Tagged: advertising

Poking holes in targeted ad algorithms

Broken dreams in faded colored times


David Sable, Global CEO at Y&R and a noted Linked in influencer published an article back in September 2016 that pretty much encapsulated something that we’ve been talking to clients about for ages.

His post set out to question just how targeted those ‘targeted’ Facebook and Google ads really are.

At almost 44, I was fortunate enough to start in the advertising industry before the digital wave hit. That gave me the luxury of working at a time when we were encouraged to question everything and campaign strategies were in many respects, much more ‘human’.

Today, with brands pumping millions into social media every year, it’s crucial that marketing teams born into a digital generation interrogate the data coming from Facebook and Google as opposed to giving into blind faith. Remember, both of these companies make hundreds of millions every year from advertising, so their data is not neutral and whilst the conferences, workshops and courses are all fun, they are designed to encourage you to buy ads. We all have a worth to Facebook and Google.

So let’s start by taking a look at how Facebook profiles ‘you’.

Go to https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences and check out the thinking. Facebook say:

“How we determine your ad preferences:  We use information from a few different sources to figure out which ads might be relevant and useful to you. Things like your Facebook profile information, activity on Facebook and interactions with businesses can all influence the ads you see.”

Now, in the minds of many, Facebook and Google are infallible sources of pure data to be trusted with a fanatical belief. But the evidence would seem to suggest that in fact, their algorithms are fundamentally flawed and far from being in-depth, with the preference used to pigeonhole one’s points of interest often being tenuous to say the least.

Based on Facebook’s statement, the algorithms would seem to be pretty linear in their approach, failing to take into account human nature and that often, the online personas people project are very different to who they really are. We’ve all liked that page because we felt morally obliged to but never went back to it. We’ve all hit like on something just to keep a friend happy, but never bothered to actually read the article or watch the video. It’s just basic human nature rooted in the need for acceptance.

Like Mr., Sable, I think Google would struggle to know who I really am. For example, my search history covers topics related to work, which considering the scope of our client base, can be pretty diverse. Then there’s the fact that my granddaughter was addicted to Peppa Pig for three years and watched it every evening on my laptop before graduating onto a German speaking Gummy Bear song. So to say that Google or Facebook knows me well enough to target me, would be stretching a truth and a waste of your marketing budget.

I guess the moral of the exercise is that as a species and as consumers, we’re a lot more complicated and fickle than the algorithms would care to admit. Think on that the next time you’re putting all your eggs into a social media only basket.

Mission Accomplished!


Why winning international awards is good for business.

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‘Winning awards isn’t about being smug. It’s about setting an international standard for your clients’ work that raises it above that of its competitors,’ says The Mission Control Communications.

There is now a valid case with volumes of supporting evidence that proves, effective, creative, and award-winning work drives sales and improves share price performance in science and healthcare – a sector that previously had a reputation for shying away from ‘creative’ advertising and marketing.

This alignment between creativity and a booming bottom line was first demonstrated in the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s 2010 white paper, ‘The Link Between Creativity and Effectiveness’, which looked at 10 years of its Effectiveness Awards (which assess marketing ROI) compared with data over the same time period from The Gunn Report (an annual publication ranking the most creatively-awarded advertising).

Notably, creatively-awarded campaigns were 11 times more effective at driving market share growth than those that didn’t win awards. Even with equal investment, creatively-awarded campaigns were more successful across sales volume gain, market penetration, customer acquisition and loyalty, while a strong correlation was discovered between increased creativity (where more creative awards were won) and improved levels of commercial effectiveness.

This was substantiated a year later by James Hurman in his book The Case for Creativity, which analysed 30 years’-worth of data, including the business results from Cannes Lions’ Creative Marketers of the Year. He states: ‘In every case, the companies that have been most tenacious in their pursuit of great creativity have been among the ones outperforming the stock market and enjoying historic periods of financial prosperity.’” (source IPA)

Understanding the commercial benefits of awards to a brand, we approach every project with the mindset that no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it might appear, even to the client, it has the potential to be an award winner. Again – the award itself is not the objective; it’s recognizing that the thinking that goes into an award winning piece of work is proven to be commercially more beneficial to a brand. The actually trophies, whilst nice, are simply a byproduct.

We’ve applied this approach to every brand we work with and it works. Our clients have seen their ranking in the Fortune 500 jump and profits as much as double in some instances. Many of our clients have also found that a ‘winning’ culture has yielded successes in other areas of their business and in addition to the awards we enter on their behalf, they are also entering and winning directly across multiple categories.

The result, motivated workforces, confident investors and increased sales and brand influence.

All in all – we’d call that Mission Accomplished!

Two Gold Awards of Excellence at the 2016 New York Communicator Awards.

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The 2016 Communicator Awards concluded last week in New York and we’re proud to announce that working in partnership with Taconic Biosciences, we won two Golden Awards of Excellence:

  • Gold Award of Excellence Integrated Campaign – Business to Business
  • Gold Award of Excellence Marketing Effectiveness – Integrated Campaign

Both awards reflect the combined efforts of everyone involved in creating and delivering an intelligent and engaging approach to communicating in one of the most tightly regulated spheres of marketing in the world.

We’re delighted with the wins, as are the team at Taconic,” says James Killoran from The Mission Control Communications and Mission Discovery – the agency’s new dedicated science and healthcare division. “A lot of work went into creating these campaigns on both sides of the Atlantic and to see that effort recognised by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts is a proud moment for us all. I’d personally like to congratulate all those involved.

Mission Accomplished!

Forget the exit strategy.


I guess when you have been working in the marketing and branding industry for long as I have; you forget just how much knowledge and experience you’ve picked up along the way. Much of that knowledge comes from having worked alongside people who are much more intelligent than I will ever be.

So when I met with a young entrepreneur yesterday morning, I couldn’t help but share his enthusiasm as he explained to me what his world changing idea was; how he’d came up with it and how it would improve the lives of millions of people. I was hooked. Then – and this is where I found myself defaulting to my experience – he made in my estimation what was the cardinal sin of any pitch – he started explaining to me all about his exit strategy.

You see for me, I’ve spent my adult life working with people who are building brands and by building, I mean on-going work that will continue to adapt and evolve to an ever-changing world and continue to exist long after we’re all gone.

In my experience and drawing on what I’ve picked up over the years from those people whose drive has created multi-billion-dollar companies, is that they didn’t have an exit strategy. Creating a brand and a business is like having a child:

  • Conception – the fun part; coming up with the idea.
  • Pregnancy – carrying the idea around for months working out how to turn it into a reality.
  • Labour – the hard part, bringing your idea into the real world.
  • Naming – creating a name that people will like, respect and want to get to know.
  • Teething – the sleepless nights when you are up to all hours nurturing the company or brand you’ve created through it’s problems.
  • Teaching – instilling the knowledge, principals and life knowledge needed to succeed.
  • Pride – watching your creation growing into something that you can be proud of.

OK – so it’s a simplistic analogy, but you see what I’m getting at. You put a lot of work into bringing your idea into the world not to mention a lot of time and money, so why be so ready to leave it all behind? Are you not proud of it? Better yet, if you as the parent of that company or brand are not fully and personally invested in its long-term success, why the hell should your customers?

The greatest companies are built not on exit strategies, but the drive, character and long-term vision of their founders to grow, expand and be the best at what they do. Look at some of the most successful brands and companies in the world and what you see are strategies built on growth and vision – not getting out as quickly as they can like a carpet bagger.

In it’s simplest terms – what future is there for a brand when your guiding vision, mission and values statement are based on getting to hell out of dodge as soon as you can?

As for my exit strategy, well that’s simple. They will carry me out off here some day in a box but The Mission Control Communications brand will continue.

Mission Accomplished!

Humility, hard work, brave partners and blazing trails:

The story behind The Mission Control Communications.


By any definition of the word, 2015 has been a ‘spectacular’ year for The Mission Control Communications. But what motivates the agency that has blazed a trail for itself in recent months, picking up multiple international awards and clients on an almost monthly basis?

“I don’t think it was ever just one thing,” says Director, Patricia Killoran. “When we launched the agency, we knew we were going to have our share of critics, but in many ways that negativity drove us all the harder and it’s a testament to the character and resilience of the people that I work with that we were able to rise above all that and focus on creating the type of agency we always wanted to be part of.”

That agency you wanted to be part of, describe it? “Effective, Strategic, Collaborative, International and Brave,” says Patricia. Ten months on, have you succeeded in creating that agency? “I’d say we’re work in progress. I don’t think we’ll ever fully see ourselves has being done. There’s always something new to try and the agency that stands still gets left behind.”

You don’t refer to the brands you work with as clients’; you describe them as partners, why? “Client is a such a horrible word. It just suggests a cold financial transaction and that’s never going to be the catalyst for producing great work. When we partner with a brand and its in-house marketing team, we work together. We get to know them as people and that leads to a more open and honest relationship and honesty is key to creating effective work. The partner brand needs to be honest about not only what it’s looking to achieve, but why and we need to be honest about the work and if an idea isn’t working – kill it and move on.”

The Mission Control Communications has established a reputation for itself as being down to earth; do you see that as a problem when it comes to working with the more conservative types of companies? “Some people can find it strange at first. They have a perception of an agency and we don’t really fit into that cliché. But that’s not a bad thing. It causes people to open their minds more and that’s part of the process – challenge the norm and look at new ways of doing things.

The majority of your work originates outside the UK. Geographically how do you cope? “We’ve created a structure that allows us to work seamlessly with partners all over the world. Geographically, I don’t think it really matters where you’re based, what is important is being able to do work that get results and is relevant to the market you’re operating in,” says Patricia.

The Mission Control Communications has had a very successful time on the awards circuit. How important are awards to you as an agency? “Awards are always nice, but they need to be seen for what they are; a by-product of what we do – not the driving motivator. I read an article in one of the trade press titles recently that said: ‘We’ve all been witness to weeks and months of ‘strategising’ without a corresponding award winner in sight.’ I can’t believe that we still live and work in an age where for some agencies, awards are more important than campaign effectiveness. You can’t serve two masters. If your eye is on a night at the awards and not the outcome the brand you’re working with needs, you’re not doing your job. That’s why when it came to selecting the awards we would be entering; we chose those that were based on campaign effectiveness and not just pretty pictures solutions.”

What do you mean about pretty pictures solutions? “It’s a term we use to describe work that looks pretty but has no substance. It’s pointless. If we want to make pretty pictures, we’ll go to an art class. Our work is about making a difference.”

So how do you plan to top your achievements this year, next year? “Like I said earlier, we’re work in progress. Next year will bring a host of new challenges and we’re looking forward to coming to grips with those. We come back in the New Year to a lot of planning meetings and some rollouts, so that is going to keep us busy. But we’re fortunate in that we have work to be coming back to, so we’ll be focussing on looking after our existing partners, but if a new opportunity presents itself and it’s right for us, naturally we’ll look at it.”

That sounds like you don’t plan to be pitching in 2016? “It’s not a priority for us. We have some pretty great partners on the books already and they keep us busy. It’s easy to get caught up in pitch fever, but that’s when your existing work starts to suffer. So for us, we’d rather keep our existing partners happy than go off on a fools chase after something that might or might not happen.”

Despite the genuine down to earth and jargon free manner of the agency, The Mission Control Communications houses a wealth of industry intelligence that allows it to deliver effective and informed campaign strategies to brands working in some of the most complex markets world wide. You can’t help but feel an underlying confidence within the team in that they know their stuff. Looking forward to seeing what comes next from the team.

Mission Accomplished!

Shooting in the studio.

My mother always said I had a face for radio, but that didn’t stop one of the team from breaking out his caera last week and doing some on-the-fly shots. In addition to some really cool images of the studio, he captured a few nice shots of some of the team as well.

And for anyone wondering if our guys are any good at retouching images, just look how natural they made all my wrinkles and grey hairs look. Talented feckers!

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Mission Accomplished!

Meet the new bloods.

We’ve had some new faces join the crew at The Mission Control over recent months, so thought it was about time we got round to introducing them.


Meet Zach McMordie. That’s Zach with an ‘H’ not a ‘K’. He joins us in the studio where he has already helped bring on board a new client in the healthcare sector and produced some pretty cool animations. I think we call that hitting the ground running.

In addition to being the proud owner of a new puppy and a pretty interesting looking onesie, he also has a very well kept and trendy beard!


Next to the team is Fehin Quinn. Fehin doesn’t have a onesie or a beard. But since joining the studio, he’s created some really amazing work with the Liberty Surety marketing team in the United States and worked with a number of our clients across the sciences to produce projects that are helping to improve the lives of millions of people. Not bad for a lad from Tyrone.

Mission Accomplished!

The Mission Control – Code of Silence


I’ll be the first to admit, there are times when I can’t wait to post news about a new piece of business we’ve won or show-off a piece of work we’re particularly proud of. But as a rule, most of what we create is never seen or mentioned within our own brand promotions. We don’t even mention most of our clients in our client list.

It’s not that we’re not proud of the work or indeed the brands we work with, but when you get into serious B2B campaigns for brands that have turnovers in the hundreds of millions or even billions, then you really have to respect their confidentiality and consider the impact of your actions each time you name drop.

Think about it – what’s the easiest way to see what one of your clients’ competitors are up to? Answer – find out who their agency is and check out their site or social media pages and with a little digging and intelligence, from what is posted – you’ll be able to work out exactly what their strategy is for the coming months.

This leads me onto my next point. When you are posting work you have created for a brand, why are you doing it? Most likely it’s because you’re setting the scene to go after another piece of new business – in other words you’re showboating and stroking your own ego. And there in is the problem. You’ve taken your eye of the work you’re commissioned and getting paid to do and thinking about the next job or client. You’ve already relegated your client to second place and that’s just bloody bad service.

So – remember, it pays to keep your mouth shut and its much easier to lose an existing client than it is to win a new one. My advice – respect the clients you have and if you’re doing your job well, then new projects will come to you of their own accord.

If you don’t believe me – then just ask yourself, what would Chuck do?

Mission Accomplished!

Brave Brands Win.


Over the years we have worked with dozens of brands. Some have grown to become multi-billion-pound companies that trade the world over and employ thousands of people and set the standards other aspire to.

What defines these brands far and beyond their business acumen is a culture of bravery. They refuse to play it safe and follow the social norms. They choose to lead as opposed to follow.

But courage should not be mistaken for recklessness. Courage comes from knowing the consequences of your actions and strategically anticipating how you will respond to all possibilities.

When working with a brand that has courage, you get a sense of liberation and that translates through to the work you produce. You find yourself charting new territory and carefully planning the route ahead.

So whilst to your competitors it may look like you are being reckless – the truth of the matter is that you know where you’re going. You’ve scouted the road ahead and are clear on your destination.

Before they know it, your competitors are left staring at your taillights as you pull away and they are left in your dust.

Fear by contrast can and will cripple you. If your brand has a culture rooted in fear, customers, competitors and followers will see it and react accordingly. You will find yourself paralyzed with indecision and that makes you a vulnerable target.

So ask yourself, what sort of brand do you want to be?


Mission Accomplished!

The Mission Control Appointed to Conservative Election Campaign.

Conservative MC Saatchi

With the opening shots already traded between the main political parties in the run-up to the General Election, strategy director, James Killoran at The Mission Control confirmed industry rumors today after The Prime Minister’s whistle stop trip to Northern Ireland that the agency is indeed working with the Conservative Party to create a communications strategy in what is destined to be a hard fought battle for seats as the local political groups strive to maintain the electoral divide along religious lines.

Targeting those disassociated voters who have grown weary of the traditional tribal politics that have plagued the province for decades, the Conservatives are set to address the real issues impacting on the daily lives of people in the region and offer them a real voice at the heart of Government.

The Mission Control will be joining other key communications professionals brought in to help deliver the 2015 Conservative campaign ahead the General Election including MC Saatchi who recently unveiled the Labour in SNP pocket poster.

Mission Accomplished!