communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.


Target social media

Tonight I was again invited to speak at RadioLynx (where Ciprian Gavriliu, the person behind IMTO, is doing Online Shift, a show about marketing and online) and the thing that stuck with me was the overpowering belief of some of the chatters on the RadioLynx open chat that Facebook is full of viable targets and HI5 is just white trash and stupid idiots (cocalari si pitizpoance :-).

This was actually a reminder of something I was thinking of a couple of days ago when I decided to take a long walk in the evening and ended up waiting for a bus in a deserted stop close to the city centre. As I was waiting, a young man sat next to me and I got the chance to watch him while pretending to be fiddling with my ipod. He was wearing clear fakes (Mike shoes, etc) and listening to music from his Nokia phone (not a great model) while drinking from a 1l bottle of Coke. I realized I had nothing in common with him and then realized I was the minority because I had an iPod and was wearing Converse. And also because for one moment I had felt superior to him. I knew nothing about him and he cared not for what I was wearing or handling. Two worlds apart.

The same works for Facebook and HI5. People on Facebook take quizzes to find out what famous novel character they are, they invite their friends to indie pop concerts, travel to remote and exotic locations. Minimal knowledge of this kind of target tells you they are reluctant to listen to advertising, despise mass market and follow niche trends. Hard to sell to.

On Hi5 you add widgets which grow hairs in various parts of their bodies, upload pics of yourself in the toilet and flirt. Here a small phone as a prize is exciting. Up there, it's pathetic.

And then, there is the small matter of numbers. 3 MILLION on HI5, between 120k and 500k on Facebook according to sources. "Many, but stupid", someone said tonight on the radio chat. "Many" I would say, "and more open to marketing..." but we choose to judge and despise instead of trying to connect with what accounts for the majority. We do minority marketing: it's less effective but we feel special...bof


Music and visual tricks

Doina introduced me to The Whitest Boy Alive. And then I found this video which you have to watch while listening to the music :-)

LATER EDIT: the reason this sounds so good is that the main man is of Kings of Convenience fame...:-) remember this?

In defense of the banner

One thing is clear: everyone thinks online banners are dead. Inefficient and stupid, mere clutter and annoyance, base ways to make advertising online.


Now consider this: everyone also thinks that advertising in print is dead because it is inefficient and stupid, no point in placing your ad next to mere tabloid shit nobody buys because they can get it for free online. Plus: everyone thinks nobody watches ads on TV anymore because there's TIVO, the TV shows are crap, the production value is minimal, the topics are ridiculous and anyway everyone is on the Internet nowadays. Finally, radio is dead because ...well, simply because it has no images like TV. So no point in advertising there either.


We have crap content on media we sell crap advertising to accompany it. Is the solution to bury all media and constantly search for the elusive and so-called efficient NEW media? Maybe we could try something "groundbreaking": making good content and good advertising.
Which brings me back to online banners: they're only crap because people assume big quantity is bad quality and trivialize the making of display/online banners. Banners do not work because we make them CRAP (or crappily) not because people do not click on them. Obviously if you ask the "duh" question"why do people not click on banners?" the answer is just that: because banners are MADE crap. Spend a couple of minutes thinking about what you want to do with that banner and how it should do it an your CTR will go up. The same principle works for TVCs and OOH displays: they are crap, so they do not work. If they were good, they would. So when Wieden+Kennedy makes animated ads for Coke, they work - although cartoons in advertising are "so passee, cliche, last Friday and cheap". For W+K they work because they're good.

So no, banners are not dead. They are killed.


Online advertising and how it fares

To everyone's surprise (or maybe not) Q1 results for the ad market were dire especially in the online and print segment. According to estimations here (read initially here, thanks Orlando) online advertising is down by between 20-30%, a decrease which places it in a worse position than its older fellow media, TV and radio, but far above print which has managed to drop, according to the same source by a staggering 44%.

What does this mean for the Romanian online? Well, if you ask me, nothing. And I will explain why I think it is so.

The 30% drop is monitored spend, and the only monitored spend we have in Romania is media spend (as witnessed by the fact that the people providing the numbers are all managers of media selling agencies). More specifically I mean classical media spend which can be measured in impressions. The unmonitored digital spend, however, includes a lot more: beyond banners (or special projects), PR digital projects, partnerships and co-promos, blogvertising direct through blog owners, social media initiatives, in-house SEM as well as the now emerging on-network deals (like through ThinkDigital's Oridian network) - which, I bet you, were not counted when these statistics were produced.

Secondly, the weight of the digital market in Romania CANNOT be measured exclusively in budgets spent on buying display but should also count the money behind sustaining post-click engagement (like websites, landing pages, online content, rich media). Estimations about how the digital market is doing should look at the development of Internet investory and the number of viable and long-term online projects developed by brands. That also is money spent by brands to grow digitally even if it is not money given to publishers per se.

Thirdly, in accounting for the increase or decrease, we must consider clutter on top 10 display carriers and segmentation due to increasing inventory mentioned above. The more websites we need to cover, the less money goes to the classical hubs of display like or Broker agencies may be losing out from overbooking and publishers becoming sold-out on display but also from special projects going to off-portfolio sites.

The simplest explanation - people cut what they think is a nice-to-have - may be right but there is a far more complex picture online.


Internet in Iasi - IMTO second edition 2009

Last year I had so much fun at IMTO Iasi that I jumped at the opportunity to be there again this year and talk to some different faces than the ones I keep seeing in Bucharest.

This year I am again, sharing the stage with some key people of the ro-online world but mostly I look forward to seeing what new stuff Iasi has to offer to someone who is paying the Bucharest toll of being literally closed to anything which is not Bucharest-based.

See you guys there!


Quick guide to doing product placement

Product placement is slowly emerging as the possible only viable alternative to classical advertising. So I have put together a couple of rules of successful product placement

A) What NOT to do
- do not insist on having your product displayed where it normally would not appear - like a deodorant can in the living room
- do not insist on the key character wearing more than a branded cap ocassionally - a branded cap, Tshirt and sneakers might draw attention
- do no insist on the key character wearing a branded item ALL THROUGHOUT the show - unless it's a live show where he/she does not change
- do not associate brands with characters that would normally not use them - Cocolino in the bathroom of Taxi driver will not look convincing
- do not insist on the character saying the "corporate accepted" name of your product
- related: do not insist on the character asking for your product when they would be asking for a generic - no one says "can I have a cup of Amigo Super Blend" unless they are an obsessive compulsive maniac

b) What to DO
- plan the product placement ahead - talk to producers when they are just writing the script
- build the product into the character's daily routine for a long time
- only showcase your star product
- use block busters to launch products - new heroes, new design, new customers
- use series to maintain loyalty for products - relationship with recurring characters means relationship with their brands
- do not be obvious, be smart
- ask yourself "what would this character do with my product?" - of the answer is "nothing" choose some other show to place your product in
- talk to the actor and the person writing the script = tell them about your product so they can integrate it naturally
(should be in NOT to do: DO NOT send the corporate brochure for inspiration for the person writing the script)

To be continued....

Nation branding fiasco again - predictions

Romania is, again, running a pitch for the nation's brand. This below is a shortened version of a very pissed off article that will appear on (LATER EDIT: link to article)

"So every four to five years Romania decides to run a pitch for the nation's brand. It's much like sales season, it happens seasonally and you always end up disappointed. This year, however, before the actual pitch the Ministry in charge has managed to steal the limelight with another brill idea: a musical-viral-tactical initiative to be launched on May 1st. In a nutshell, before the actual pitch, they are working with a local producer - kinda like Romania's Timbaland - to produce a hymn to Romanian tourism with the tag line "land of choice".
Three things wrong with this picture:
- why is a pop music producer working on a HYMN to Romanian tourism with performers including a famous local panpipe player?
- where in the world are they going to air this? what international radio will pick it up?
- why is there a pre-pitch tag line? who will understand that the second tag line is the actual one and this one is a tactical initiative?

I also don't want to get started on the tag line itself . A while back I was writing about how futile the attempts at finding something special about Romania were and how we should stick to promoting something instead of looking for what's not there. "Land of choice" says NOTHING. It's like saying "our milk is preferred by discerning moms". Really? "Of choice "as opposed to "ignored, forgotten" or to "of nothing really"?

I still think the best solution to the nation brand conundrum is FIND A PROFESSIONAL BRANDING PARTNER and let them do their job. Oh, and BTW it's not that hard to find a professional branding partner since there are only a handful of companies with the credentials and power to sustain a project like this...



Speaking on the radio 2

There's a recording of the event :-) here. Thanks, Alex!


The color of the nation

Recently, Romania's most popular beer - Bergenbier - changed packaging and visual ID - turning from bright yellow, to less than bright red. The move happens after the brand lost its partnership with the National Football team (after ten years together) and people have been speculating that this is the first step in an attempt to upgrade to premium following in the footsteps of apparently successful competitor Ursus (which moved to premium and lost a major portion of its market share, but gained in awareness and brand credibility, also making way for a successful mainstream brand of the same portfolio, Timisoreana).

I am not interested in discussing the potential move to premium for a brand which was faring exceptionally well in mainstream. I am merely contemplating the potential change of scenery which this change brings about. For 10 years, the country has been yellow - the national football team wore yellow, the most successful beer was branding all its locations yellow and people wore yellow caps, carried yellow flags and sported yellow tshirts. Today two colors - not yellow - dominate the beer scene - red (Bergenbier and Ursus) and blue (Timisoreana). What will our pubs look like this summer?


Roblogosphere - the rule of MAN

I like to think that I keep the top 100 Romanian bloggers in my reader list and every Saturday I spend my morning sipping hot chocolate on my favourite cafe deck and browsing through their posts. Truly, I now realize, the "high" ro-blogosphere is a MAN's world, as topics can be categorized - loosely, into three categories:
- gadgets
- sports
- musings about oneself
:-) pic courtesy of

Crisis in advertising

How do you know for sure that marketing departments are out of money? When they start using the FB and YouTube accounts of employees and agency staff to get views for their latest commercials :-)


Speaking on the radio

Tonight I had the privilege to be invited by Bobby Voicu to speak in his show at Radio Lynx. I say privilege because, if you look at the list of people who have been invited there over the weeks, it's probably seen the creme de la creme of online in Romania.
Obviously I had loads of fun but I fear I may not have provided the best answers and solutions. There was also a tiny webcam and I look fwd to seeing the recording, if there is one. I made loads of faces.
The trickiest question was this "do you think there is a future for social networking and what would that be?" I have been thinking about this for a while (and frankly wish the writings about this were a bit more comprehensive) and have come to no reply. Personally I am drifting away from social networks but I think it may be a personal quirk.
There were some good questions from the chatters and I want to thank all of you guys who were very nice and sent nice messages.
Also, while there I found that Radio Lynx has actually beaten the online radio supported by the National Radio Broadcasting Corp in listeners/traffic. Way to go guys!


Lovley jewelery

Went to the jewelery fair last weekend and was truly excited to see, live, some of the pretty things I had only seen in pictures on their blogs. Especially caught my eye Lola's, whom I know from this year's Roblogfest, and first timer - and no blog either - Raluca Buzura.


Corporate Romania

takes you down two paths. Or so it seems from what I read the in corporate glossies featuring the success stories of corporate Romania.

- path 1: you're 34, you've reached your desired position so you develop a belly, buy a shinier car, plan your yearly holidays, raise your snotty kid. you're done

- path 2: you're 34, you've reached your desired position so you rebel, you quit, you become involved in non-profit, you take up interesting sports, you travel, you wear only T-shirts with messages. you're done

either way, you're a cliche. The trick is to be content with whichever path you choose because, depending on the snottiness of your kid, the size of your belly, the silliness of your NGO or your T-shirt, none is the better one.

Kindle, Mozilla news

Tinker - lets you make feeds from search words on Twitter and Facebook
Mozilla has launched new personas that you can beautify the browser with - mine is all black and roses courtesy of anna sui
Kindle is becoming a necessity as more and more good books NEVER reach Romania (see sidebar for my wishlist) BUT it is not available in Europe yet

New interesting book for planners

APG UK is as active as ever and they have published a book entitled The Gold Standard, which contains all the award winning cases from the APG Creative Awards.
"Since the APG Creative Strategy Awards began, in 1993, fifty-one papers have received the accolade of a Gold Award, out of around 900 papers submitted. APG chairman Matt Willifer has brought these papers together into an unparalleled collection of great strategic thinking: thinking that is not just impressive on paper, but which has directly resulted in great and effective work. The papers have been arranged, not chronologically nor by original judging category, but by the different strategic approaches demonstrated. This book thus provides a structured framework to show the different ways, and points in the process, where great strategic thinking can really make a difference" says the APG.
If you would like to get this book APG Romania is considering ordering a big batch so let us know by writing to We do not know if we can get it for free but we'll try to get preferential price :-)