Monday, 17 September 2012

World Records

It's at times like these I am constantly reminded that I have one of the best jobs in the world.

To explain how much fun I had yesterday, allow me to divulge a little...

In my family I am one of 4 boys and we are all within 4 years of each other. I am a twin at the top. We were lucky enough to be spoilt with facilities such as a flood-lit tennis court, an acre of lawn, a trampoline, a putting green, a BMX track and a big swimming pool at home. The reason for mentioning this is that I believe it, coupled with 3 brothers close in age was one of the reasons I became so competitive. At an early age the best gift Santa could possibly leave us would be a Guinness World Records Book. We would study and analyse all the records and then set courses up around the garden and house and the 4 of us boys would set our own records and compete for the top of the leader board.

It is therefore a great privilege for me to now be making regular trips to the Guinness World Records HQ in London and meeting with their teams of PR Managers, Event Managers, Press Officers, Brand Licensing Mangers, et al. 

We have now signed up together and the relationship is blossoming. In-house we have now created the Official Guinness World Record Store and supplied all the marketing collateral in it, just in time for their new book.

With the official launch of their latest book, we got a lot of the Guinness World Record Holders together for a shoot and invited the press.

We held the event at a hotel right on the Thames and overlooking the famous Tower Bridge. This was going to get a lot of exposure and publicity for the book and the new store we created.

Here is my photo of the largest “Guns” (Biceps & Triceps) Moustafa Ismail (Egypt) – 64.77 cm (25.5 in) circumference. You'll see and hear more of Mo later in this article.

Here I am with The Space Cowboy a.k.a Chayne Hultgren (Australia) – Multiple record holder (Swords). He swallows all of those in his hands at once. I had a long interview with him and in fact spent the entire afternoon with all of the people below and they all had fascinating stories. Chayne also has a cool trick where he swallows a neon tube and then switches it on and you can see the tube shine through his stomach and skin. I spoke at length about what he does to prep (ie eating or not eating - he has a system he has to stick to to get it right) and we spoke about some of the accidents he's had, but recovered from.

Wouter van den Bosch & his bike outside - Largest Rideable Bicycle (based on weight) – 750 kg (1650 lb) and over 6ft (2 meters) tall. Wouter is from Holland and he bought the bike over in a van. I had been over to Holland 11 times prior and been in Amsterdam 11 days before this photo was taken so we had a lot of similar stories to talk about. Wouter is a Dutch art student and former mechanical engineer,who has built this 450kg heavy monster bicycle from parts donated to him from friends and a tractor company. It took him three months to build the monster bike, and it's made from steel tubes, bicycle parts and a tractor tyre. He's become a YouTube sensation with over 6,498,341 views and you can see it here

Well this was all great, we still had a job to do and I'm all about the promotional marketing so I had to get into the room and set up for the shoot. Let's get the gear out...

First up we had the official adjudicator on the set for s few snaps with all the official merchandise they'll use to judge an event, right down to the stopwatches, counters and tape measures to record the records with. Here is Ben.

Next up was Sofia Romero – Escapologist - Fastest Escape from a straightjacket 4.69 seconds here modelling the cap and medals. 

The next model for the caps and medal was Sharran Alexandra – The World's Heaviest Sportswoman (she actually lives less than 2km away from me!)

Putting on her meanest sumo wrestling face, this is the sport she competes in.

And then a test to see how tough she really is

 Setting up the group shot

The last addition to the final shot is introduced below

This is the lovely and quiet German spoken Johanna Quaas. 
She is the World's Oldest Gymnast at 87 years old

Here is the set up for the group shot, now with our T-shirts added too

 And a shot of the world record breakers with our event wristbands too (we use these for mass participation events) so we can count up the official numbers.

Here we have the high-vis vests used for events

Here we have some stickers on the swords

Right with the shoot over and it was time to do a few formalities, the first of which was an arm wrestle over the merchandise to see who was champ.

 As you can see from the below signature he wrote in my book, he'll have to work a little harder sculpting his guns and return for a re-match next year. 

I gave him some official merchandise to cheer him up though.

The next big thing was meeting the delightful Jyoti Amge. She is the Shortest Woman Living - at just 62.8 cm (24.7 in). She also has the most infectious laugh and giggle I have ever come across and had most of the team in stitches during the balloon shoot I did with her. You could see she loved the day just as much as we did.

Here are a few pics of Yoti on her shoot. We had got her a T-shirt that was 18-24 months and it was still massive on her, but she couldn't stop laughing throughout the shoot, so it was worth it.

Hydration enforcers

Yoti joins the gun show

And so ended a brilliant summers day, next to the river Thames in the heart of London, meeting some incredible people, and they call this work, I'm a lucky man indeed.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Above and below the line marketing - what's the difference?

At university one of the majors I did in my Bachelor of Commerce was Marketing and this where I first heard the terms "above the line" and "below the line" marketing. To many this is an unknown term, it certainly was to me so allow me to explain briefly. Traditionally above the line marketing is the stuff one usually thinks about when they hear the word "marketing"; it's your print, radio, television and so on. Below the line is everything else. 

It initially troubled me that the path I was heading down was below this famous line. Who drew this line? Where does he live? Could I take him in a rumble or at least beat him in a bare cheek 100m dash after a full night's drinking games?

If you do something - anything in fact that gets your company's name into the minds of your customers then it's marketing - pure and simple. In fact research has shown that below the line marketing and digital the fastest growing sector in the marketing mix.

The trouble is that there are some huge companies out there who don't seem to know the difference. Dozens of times every day when myself or members of my team are speaking to a company who straight away tell me that they don't have a budget for marketing and yet we will have taken their phone number from an advert in a national paper which will have set them back several thousand pounds/dollars! Untargetted, unimaginative and with a lifespan of one day - there are moths that have lasted longer than these people's marketing efforts and so in an attempt to spend wisely, they repeat the very same advert a week later - genius!

Why are these smart marketeers so ready to dismiss promotional merchandise as a viable way to generate more business? Now don't get me wrong - giving away a random pen to some passer by at a trade show is about as useful as a bacon sandwich in a synagogue. People throw money at advertising because it's the done thing, but that doesn't necessarily make it the right thing.

But it's not all pens and mousemats. These things certainly have their place but there are over a million other ideas out there. People are happy to spend so much money and yet so little time on their marketing and the costs can be huge. I pride myself on giving good advice - sometimes a pen is the right way to go, but I need to ask a lot more questions before I arrive at that conclusion. I'm not trying to make a sale here (although I have no objection to your buying from me) but I am trying to make sure that you get the best advice.

The person working at the newspaper advert office only wants to know the size of advert you want to buy and on what date you want it printed. He doesn't care about your business because he doesn't need to - and yet you form a strategic alliance with this person?

So let's dispense with this concept of what I do being "below the line" - I know that my clients have had great responses to the merchandise that they have given out. It's lead to more business and more long standing relationships between them and their customers. When was the last time a newspaper advert did that?

And so it is that I draw a new line - and all marketing, from the multi million pound TV campaigns to the humblest ballpoint pen will be above it. Now that's out of the way, can we talk about your marketing?

Friday, 7 September 2012

One blog at a time...

Here we go...

Hi folks,

I say 'Hi', but at this stage I'm not sure who I'm addressing, but I have a feeling this forum could be a good place for me to put some ideas and visuals down as they come to the fore. 

The point is, I am lucky enough to work in a really fun and dynamic industry. My office desk (and inbox) is constantly being bombarded with new and wacky marketing ideas and I'm not sure where to put all these ideas, thoughts, industry trends and anecdotes.

In this day and age there are a multitude of different avenues for these ideas on-line such as FB, Picassa, G+ to name but a few, but I'm going to add this forum to the mix too and see how it goes.