Tuesday, 25 November 2014

#WobbleHopping #MontyThePenguin

#WobbleHopping  Read how a marketing lecturers impressions of a flightless bird led to a p-p-p-pretty cool piece of media coverage.

The blogosphere appears to have gone flipping p-p-p-penguin crazy.

Stories of heightened sales of penguin related items are lighting up the web.  McVities reported a 75% spike in sales following the launch of #montythepenguin in a social first Christmas campaign from The John Lewis Partnership. Showing the tactical power of nimble digital executions (not tied into planned media buying schedules) and clever twitter amplification using this sweet creative, it might be even be seen as a form of ambush marketing. 

A certain marketing lecturer has been seen wobble hopping up lecture stairs whilst squawking about the Monty meets Mabel love story, brought to our screens recently thanks to our department store friends.  Is #wobblehopping trending ?  

Cola Cute, but geographically impossible
I've always been a big flightless bird fan, having visited real colonies in Chile and South Africa, and even lugged a life sized laminated penguin home as hand luggage all the way from Santiago. There is that conundrum that invites scrutiny of the story of a polar bear eating a penguin, which is only really feasible in a zoo, as artic bears are from the north and penguins restricted to the Southern Hemisphere.  Hopefully you were not visualising coca cola bears gorging themselves on p-p-p-p-pick-a-penguin chocolate flavoured coated biscuits.  The punchline of the well known joke says they can't do that because they can't open the wrappers !  

McVities clever 'social and caring' Penguin Fb site for penguin biscuits seems to offer the right blend (is it 3:1 ? ) of conservation and commercialism, with a smattering of inclusive competition giveaways.  One even asks if penguins live in the north, clearly they are posh southerners, unlike those northern bears that will bite your head off at a moments notice.  (Excuse any sensitivity: My car rear windscreen sticker proclaims "Sussex by the Sea")

Even hardened marketing types have been taken in by this consumer trend, unavoidably purchasing a penguin shaped, stained glass tree deco at the school fare, handmade by arty mum who was totally unaware of the #monty commercial opportunity.  Claudia promised to make more, at £7 each, for the next one though !

Puffin and Penguin Books, Linux open source operating system, even the Disney Club Penguin gaming community may benefit from becoming more fashionable this year.
Welsh furniture retailer Pieces for Places, showing that imitation is the highest form of flattery, have created a adult #SexyPenguin version of the John Lewis Monty video that looks likely to augment the already sizeable social media attention devoted to this years Adam and Eve/DDB creative.  It's good, if a bit edgy.

On a more serious note, and showing that you can't always anticipate quite how your viral campaign will get amplified, the news coverage noted the award animal protection association PETA gave to John Lewis to celebrate the use of computer generated imaged animals eating bread crumbed, processed fish fingers, whilst a week later another news story on BBC Radio Four noted that friendly Eider ducks should not be fed bread with fish and chips, a diet that lacks sufficient calcium and causes egg shells to fail.

Of course other service brands, like airlines, have been using aspirational air travel stories to manifest powerful feelings of psychological well being and emotional engagement for many years. This piece for Canadian airline WestJet is really amazing, follow the link to watch the 5 min video.

The marketing lesson appears to be that whilst the John Lewis ad formula is becoming less distinctive, as competitor retailers ape the emotional appeal, the high performing department store retailer has excelled on leveraging its engagement.  Using a mould breaking social media first strategy and a strong reputation for providing a stand out Christmas creative campaign sees the partnership based retailer at the head of the pack again.  Although, no longer for highly distinctive creative, featuring cute kids and cuddly animals portraying lovely stories to a remastered classic tune, but for being different in a good way for its appreciation of emergingly important social media platforms.


For what it's worth, my personal favourite of the season (winter, but not actually Christmas) is the Sony 4K frozen bubbles ad, below.  You will notice a remarkable similarity in style to the John Lewis portfolio (also Adam and Eve/DDB).  The story telling is too subtle for me, (I'm watching in HD, not 4K - it looks good to me) but there are no computer graphics, it is just a natural phenomenon.  Amazing.  Filmed near my old ski haunt, Whistler in British Colombia.  Unfortunately, like much of the clever global creativity used for Asian technology brands, in my view it fails to hit the mark for sophisticated UK consumers.  Too bland.  And not enough penguins.