Friday, 25 November 2011

Find Nothing's Impossible at www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Hi all,

Thank you so much for reading my blog posts. I've been on blogger for well over a year and have decided it's time to get my own blog domain.
I have therefore moved my blog Nothing's Impossible to my personal web address:



Sunday, 13 November 2011

What's next....Branded QR Codes?

I stumbled across an article on Digital Buzz Blog about QR Code Art and it got me thinking about how far QR codes will transform in the next few years. I realised if we can now design our own QR codes, make them pretty, colourful, patterned and all that jazz then the possibility of branded QR codes could be just around the corner.

QR codes are increasingly being used by advertisers and the public are becoming more and more familiar with the little monotonous squares that we now see on almost anything. 59% of all QR codes are stuck on packaging alone which is maybe the reason why the public engagement with QR codes has increased throughout the last year (4549% between Q1 2010 and Q1 2011).

However putting all impressive stats aside, the rise of the QR code is hindered by the fact that they all look the same and are ultimately a nice to have not a necessity to have. So how can brands and the public give their QR codes a personality and have fun with them? Here are a few suggestions I've thought of below:
  • Personalise the colours to match the brand
  • Create branded QR codes by integrating a brand/company logo
  • Artist Takashi Murakami created a branded QR code for fashion designer Louis Vuitton integrating the artist's character and LV's famous multi-colour monogram design.
  • Hide clues within the QR code graphic and create a mobile game
  • Give audiences a choice of two QR codes to scan for different experiences/content
  • Individuals creating their own personal QR code which holds all their profile details - perhaps we will start seeing these used instead of profile pictures or added onto CV's which direct employers to a candidates personal website?

Could this be the future of QR codes?
 The possibilities are endless! (apologies for the catch phrase)

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Twitter is all you need in Las Vegas!

I've just returned home from an epic first trip to Las Vegas for Halloween and apart from the lights, glitz, shows, club scene, malls and extravagant hotels there was one thing I wasn't expecting: how many of the hotels and club promoters in Vegas use Twitter as a means of communicating.

I went to Vegas with 3 other girls from work (although this was by no means a work related trip, it was purely leisure) and we were all tweeting away to various club promoters and hotels at least three weeks prior to departure.

We stayed at the world famous Bellagio who not only had a Twitter profile but also a dedicated smartphone app. The instant nature of Twitter meant that we could tweet on a regular basis and keep a constant flow of communication in the lead up to our trip. Making a relationship with the social media team at the Bellagio before we arrived worked in our favour. Upon checking in I mentioned that we had been corresponding with them on Twitter which I'm sure helped us get a room upgrade! We also tweeted the Bellagio while we were staying when we needed any assistance - as lazy as it sounds, this was a great alternative to going up and down from the 26th floor to the guest reception. The Bellagio smartphone app was great for guiding us around the grounds and amenities that the Bellagio had to offer. With over 8 restaurants, 5 pools, 4 bars and a nightclub all located on different floors, walkways and locations the GPS navigation integrated in the app was a great time saver.
Bellagio App
On another more exciting note, we happened to stumble upon the one and only Mr Simon Cowell in one of Vegas' top nightclubs!! It was one of those surreal moments where we found ourselves being invited onto his roped off table and then being lucky enough to get a photo with him. As soon as I got the photo on my phone I wanted to post it on twitter and tag Simon. Any major Twitter geeks will understand my disappointment when I couldn't find an official @SimonCowell twitter account. He's clearly to busy for any of that but if he did I reckon he would have as many followers as Lady Gaga! When we posted this picture on Facebook we had over 100 likes and comments in the space of a few hours and within the few days following the post the picture was randomly taken down presumably by Facebook. Maybe we were stealing too much of their traffic!

Meeting Simon Cowell @ Tryst nighclub Las Vegas. 29.10.11
All in all Vegas was an epic trip full of adventure, excitement and fun! Social media definitely played a positive part in our experience at the Bellagio and helped us to get onto guestlists for top Vegas clubs for a hassle-free experience. Thanks @BellagioLV #LasVegasRocks!

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Two Premieres In One Week...Did I Mention They Were Media Firsts!

This week has made me feel extremely proud to work in the Paramount Theatrical team at MEC as we planned and implemented two UK media firsts for the releases of two big films.

Big Brother Paranormal Activity 3 premiere event
The first being the unique and exciting campaign which launched Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 3 in the Big Brother House.
MEC negotiated a partnership with Channel 5 and Endemol to host the premiere of the film. The partnership with Big Brother started with contestants competing in a selection of intriguing Paranormal Activity tasks within the house. The winning housemates were rewarded with the opportunity to attend the premiere, which was hosted in the main Big Brother arena.
In addition Big Brother fans were given the opportunity to win tickets to join the contestants in the VIP area at the premiere. MEC developed a social media campaign using promoted tweets and Facebook to increase word-of-mouth and drive traffic to the competition page. This was a great demonstration of social media's role in generating mass awareness and huge buzz around film releases.

The winning contestants and fans joined a host of celebrities on the red carpet and watched Paranormal Activity 3 on a giant screen installed especially for the event.
Supporting this unique idea, we built a 360 media campaign to promote the Paranormal Activity 3 launch, which ran across TV, print, radio and online, as well product placement spots within Big Brother. Following the premiere, footage from the event is going to be used across all media to continue promoting the new movie over the Halloween period.
Big Brother is an iconic show and offered the perfect platform for us to launch Paranormal Activity 3, especially as the film's theme and content is centred around activities which happen inside a house documented through video cameras.

Sean Cannon, Communications Director for Paramount at MEC said, “We are always looking to push the boundaries with our campaigns for Paramount. Hosting the premiere of Paranormal Activity 3 in the Big Brother house is the perfect fit for this launch and we are very excited to see the campaign kick-off.”

The second Premiere was for Steven Speilberg and Peter Jackson's The Adventures of Tintin. On Sunday 23rd October from 5.30pm Tweeters were able to click on our promoted Twitter trend #TintinPremiereLive and view the live stream direct from the right hand panel of their Twitter account. Click on this link to see the live streamed content including exclusive interviews with the cast http://www.livestream.com/tintinpremierelive .

London Premiere of Tintin at Odeon West End 23.10.11

The live streaming enabled Tweeters and fans to gain direct access to the red carpet where Alex Zane and Robyn Bright hosted the event for us! Guests sitting in the cinema were also able to see the action on the red carpet as the live streaming was also shown on the cinema screen. The film’s stars including Simon Pegg, Jamie Bell and Nick Frost are big Tweeters so they created initial buzz on the micro blogging platform before the day of the premiere. As part of our media communication strategy we created a Twitter campaign to ensure there was a build up of anticipation and excitement in the run up to the big event. Normally film premieres are a magnet for celebrities and this one was no exception. I managed to walk past the lovely Jamie Bell (who played Tintin) on the red carpet and spotted the gorgeous Daniel Craig! Other than the film's cast who were obviously going to be at their own premiere, I also bumped into a couple of cast members of my favourite Sunday night drama Downton Abbey!
The film itself was an action-packed and fun filled adventure which the whole family would enjoy and although I may be biased as I worked on the release, I would recommend watching Tintin on the big screen as the cinematography and 3D animation is outstanding!

Overall this has been an exciting and rewarding film-filled week and I look forward to blogging about our next big film release Puss In Boots!

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Monday, 3 October 2011

Are brands becomming media owners?

Content creation. It's become a common buzz word in the media and advertising industry. It is also the concept which has helped to give power back to the brand. I think it's fair to say that for a while at least, brands lost some of their power to the consumer; encouraged greatly by the digital revolution and the increasing interactivity which new technology has enabled.
More and more brands are asking UK publishing companies to create branded print publications to promote their brand and viewpoints using high quality editorial content. Virgin Media, Google, Bon Marche, ASOS and Harrods are all examples of current content creators with consumer publications circulating in the hands of their target audience - but what's the appeal?

Albert Read (Conde Nast's UK general manager) says magazines "convey images, text and environments in a way that digital cannot yet do as well"
Julia Hutchison, COO of the APA says “Consumers are turning to brands for information and entertainment as they feel the pinch."
Both these points are extremely valid and I would add that the creation of branded content raises brand awareness by offering great engagement and tangibility. Furthermore it encourages loyalty and provokes recommendation. This is now more important than ever in a world where consumers rely on reviews and word of mouth before they make a purchase. Branded content facilitates a conversation between brands and their consumers which in tun helps the relationship between consumers and brands blossom. It comes as no surprise that digital is pushing much of the growth of branded content whether in the form of e-zines, videos or e-marketing. Digital branded content offers more than a dialogue between consumers and brands as it's interactive nature means it can personalise its offering and be manipulated for individual consumer needs and preferences.

However I think it's important to stress that content creation isn't something that all brands should now start to do. Brands have to be able to offer the consumer something extra and so I would recommend 3 rules that brands should consider if they don't want their content to be dismissed as another promotional push:

1. Authentic
2. Relevant
3. Valuable

Final thought:
In reference to Google's impressive attempt at creating branded content "information is inseparable from the people that are creating it" so if brands want compelling and exciting content which is authentic, relevant and valuable, it should follow that the people who create it should also be compelling and exciting!

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

#FrostSorrell - It's Frost-Sorrell the TV show!

Every quarter at MEC the whole UK office gathers for a company meeting usually in a venue near the Southbank or London Bridge area. These quarterly meetings or MEC In Motion as they are better known are a way for the management board to keep MEC employees up to date with the company's development and progression. Each MEC In Motion tries to offer something different usually with the help of a guest speaker. However the latest company meeting saw the bar being raised to Olympic standards as we found out what our latest MEC In Motion would entail:
Jonathon Ross' ITV Studio set

On Friday 16th September the whole of MEC London made their way to the new set of the Jonathan Ross show at ITV studios. MEC Access made media history when they arranged and co-ordinated a live stream event featuring Sir David Frost, the ultimate TV presenting legend and the media industry's most successful business mogul Sir Martin Sorrell. To give the event an even bigger profile, ITV went on to film the whole interview whilst simultaneously live streaming it to MEC's global offices in 84 different countries. MEC employees all over the world were able to submit questions for Sir Martin through MEC's global twitter profile @MECideas while MEC London sat in the studio. This was an impressive example of active engagement - successfully demonstrating how a global audience can participate in live events through the possibilities of live-stream technology and social media.

I knew this event would probably be a once in a lifetime opportunity so I thought it would be great to obtain some exclusive content for my blog. After speaking to MEC Head of Branded Content Chantal Rickards I managed to get myself backstage and into the green room where I met Sir David and Sir Martin. After a congratulatory toast to celebrate the success of the afternoon I put on my journalist hat and asked the WPP Chief a quick-fire question:
Me interviewing Sir Martin Sorrell in the ITV green room

Me: "Google and Facebook are constantly in the news as they try to compete against each other. If you had to put a bet on who would win the race for media domination who would it be?
Sir Martin: "Interestingly in relation to your question, it was stated in the news earlier that Facebook missed its first half nationals...and Google + maybe starting to get some traction or relative traction... I wouldn't bet on either or against one another but it's just interesting that we're seeing maybe, Facebook coming under much more intense competition with Google +....but Facebook is obviously very powerful, it's the second or third biggest nation on the planet... so it's not to be underestimated but there's more competition for Facebook and vice versa there's more competition for Google..."

Although my time speaking to Sir Martin fell short of what I had anticipated, it was interesting to hear his thoughts about the two rivalling media giants. During his interview with Frost, he went on to say that the medium has become more important than the message - although I beg to differ especially in light of the economic downturn where we have seen more and more brands focus on customer value in their messaging - (e.g. M&S £10 dine in for two).

Other key notes from his overall interview with Sir David Frost revealed how his best piece of advice was not to have one piece of advice and to have someone they can talk to who doesn't have an agenda. Sir Martin went on to state that to excel in this industry you need persistence, quoting Saatchi & Saatchi's mantra "nothing's is impossible" which he said should be applied to every aspect of life.

To conclude, the day was a great success and a huge thank you goes out to everyone who contributed to the afternoon including Sir David Frost, Sir Martin Sorrell, the MEC Access and MEC Social Media team, and a special thank you to Chantal Rickards who was the brains and coordinator behind the whole event!

See below for a few of my favourite tweets from the day with the help of James Caig's Storify post http://storify.com/jamescaig/frostsorrell-with-mec

"MEC company meeting at ITV studios! David Frost is interviewing our very own WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell, live & aired to 82 offices across the world. No pressure.. @MECideas #FrostSorrell"

"We’re live, Sir David Frost is warming up the audience with some anecdotes before his guest arrives! #FrostSorrell"

"Sir David Frost, Jonathan Ross' telly show set and a company meeting? Yes please"
"Sorrell: 'I do have an iPod, but my iPad and my Kindle are my favorite tools that keep me in touch with the world#FrostSorrell"

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Instagram - Visual Joy In An Instant

Instagram has become one of the most successful photo sharing apps on the iphone. The founders of the app say that 'Instagram came from the inspiration—could we make sharing your life as instant and magical as those first Polaroid pictures must have felt?'
I remember getting my first camera when I was young which was non other than the Spice Girls polaroid camera. The joy of taking photos and the ability to instantly develop and show them to others was a great phenomenon and it was because of this my fascination with photography began.

Instagram launched just under a year ago and within 9 months of launch it had 150 million photo uploads with over 7 million global users. That's 15 photos per second and around 1.3 million photos a day. Pretty impressive for such a young company. After witnessing a friend's great satisfaction with the app I recently joined the Instagram bandwagon and have used it everyday since. I love the photographic filters that Instagram lets users apply to photos, making shots look professional and artistic. Who needs Photoshop?
In addition the functionality to let users instantly share photos to their profile is a key draw as you can simultaneously upload straight to social media favourites Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.
Similar to when friends on Facebook 'Like' a comment, status or photo, Instagram users can 'Like' your photos, leave comments and follow your photos. It's always satisfying when a user 'Likes' your photo. As an amateur, this seal of approval feels like a small sense of achievement similar to when my teachers at school used to compliment my artwork and grade my paintings with an A*. Ok, so I'm naturally gifted at art but that's the joy of Instagram - it enables even the most creatively challenged to be artistic.

Like most social media and new technology it is never long before brands begin to experiment and implement them into their communication strategy. After all, brands need to associate themselves with applications and platforms which resonate and excite their consumers. Not only does it gives them a point of difference to other brands but it also helps consumers decide if a brand is worth following or supporting.
It also offers a way for brands to generate and share visual content with existing fans and attract new ones via its search and browse feature.
Because of Instagrams's #hashtag and geotag functionality brands can easily use the app for photo sharing promotions and competitions.Users just have to add the brand #hashtag to their photo. Jamie Oliver uses Instagram to upload and share photos of his dishes and ABC News demonstrates the age old saying 'pictures speak a thousand words' by uploading photos to share the main news headlines.
At present Instagram is only available on iphones, ipads and ipod touch, so inevitably the photo sharing app is likely to soar when it becomes available on Android. This will undoubtedly provoke more and more brands to use the app for consumer engagement - where consumers are, brands will follow!

Overall I can't think of anything negative to say about Instagram and I will continue  to use the app in the hope that my photographic efforts will inspire others to start snapping away. The fun never stops!

If you haven't already, download Instagram from the Apple App store and follow my photo journey on Instagram @laurrobbo

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Monday, 29 August 2011

Vote by texting and calling...oh and now through Facebook

As the season of Reality TV kicks off, it comes to no surprise that social media innovator Facebook has partnered with channel Five's Big Brother to enable fans of the show to vote online with Facebook Credits.
This is the latest sign of how live television is being complemented by social media and emphasises even more the convergence of online and TV.

By implementing online voting through Facebook, Big Brother will be tapping into a new audience. A study by Thinkbox found that around 50% of people who watch TV also go on the internet at the same time. Social media has become a key platform for generating discussions about TV shows and even more so for reality TV (the X Factor and Big Brother being the most talked about) where viewers watch live TV and vote to save or eliminate contestants.

Discussions on Facebook groups set up by such shows offer fans a deeper engagement by forming a personal relationship with thier audience and enabling a prolonged interest in the show.
According to Peter Fincham, ITV’s director of television, this so-called “dual screening” behaviour by viewers “shows they care about what they’re watching.

Voting via Facebook will provoke greater online interaction through its ability to virally distribute and share what fans are voting for. Similar to when Facebook users 'Like' something, their friends will see this activity pop up in their news feed. Reality TV shows are a huge topic of conversation on Facebook with users regularly using their status update as a platform to share their opinion on contestants as the show airs on live TV.
Consequently the move into voting with Facebook credits seems like a natural step forward - but how will it work?
Voting will occur through a specially created app on the TV show's Facebook page. Similar to text/call to vote messages, viewers will be prompted to use the Facebook voting app by the show’s presenter on TV. To use it, Facebook members must pre-pay money into their credits accounts.

The success of voting via Facebook will be determined by the ease of use of the voting app and how well the new system is promoted both on and offline. It will be interesting to also see how voting via Facebook will implement real-time voting. More often than not (and I am a culprit of this), people tend to assume that their favourite contestant is safe from eviction and don't bother to vote. However Facebook will greater provoke votes as users and fans of the page see will see votes being cast in real time.
Voting via Facebook is about to change the dynamic of reality TV shows and it won't be long before this method is implemented across a whole host of TV shows.

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Saturday, 6 August 2011

If you sniff the line, walk the line #cokeboy

I thought it was worth sharing the most scandalous media story of the year so far and I'm not referring to the News of The World phone hacking scandal. I 'm talking about the scandalous antics of two media employees who were caught at an AOL summer party participating in drug taking and boob flashing also known as #cokeboy and #titgirl.

The party which was held in Brick Lane on Thursday was hosted by AOL who put on an annual summer party for the media agencies they work with. Apart from an epic DJ set, bacon butty canapes and unlimited bar, the instant fun photo booth became the talking point of the morning after!

When I came into work on Friday I was greeted by an email thread with the subject heading "BUSTED". It turns out the photo booth photos from the AOL party had been circulated online revealing a guy snorting coke off a credit card and a girl flashing her boobs at the camera. These two individuals rapidly became twitter celebrities as their scandalous activity spread like wild fire online. Trending as #cokeboy and #titgirl, the live Twitter stream was certainly entertaining as guests from the party commented and shared their thoughts about the idiocy of #cokeboy. But the scandal doesn't end there. Unfortunately it was confirmed by a number of sources that #cokeboy had in fact been made to walk the line after sniffing a line and was sacked from his job! I do feel sorry for him that his drunken lack of judgment even made it to the news pages of media trade press NMA.

My favourite tweets from the trending scandal are:

"I imagine that, like Kate Moss before him, 's career will, after a slight stutter, re-launch and he will go on to greatness "

"Are there any digital media parties that don't involve scandal anymore? Digital has finally become a 'traditional' channel "

"Someone should have told PUGS not DRUGS "

RIP #cokeboy

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Bright Lights Big City

In the city that never sleeps, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, flooded in a sea of yellow taxis and in between the hustle of bustle and world famous landmarks lies a city like no other, the city of New York! The city speaks a thousand words and symbolises an array of different meanings. It's buildings and people have countless stories to tell and it it inspires and excites me every time I visit.

Its been a while since my last post so I thought there would be no greater time than to use my trip to NYC for a spoon full of inspiration and make it the subject of my next post. 
Like most important American things (fries, hamburgers, shakes, pretzels) advertising in NYC comes in one size...XXL.Times Square is quite obviously the spectacle of New York advertising with billboards and digital screens standing tall and proud on almost every tower block and building. The volume and clutter of all the outdoor formats makes me wonder how advertisers can gain any standout at all. But then you see something like the Captain America Ad wrap around to the left and realise that the only limitation is your imagination.
Advertising formats in NY although pretty similar to London do showcase some subtle differences. The main one I noticed was the wrapping of ads around the corners of tower blocks and buildings like in the picture below:

Painted wall mural style ads were also quite popular offering an element of authenticity contradicting the bright lights and animated digital screens sweeping over Times Square.

Considering Americans were late adopters of smartphone technology compared to us Britons, I noticed QR codes  plastered absolutely everywhere on every imaginable ad format - from plastic shopping bags to sky high inaccessible billboards and even saw them filling the window spaces of tower block buildings (see right).

Although many would see advertising as polluting a city's skyline so to speak, I actually think that the advertising in New York beautifully forms part of the city landscape, adding to its iconic views.

My time in New York flew by but I managed to pack in a vast amount of sight seeing, gallery and museum browsing, cocktail sipping, bar hopping, shopping, beach strolling and roof top pool partying. Sad as it may seem, one of my highlights was bumping into none other than Gossip Girl's most recognised actor Ed Westwick who plays the heart throb entrepreneur Chuck Bass!

Like a star obsessed school-girl, meeting and chatting to Ed Westwick made the trip complete but if I were to choose a serious element it would be Alexander McQueen's exhibition 'Savage Beauty'. Not only were his fashion creations complete works of art, but the depth of inspiration and narrative behind each collection was beyond anything I could ever imagine. One quote in particular left with me as I exited the exhibition "You should demolish the rules but keep the tradition"
Perhaps when it comes to brainstorming for pitch ideas or when developing media plans for our campaigns we should reflect on McQueen's statement to help aid our creativity. After all, as I stated earlier, the only limit lies within our own imagination.

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Virtual Role Playing - Real Life Rewards?

The online gaming industry dramatically exploded in the mid noughties with the introduction of MMORPGs (Massively multi player online role-playing games) such as World of Warcraft (WoW). The success of such game experiences correlates with the player's ability to be fully immersed in the content creation and control of the game thus turning a fantasy into virtual reality.
Role playing games have traditionally followed the same gaming formula or theme whereby players create their own avatar character and compete or fight against other online players in order to progress through the different levels. Some game elements also give players the option to build and create their own levels, which consequently means a prolonged game shelf life.

However the development of role playing games has seen them migrate to the domain of social media. For example social network Habbo recently discovered that their members were re-creating favourite TV programmes including ITV's dating game show 'Take Me Out'. More surprisingly teens were also actively running virtual stores including Tesco, McDonalds and Starbucks without any endorsement from the chains themselves.

I was intrigued by the popularity of social role playing amongst teens and wanted to find out why this gaming movement had become a trend amongst teens. Habbo stated the following reason behind the gaming behaviour:

"Social platforms like Habbo provide young people with an outlet to not only play but also to enact ambitions such as running your own Tesco’s store or McDonalds restaurant, where they take it in turns to play the roles of shop-assistant, customer, security guard and even shop-lifter"
You can read the full article here.

Social media has been criticised for being intrusive to people's private lives and is seen as an unsafe environment for teens who spend a huge proportion of their spare time on them. However one thing has to be said - social networks such as Habbo act as a life-simulator where teens can learn and practice a number of key developmental skills such as socialising, negotiating and communicating. In addition it allows teens to practice these interpersonal skills in an environment where they perceive the risk to be lower. For example the fear of embarrassment and lack of self confidence that many teens have may deter them from using the skills in real life situations.

In most real life situations, people are generally rewarded when the result of using negotiation and other interpersonal skills lead to success. Having mulled over this idea I began to question how brands could use this social role-playing trend to their advantage and came up with the following thought:
I wonder how long it will be before stores such as McDonalds/Starbucks etc start introducing points and prizes which can be redeemed in real-life stores for teens who generate the most virtual business in games such as Habbo. Rather than the number of friends you can get to like your page or asking people to check-in to places why not actually get them to generate virtual business in exchange for real-life rewards...now there's an interesting thought!

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Do it, Be it, MEC:it

MEC:it 2011

360 people +
36 charities/community projects +
Over 2500 hours worth of work +
Gala dinner, awards ceremony and one massive rave @ The Roundhouse
= 1 amazing MEC company awayday aka MEC:it 2011

After months of preparation and planning, the MEC away day (16th June) out-weighed all my expectations. Being on the planning team along with 19 others meant I knew all the ins and outs and organised a lot of what we were going to be doing on the day.
MEC:it Dream Team
The whole UK company including the London and Manchester office were split in to 36 teams of 10 and were allocated a charity or community project from decorating to digging. At the start of the day teams were sent to their project location dressed in a bespoke MEC:it tshirt and armed with gardening gloves and a packed lunch bag. Part of being on the MEC:it planning team meant we had to come up with an engaging and entertaining element for the course of the day. So in order to continue our expertise in digital acceleration as a company we decided to incorporate a social mobile challenge including the use of Facebook, Twitter and a fantastic mobile gaming app called SCVNGR. Each team had to complete a series of mini tasks throughout the day such as uploading tweets to twitter, capturing and uploading photos and flash-mob videos to Facebook and using SCVNGR to complete location-based challenges. The idea was to encourage competitiveness through the open platform of social media, allowing teams to see what their competitors were uploading and how well they had done in completing the social and mobile tasks. Everyone became actively engaged and made a great deal of effort to complete the challenges. The sheer volume and standard of content created made all the hard work and planning worthwhile. From creating our very own Loveshack remake to holding a yoga session in the London underground, the flash-mob videos were by far the most comical with teams using whatever they had at their disposal to make them funny and entertaining. Click on the below to watch the oscar nominated performances:

Despite the typical British downpour everyone's spirits were high and everyone thoroughly enjoyed their projects- although I'm sure it was the thought of an alcohol-fueled evening event which helped keep them going!

After everyone had 'MEC'd it' at their charity/community project the men got suited and booted (or kilted in some instances) and the women got all glammed up for the evening gala event. Although at MEC our preferred choice of transport is an Addisson Lee-mosine, coaches chauffeured us to the Roundhouse in Camden where we strutted our stuff on the red carpet and posed for what felt like the paparazzi. Technically we did have a pap snapping shots for OK! magazine so look out in next week's issue and you may see the photo below stealing a half page in the back!
The champagne reception, the three course gala dinner, the awards ceremony and the party made the whole event a smash hit. The drinks were flowing (or being flown over my dress), the music was pumping and there were some rather creative shapes being cut on the dancefloor. Everyone was pretty merry to say the least and the ghostly faces the next morning summarised just how much we all took advantage of the free bar! Thank god we were given a late 11am start! However despite the raging hangover, I always enjoy the morning after work events because that's when all the stories begin to blossom and the gossip spreads like wildfire around the office. Although I don't intend on turning this into a gossip column I will say this: MEC:it's gossip certainly didn't disappoint. A week later and I'm still hearing people nattering about the evening's scandalous rumours!
I have no experienced my first MEC Awayday and if I had to sum it up in one word it would be EPIC!
Bring on the next one...

Best quotes the next day:
  • "finally feeling human- think this was officially a two day hangover... Mec Awaydaywas well worth it though!"
  • "what a fantastic Mec Awayday , definitely know it was a hardcore one after having 16 hours sleep to recover and still feeling tired! Right lets start planning the next one..."
  • "Me and Dan turner walking around London bridge at 4am with a stolen rubber arm was quite funny!...Oh and i missed the train back to Manchester this morning which wasn't funny at all! I blame Danny"

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

    Sunday, 19 June 2011

    The longest jagerbomb line up in grad history...

    As you will see I haven't written a post in a couple of weeks. I also haven't slept, eaten or exercised in a couple of weeks either! Why I hear you ask, well I have had my life taken over by what is known  as the MEC Grad Pitch. A final project to mark the end of the graduate rotation programme at MEC. After being given a brief for teen road safety two weeks ago, I have experienced a rollercoaster of feelings and emotions from over excitement to over-tiredness, rushes of adrenaline and mental exhaustion.

    All the rotational grads were split up and led a pitch team of 5 other new starters or graduate level colleagues. Reflecting a real pitch situation we had two weeks to brainstorm and plan a communications campaign detailing our insight and idea for tackling teen road safety in London. Because of the tricky target audience and stigma attached to government advertising, this made the pitch one of the most stressful tasks I have done in my career so far. However it was by far one of the most beneficial and rewarding. The early starts, late nights and working over the weekend was all worth it, and I know that everyone involved felt a great sense of achievement and satisfaction. The highlight and I guess most daunting apsect of the pitch was presenting infront of senior management including Steve Hatch the CEO of MEC. Although it was daunting it was also an amazing opportunity. Arguably however another amazing opportunity was witnessing all the MEC grads let loose in our local bar, setting up the longest Jagerbomb line in bar history and racking up over £1000 worth of bar tab in our celebratory drinks session after the pitch! Animals!

    It only seems like yesterday since I started at MEC fresh out of Newcastle University but I have now officially finished the MEC graduate rotation programme. It feels like I have graduated for the second time and that the last 9 months have been an extension of Uni. All I can say is I have had the best experience. After reading back over all my blog posts since starting at MEC I can't quite believe all the great things I have done as a result of the grad scheme. I really couldn't have asked for a better start in my career and it's all thanks to the fantastic culture and great people who work at MEC. On behalf of the other rotational grads Rosie Duncan, Rachel Deed, Jono Rayner and Lizzie Harris, a special mention must go to our grad rotation dads Ben Gordon, Simon Keep and Carl Nawagamuwa.

    One final point, although it is the end of my grad rotation, fear not, my blog posts will live on! After having my blog mentioned a few times by candidates interviewing for the next grad scheme intake I feel proud of it's success and recognition. Long live the blog!

    This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

    Monday, 30 May 2011

    The Great Outdoors of Advertising

    Special Build 48 Sheet
    I spent the last official week of the MEC grad rotation learning everything there is to know about the world of out of home advertising (OOH). The other grads and I visited a number of key outdoor advertising players including JCDecaux, Clear Channel, CBS Outdoor and Ubiquitous Taxis. The week saw us playing drums on a special outdoor build for GU Puddings (see left), interacting with digital bus shelter posters, wrapping taxis and answering an OOH advertising brief for Bacardi Breezer. The week was extremely beneficial especially as my new official role as a Communications Planner will see me incorporating outdoor advertising into my media plans.
    OOH enables brands to connect with people's lifestyles, offering media while people are on the move and the learning I will take away from the week is that OOH is so much more than a billboard or poster. The list of outdoor possibilities are endless from touch screens and interactive surfaces to 3D chalk art and water projections. The integration of mobile and social media (whether this be tweeting to screen or bluetooth technology) adds another dimension to OOH making it more accountable so my advice is watch this outdoor space!

    This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

    Below are a few images of the things we saw during our week of outdoor advertising:

    Bus Shelter Takeover

    Digital Interactive Bus Shelter 6 Sheet

    Digital Interactive 6 Sheet

    Liveries - Whole body taxi wrap

    Wrapping our own super side taxi wrap

    Tuesday, 24 May 2011

    Grads of the Round Table

    It's been nearly 9 months since I first started at MEC on the Graduate Rotation scheme. At the end of last week the 'Grad Dads' as we like to call them, took us out on a graduation type lunch to celebrate the success of the rotation scheme and mark the end of our time on it. We definitely celebrated in style, eating dim sum at Ping Pong and drinking cocktails like they were going out of fashion...well why not, we deserved it after all and it's not like we had to pay for anything; apart from the deathly hangover each of us suffered the next day!

    We were also celebrating the fact that we had found out our permanent roles for after the grad scheme. Thankfully this meant that we had all passed the rotation and were officially being let loose around MEC. Most of us are either moving into MEC's digital department MEC Interaction or the Communications Planning department. I myself will be working in Communications Planning in the Paramount Theatrical (films) team which is a dream come true, especially since if you read my Red Carpet Glory post you will know I am a natural when it comes to film premiere's and red carpets! All jokes aside I am thrilled to be working on such a great entertainment client as the nature of it's business means there are always new campaigns and challenges for each film release.
    Although we know our permanent roles we are not quite ready to start singing Boys II Men's End of the Road just yet! This week is our final week on rotation and we'll be spending it at Kinetic - our Out of Home (OOH) advertising agency which specialises in how brands connect with people's lifestyles while out of home and on the move. Check my blog later this week to find out how good we were with getting our hands dirty during a Taxi wrapping session!

    This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

    Tuesday, 10 May 2011

    Watch n Tweet - How Twitter Encourages Viewer Engagement

    I have increasingly found myself obsessed with the new trend of tweeting about a TV programme while watching it. There is a definite sense of enjoyment when you interact with fellow tweeters, some of whom you may only share a #tag in common with and the show in which you are tweeting about e.g. #essex.

    TV and Twitter have a great connection which provokes greater social interaction. The micro blogging application has had a positive effect on broadcasters as it encourages viewer engagement.
    For example I decided not to watch a particular programme and then suddenly it started trending on Twitter. There was a surge of tweets about that particular show which made me eager to watch it. Firstly I was intrigued as to what all the fuss was about and secondly I wanted to be part of the real-time conversation. I find the combination of tweeting whilst watching TV an extremely entertaining activity. The humour of some people's tweets alone keep me fixated upon engaging in both tasks simultaneously. Because of Twitter's rapid and real-time nature it is able to captures people's instant reactions and raw emotions without the filters that you would normally consider when using other types of communication. This therefore provides extremely honest and useful content and feedback for the broadcaster/advertiser.

    Twitter turns watchers into instant commentators and participants. Research from Twitter found that when TV shows bring Twitter elements into the broadcast, there’s a direct and immediate increase in engagement on Twitter: Anywhere from two to ten times more Tweets are created while the shows are on air. Broadcast elements could include live tweeting and on-screen hashtags (#) to real-time visualizations of audience attention and the new 360-degree live events.

    If I was to predict the future I would say that we will start to see live events/tv shows broadcast in real-time on social network sites so that the viewer can tweet and watch the programme from one platform and device. #predictingthefuture

    Follow me on Twitter for more interesting insights and links @LaurRobbo88

    This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

    Thursday, 5 May 2011

    Broadcast Banter - TV Is Alive & Kicking!

    Having recently moved into the MEC Broadcast department I am familiarising myself with the art of TV planning and buying, turning on my charm and becoming pally with the channel saleshouse reps and getting to grips with all the TV jargon.
    It's no secret that I have been eagerly anticipating my time in Broadcast as the other grads have given it rave reviews (the broadcast team players being a key element behind the positive feedback). The broadcast team at MEC have a reputation for being the loudest, most welcoming, most entertaining and most sociable department with the best banter going. So far I haven't been disappointed. Everyday starts with a hand tingling high five from one of my managers follwed by an early round of tea. In my first week I competed in a strength challenge. Each member of the broadcast team (men and women) had to lift at arms length a case of boules (metal balls) and see how long they could hold them up for. No real reason other than a bit of fun and healthy competition between the team! I am proud to say that I lasted 59 seconds beating all the girls and even some of the men! This surely calls for some kind of award?
    All fun and games aside the TV department work extremely hard to make sure all our campaigns are due to deliver what air time has been bought on each channel.  Buying and managing TV ad spots is not as simple as maybe an online campaign because TV ratings or viewing figures fluctuate daily which means you have to keep track of how the campaign is progressing.
    Because television is a high impact medium it delivers immediacy, mass coverage, flexibility, movement, colour and crucially, spot-by-spot accountability. The fragmentation of audiences is met by a multitude of digital channels from E4 to Eden ensuring that an advertiser's message reaches a chosen target audience in an effective but cost-efficient way. I'm not denying the fact that the advertising industry has seen dramatic change (increases in social media and online spend), but global cross-media studies (by Milward Brown) have confirmed the following key facts:
    • Multimedia campaigns deliver more than any single media channel can on their own, but TV often delivers the bulk of impressions and brand response.
    • TV advertising is still an extraordinarily important channel for changing awareness, attitudes and sales.
    • It still delivers vital mass audience reach and can prime other media to make them more effective.
    • TV also surpasses other media in terms of communication power.
    The fact is no matter what area of advertising I end up working in, my knowledge in Broadcast will always be useful as so much of  a client's budget is spent on TV. It is a medium suited to every target audience and I personally can't imagine an advertising industry without the presence of TV.
    Long live TV!

    This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

    Tuesday, 26 April 2011

    The birth of the Idea

    At MEC we pride ourselves on our bespoke strategy planning tool 'Navigtor' and last week I spent two days familiarising myself with the process which guides you from initial client brief to our final communication strategy.
    Each team on the course was given a client brief with an end aim of generating a comms strategy. One aspect of the planning process which proved to be challenging was identifying the consumer insight from the background research rather than just making observations.
    An insight is a creative and in-depth understanding of the "Why" behind the "What" of people's behaviour, it is something that is blindingly obvious to your consumer but comes as a revelation to the marketing department.

    It is from insights that great communication ideas are born which the below examples demonstrate:

    IKEA Facebook Tagging
    KitKat Mail

    One of MEC's award-winning campaigns 'Morrisons Lets Grow' was born out of a basic consumer insight. This being that for children to really appreciate fresh food they have to get their hands dirty. Consequently the idea of 'Lets Grow' was born. The campaign centred around a voucher collecting scheme whereby Morrisons would provide schools with gardening equipment enabling the children to actively learn how to grow their own vegetables by getting their hands dirty.

    A good insight comes from a reality or deep truth which is why they produce great ideas and nothing summarises this better than Bill Bernbach's famous words: "At the heart of an effective communication philosophy is the belief that nothing is so powerful as an insight into human nature; what compulsions drive a man, what instincts dominate his action, even though his language so often camouflages what really motivates him. For if you now these things about man you can touch him at the core of his being."

    This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com


    Friday, 15 April 2011

    How Entrepreneurial is your agency?

    Ad agencies are rethinking what it means to be entrepreneurial and according to an article in the Evening Standard,  are considering two interesting ideas for increasing revenue and winning new business:1. Taking share options in a client's business in lieu of fees
    2. Retaining some of the intellectual property (IP) rights of an ad campaign, rather than letting the client take everything.
    Although these two ideas are not extreme, they are unconventional for an industry which typically generates revenue from a client remuneration system. This system is reliant upon fixed fees or man hours and very little on campaign results.
    The two new trending ideas show great new business potential and are inextricably linked. An advertising campaign (based on IP) ultimately contributes to the success of your client's business (sales and profit) which naturally suggests that agencies should retain IP rights and pocket some of the business share.

    However the article didn't really reference the value based model pioneered by Coca Cola which is founded upon performance related pay. Such models would incentivise agencies meaning the best agencies will earn the most.  The flaw with performance-related pay is the complex nature of determining the actual value of a campaign so I think there is room for a model which is based on both performance and fixed fees.

    Another factor which has encouraged this wave of new business models is increased competition from smaller specialised digital agencies. Consequently the Evening Standard reported that traditional agencies will need to develop more commercial models which point towards new service offerings or venturing down a non-advertising route such as brand start-ups. Part of me thinks agencies should be stepping outside of the traditional service offerings as it encourages entrepreneurial spirit, but conversely I don't think they should try to offer and claim to be experts in everything. Demonstrating expertise in one or a few services is far superior than being mediocre at everything.

    All-rounder vs one expert talent - What do you think?

    Tuesday, 5 April 2011

    New Business: Charmingly Persuasive Bulldog

    If I was asked 2 days ago to outline the role of new business within a media or advertising agency I probably would have blagged my way through a very brief description which would have said “it's just about trying to win new clients for the agency”.

    However having spent the last two days on an IPA New Business course I am confident and more knowledgeable about what hides under the umbrella that is ‘New Business’.
    One thing that has been embedded in my mind is the attention to detail and its significance. Whether this be in the initial prospect email, the chemistry meeting or the actual pitch; if you miss something or make the smallest of mistakes it will be the first thing the client notices and the one thing that will deter them from considering your agency!

    The line-up of speakers on the course represented a breadth of notable talent and represented key new business figures including: 4 Marketing Directors of various advertising agencies, the Director of Client Account Team at the COI, CEO of the AAR (Client-Agency Relationship Consultancy) and our very own Business Development Director, Cormac Loughran from MEC.

    When thinking about trying to win New Business we were asked to consider the process we would follow if we were spending £56 million on building our dream house. Where would we begin our research? What do we want to know? How do we want to be treated? What factors are going to sway your decision? etc.
    A pitch could be won within the first two minutes but equally it could be lost. First impressions are crucial as the ultimate deciding factor for a client is the people and team they are going to be working with. The success of New Business is reliant upon relationships whether with the trade press who write about your agency, the intermediaries between you and the client, the chemistry between members of the client account team, and finally the relationship between your client team and the client themselves.
    The pitch process is like dating, no date is ever the same so you can't apply the same formula, however before giving the client any piece of work or information be sure that it is relevant and ask yourself is it useful, interesting and entertaining?

    Our learning on the course was assessed by a chemistry meeting with the actual MD of Heineken so it was challenging and daunting to say the least. In teams we worked into the night to generate the content and strategy for our meeting and put together a 15 minute presentation only being allowed to use the medium of voice and a flip chart! The following morning we held our chemistry meeting in front of all the course attendees and presented our initial view of the prospective business and how we were going to create initial standout in a cluttered market. Our idea was to completely defy the trend of the market and create standout by creating silence and we proposed a strategy based around long-term gain vs short-term presence. To top off the last two days I was over the moon when our team got crowned as the winner!

    This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com

    Wednesday, 30 March 2011

    Daybreak Dreaming

    One of my dreams when I was younger was to be a TV presenter and thanks to ITV I came a step closer to living the dream during an ITV studio tour.

    Although an early start (7.30am) this easily topped the list for being one of the best experiences on the MEC grad scheme. Having watched Daybreak (or GMTV as it was previously known) from a young age, it felt so surreal to physically walk around the studio and sit in the green room where all the celebrity guests usually wait before going on air.
    I have always been a fan of the lovely Lorraine Kelly (as she is one of the original GMTV presenters) and I was chuffed when we got the chance to watch her whilst she was being filmed live. At the end of her show we got to meet Lorraine and posed for a cheeky photo to remember the occasion. The photo opportunities didn't end there and we got slightly camera-happy when we went into the Daybreak studio (which by the way is so much smaller than it appears on TV.)
    We parked ourselves on the Daybreak sofas, stood in front of the weather screen to present the weather and posed on the very stage that all the bands and artists perform on when they come onto the show! 
    However no studio tour would be complete without actually meeting the most important people of the show – the presenters themselves. My Daybreak dream reached its peak when we brushed shoulders with Christine Bleakley and Dan Lobb from Daybreak! We stood in the green room chatting to them and they were both really welcoming and genuinely nice people. Christine was even more stunning in person and she had a killer pair of Kurt Geiger heels on!

    The morning couldn't have been any better and it ended with a champagne breakfast with all the indulgent food imaginable. I think I speak on behalf of all the grads when I say that it was one of the best mornings we have had, and who knows, maybe one day I will pursue my old dream and become the next big TV presenter!

    Any tips Lorraine/Christine?

    This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com