Friday, September 27, 2013

TD is Totally Disconnected

TD Canada Trust has released a new spot on TV for the fall and its taken targeting the boomers to the next level. Unfortunately the commercial isn't up on the web yet but here is the gist: In this spot the father is displeased with his daughters choice of life partner. This is depicted by a late 20 something male who dresses on the curve and it's implied he does not make enough at his living to adequately contribute to his future wife's happiness. This young soon to be husband is a typical Gen Y'er. TD has been targeting boomers for years so what is so special about this spot? Their previous ads didn't openly disapprove of the Gen Y lifestyle. The issue here is that TD is stereotyping an entire generation that is a $200 billion a year industry. A generation that falls between early twenties to mid thirties when people start families, buying cars and houses. A generation that by 2017 will have the largest purchasing power of all segments. Today businesses need to adapt to the changing economic landscape and right now TD is falling out of touch. It will be interesting to see the response from Gen Y and how TD trends their ads over the coming years.

Friday, September 20, 2013

BlackBerry - "Expect us to let you down"

BBM will be released on Android
and Apple this weekend.
 Has BlackBerry severed its last leg to stand on? With the announcement that BBM will be available to Android and iOS devices this weekend, the one time communications giant is raising a lot of questions. In the consumer smartphone era BBM was one of the main reasons for BlackBerry users to remain loyal, however with the launch of iMessage, WhatsApp and other communication apps came a hoard of Android and Apple converts.

Why there is still hope. BBM still has one redeeming quality, years of paid research and development leading to a clean, crisp communication app. Between old BlackBerry faithfuls and users who are just looking for a cleaner, more encompassing, user friendly experience, you can expect a large number of downloads. This might explain the Saturday download time for Android users and Sunday slot for Apple owners. Kudos to BlackBerry for being optimistic and planning ahead, the last thing they need is for a server overload on this crucial release.

If a large rate of adoption is seen among the masses for BBM there still might be potential for BlackBerry to survive as a secure server/software company. Their days as a hardware provider may be running out though. With declining sales and stock piling up of the Z and Q10 devices, users just aren't seeing what they need in a consumer unit. The decline in Q10 sales is especially concerning for BlackBerry as it indicates those that were qwerty dependant are willing to go touch for a much broader app experience.

Along with the BBM announcement BlackBerry unveiled the new Z30. This may be their final attempt to revive their lost stranglehold on the business world and finally bring forth something appealing to the average tech consumer. Though with Apple and some Android devices being certified to the minimum security standards of government use, the hardware security features is becoming less of a draw for potential business clients. Have we seen the last hardware launch from BlackBerry? I'm suspecting we have.

UPDATE - Monday Sept. 23

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice and I'm a sucker.  I have once again been duped by BlackBerry failing to release BBM on Android and iOS platforms this weekend. An Android version was leaked early Saturday morning which apparently received over 1.1 million downloads, however this leaked version brought to light some issues with the app which halted the roll out. BlackBerry officials have said that they are working tirelessly to correct the issues. They have not announced a new date for the release. I suppose at this point in BlackBerry's downward spiral of a life cycle I should have known better to believe this launch would roll out with minimal friction. I guess I figured a brand in such turmoil would stop at nothing to create a perfect rollout for their last landmark property. Once again with all eyes on them they have let their faithful (and those just rooting for the Canadian underdog) BlackBerry followers down. With yet another delayed release on the roster BlackBerry has permanently damaged their brand by embedding the promise "Expect us to let you down" in every BlackBerry product. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Getting Your Game On

Gamificaiton is defined as applying a game-like scenario to engage users to solve a problem. It sounds like fun putting a game spin on all of your problems, but is it always the best solution?

Gamification is nothing new to the marketing industry. Cereal companies have been using games to drive engagement with kids for decades, but as technology changes so does the game. The industry has come along way from mazes and crosswords on the back of a cardboard box, however there is still a ways to go to creating meaningful engagement among target audiences to increase acquisition and retention.

In order to be successful to help brands break through the clutter, gamification needs to create added value for users, give a unique experience or change behaviours.

+Foursquare was one of the first organizations to use gamification successfully by presenting users with badges after certain check-in milestones were reached. Receiving badges has become ubiquitous across branded games. Foursquare has recognized this and has moved to an information based model. Simply offering badges or points without creating added value basically renders these rewards insignificant. Starbucks is a shining example of achieving the status quo. This app revolves around the in store transaction and doesn't create any ongoing engagement. Also having to collect 30 points to receive one or two free drinks the following year doesn't exactly keep me running back there every chance I get.

Gamification shouldn't be solely based on driving your company's sales or driving traffic to your partners.

+JetBlue's True Blue Badges app is a prime example of this. A large number of the badge rewards require you to visit a partner's site, share a flight on a social network or actually start a service with one of their partners.  A loyalty rewards program doesn't feel too loyal when you are continually being pushed to interact with other brands.

Some of the best examples in gamification are in the education, health, and food industries.

+Khan Academy is a non-for profit organization that uses gamified tutorials to encourage on-going learning across 18 subjects. This free web service creates an engaging, unique experience not found anywhere else. Khan Academy launched in 2006, today has over 1.2 million subscribers and has received substantial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Google.

For a couple of years now +Chipotle Mexican Grill has been priding themselves on using local, sustainable farming. They have returned with another viral animation hit "The Scarecrow" in promotion of their mobile app Scarecrow that was released last week.  Where Chipotle succeeds with this mobile app is it's an engaging way to suggest a behaviour change to start choosing sustainable, healthy food options. With minimal branding, they are creating a non intrusive experience that drives the story around the behaviour, not the brand.

+Nike's fuelband and Nike+ applications encourage you to exercise through goal setting, challenging friends, achievement milestones, coaching tips, and finding new routes to run. This is a fun, healthy and interactive way to create positive engagement within a community that Nike created on its own.

Possibly the most innovative example of gamification to date is +Lexus Italia's "Trace Your Road"experience. Lexus  has taken gamification to the next level by creating this truly unique experience for 10 of their Facebook fans.

Just because a trending method is available doesn't mean it is the right option for you. If you are looking at gamifying an experience ask a few questions first. Does this create an engaging experience outside of the transaction? What is the added value for our users? Can this help create and sustain our own branded community? Are we creating a unique experience, or are we just following suit?