Cannes Communiqué: Humankind Brands

This week, a Ketchum contingent is in attendance at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in southern France, where the global marketing industry has gathered to celebrate what’s working, what’s coming and what’s hot in marketing communications. Here are some on-the-scene reports.

Quite a number of recent major marketing and advertising conferences have focused on the latest evolution of CSR and cause marketing — purpose-driven marketing. Leo Burnett pushed that envelope even further with the concept of humankind brands.

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Cannes Communiqué: Consumer Love

Cannes Communiqué: Consumer Love

This week, a Ketchum contingent is in attendance at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in southern France, where the global marketing industry has gathered to celebrate what’s working, what’s coming and what’s hot in marketing communications. Here are some on-the-scene reports.As quickly and dramatically as the world is the world is changing, the fundamentals for brands dependent on “consumer love” remain immutable, according to drinks giant Diageo’s head of marketing, Andy Fennell. And he should know. Diageo’s brands — José Cuervo, Guinness and Johnny Walker, among them — span some 250 years of history, enduring wars, depressions, booms and busts.

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Dot What?

In 1998, ICANN – the nonprofit Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers – started governing the organizational naming structure of the Web with eight generic top-level domains, including .com, .edu, .gov, .int., .mil, .net, .org and .arpa. In 2000, ICANN added 14 new gTLDs, including .biz and .info. But, by and large, these newer domains have been slow to catch on.

Today, ICANN paved the way for what will be the biggest change yet for website naming. Starting on Jan. 12, people will be able to register website addresses in almost any name they want and in almost any language, up to 63 characters long. They will be able to use a suffix, like “.com,” or alternatively use a one-word Internet address with no suffix at all.

As Sam Holmes reported, “the dot-com era is over. Welcome to the dot-anything age.”

In a world where most Internet users are non-English speakers, the new rules will likely usher in a wave of domain-name globalization, with generic top-level domains (gTLDs) being created in non-Latin alphabets, such as Chinese, Arabic and Russian.

And in a world so driven by marketing and commercialism, it will likely spark a wave of naming innovation. For example, instead of a starbucks.com, Starbucks might control the domain “.sbux” and assign Web addresses such as “drink.sbux.” They could also opt for addresses with no suffix, such as “starbucks” – or even “coffee” – alone.

ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom declared, “The Internet’s addressing system has just been opened up to the limitless possibilities of human imagination and creativity.”

Perhaps.

On the other hand, critics are posing some strong challenges to today’s decision. The new naming rules will undoubtedly be messier, and consumers will likely get confused as they try to navigate around the Internet. Likewise, individuals, companies and other content creators will also be confronted with the new legal costs of protecting their intellectual property against infringement by domain-name prospectors (known as “domainers”).

Will the coming website name flexibility unleash an era of unprecedented innovation, as ICANN expects. Or will it merely cause new headaches for consumers and windfalls for lawyers?

Tell us what you think.

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Cannes Communiqué: Lesson by Malcolm Gladwell

Cannes Communiqué: Lesson by Malcolm Gladwell

Greetings from the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in warm and sunny southern France, where the global marketing industry has gathered to celebrate what’s working, what’s coming and what’s hot in marketing communications. This week, a Ketchum contingent is in attendance to capture as much information from the many impressive sessions.First off, it’s not often you get to hear a live speaker like New Yorker columnist and best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell (the mind behind The Tipping Point, Outliers and others), so we queued early to get a good seat. 

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Lessons to Help Avoid a ‘Weinergate'

For the past few weeks, the media has been consumed with the story of how New York congressman Anthony Weiner sent lewd and salacious photographs of himself to women online, culminating in his resignation last week. The scandal found Weiner lying about how his Twitter account was hacked, then admitting that it wasn’t, and finally confessing that the picture that first started all the controversy is one of many he has sent to women in the past. As a result, the Democratic Party and particularly its leader, Nancy Pelosi, came under fire for not forcing his resignation. Now that the dust has begun to settle on the disgrace that played out so publicly, it may be time to start asking what lessons can we learn from this story that could be applied to how clients engage with their employees, and, specifically, how can we help our clients prevent their own version of “Weinergate”?

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Researchers Have All the Fun: Thoughts on AMEC's Lisbon Measurement Summit

Researchers Have All the Fun: Thoughts on AMEC's Lisbon Measurement Summit

Last week, I, along with several of my Ketchum colleagues from the U.S., U.K., Spain, Germany and South Africa, had the pleasure of convening in Lisbon for the 3rd European Summit on Measurement by the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC). The main purpose of the summit was to build off of the work done last year in Barcelona, where the industry adopted seven guiding principles for itself to guide us in our work.In addition to mapping a way forward (more on that in a moment), the summit also included seven workshop sessions, each one focused on demonstrating how to apply each one of the seven Barcelona Principles in the daily lives of PR practitioners. Here are some of the highlights:

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Five Ways Texting and Tweeting Can Make You a Better Writer

Five Ways Texting and Tweeting Can Make You a Better Writer

Texting and tweeting can lead to sloppy writing . . . BUT . . . they can make you a stronger writer, too.In my role as Director of Editorial Services at Ketchum, I’ve noted more than a few times that the casual shorthand many of us use in e-mails, text messages and other forms of digital communication often (and unfortunately) slip over into our business writing. The result can be the misuse or absence of punctuation, capitalization and even complete sentences.Now, in honor of the arrival of summer, I want to point out that texting and tweeting also can refresh and revive the way we write pitches, press releases and other documents. Here are five writing lessons PR pros can take from texting and tweeting.

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I Heart Negativity

Now, don’t get all uppity on me. I hate negativity in a brainstorm as much as the next guy.

No, I’m talking about ideas steeped in the “negative.” Let me explain. . .

A few years ago, Odor Eaters did a contest to find the smelliest sneaker in America. Pure genius. Put that one in the pile of “things I wish I thought of.” But, I betcha someone in a meeting said, “That’s too negative. We’re all about making sneakers smell nice and fresh. Wouldn’t it be better to find the BEST-smelling sneaker in America?”

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Brands' Lives Made a Little Easier by Twitter's New 'Follow' Button

As you may have read or seen, Twitter has just launched a nifty new tool called the “Follow” button, which enables users to subscribe to the Twitter feed of a brand (or anyone) directly from their websites with a single click. This new “Follow” feature allows brands to keep consumers on their own sites, rather than driving them to Twitter in order to subscribe. For brands, not having consumers navigate away from their sites is clearly a big win. And allowing brands to incorporate their social media presence into their home turf – via the “Follow” button – will make brands’ lives a little easier. 

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Déjà Vu All Over Again?

For the next few weeks, I’m serving as the EMEA guest commentator for the Holmes Report’s Think Tank blog and sharing my thoughts on a number of timely news issues. In my newest post, I take a look at how the numbers that are being attached to the value of social media expertise are giving PR firms some reason to take pause. Check out the full post here.

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