May 19, 2020

Is humour in advertising a dying art form?

Advertising humour
Rob Fletcher, isobel
3 min
Is humour in advertising a dying art form?

The following events are true. Names of individuals and organisations have been changed to protect the innocent.

A few years ago we were working on an advertising campaign for a famous computer games company. We had come up with a series of very funny press ads and we presented them to the client.

Now remember, these were very funny press ads. For some strange reason the client didn’t laugh. But they were very funny. “They’re not funny” the client pointed out. “But they are very funny” we said. “No they’re not”. “Yes they are”. In the ensuing stalemate it was decided we needed an independent arbiter.

Chris Donald, the founder and editor of Viz magazine, was a funny man, so we agreed we should let him decide.

He said he didn’t get out of bed for less than £10,000. But luckily enough for us, he had a laptop on his bed side table and would do it for a nominal fee. He read the ads and agreed that the ads were in fact, very funny.

The client gracefully accepted defeat and the ads ran.

What’s the moral of my story? Quite simply; it’s hard to be funny in advertising. Stylish. Fashionable. Energetic. Cool. These are easy things to replicate in advertising.

You hire a fashion photographer like Rankin, a model like Gigi, you’re pretty much guaranteed cool.

You stick Tom Hiddleston in a helicopter and whizz him over Milanese rooftops, you can promise stylish.

CMOs, CEOs and CFOs like hard evidence. So it should be no surprise that agencies like to present ideas where the evidence is easily provided. Mood films, mood books, tear sheets.

Humour and comedy rely on timing, nuance, and performance. Things you can’t rip out of a magazine. Delicate subjects that are hard to replicate in the meeting room. It comes in the doing.

You could have all the right ingredients, famous actors, good director, and still end up with something awful. Just ask Tesco.

So what am I saying, that comedy is dying in advertising?

To the contrary. Our media landscape is changing; budgets are dropping, and agencies (including mine) are making more and more films that don’t have a £5 million media spend behind them. These films are for Facebook, YouTube, etc. and a lot of them have hardly any media behind them at all.

The process in making these types of films is quick, nimble, more “off the cuff” and doesn’t have to go through the torturous rounds of analysis and research you find with TV ads.

What we write on a Monday is often shot on a Thursday and is online for the weekend.

The lower budgets remove so much risk and the rapid turnaround allows us to be more spontaneous.

We make stuff, put it up, what works well we do again, what flops we drop and put it down to learning.

Our Facebook films for one client get on average 1.7m views, with virtually no media budget. But most importantly they get thousands of comments - telling us what is good and bad. It’s like a live audience at a stand up comedy night.

This environment is a breeding ground for humour. It hones the mind. We can’t all impress with helicopters and big name actors, nor can we all seduce with CGI and cinemascope landscapes at dawn.

We use our wit and cleverness instead. We try to be funny.

My wife didn’t start going out with me because I had a flash car and loads of money. It’s because I made her laugh.

Funny isn’t related to big budgets, it’s related to how early you get up, how long you stay after everyone else has gone home, how much you fret and worry over a script.

Big budgets bring pressure. TV ads bring pressure. The online environment brings freedom. Allowing us to make a few mistakes, get things wrong.

And as a result, get things very right.

Read the November 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine. 

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Jun 12, 2021

Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey

Roger Beadle, Co-founder & CEO...
6 min
Roger Beadle, CEO of Limitless looks at how CX can directly Influence revenue generation in streaming services

There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.

There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.

There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.

In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.

Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.

So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?

Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney

While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.

For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.

For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.

Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.

It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.

How do companies support the new customer journey?

More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.

These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.

The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?

For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.

It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.

And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.

It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.

At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.

About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.

About Limitless
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.

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