Category Archives: marketing

Communicating on mountain sides

What are those symbols on the side of this mountain? How do they get there? Who puts them there? And why? We took both of these pictures in Ollantaytambo which is part of the Sacred Valley in Peru.

The Inka’s designers and architects modified mountains
to pay tribute to their gods. Ollantaytambo is a settlement
of the Inka’s elite from the mid 1500s. Find the
face in the middle left section of this image. Probably
represents an important god. (The dominant feature in
the middle are storehouses for the harvest)
Signage cut into mountains was a
common sight in Peru. This one
we spotted in the Sacred Valley. They
are usually political in nature and may
promote political ideas.
In Peru we encountered a variety of symbols cut into the mountain sides. These were often visible from miles away and usually served political purposes: they promoted a political party or candidates for mayor or parliament, for instance.
This form of ‘communicating’ reaches back a long time in Peru. For instance, even though the Inca Empire lacked a written language, it did not lack in scientific and communicative prowess. It designed its Sacred Valley outside of Cuzco, Peru to mirror religious aspects of the Milky Way as they perceived it. 

 

Election advertising in Argentina

I saw this poster wall in Buenos Aires, Argentina in January. The current president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, followed her husband into the presidential role when he could not run again due to the country’s constitutional limit. He would have been eligible to run again after being out of office for one term (in contrast to the US system, for instance), had he not died in the fall of 2010.

Here the competitive positioning the opposition has chosen is “Thinking always about you” and the candidate’s signature. Now, granted I do not keep up much with daily political life in Argentina. But I am intrigued by the implication of this competitive positioning. It is a thoroughly positive line with thoroughly negative implications, thus, possibly portraying a real choice without the personal attacks designed to confuse and obfuscate that have become the mainstay of US and Canadian electioneering.

As an aside, love the light blue tie on white shirt – so easy to wear the Argentine flag and show a bit  of patriotism.

Pensando en vos siempre. Buenos Aires, Argentina. Palermo district.

Election advertising in Peru

Just as the Canadian parliament was getting back to work this week, the ruling Conservative Party released election ads for a day that were derided as a personal attack on the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and debunked as inaccurate – not to say lies –  on top of that. Of course, there is no election on in Canada  but that hasn’t held the governing party back from running ads year round that literally “brand” the competition as “American” and “just visiting”. In case you can see the irony in that.

This house is in a remote place called Janca Pampa that
 we visited in October 2010. Alcalde = mayor.

In any case, it reminded me of something slightly more quaint on the election advertising front:
I was intrigued with a particular form of advertising used widely across Peru and other Latin American countries. People let politicians or political parties paint part of their house in white and then add their political message – for a fee.

Painted houses as we know them in Canada, for instance, are rare in the Peruvian countryside, where most houses are still built using adobe construction. The political messages are usually very simple: mark your “x” in my box. They are also highly visual. In fact, political parties in Peru use highly visual references in their party logos as you can see on that page of regional parties in Ancash province of Peru.

These messages often stay intact for years. How exactly the payment schemes work I don’t know, for instance, do they use traffic studies to determine payment, are there per annum flat fees, where does the money come from to pay the local people?

Nonetheless, I hope you’ll enjoy this selection of Peruvian election ads. Note: when there was a key message beyond “vote for me” it usually was about “change”, “regional power” and “clean hands in government”. Pretty simple and tells you a few things about what some of the concerns of the people might be.

Nueva Era is also a regional party.
Here it promotes a
Mayoral candidate
Vote for the team with “clean hands”
ie not corrupt.

 

Moviemento Independiente  Regional Puro Ancash


Mayoral race marketing. The crossing
out refers to what people are asked to do:
Vote for me!

Global brand in local market

Palermo district, Buenos Aires

Can you see it?

Yes, it’s on the municipal street sign. Click on the photo and enlarge it. There it is! Ah, that’s ubiquitous advertising.

Claro and Nokia. Claro is a telecomm company, while Nokia continues to be the number 1 mobile phone maker in the world.

Does your city use street signs for corporate brand awareness? This was everywhere in BA.

By the way Claro’s tagline is “Es simple. Es claro.” Which is a fun play on words. (“Simple” doesn’t mean exactly the same as “simple” in English, but is used more in the sense of “plain, simple-minded”, even though here I think “simple” does translate well, while “claro” stands for “OK” or “yes” as well as “clear” or “clearly”) Not sure what it does for brand equity that “claro” is one of the words we heard most often when people wanted to express agreement with something – That’s got to be good for this rather large Telecom operating in various countries in South America.

Nokia uses its “Connecting People” tagline in Argentina in English as it does around the world. I guess “pueblo conectando” – or the German translation of “Menschen verbinden” didn’t pass muster with the global brand guardians.

Santa Claus in La Paz

There are many fun parts to travelling. One relevant in this space is how being in a different place changes how we see ads like the one below.

While visiting La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, this past November we came across this Coca-Cola ad using the famous Santa Claus and the wonderful line, “Together we make magic reality.”

There are so many interesting layers to this photo:

  • A Coca-Cola ad featuring Santa on a snowy, starry night backdrop the Southern hemisphere in November (that’s spring heading for summer)
  • Santa as spokesperson for Coca-Cola (who else does pull this off?)
  • That jolly big man drinking his Coca-Cola
  • The Santa image, it is said, has been shaped significantly by Coca-Cola advertising going back to1931
  • A Coca-Cola ad in Bolivia where Coca leaves are a large crop some destined for traditional uses and some for let’s call it “export”and that doesn’t even have anything to do with the Coca-Cola formula
  • The statue in the foreground is of Simon Bolivar, Liberator of Bolivia from colonial (Spanish) rule, August 6, 1825.

What do you want from the web?

I’m preparing training material for a client: “How your Web Presence Can Help You Build a Stronger Profile”.

The point of view I am taking is what it really means when your audience can do everything your organization can do online. Think about it: individuals possess the power of the printing press without the cost of printing and distribution. All they need to figure out is how to create content and attract audiences. That of course, is the hard part.

And yet, much of what goes online leaves me with a back to the future sort of feeling.

  • Facebook: Social (Connecting and sharing with your friends)
  • Youtube: TV (Broadcast yourself)
  • Flickr: Photo journalism (The eyes of the world)
  • Twitter: News (What’s happening?)
  • Podcasting: Radio (video) by everyone

That’s why the training program will focus on providing an understandable thought framework, and then demystify some of the voodoo – like SEO, UXD (yes, that means user experience design) – to empower my client to think smart and make good decisions as they strengthen their web presence, purposefully and without running off in all directions.

My basic message is that online marketing is about connecting with the right people where they are in ways that are meaningful to them. The enabling aspects are tried and true concepts:

Online channels are about dialogue and conversation; they work because of relevance to the audience and timeliness; and, most difficult of all in this engineered world they demand authenticity.

SEO: write for people, code for search engines

One way to get search engine optimization right is to think of SEO from the earliest stage of conception of a web site, or a web page. That means you’ll write the site for people and you’ll construct the code for search engines.

Writing for people includes

  • Starting with your keyword list
  • Using your most important keywords, rather than many variants, in title tags, urls, page’s description tag, headings, and body text
  • Be authentic and trustworthy
Construct code for search engines
  • Heed the power of the url
  • Create the most important Meta tags; title tag, description tag, keyword tag
  • Create image tags for each image on your site (this is also a good accessibility guideline)

You can optimize every page on your web site. If you have 40 pages that’s easier than if you have 40,000 pages. Simply triage the needs for improvement and invest where you’ll see the biggest return on your investment: for instance, home page, secondary landing pages, or key sections. 

New content should simply be conceived with these simple SEO concepts in mind, rather than be retrofitted later.