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Social Networking Newcomers to Watch – Part 2


Imagine you’re sitting cozily in your favorite café, slowly sipping a piping hot cappuccino and reading a new paperback, when your phone vibrates lightly in your pocket. You pull it out to discover that while you were enjoying your book and beverage, your smartphone was hard at work finding a potential date for Friday night.  Turns out she’s sitting in the opposite corner of the café, looking at her smartphone. She has just been found the perfect date as well.

If that sounds like science-fiction, brace yourself for reality: the technology is here and real. If current trends continue, it won’t be long before a majority of consumers in the US, the UK, and other European countries are carrying smartphones capable of creating scenarios just like that.

The magic comes from two key features: location-awareness and persistent web connection. Even when the device is asleep in your pocket, your smartphone knows where you are, which nearby café you’d love, that they make an especially good cappuccino, and, once you’re settled in with your paperback, who you should talk to. The smartphone is not merely the modern cellphone; it’s a totally new class of device. While popular apps like Foursquare leverage smartphone technology to facilitate location sharing with people you know and trust, the next generation of location-based social services aims to introduce you to those around you. Here are few pioneers.


Highlight has enjoyed the most press lately but wasn’t the SXSW breakout many had predicted. The service alerts you to other Highlight users in your vicinity who share interests or mutual friends (data it pulls in from your Facebook profile). Highlight keeps a log of every time you cross paths with a user, potentially eliminating those “where have I seen this person before?” moments for good.


Sonar utilizes Foursquare check ins to determine the location of users rather than constantly pinging GPS for a precise location like Highlight. The app pulls information from your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, promising to reveal the unexpected connections you share with everyone around you. Sonar’s greatest feature could be its LinkedIn integration, making Sonar a potent on-the-fly professional networking tool.


Banjo’s approach is the most aggressive of the three (and most invasive regarding privacy). Unlike Highlight and Sonar, which list only users who have signed up for their service, Banjo shows anyone who has indicated their location on any social network, be it Foursquare, Twitter, or something else. As a result, Banjo surfaces significantly more people but has less information to show for each of them. You typically won’t know if you share interests or connections, but you may get to browse recent tweets in hopes of finding something useful.

Written By: Stephen McVerry

'The Artist' of Innovation

Hollywood has been inspiring us lately with examples of best and worst in marketing ‘innovation’.

Every new film is to some extent an ‘innovation’ - much as Hollywood likes to hide this fact with remakes and re-hashed formulaic products. But the most recent $200million Big Disaster – Disney’s John Carter – seems to be down to bad marketing. They went for the classic ‘Big Bang’ launch strategy – every cinema complex across USA simultaneously, backed by a $100m marketing campaign – and relied on 3D, hype and ‘push’ to get the mass bums on seats. But despite the swagger and noise, with an uninspiring name and a confused offer they did not get across why anyone might want to watch it. They failed to address the question: “Whats the Big Idea?” Viewers avoided it in droves.

By contrast, a work of marketing genius lay behind the big hit of the Oscars earlier this month: The Artist. A film with no special effects, no colour and no colour, the Artist has captured the interest and imagination – and the wallets – of audiences across the world. Harvey Weinstein made it happen, against all odds.

What makes it work? Our assessment:

- Astute understanding of the distinct nature of each of his products and where it ‘fits’;

- Bullish belief in the idea – expressed itself in energy and passion behind the brand;

- Clever leverage of  the media mix - ‘endorsement’, via the Oscars, rather than just advertising

This plus a real, visceral understanding of the audience  – treated with respect, brilliant ‘route to market’ strategies and a healthy dose of realism:

“There’s not one thing this movie has going for it, except for the fact that it’s great,” he says. It could run out of steam “if it was overly distributed. Look, we’ve got 10 Academy Award nominations, we’re in 800, 900 theatres. Most people would go straight to 2,500. We will go to 2,500 ...

but not now.”


We could all learn something from that. 

Social Networking Newcomers to Watch – Part 1


Google+’s failure to impact Facebook’s dominance has convinced many that the social networking wars have long been won, but don’t tell that to the many budding startups hoping to blaze new trails in consumers’ social lives.  Despite the Google+ dud, the social sphere is far from impenetrable. Differing from Google’s approach (emulating Facebook) several startups of recent memory have shown that success can be found in pioneering new ideas and utilities.

Proving that there is still room for fresh approaches to social services, Foursquare entered location-tied social networking early and became the dominant player in the space, fending off even Facebook when it tried to follow into the territory. Tumblr, which recently celebrated its 20 billionth post, took blogging and infused deep social and community elements for massive success. Twitter etched out its massive audience as a bare bones platform for short form sharing.  Similarly, newer networks hope to make an impact by pursuing new ideas. These are a few to watch.


The recent social media explosion on everyone’s mind is Pinterest, a platform so different from Facebook that it defies much comparison. Pinterest’s purpose is very specific; to be consumers’ social place of discovery and depository for images they find interesting or relevant. Users pin images to themed boards and, in doing so, share their finds with their friends and subscribers.

Perhaps Pinterest’s attraction is similar to that of Tumblr, fulfilling a desire to be fed interesting content and to further share the best of it. Furthermore, individual posts to Pinterest have the same high viral potential via repinning that is both common on Tumblr though reblogging and rare in Facebook’s high privacy system. Whatever the reason for its success, it’s clear that Pinterest’s approach to social media and sharing has been novel enough to cut through the social media clutter.


Path is a smartphone-based social network that bills itself as the social journal of your life.  On its iPhone and Android apps, users are encouraged to share their day-to-day lives, from standard updates, photos taken, and locations visited, to songs listened to, conversations had, and, oddly, sleep slept. While most of its core functionalities are not unlike Facebook’s offerings (sleep being the obvious exception), Path differentiates itself by limiting your friend count to just 150 of your favorite connections. The result is a social network that is more personal, enabling the deep sharing Path encourages.


If Path is designed to be a small scale mobile social network, Pair is a minuscule one: you’re allowed just one connection. Intended for couples, Path offers much of what you’d expect in a modern social network (status, photo, message, and location sharing) plus one heartwarming innovation: a feature called “thumbkiss”. When the two users properly align their thumbs on their smartphone screens, both phones vibrate in sync. Is it just me or do Facebook pokes suddenly feel outdated?

Tune in next week for part two... 

Written by: Stephen McVerry 

Discovery, a Covert Route to Consideration

targetIn today’s marketplace, we face a seemingly endless selection of brands to fit every possible need.  Unable to consider each and every option thoroughly, we rely on internal rankings to make each purchase decision efficiently. Of course we don’t necessarily rank brands as #1, #2, #3, and so on. Instead, we are loosely aware of the one or two brands that get the front of our consideration, a few that are comfortable alternatives, and several that we typically disregard unless nothing else is available.

Visualize this as a three-ringed archery target. The bull’s eye contains your go-to selections, the next ring holds your default alternatives, and the third ring contains your reluctant backups. Brands in a given ring are given roughly equal consideration and must all be exhausted before you consider the next grouping. Brands aim to be in the bull’s eye for their target audience but as long as they’re at least on the radar, they can nudge toward the center with clever branding and marketing. The greater challenge, however, is for brands who float outside the rings altogether.

Until recently, Agwa was off my radar. I don’t recall having seen the obscure herbal liqueur advertised or sold before, and I probably ignored it if I had. So when I tried to order a Jägerbomb in Shoreditch last Friday night and the bartender suggested an Agwabomb instead, I didn’t know what he was talking about. He showed me the funny-shaped glasses specially made for the drink, the green colored liqueur, and explained that it was like a Jägerbomb but better.  I decided to trust his recommendation (he was an expert after all). In the two seconds it took to drink, Agwa leapt from outside my rings of consideration to the bull’s eye, sitting comfortable next to the illustrious Jägerbomb as my go-to drink for rocket launching a night out.

That’s the power of discovery. Unlike a massive advertising campaign, which I probably would have written off as just another campaign vying for my money, this autonomous bartender managed to influence me into trying something I would never have considered on my own. It wasn’t a corporation commanding that I buy their product; it was me stumbling into an exciting Agwa culture that I had never known existed. Natural discovery circumvented the natural barriers we’ve all learned to put up to salespeople and advertising and managed to get an unknown product to the center of my consideration rings in mere minutes. If customers ordering Jägerbombs are converted to Agwabombs regularly, that’s effective and inexpensive promotion for Agwa.

Advertising can be effective, but is often inefficient and can’t solve every problem. Instead of above-the-line advertising, which consumers are largely trained to deflect, a product could be set up for natural and powerful discovery. As far as I know, Agwa has no special deal with the bar in Shoreditch, but it could be a powerful idea. For brands like Agwa, largely off the radar to most consumers, embracing discovery is a potent and largely untapped alternative to advertising.

Written by: Stephen McVerry

Do We Ever Make Rational Purchase Decisions?


Imagine you are purchasing a new laptop. On a subconscious affective level you lust for the Macbook Air,
but you intend to make the best decision, whatever the brand, for your lifestyle and your wallet.

You compile a list of laptops that fit your criteria, but when you consider prices you discover that Apple’s
offering will cost you at least $300 above any comparable Windows machine. Although any laptop on your
list would match your criteria, some part of you keeps returning to the Macbook Air. You start
deemphasizing the value of a $300 savings and instead highlight the importance of product design.
You believe your choice is a result of logical reasoning alone, and then buy your shiny new Macbook.

We like to see ourselves as savvy consumers, making the best purchase decisions available to us and
for the right reasons. Whether it’s higher quality, better value, or the right combination of features and
benefits, we can usually offer a well-reasoned explanation for any purchase we make. But are we really
able to account for all the forces that sway our choices? Are we even in control of our decision making
at all? We make our decisions based on the inputs available to us, reason through them rationally
(or so we like to think), and arrive at the best conclusion. The trouble is that so many of these inputs
are beyond our control and impact our decisions in ways we cannot account for.

Things like our emotional response to advertisements, clever branding, and conversations with our peers
develop our affective relationships with brands, even ones we have never bought or used. Once a positive
internal disposition towards a brand is established, it becomes difficult to account for and near impossible
to ignore when it comes time to decide on a purchase.

What follows is post-rationalization, justifying to ourselves and to others why we made the choice we did.
It’s the result of classic cognitive dissonance; we see ourselves as rational decision makers but often fail to
make the logical choice, so we subconsciously fabricate an explanation that highlights rational
considerations and deemphasizes any affective and internal forces. 

We give all the credit to our free will and thorough decision making and deny the unexplainable forces
that creep into our decisions without permission. We don’t know why a certain brand on the shelf
makes us feel a certain way, and the ambiguity is both uncomfortable and powerful. That’s one of
the reasons branding and advertising is effective but much of traditional research is not.
Effective branding gives consumers a powerful emotional hook that a feature list or price tag at
the point of purchase cannot. It’s also why research is so challenging and typically ineffective.
Surveys, interviews, and focus groups can only access consumers’ post-rationalized reasons for
their choices or taste, leading to results that miss the true underlying motivators completely.

WRITTEN BY: Stephen McVerry


America Branded


Hello. I’m Stephen McVerry, an intern at Ergo. I am a student at Boston University in the United States currently in London on my university’s study abroad program. I’ve been in the UK for two months and have  had many exciting experiences exploring London so far.

After a few weeks of nearly being hit every time I stepped into the street and giggling every time I purchased orange juice with extra “juicy bits”, I felt I had the basic British-American differences figured out. I learned that “cheers” isn’t just something friends say while clinking wine glasses together, but a sort of thank you/goodbye hybrid. I learned that British college students love KFC, even if they don’t know that the K stands for Kentucky or where such a place might be.

It is true that many American brands like KFC exported themselves to the UK long before I did, but I soon began noticing a second sort “American”, a sometimes inaccurate but always generalized view of the country I grew up in.

I began noticing ads for vacation packages to the United States. Mostof these ads used in waving stars & stripes or a soaring bald eagle, and nearly all used the Statue of Liberty, even when the destination was nowhere close to New York. Images of America don’t seem to extend much further than these stale clichés.

In one of my first trips to a local Sainsburys, I came across an unfamiliar product mysteriously called “American-style Hot Dogs”. These were hot dogs floating ominously inside a glass jar, a style of hotdog that I assure you is not sold in America. Unsurprisingly, the labeling was decorated in a similarly to the travel ads, a level of American patriotism normally reserved for Independence Day or a Presidential inauguration. It looked as if its manufacturers attempted to compensate for the product’s actual un-Americanness by dressing it in as many stars and stripes as possible. Most of the UK market wouldn’t know the difference, I suppose.

From Tinseltown to Ed’s, from Fatboy’s to Big Moe’s, there seem to be more “American-style” diners in London than in American cities. One diner featured McDonald’s characters across one wall and a giant Obama poster on another, as if they decorated with anything that could raise their American credentials. In America, authentic diners have nearly died out completely and our retro throwback restaurants struggle for customers. Oddly, Londoners seem more attracted to the mythical American diner than Americans are.

This seems to be the America that gets sold in the UK. An America of cheeseburgers, hot dogs, endless American flags, 1950s-era diners symbolic of an expired Hollywood glamour, and skies crowded by bald eagles. None of this inaccurate, per say. It’s just a narrow, generic, and clichéd view that has been packaged up and sold more like a product than a country.

I had been sold a certain London my entire life too. A city full of prim, proper, and well-dressed Brits with an unusual penchant for meat pies, tea, and queuing.  This is an exaggerated description too, but I know firsthand that this image of the British has been powerful in America. After all, it helped attract me here.

Mercedes Benz New Invisible Car


Wanted - Project / Account Manager

We're looking for a Project/Acc Manager
Long-term Freelance to Permanent

Experts in Brand Innovation and Strategy, we're working with the likes of Carlsberg, The Coca Cola Company, and other drinks products and innovations, and Speedo. Based in London's Notting Hill / Paddington area, and apart from our sparkling client list, we also live in a big, bright and airy studio on the banks of a canal. We're busy, and in need of some serious project management skills.

We're looking for a Freelance Project/Account Manager who can help us steady the flow of projects coming through. We see this as a long-term freelance contract, with the potential to turn into a permanent role.
You will be working on some of the aforementioned sparkling clients, as well as others, and will be part of a smart and bubbly team. We constantly push ourselves, and we're looking for someone with that same ethic. You'll have a least 5 years experience in this role, and with brand development and brand packaging design experience. You will be confident speaking directly to clients, and hot on the mark when it comes to problem-solving and organisation. And will play a critical role in the team.

Interested? So what next… well, get in touch, tell us a bit about yourself and when you're available from. We're looking for someone who can start asap.
Send your details and CV through to Selina at potential@ergo-id.com

The day the internet stood still | By Jason Frugal


Source: frugaldad.com


The internet is a wonderful and powerful tool, and I agree we need internet censorship - but SOPA is not the answer.  Whatever your thoughts are on this topic, take a moment and imagine your daily life without Wikipedia, Mozilla, Facebook, Youtube, Gmail and just about any blog you've ever read....  

Get your facts and read about SOPA. Meanwhile, here are a few on my favourite blackouts..













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