Meh

Antoiette Harris deserves all the accolades and sponsorships for being an out and out star but over all the challenge expectations mantra that is being extolled here falls short for Toyota.


Toyota Supra – Great

This… now this is fun – it’s a little retro, a little futuristic. A cool little ad – that’s all about the car, then pinball, then finishing off on the car. This works.


Turbo Tax – Great

Robo-child cool. Accountants are real people especially at Turbo Tax CPAs to boot. Great Ad.


Turkish Airlines – meh

Behind the camera celebrity this time with Ridley Scott at the helm for this ad that led into a six-minute short film. The story is ok, shot well, Turkey is beautiful – but did anyone really care about this ad?

we are almost done don’t worry


Verizon – bad

If you haven’t figured it out yet – I am not the biggest fan of cheesy schmaltz and this ad that pulls at the heartstrings with Real American Blue Collar Heroes does not do it for me (though they are heroes – I am not here disputing that).


Weathertech – bad

I don’t own a pet or a heart so it’s hard for me to get on board with this one.


Wix – meh

I have been seeing Wix ads with Kloss ads for a long time in pre-rolls so it doesn’t feel new to me. Even though Wix do offer a fine product – I bet all Wix websites would look amazing if you have a style guide, a super model and professional photography at the ready.


We did it


If you read our discussion yesterday about TV ads and the cost of a Superbowl, you may have come away wondering how your business could really benefit from such an event.

After all, your budget may not go anywhere near that far and in many respects, whilst the Superbowl provides the ultimate exposure, it simply isn’t open to the average size business.

There are a couple of lessons business of any size can take away from the Superbowl regardless of how big or small you are.

You can reach a lot of eyeballs and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

There is no doubt that a one off event like Superbowl will throw a spotlight on your brand if you were willing to stump up the cash to buy such massive exposure but buying high quality targeted exposure can actually be a whole lot simpler. The beauty of digital (which is why we love it) is with budgets nowhere near as large we can create immensely targeted campaigns that can deliver real results for your business.

Don’t think just one channel – We deal with an array of companies large and small, and many have a variety of marketing initiatives across an array of channels. What the Superbowl ads often do is create a great narrative and produce a phenomenal TVC, but this isn’t where these campaigns end. The ads are merely the tip of the iceberg for most of the advertisers. Each ad will be supported with search, social and dedicated landing pages to ensure that after the audience has seen the ad they can find it, share it and learn more about it. There is a natural PR aspect to Superbowl that your average campaign may not have, but if you work to create a great brand story there is no reason why you couldn’t integrate some tailored PR around your marketing approach whatever channel you use.

Ultimately, Superbowl is an ad campaign on steroids. Whilst the spotlight shines upon the ads themselves the fundamentals of having a great creative story, a targeted message and a fully integrated approach really apply from the Superbowl right down to the most basic of campaigns.





Written By: Michael Menzies

How to Keyword Research for SEO?



Part of any SEO marketing plan will be keyword research and by extension your content marketing plan…

… You might say to yourself: “We are already producing content for our audience and naturally the topics we cover will have some great organic keywords without even researching.” It’s a no brainer that this will be the case, BUT doing a little research will help you immensely, because a) as much as we’d like to think we know EVERYTHING, we don’t, and b) although you might be writing some great content with strong keywords, perhaps there are new keywords that might be easier to rank for, that you haven’t thought of.

Step One – The search for the right keywords – Who’s that in the mirror?

Think about it

So basically, your first thought above is not a bad thought and a great place to start. You are an expert in your industry so think about the topics, areas, keywords, trends, latest news that you think are interesting and important – chances are others will as well.

Compile this list and save it.


Step Two – What are my customers typing? – Walk a mile in their shoes.

Think like a customer - Keyword Research

Next cab off the rank will be putting yourself in your customers and associates shoes – What MATTERS to your audience? What are they searching for and what language do they use? How many types of customers do you have? Some will be using sophisticated terminology. For example, a kitchenware store might have one customer using “wine glasses” while another might use “Reidel stemless wine glasses”. This terminology is not only an indicator of a prospective customer’s knowledge, but it can also suggest where they are in the buying cycle.


Step Three – Google auto suggest and search parameters.


For more thoughts, type in one of your keywords, or ‘customer words’, into the Google search for their auto suggestions. Or search competitors websites with advanced parameters, especially if they have their blogs catergorised or in tags.

Some other neat Google-fu tricks can be found here.


Step Four – Research, Research, Research.

Key Word Research

By this stage you will have a solid list. Now it’s time for suggestions from the bots.

Which tools are good?

Google’s keyword planner is the main go-to when it comes to research (for a good how to click here). But don’t discount the other big search engine Bing, and their keyword researcher toolbox. There are a billion other non-search engine built keyword helpers: Moz always has many tools available (paid and free), including explorer and moz bar; another software builder WordStream has great tools including keywords; and an indie developer built the rather nifty https://ubersuggest.io/ (learn how to use it here).



Step 5 The hard work – start writing.

Empty pages are scary but by now you already have your content plan, some awesome keywords/phrases… so get to it… time to create some killer creative content that is shareable, but will also get you noticed in the search engines.




Written By: Rob

Are TV ads worth it? Super Bowl musings



Digiday had an interesting article the other day about how much it costs to run an ad during the Super Bowl. In particular, how much a $5.2 million dollar ad could buy you on various online platforms.

It was a humorous and eye opening article (read it if you get a chance) but it got me thinking … would I really want to reach Selena Gomez’s fans 8 times or reach the entire Super Bowl audience in one ad? If all of her followers viewed the gram, you would definitely get more impressions, but is it worth it?

Working for a creative agency thats primary focus is on digital, I often advocate for the immense opportunity that digital affords brands, not least of which is influencer marketing, and a Selena post could be potentially worth it. But that doesn’t mean we are blind to the positive impact TV and other traditional media can have on any integrated campaign.

In fact, you can still find studies that purport TV still has the highest relative efficiency on relative spends1.

No bones about it, $5,200,000 for a 30 second ad is a lot of money. But what does it get you?

Check out part two of this article here

114 million viewers in the US alone2 watch the Super Bowl live – people watching it in other counties will get their own local programming, but people streaming the event via VPN could be exposed as well. The Super Bowl is an event, but the ads truly are events in their own rights. The exposure your ad will get is far greater than just the spot itself.

Countless TV shows, radio programs, blogs and various other commentators (with huge viewership/readership) review these ads and talk about them religiously in the days following the Super Bowl in America. Not to mention all the @ mentions you will get by live tweeters, and all the other social streams talking about you, which instantly generates conversation.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, in terms of publicity, that a Super Bowl ad spot affords a brand.

In the US, marketers are well aware that not only the ad spots can gain exposure for your brand during the Super Bowl; Oreo (among others) was quick to jump when a power outage at the 2013 Super Bowl interrupted play.

Their tweet received 15,000 retweets in rapid fire, and the reach was huge.

At the end of the day, the bang for your buck can vary tremendously depending on platform. Digital may offer greater targeting than we have ever known, and traditional media stills has a place in any integrated marketing campaign. But as Oreo showed us, quick thinking and the creative quality of your collateral can be just as important.

And finally, speaking of creative quality, if you’re spending over $5 million, you want it to be good. Nationwide got panned for this effort a couple of years back:

1 – http://www.atresmediapublicidad.com/a3document/2017/06/20/DOCUMENTS/00901/00901.pdf
2 – http://fox40.com/2016/02/08/how-many-people-watched-super-bowl-50/




Written By: Rob

Facebook’s new year’s resolution


Facebook’s new year’s resolution:
Spend more time with your family and friends

You probably have heard about the algorithm update from the FB news feed and the man himself.

Facebook will be lessening brands and publishers organic reach in favour of giving users more time with their loved ones.

Whether this is altruism on Facebook’s behalf or focusing on a better user experience for the average facebooker – many are assuming the update will lead to brands opening their purse strings and paying for more advertising and sponsored posts.

Facebook is a corporation at the end of the day – so they would not do anything intentionally to hurt its bottom line. I think this is just bringing us one step closer to a dual feed, with a friends and family news feed and a business news feed. Facebook tested this style last year which we discussed on our podcast here and here.

The business newsfeed, or Explore tab, is an interesting concept and one that might prove fortuitous to the same people that are succeeding on the normal newsfeed. Those with a dedicated marketing spend will still be visible but more importantly the content that will do best is the type that is already doing well…

The ones that increase engagement and spark conversation between the brand and between friends, whether it’s Facebook Live, a series of branded content, and even, a cute meme or a funny take on the day’s events – the cream will rise to the top.

Increasing engagement among friends and family is good for Facebook to keep people on Facebook longer which in turn means more time to see advertising. So, I don’t think Facebook is making a play for more revenue selfishly, it’s delivering a better product for its users, which in turn will be of benefit to brands that are creating great content.




Written By: Rob

Advertising reportcard – Same Sex Marriage



Now that the first official Australian same sex marriages are flowing through and the hub bub of the vote has died down – I thought I would take a look at the marketing facet of the debate.

We often like to think of ourselves as agents of change. As marketers and advertisers, our job is to convince people to perform a certain action whether it is to buy a product/service or donate to a good cause, or, in the case of the marriage equality postal vote, get people to tick a box on the form.

I am not here to make a case for the pros and cons of either side, but I am here to see if either side won the battle of advertising.

Personally, I didn’t see one television ad, or any ad for that matter, that was anywhere near convincing enough to change my mind.


No Campaign

The main tenants of the No campaign were two-fold:

a) fear of what else may happen (won’t somebody think of the children)

b) the fact that it’s OK to say no

The call to action is interesting. I think most people on the opposite side of the fence would see it as a conniving phrase and people on the same side would think “exactly, why don’t people realise this?” and maybe, just maybe the undecideds might just need that slight prodding. Regardless what you think of the ads, they certainly generated a lot of commentary and media attention as the fear sentiment was discussed on every news & current affairs program, blog, social media post, radio program… you get the idea.

Most interestingly of all these platforms was the social media responses, the fast moving and agile nature of social media was able to debunk falsehoods quickly. In fact, the power of digital and social media underpin much of the Yes campaign and undermine the No Campaign with memes of the No ads sprouting often quickly and often.

In response to the first ad

or in response to the Vote No skywriting


Yes Campaign

The Yes campaign had a main challenge because there was an interesting dichotomy at play.

Firstly, they were campaigning for a change – if no change happens, then they lose – and Aussies are known for being laid-back and letting things lay where they are.

And secondly, the polls had established that the majority of Australians support same sex marriage. So did they have the upper hand or did they draw the short straw?

Regardless, the advertising was clearly focussed on two things as well:  Fairness and Vote.

With fairness, they were playing on a common Australian trait, the fair go. The other part was actually focussed on getting people to vote and not forgetting to post the vote. I think this was a positive direction although they had mostly straight people in their ads (again, a deliberate decision) which undermines the equality that they were hoping to achieve. The bright colours and #loveislove sentiment was absent from the campaign’s advertising and really was taken on at a grassroots level by individuals and corporate endorsements.

In my opinion, they were bland and boring; except, that is, this one – shown in The Bachelor finale.

No official figures were produced about the amount spent on advertising but early figures suggested that the No campaign spent more than double that of the Yes. One source even suggested that the No side spent as much as 5 to 1.

 So if the No campaign spent more money and the vote ended in a Yes result does that mean the Yes ads performed better and convinced more people?


a) they weren’t compelling.
b) the debate has been happening in public forums for over a decade, so a quick burst of advertising wasn’t going to change minds that hadn’t already been changed.
c) it wasn’t a question of which product to buy (Pepsi vs. Coke) it was something much deeper than that. For almost everyone that voted it was a question of right and wrong – and a 30 second ad could do little to change that. If you had to come up with an ad to convince all people in Israel and Palestine to choose one religion, do you think a 30 second ad would sway perceptions?


The postal survey showed 61.6% of people who voted supported same sex marriage. But for the past 10 or so years, somewhat regular polls had been taken to gauge the sentiment of the Australian public. Not all polls are statistically significant or accurate but a pattern clearly emerges if you look at the trends. See the below table which takes into account all the opinion polls I could lay my hands on (Thanks Wiki). Apart from the very first poll taken in 2004 where the Yes vote would have lost by six points depending on how the undecideds went, every other poll went in favour of the Yes vote and the average of polls when given equal weighting was 61%.


So, while many will claim the postal survey was a waste of approximately $100 million, that number doesn’t factor in the millions of dollars wasted on insufficient and ineffective advertising campaigns.
No agents of change here.


The Trump Effect Loomed? Could Social have been the Game Changer?

In the days leading up to the results of the postal vote being announced many in the community were worried about what happened in the Brexit debacle and in the more recent US presidential election that the polls might be wrong, people might be saying they will vote Stay in the EU/Clinton/Yes and then on a private ballot would think Brexit/Trump/”it’s ok to say ‘No'”. This is a definite possibility, that this did happen to some effect in the Australia that would mean that the campaign by the Yes team was the better campaign. And as we’ve already suggested the ads in traditional media were average from both sides and the No campaign had deeper pockets, so, Yes had to look elsewhere to make up ground and that was online. Another parallel with EU Brexit and Trump that Social Media played a part – the Arab Spring movement was also hugely aided by social media.

Yes campaign outdid the No in virtually every area on social but just a few numbers.
Yes – Facebook Followers  – 300,000
No – Facebook Followers – 35,000

Yes – Twitter Followers – 30,000
No – Twitter Followers – 500*
*NB the twitter account for the No campaign was not a focus for them.

The Yes campaign engagement rate was far higher and their content output was far higher. The huge engagement rate was because of the quality of their social strategy. They had compelling content that people wanted to read, engage with and share amongst their networks. The story was built continually throughout the campaign – and by story I mean story – there were constant human stories from people from all walks of life (young, old, gay, straight etc) about how their lives have been affected and will be affected by this vote.

The type of content from the No campaign was less than compelling with much of it being updates and news related rather than the tangible human story side.

The human connection was strong in practically all the equality posts. I postulated above that it was hard to create change in 30 seconds (unless it’s over the choice of which soft drink to buy) but social gave the Yes campaign a chance to tell their story over a longer period and in a more thorough way. This last anecdote has no statistical relevance: Outside of close friends the vote was not a major topic of conversation – but only one person I know had said that they changed their minds – they were going to vote No but changed to Yes – and it was because of a post from a friend on social media – his reasoning was simple, he said he saw the debate through her eyes and decided to change.




Written By: Rob

Australia Day lamb ad: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?


Australia Day lamb ad: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

Meat and Livestock Australia have today released their annual Australia Day “Lamb Side Story” ad to mixed reviews.



The Broadway-style ad harks back to the musical West Side Story using gangs to symbolise the left and right sides of Australian politics. Those on the right side make disparaging comments about climate change, political correctness and gay rights, while those of the left claim to “stick up for the little guy/girl”.


In the middle of all of this, is a suburban mother who unifies the warring sides by reminding them of their mutual love for lamb. The choir then help themselves to a lamb chop and parade around for a final kumbaya moment, exclaiming “We love our lamb!”. Although, it’s not a compete lovefest with viewers taking to social media to express their grievances.


Admittedly, there are some clever moments in this ad. Particularly the pivot away from the hyper-masculine nature of previous lamb ads which had Sam Kekovich talking down the barrel of the camera about ‘un-Australianism’.


Making the central character a middle-aged woman is a clever move considering women make 93% of food related consumer purchases (Yankelovich Monitor & Greenfield Online).


Additionally, a character on the right side resembling a blonde haired, sunglasses wearing, sassy Milo Yiannopoulous calls the leader of the right “daddy” – the same name Yiannopoulous reserves for Donald Trump. There is also a Malcolm Turnbull look-a-like sitting on a literal fence and a cameo from original lamb man Sam Kekovich, who blasts the fence-sitter with a garden hose.


The annual lamb ads have become renowned for tackling issues of diversity and multiculturalism, albeit to varying degrees of criticism. Last year saw a lamb ad banned for being offensive to the Indian community when depicting Hindu God Ganesha as a meat eater, despite being known as a vegetarian.


On the contrary, another lamb ad featuring Cathy Freeman, Poh Ling Yeow, Wendell Sailor and Adam Gilchrist went viral with its “Aren’t we all boat people” catch cry. The ad was widely praised for its simple yet nuanced comment on the polarising topic of immigration.


But when it comes to the 2018 offering, the same argument just doesn’t hold up. 12 years later, the idea of putting our differences aside and becoming united over our love for lamb is becoming tiresome.


Speaking of tiresome, the inclusion of a flamboyant gay man in the ad appears to make a comment on Australia’s recent legalization of gay marriage, but the reliance on an overused stereotype to represent a gay person is painfully unoriginal.


Previous lamb ads portrayed minority representatives with respect and challenged stereotypes, whereas this ad does nothing more than reinforce them.


Commenters online have labelled the three-minute ad “vomit inducing” and “too long”.


Comedian Dave Hughes has also previously questioned how eating meat makes you more, or less, Australian.


And considering the British Medical Journal and World Health Organisation have conceded that a high consumption of meat increases your chances of cancer, stroke, heart disease etc. should we be questioning something more than, ‘Is this ad any good’?


Most probably … but that’s a whole other ‘Lamb Side Story’.


Ultimately, this ad is uninspiring, lacks nuance and is too damn long. But no one could sum it up better than Anton Posa on Twitter who labelled it, “#CringeSideStory”.


So for these reasons, this week, it’s a Marketing Mistake.


Follow us on Facebook & Instagram to stay up to date with our weekly installments of #MarketingMasterstrokeOrMistake




Written By: Rob

Hacked and Redfaced


Hacked and Redfaced

There is an old adage about a builder’s house is never finished. Despite being a fantastic builder he (or she) is busy building houses for everyone else and neglects their own. We recently found ourselves in a similar situation and our site got hacked; let me tell you it was pretty embarrassing with more than a couple of expletives being shot around the office when we did a routine check and discovered the issue. We took some solace in not being alone in such a silly oversight – you may remember last year, Marketo were left chasing their tail after their domain expired without being renewed.

So how did it happen?

When we develop a website for a customer we generally provide that client with the option of purchasing a service package that schedules regular security updates. But ironically (in this case) when it came to our own we let slip.

Undertaking the security update had sat on our backlog for sometime but, being busy servicing clients, it kept getting pushed further down the list – we kept saying we will get to it eventually and then suddenly it was too late. In this case, we had neglected to update our plugins – a simple little thing to do. It wasn’t attended to and someone pounced.

Like many of our clients, our website is built on the WordPress platform. We build on many platforms but many, many clients are familiar with WordPress, with a wide array of plugins and general familiarity for most people savvy with any CMS make it very popular… PLUS its free!

But, it comes at a cost – that cost is security and with millions of websites designed in the WordPress platform, it can make it an easy mark for hackers because if you can break into one plugin, theme or the platform itself, you will have a multitude of targets. As opposed to a singular bespoke solution. This is not to scare you – WordPress is generally a safe CMS, with simple processes in place to ensure your website is secure, but the simple reality is they must be done, and they must be done regularly or, like us, you will end up with egg on your face.

In our case, the hack was relatively harmless, they exchanged some metatdata which altered our google search results (we’ll canvas the impact of that in another article in the near future), but we have seen some more malicious results in the past to websites of clients who didn’t want us to maintain their site. As such, we really do recommend making the small additional investment in a service plan. After all, you wouldn’t buy a car and never service it.

A service plan is an insurance policy. We create regular back ups of your site meaning we can restore it quickly in the event of an issue and we ensure plug-ins are up to date…

But if your site suffers a hack here are some things you can do:

Step 1 – The world isn’t over

We understand that websites are critical to practically every business nowadays, especially e-commerce sites. But it’s important to keep a level head – remember that no one has been hurt and you can recover from this.

Step 2 – IT

Luckily for us, our in-house tech team could handle this particular problem so we didn’t have to make a phone call, but for most businesses this will mean rallying your troops. Depending on the severity of the breach, your host might be able to talk you through the requirements over the phone or contact whoever developed the site for you. We would always recommend that someone in your office know how to place your site in maintenance mode, which will replace your site with a simple maintenance screen and form.

One critical issue at this point is for websites with integrated clients databases is to get your team to ensure the integrity of your secure data.

Step 3 – What are the broader implications, enquiries, marketing or sales?

Once the site is in maintenance mode, it would be worth pausing any digital advertising you may have running – it’s pointless sending potential clients to a website that is not delivering the optimal experience for its users. If you use your site for client interactions like sales or services, it may be worth preparing 2 edms (we wold recommend having these pre-built and ready to deploy): one, alerting existing customers that the issue exists and assure them (if applicable) that their user data is safe. Also provide them with some information on when your site is likely be back up and running; and secondly, an edm goes out when you are back up and running.

Step 4 – The mole?

Figuring out where the breach occurred is important so you can plug the gap as effectively as possible. Your tech should be able to point you in the right direction after reviewing the affected pages, custom code, plugins, log files etc.

Step 5 – Spring cleaning

While your tech team takes care of the website, it’s also a good time to clean your computers with an anti-virus program. Change all your passwords – website; hosting; cPanel etc.

Step 6 – Future proof

Make sure it doesn’t happen again. Talk to your tech team and get in place processes to make sure this, hopefully, small blip in the radar doesn’t happen again. The outcome could be a small retainer for ongoing support or invest in some training and make time to keep your site secure.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.




Written By: Rob

Barney’s New York – Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?


Barney’s New York – Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

This week we’re looking at US luxury department store, Barney’s most recent social media campaign: #BarneysUnwrapped.

It’s the season for giving and Barney’s is getting into the Christmas spirit on Instagram. The retail giant is posting short videos each day to their Instagram account, @barneysny featuring luxury prizes like these, kitschy Gucci sunnies, because … fashun … and free shit!

As long as you’re following their Instagram account, leave a comment, and do a bunch of other things we haven’t bothered to research, you’ll be in the draw to win stuff that you might never use … BUT is valued at the same price as the average second hand car.

The prizes might be questionable, but in actual fact, this strategy is GENIUS! Social media algorithms have changed in recent times to promote ‘viral’ content higher in the newsfeed. How does it judge virality? Likes and comments (and views).

And that’s exactly what Barney’s are encouraging … comments. Plus, they’re making sure people are following them too, and who doesn’t want more followers.

The campaign is exclusive to the Instagram platform, but Barneys are promoting it across their website, in stores, email database and 1.2 million Facebook audience, which is sure to deliver a nice boost in followers before Christmas.

In the age of the almighty Amazon, and the like, department stores have no choice but to offer their customers incentives to draw them back in store, maintain personal connections and remain relevant in an ever-changing retail landscape.

Barney’s have managed to tick all the boxes when it comes to an effective social media campaign: it’s platform specific, they’ve used their existing platforms to drive attention to a Instagram, they’ve included a call to action and they’re giving away in demand, expensive prizes.

So for these reasons, this week, it’s a Marketing Masterstroke.

Follow us on Facebook & Instagram to stay up to date with our weekly installments of #MarketingMasterstrokeOrMistake




Written By: Joshua Britt

Why negative comments on your Facebook page is not so negative


Why negative comments on your Facebook page is not so negative

Nowadays, most businesses have a team dedicated to resolving customer complaints, or at least have procedures for how to deal with negative feedback.

And so they should. Why? Because making a complaint is now easier, and more impactful, than ever! You no longer have to endure the call centre experience or fill out an online form. Any person with a Facebook page can very easily publish a negative comment to a business page for the whole world to see. And with enough negative comments on your page, it can dramatically impact revenue.

So where’s the positive in those negative comments, I hear you ask?

Well, you absolutely don’t want a huge amount of negative reviews. However, a few negative comments, if dealt with properly, isn’t so bad.

Firstly, it allows you to demonstrate in a public forum that you’re willing to listen to consumer concerns and are committed to solving their problems.

And secondly, it’s good for social media algorithms.

Facebook and Instagram’s goal is to keep you on their platform for as long as possible, so they can serve you more ads. To keep you engaged, it will rank the posts with more likes, comments and shares, higher in your newsfeed because it determines that these posts are the most popular among people like you.

So basically, the more comments (positive or negative) the more people will see it.

An example of a post we did for a client was in response to the recent Same-Sex Marriage vote in Australia.

This post was published immediately after the result was announced.

As you can imagine, we had some vile comments on this post, which we hid as soon as we noticed them. We also had a total of 22 angry emojis.

But on a positive note, we got over 1,000 likes and loads of positive comments.

There were also several people respectfully debating the results on this post. The more people that commented on the post, the more people we were able to reach.

Media publishers are experts in this area. Check out Sunrise’s Facebook page, for example. They will often pick controversial topics to spark conversations. People become passionate about these issues and want to express how they feel. And what do you know, media publishers are some of the most followed pages on social media.

When playing in this territory, it can be risky. If your consumers are on the conservative side, it’s important to play it safe.

Ultimately though, every business must realise that they’ll never make everybody happy and there will always be some negative comments.

It’s about weighing up the positives and the negatives. Are YOU prepared to get a few negatives reactions in return for 1,000 positives ones?

The real challenge though is in selecting a topic that both aligns with your brand and also gets people talking.

That’s where we come in. Want to get your consumers talking about your business more and more online?

Contact us




Written By: Joshua Britt

The future of Virtual Tickets at exhibitions


The future of Virtual Tickets at exhibitions

VRrrooom … Virtual Reality is off to the races.

Last week Manoush, host of Note to Self, put a new spin on the virtual exhibition ticket.

Anyone in business is offered (harangued) about buying tickets to exhibitions within their industry. A trend of the past few years (even longer for some forward thinkers) was that of the virtual ticket.

In the early days of the virtual ticket, you would get access to PowerPoint presentations, exclusive offers from present exhibitors and if you were lucky, a link to a recording of a key note address. The virtual ticket has now naturally progressed to the live feed for talks plus extensive downloads.

The amount of content offered on virtual tickets is becoming so thorough that actual tickets get the virtual as a supplement in case you didn’t get to see all of the attractions.

But one thing is lacking from the virtual ticket and that is control. You are at the mercy of whatever the organiser decides to offer and you get no real conversations or networking opportunities with other patrons or exhibitors beyond the odd chatroom.

Speaking of natural progression, the evolution is still happening. Manoush Zomorodi host of Note To Self (an excellent podcast about living in a digital world) took it to the next level at a conference as a telepresence robot (podcast here).

The tech isn’t there yet (nor are Manoush’s driving skills) but the signs are clear. The next step will be more roombas with cameras attached which you will be able to rent at exhibitions. Then they will turn into drones and eventually we won’t need to go outside anymore. But as we’ve seen from the prognosticators of our age, the Hollywood screenwriter, our need for human contact will overcome (see Surrogates, Wall-E, Demolition Man).


Photo Credit – Woodkern




Written By: Rob