Trends

2010: Year of the Red Apple?

Looks good, tastes of nothing

2009 was a tough year, wasn’t it? I thought the best thing about 2009 was that it was a prime number, and then I realised it was divisible by 7 (287 times – now there’s a great conversation starter for the Christmas Party). Which, as I reflected later, was pretty indicative of an annoying year.

If 2009 was for anything it was a year for people – or perhaps a year of characters. Barack Obama gave us a master class in electioneering for the 21 Century (and some may say in how to be a world leader – but let’s not go there now). And Aleksandr Orlov initially got annoyed with us for getting his site confused with ComparetheMarket.com and then embraced the limelight like a true meerkat. Finally, I’ve got to hand it to the Big Issue for reaching 18 years young.

Let’s look at the Big Issue first. Birthday issues are nothing new, big nor clever. But the Big Issue used the opportunity to share their back-story and demonstrate their social impact by introducing a couple of their sellers. It was a small bit of PR and an issue – nothing huge. It just so happens that one of the sellers is Billie Bickley, who can be heard from this very desk every morning, shouting – I mean really shouting at the top of her voice – ‘BiiiiG ISSsssUE’. She is embodiment of the 21 Century cheeky-chappy. She knows everyone that works locally, and they know her. If you are not English, I have to emphasise that this is nothing short of a miracle.

I know this is a very local story, but hey, social media can make the local global within a hop, skip and a jump, so get used to it. Which brings me to Aleksandr. What a breakthrough, eh? He must be chuffed with his misplaced publicity. I am sure that traffic to comparethemeerkat.com has surged (and not in the military way neither) since he appeared on our TV screens earlier this year clarifying the difference between his site and comparethemarket.com. Aleksandr, here’s my personal thank you for clearing this little problem up. At the last count he had 618,425 fans on his Facebook page.

How the hell did a price comparison site become so popular and interesting? Which leads me to Barak. In January, the world said to America “YES WE CAN” and America replied “YES WE CAN too”. Simple. Interesting. Populist. Different. I even know someone that gave birth on his inauguration day (well my wife does) and, you guessed it, called her baby Barak. This is in England. Marvellous England. What is happening?

Well things certainly changed in 2009. And although it’s been tough, things have changed for the better. But I don’t think 2009 will be remembered for anything except the recession (shhh – no one say the D word), and Copenhagen – which is coming to an end as I type. Copenhagen is making me depressed (there, I said the D word): a 20th Century approach to a 21st Century problem.

So, what does this mean for 2010? It will be more personalised, so I suppose it’s up to you dear reader. The people that don’t get this will end up like a red apple: it looks good on the outside, but tastes of fluff – come on admit it to yourself, no one really likes red apples. If you find yourself mumbling marketing speak then you are probably a red apple and you need some help – ‘Brand Evangelists’ is a pet hate: people are great and unpredictable and exciting like Billie, they are not like the little green aliens in Toy Story waiting to be injected with brand messages. The communicators that do get it will end up like a Granny Smith: green and juicy and tasty enough to have people come back for more.

Post script: Another person (or lack thereof) came to mind over the weeked: the global job hunt by Queensland Australia for the best job in the world. Weren’t we all hooked?! But look behind the curtain and what do we have: a get idea, and a narraitive that can run and run (and that you can get involved in and not spoil!), and a seemless use of channels to raise the awareness and then get people hooked.

See you in 2010 (not on a beach I hasten to add!).

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