Thursday, 30 May 2013

Six questions: Andrew Moss

Today we bring you the very first installment of our SIX QUESTIONS series, where we ask a few fun questions to our friends in the industry to not only try and get to know them better, but maybe get a better insight into what marketing is for them. Today we have Andrew Moss from Pegasus Strategic, Insights and Brand Strategy. Here he is with our lecturer, Associate Professor Marylouise Caldwell.

I quickly learned that the Masters of Marketing was going to be a pretty hands-on course, filled with group projects, problem solving, class involvement – and best of all, Industry experts as guest speakers. This gives us one of the best learning experiences: hearing how they stuffed up. Well, maybe not so much ‘stuffing’ up, but how they overcame real life problems and situations. Andrew came and spoke to us about this experience rebranding the A-League and creating a new image for soccer in Australia, producing some of the best advertisements out there.

Andrew Moss:
1. What is your favourite thing that you do in a regular day as a marketer?
Being allowed to (by clients and colleagues) and paid to wonder.

2. Describe your job in 5 words or less:
Thinker, Dreamer, Finder, Problem-Solver

3. What keeps to motivated?
The innovation process – being invited to develop new ways of doing things – and the buzz that occurs when the thinking and planning works!

4. Where do you think you'll be in 10 years?
I would hope a wide variety of things – and certainly a bunch of creative type pursuits – personal and business.

5. If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
Tricky – maybe something like a sea eagle – scanning the environment, travelling large distances and looking for and seizing on opportunity!

6. What is the one book you would recommend everyone to read?
For business learning I think biographies of people are always good reading – and the one on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is well worth reading.

Hongi Luo
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

“Branding You” Event at the New Business School in the CBD

Last week, a showcase reception was held in the new Business School CBD Campus. Being a student of the Masters of Marketing, we are often privy to events such as these that provide invaluable networking opportunities, as well as a chance to broaden our knowledge and insight.

I’ve got to be honest, the canapés and beverages always draw me in, but I always leave with more than just a satisfied tummy. The highlight of “Branding You” was around a panel discussion between three leading marketing practitioners around the topic of personal brands. We had explored this in class before with Pennie Frow, but it was great to hear a lot of these aspects from real life experiences. Being somewhat of a hot topic at the moment, there was definitely a lot to discuss.

The panel was:
Christine Bishop, the Managing Director of Social Business Strategy Group, specialising in the areas of social media, strategic marketing, branding and business strategy. She is also a recent Executive MBA Graduate of the Business School.

Mike Read, HR and Corporate Culture Director, Starcom Media Vest, Australia’s largest Media Agency.

James Watson, one of our first class Honours graduates in Marketing. James has had a meritorious career with Procter and Gamble in Australia and Singapore, Reckitt Benckiser in Australia, the UK and USA and PZ Cussons in Australia. 

Christine, Mike and James lead the panel discussion about using appropriate marketing tools to create “Brand You”, a critical factor in meeting the challenges of today’s highly competitive employment marketplace. We were lucky enough to harvest more than a few pearls of wisdom from the esteemed panel, and in the coming weeks, will share with you what we learned from each of them - So keep an eye out!

Thanks to the University of Sydney Business School, Program Director Pennie Frow and particularly Associate Professor Terry Beed for putting on the event and allowing us the chance to engage with such an amazing group of people.

Hongi Luo
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Google Glass, Surfing, and Marketing

Since Google Glass was released, it immediately sparked big debate whether Google glass is the next big player in digital changes or a privacy aggressor. Having a computer basically linked with your mind is a geek’s dream. With this, Google’s device has stridden further than any other. I assume Glass would be very welcome within certain professionals like engineers, doctors, scientists and, of course movie makers. As for layfolk usage, I guess, very few people do want to be into a computer 24/7.

But the fact that someone can take a picture of me without permission make me think whether Google Glass is changing our life in a positive way. Can imagine how it would be awful talking with someone with Glass that could be doing who knows what. Whether it taking photos of me, or capturing my social accounts by using my identity? From this, it will become a big ethical challenge once Glass is available not only for professional usage.

Google Glass is still in its early stages and there are still lots of bugs reported by early adapters in terms of its functionality. However, being very enthusiastic in terms of all things digital, I would definitely like to try Glass in any way. It looks so futuristic, like it was drawn from the Wachowski brother's movie, "The Matrix".

Fortunately, a friend of mine has already tested Google Glass. Vasily Gatov is a respectable Russian expert in the global media market, and was one of the lucky few who Google introduced its new device to. I've asked Vasily to answer a few questions to find out what Google Glass is all about.

Q So, how did it happen that you tried it?
I was at Google Campus in Mountain View, with an educational research purposes, and, thanks to the googlers who invited us, we were given a chance to try the Glass. A demonstration was about one hour long; we were able to put the device on our heads, try the software and ergonomics. The presenter also gave us an overview of the use cases and his personal experience (he was using Glass for some months).

Coleman Rusnock, the googler who introduced Glass

Q What are the main features and functionality?
Actually, I don't feel it's a practical device yet. Glass is a massive research project that establishes new frontier in the gadget design, gadget capacity to communicate and to be "smart". It's also a research project that studies those who use Glass and establish its place in the world of the geeks. Speaking about the functions that are available now: voice command system that works quite well with an international English (both words and simple queries like "show me the way to the hotel I have booked"); great camera that does both stills and video (both 1080i). Some standard Android/ChromeOS features like Google Maps.

Q How cool is it in terms of design?
It is cool but very technological. Imagine that someone took glasses out and embedded a small (7 mm cube over your right eye). And there's nothing on the left one. The cube projects a screen that feels like a LARGE computer screen just above your line of sight. Due to the specifics of the projector, Glass emits a bit of pink light to the right of your eyes. Also it feels strange but the Glass is very well balanced - although the computerised right side of the device is big and has a certain weight, you don't feel that it presses your ear or nose.

Q In terms of marketing, from your point of view, who will be the potential customer?
Today? Mad geeks and developers who should create an application ecosystem for Glass. Again - the device is a research it is not a commercial product, and much has to be done to put it on the market. But, featuring, one can see it as a professional tool for those who need a lot of data all the time (brokers, air controllers, traffic police and SWAT squads), as well as people whose life is documenting the reality - journalists, perfectly.

Q How does Google describe its target audience?
Not yet is there an audience. The Glass is only available for developers now and this is just a beginning of product design.

Q Can’t avoid this question; do you think I can surf with Google glass?
Yes, and the footage will be amazing, if Google dares the waterproof version or Chinese manufacturers will create some kind of water protection to it.

Elena Sveshnikova
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A “cool solution” to a “hot issue”

Tea and coffee seem to be fine to drink hot or cold, but when I ask you to think about drinking a soft drink, you’ll probably think of a refrigerated drink with cold sweat beads running down the sides of a can or bottle. When taking your first sip, the icy cold fizzy liquid startles your taste buds and tickles your throat.

But have you ever drunk a warm or even hot soft drink? Just the thought makes me want to opt for water instead.

A few weeks ago, Ian Alwill, the former Executive Director of Group Marketing and Communications at Nestle Oceania presented a case study in class for the Contemporary Consumer Insights unit of the Master of Marketing program.

Much earlier in his career he was the Asia Pacific Region Marketing Director for The Seven–Up Company.

The Taiwanese franchisee of the business was complaining that the formulation of the well-known soft drink 7-Up was too sweet. They felt that this was dramatically affecting sales of the product in the country. They were understandably a little hot under the collar … and said so!!

When he was presented with this dilemma by the franchised bottler he was quite surprised. Neighbouring Asian countries were happily drinking the exact formulation with no similar complaints. The global policy was not to change the formulation of such a well-known product until the market situation was well understood. His instincts and “gut feel” was that formulation was not the problem.

A market visit to the Taiwanese market place for 7-Up showed that the majority of the 7-Up sold in the country was in market stalls or in small stores… but most of these did not provide a sufficiently iced or refrigerated product, the way it was in other regional markets. His basic knowledge of the product was that temperature affects the sweetness of a product. The higher the temperature, the sweeter the product; and conversely, the lower the temperature, the less sweet the product tastes. Who would have known?

The product being sold in Taiwan did in fact taste sweeter because it was being consumed at a higher temperature since it was not adequately chilled. This explained why neighbouring Asian countries were not complaining of the same issue as they were selling the product for the most part refrigerated!

The real issue was now understood and the franchised bottler finally agreed that a different approach was needed.

A change in marketing support to the franchisee was in order. Rather than funding traditional brand advertising, the Seven–Up Company invested in 7-Up identified market coolers over a couple of seasons. As the product was then consumed chilled rather than warm/hot, there were no more complaints of the product being too sweet.

Ian then went on to stress to the class of Master students, the importance of understanding the culture, the consumer, and the market environment in which the sale occurs... to not assume that the standard mix of marketing activity is always the solution to marketing problems. In this case it was capital expenditure not marketing expense!!

He recommended a simple and important principle when formal market research is not available and your instincts say something is not right!

GO… SEE…… THINK……… DO!!!

Sounds simple, but it’s paramount, especially when working in a culture that you did not grow up in.

Mina D’Souza
Alumni of the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Are we prepared for the ‘Technology’ in Information Technology?

“According to one recent report, in the next decade American colleges will mint 40,000 graduates with a bachelor's degree in computer science, though the U.S. economy is slated to create 120,000 computing jobs that require such degrees. You don't have to be a math major to do the math: That's three times as many jobs as we have people qualified to fill them.” – Kirk McDonald (Read more)

Okay, this is pretty bleak news. After reading the opinion piece by Mr. McDonald, the president of an ad tech company in Manhattan, I’m questioning how far I can get with my Fine Arts degree. Thank goodness I’ve ventured into the field of Marketing …but according to McDonald, it won’t have saved me completely either:

“Even if your dream job is in marketing or sales or another department seemingly unrelated to programming, I'm not going to hire you unless you can at least understand the basic way my company works. And I'm not alone.”

Although his open letter is quite specific to the situation in America, it’s hard not to be concerned as a recent graduate – and now post graduate student – in our current global economic situation. Mcdonald talks about the necessity to be able to understand simple programming in order to function in a modern day company. Perhaps it’s too much to ask for, and extremely hard to deliver, especially when many universities do not see the need in creating dynamic programmes that create well-rounded graduates.

But Mr. McDonald, I implore you to have more faith in us. Have faith in us like I have faith. While technology is constantly made redundant and updated, our passion will never whither. And it is this passion that will get us through.

To say that you would hire someone with skills in programming over someone with passion could be one of the biggest mistakes you can make. I believe you neglect the fact that it is also the role of the company to support and encourage your employees to grow, learn and develop. I am sure, Mr. McDonald, that being the successful businessman you are, you already understand this. But you must not lose faith in us.

So while I suggest all recent graduates, graduates-to-be, and just anyone looking for a job to read Mr. McDonalds open letter (because I feel it’s important we understand where employers are coming from), I suggest you read it with an open mind, and have faith in yourself.

I may be an optimist, but I’m sure the future is not as bleak as it appears.

Hongi Luo
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Are you ready to pay extra to protect your personal data?

European Union is already taking action to protect the personal data of their citizens. A proposed new data collection reform directly refers to the way companies are able to collect and use consumers’ personal information. With these protection rules to be elected by June this year, this new policy has become a highly controversial topic.

EU officials believe that it could protect the people’s privacy, so neither IT companies nor digital marketers are able to make personal data available for commercial use, or create user profiles without prior permission. According to the new rules, users should also be given the right to be forgotten when they request it.

However, the question is whether too much government regulation could deter potential benefits for consumers and the economy. In terms of marketing, it could mean a big step back to traditional TV and outdoor advertising, since there would be significant limitation in targeted ads and direct marketing. Without user clear-cut agreements, companies wouldn’t be able to generate consumer personal data, so it could make direct marketing less effective, as well as very difficult to manage.

Some more radical opponents to the policy said that the EU's data protection reforms are a way towards "user-paid internet." They argue that if web giants such Facebook or Google couldn’t gather the personal data of users for advertising needs, the services would have to look elsewhere for funding. Users will have to pay for services, or service remains free - but we will be exposed of hundreds of adverts because personal data was not used to create targeted ads. This is why those whom the EU thinks they are protecting, are in fact not really satisfied with such initiatives.

Yes, it’s true: I don’t want somebody to take my personal details without a clear understanding of how, and whom, this data will be used. Just one glance at my junk email inbox, there are companies from somewhere in Latin America that knows I like mounting ski more than snowboarding. How did this completely unfamiliar company get my personal details? And in this case, I would definitely like to be protected from such annoying interference in my private life. But honestly, I am still not sure whether I want to pay to be protected.

Elena Sveshnikova
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Long Hard Road of Social Media

There has been plenty of hype surrounding the potential of social media as a low-cost, high-impact promotional tool for business.

Much of the social media hype has been fuelled by the various success stories, in particular the YouTube sensations that have generated millions of views from relatively low-cost production videos. A few of the classic examples in recent years include Blendtec, Old Spice, Tippex and the Dollar Shave Club.

Blendtec is a premier example as it has managed to make everyday food blenders look cool and exciting. From their collection of videos, where they blend a range of bizarre items such as iPads, super glue and golf balls, they have reached a broad audience and have now surpassed 220 million views. But what is particularly effective about their videos is that they have generated such interest by simply demonstrating their blenders in action.


Another great success is the Old Spice campaign from 2010, which helped repositioned the brand to being a younger, more modern brand, and was able to generate around 1.4 billion total impressions in just six months through the combination of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and mainstream media.

So it’s no wonder that businesses are now increasingly looking at social media to dramatically grow their brand awareness, substantially leverage word-of-mouth and deliver significant increases in sales.

But unfortunately it’s not as easy and effective as the hype suggests. And as time goes on, it is becoming more apparent that social media is not a magic pathway to building a strong brand and growing the bottom-line. Indeed, for many organisations, social media is now proving to be a long, hard and expensive road paved with many pitfalls.

One significant pitfall is brand integrity. To generate social media interest, the campaign needs to be innovative, funny, controversial and/or grossly entertaining. That is often hard to do within the confines of a well-crafted brand image.

As an example, a couple of years back, Perth-based pie manufacturer Mrs Mac’s had a very successful online campaign in Australia that utilized numerous social media platforms. Their YouTube video from this campaign now exceeds 2 million views. However, I would suggest that the campaign was not overly consistent with the traditional image of their brand. 

Therefore, in their next online campaign, which was in aid of a new product launch, they took a more conservative approach in line with their traditional positioning. The end result was only a couple of thousand YouTube views in total and little interest in the new product as a result.

The growing cost and effort of social media, coupled with a long payback period, is also becoming more apparent. A good case study for this point is Westpac Bank. Westpac have had a social media team in place for a few years now, with the main goal of trying to leverage their 10 million or so account holders.

So how successful have they been in leveraging and engaging their customer base? Well, as at May 2013, they had less than 15,000 Twitter followers, just over 50,000 Facebook likes and only about 370,000 total YouTube views. Clearly, at this stage, I would guess that their social media investment has a negative ROI and is likely to have a long payback period.

Therefore, it appears that social media is becoming a long, hard grind without much of the magic that we’ve been led to believe. And for every success story, there are probably 100’s or maybe 1000’s of campaigns that went nowhere. While, I am still positive about the long-term value of social media for many firms, I would strongly counsel against the extent of optimism and high expectations that normally accompany social media activities.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The end of one journey and the beginning of the rest of our lives

As I sat in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney on graduation day waiting patiently for my name to be called so that I could collect the degree that I had earned with its fair share of sacrifices along the way, I thought of what Graduation from the Master of Marketing Program at the University of Sydney meant to me. My immediate thoughts were: an upgrade in my LinkedIn profile, a few pictures on Facebook, and something new to frame and hang on the wall.

Past the short term posts on social media, what this degree has really offered me is a change in direction. A second chance. The opportunity to start a career better suited to who I have become beyond the Bachelor degree that I obtained about a decade ago.

When I started the program over a year ago I wasn’t entirely sure that I had made the right decision to continue my education. The idea of not working full time (although a number of my classmates continued their full time employment while doing the program) and getting back into assignment writing and presentations was quite daunting. Now that I’ve graduated, I can honestly say that doing this degree was the best thing that I have done.

I have drawn as much from the lecturers and industry specialists that have presented in class as I have from interacting with fellow classmates from a wide variety of professional backgrounds. Hands-on exercises and engaging lectures always made me look forward to attending class.

And as the 2013 graduating class gathered outside the Great Hall after the ceremony to congratulate each other, we took a moment to savor our accomplishments by tossing our hats in the air. Then we all rushed back to work to begin the rest of our lives.

Have you considered applying to the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney?

Mina D’Souza
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School