Think It. Blog It.

Research Gone Wrong: The Olympics in America


Picture this. You gather up your family and closest friends, butter up some popcorn, pop open a beer, and nestle in around the television, eager for an important match of your favorite Olympic sport. But you already know the results.

It’s not science fiction; it’s the reality of watching the Olympics in America, where most popular events are airing long after they’ve happened. Before Americans can legally tune in, the scores and medals have been all over Twitter, Facebook, and the news for hours.

Why? NBC, the exclusive rights holder to the Olympics in the US, has opted to save the most popular events for primetime, a decision allegedly made after “extensive research”.

Well it turns out that for sporting events, live carries real value, as evidenced by American public’s immense criticism against NBC’s handling of the Olympics. Just search #NBCfail on Twitter for a taste.

The obvious explanation for tape delaying is simple dollars and cents. NBC paid $1.2 billion for its exclusive rights, a massive sum that must be matched by massive ad revenue tied to big audiences, popular events, and (you guessed it) primetime.

NBC’s official explanation is much nobler, at least on the surface. They credit their approach to understanding of the consumer, extensive research, and firm insights. Saving footage until Americans are home from work, we are to understand, is doing the viewing public a favor (not requiring them to program their DVRs themselves, evidently).

Research can be a useful thing, but it’s loaded with risks and is ripe for abuse. Consider whether you would respond affirmatively to the following statement on a survey:

I prefer to watch the Olympics when convenient to me.

Would you mark true? Probably –but only because you don’t prefer inconvenient things. You might support a tape delayed Olympics or you might not, but that’s not what the statement says. Any layperson could tell you the difference, but it was the very ‘insight’ NBC used to justify tape delaying.

Distortions of this sort happen all the time, especially if the research sponsor’s bias becomes involved. From a business point of view, NBC almost had to tape delay and its research had to justify that choice. The old adage applies: this is using research like a drunk uses a lamppost; for support, not illumination.

Research, misused, can cost a brand more than the money wasted on the fieldwork.  Honest research can illuminate the issues, providing the clarity for good business decision. And that is good for all concerned – client, brand and customer. Do it right, or not at all

Co-written by Stephen McVerry + Stuart Mackay

Olymping Home


So the stage is set, the players are on their marks, who is going for Gold this silly season? I’m talking about the high stakes game of ‘Ambush the Olympics’ for brands big and small. The opportunity now is for one or two brands to capture the hearts, minds and free media space of the capital with a suitably cheeky, clever and well-placed initiative that breaks the rules.

We have the setting – with the heavy boot of LOCOG stamping down the early – relatively innocent – references to the Event, the Media picking it up and magnifying it out of all proportion, stirring up that classic mix of British emotions – indignation plus affection for the underdog. A passing thought for the poor Big Brands who paid their money, hoping to build up goodwill in that frank, US-style way, and who are now lumped together with the LOCOG oppressors in the consumers mind. Visa? Adidas? Mind you, the Coca Cola ad asking us to “Celebrate… Britain’s Beat” may be a sly dig – we are not beat yet!

So who are the main contenders? As ever, the Scots have got off to a roaring start in the challenger underdog stakes: Brewdogs’ spoof offer “Never Mind the Anabolics” may lack subtlety, but grabs attention (ref). Oddbins has gone a step further to promote all the brands who haven’t sponsored the big O (ref) But as yet, no leader. Will we see an outbreak of orange and blue ‘Fanny’ shirts in the audience from Irn Bru? (ref).

I cant wait. 

Turn Your Photos Into Chocolate


Ever wanted to send someone a block of chocolate with a bit more oomph, well now you can…

Californian based Chocolatiers Cocoagraph produce chocolate bars with edible Polaroid-style photographs.

Their Cocoagraph bars are handmade to order, customizable with your own photo and are available in 4 flavour variants.   Simply upload your digital image (Instagram, hipstamatic, logo, jpg etc) to their site and they’ll do the rest…

How delightful, I want one!


Freelance Creative - Wanted

We’re looking for an experienced and talented creative to work with us on an exciting project coming up, and more in the pipeline.

We're Ergo – a Branding and Strategic Consultancy. Our clients include; Speedo, Carlsberg, The Coca Cola Company, and more.

We’re Brand Strategists, thinkers and innovators - in the business of ‘ideas’.  We’re looking for someone who can bring our ideas to life, and translate our thinking (words), into visuals (creative) - our ideas and your talent are responsible for transforming the brands we work with!

We’re looking for a freelance visual creative to work with us on a semi on-going basis. Our thinking is multi-disciplined, as you will be able to tell from the breadth of clients we work with, so we’re looking for someone who is visually multi-disciplined also. We maybe working on a Logo design one day, an app the next or a even a retail design = The key is ‘visual translation’. 

We have a great studio space, which we’re happy to share with you.?Send your details across to us (portfolio and CV), and lets go from there.


Chrome Web Lab


This is a Chrome Experiement, Made by Google. 
5 Chrome experiements - open to the world online, live from the Science Museum, London. 

This is hours of fun.... The Universal Orchestra allows you to make music with people across the world, whilst the Teleporter travels instantly to far away places. You can have your portrait sketched by a Sketchbot - live!  You can trace the internet's vast network with the Data Tracer and explore the global community and browse visitors creations with the Lab Tag Explorer.! 

Thumbs up, I love it!! 

Google's 20th century Antarctic Expeditions

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The interior of Shackleton's Hut demonstrates the host of supplies used in early 20th century Antarctic expeditions—everything from medicine and food to candles and cargo sleds can be found neatly stored inside.

Courtesy of Google Blogspot

"This is our Planet"

Image courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center  

Great Video,  edited and composed by  Tomislav Safundži

RAR + Top London Independent Agency 2012


Top 50 London Independent Agencies - The Results!

We're pretty excited to announce that the advertising trade magazine 'The Drum' in association with the RAR has named Ergo No.20 in the Annual Top 50 London Independent Agencies.

The special report ranks agencies based on business performance and client testimonials: An agency must be recommended as delivering a high level of customer satisfaction by their clients, and positions are calculated by a number of factors including turnover, profitability, growth and staff numbers.

We are extremely delighted to be ranked within the top 20. This result is testament to the hard work and commitment of our amazing team and wonderful clients.


20 out of 50 ain't bad

We’d heard about it, we pre-ordered our copy, but we’ve just found out. And to our delight, we’ve been voted 20 out of 50 in a ranking of top London Independent Agencies 2012.

This month’s copy of the industry marketing magazine, The Drum (supported by RAR Recommended Agency Register) has published a ranking table of the Top 50 Independent Agencies in London. We’re pleased as punch, as you might imagine with our ranking at 20, in an industry like ours it’s always good to be recognised for our hard work.

When you punch above your weight like we do, 20 out of 50 ain’t bad!

Well done team.

The Need for Smart Innovation

Sony-CutIn early 2007, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laughed off the iPhone, conceding Apple’s latest device “no chance” of gaining market share. He’s not laughing anymore. Several years later, Microsoft is chasing the iPhone and the booming smartphone market it ignited with its too little/too late Windows Phone 7.

The iPhone wasn’t the first time Microsoft has been smoked by Apple, nor was it the last. Microsoft’s Zune media players entered the arena five years after the iPod exploded the market and Microsoft is again chasing Apple into the tablet space. This is the critical difference between the two giants is simple: Microsoft is following trends while Apple is starting them.

It’s easy to ridicule Ballmer but hindsight is, of course, 20/20. Still, to innovate intelligently and nurture long-term success, foresight is vital. It’s this sort of smart innovation –an understanding of your strengths coupled with the vision to apply them to create new opportunities—that has rewarded Apple with massive hits like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Microsoft’s aggressive (but late) entries into spaces pioneered by other companies reflect short-term bottom line thinking, not the long-term smart innovation the tech giant needs.

Consider Microsoft’s recent strategy in the young eReader market. The company announced two weeks ago that it is buying into the Nook eReader and tablet brand owned by popular US bookseller Barnes & Noble, to the tune of $300 million. It’s not hard to understand why; the Nook is popular, owning a solid third of the US eReader market and holding its own against Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iBook platform. This way Microsoft didn’t need to win market share on its own, it simply bought it. The move will be profitable in the short term, but unless the spirit of enterprise that created the brand is maintained, will it continue to grow? Buying the innovation of others is not always the way forward, even for Microsoft: remember Razorfish?

Apple wasn’t in a great place when it first announced the iPod. Apple’s share of the computer market was miniscule, it didn’t have any other real pillars to rest itself, and it had recently stayed afloat only on a major investment from Microsoft. But it didn’t have nothing. Apple had a brand, loved and admired by the few, it had design chops in both hardware and software, an innovative spirit, and, thanks to Steve Jobs, a vision. Beginning with the iPod, then the iPhone, and now the iPad, Apple applied its assets and core competencies to create entirely new experiences and ignited whole new categories. Smart innovation at its finest. On the way, Apple have been showing up other former stars like Sony, who have been busy with cost-cutting, rationalizing and now engaged in a massive ‘downsizing’ in the hope of returning to profit.

Most companies aren’t as large as Apple, Microsoft or Sony, but all can learn from both and decided which to emulate. In this global recession especially, it can be tempting to take every opportunity to cut costs, downsize to protect the bottom line – or hedge your bets and buy ready-made innovation. But this will lead only to a downward spiral or, at best, short term ‘acquired’ growth. Smart innovation, the Apple way, is the better route. It may take guts; it sure needs vision, but the payoff can be real and the future bright. Invest in the future, not in cost-cutting (itself a costly exercise) – or buying others’ opportunities. Leverage your strengths to create the new. Be the pioneer, not the chaser.

Co-Written by Stuart Mackay & Stephen McVerry

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