Tagged: The Mission Control Belfast

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 Cannes Lions Health Festival


Most creative types would happily trade you a limb for the chance to pick up a Lion at Cannes. Indeed this year has seen 33,765 entries with agencies spending an estimated €18.5 million for the privilege of having their work considered.

Yet one of the most lucrative and creative disciplines in advertising has been overlooked by the awards – healthcare. Thankfully Festival organisers have announced that a brand new Lions Health Festival will be open to agencies and clients next year.

The two-day Lions Health awards will be held before the main Cannes Festival starts on Saturday, June 5th, 2014. Don’t mistake the Lions Health awards for a token gesture by Festival organisers however. The new awards are set to be just as competitive with five juries to judge entries covering three areas: health (communication that falls under regulatory restrictions), wellness (communications that aren’t regulated) and sustainability.

Visitors to the Cannes Festival will know that many of the contests are already divided into categories that include pharmacy and healthcare, but more often than not these campaigns are overshadowed by more glamorous product categories.

Here at The Mission Control, we’ve been working with companies in the health care sector for years and our clients have picked up numerous effectiveness awards at various festivals around the world, but we have to admit, the new Lions Health festival has got us excited and we can’t wait to see what campaigns we come up with over the coming year working with clients in the United States and Europe.

The Mission is to bridge the gap between Adland and Techville. Now Martini anyone?


When I first started to work in advertising back in the 90s, ‘adland’ was a generic term of affection used to describe the industry. Today however, thanks to the exploits of adman Don Draper in the hit US television show, ‘Mad Men’ – adland has a fixed point in history and a cast of characters that offer us everything you would expect from an imaginative team of writers.


However, the reality of the show has much less to do with the advertising industry or the romanticised view its creators have crafted of it and much more to do with a very unique and often overlooked period in recent history. The show itself has offered us a nostalgic look into one of the most interesting periods of US history and in doing so it has had a profound impact on modern culture with its influence being seen in everything from filmmaking to fashion.

Yet for many, the show has taken on an almost historic reverence in that it is seen as a documented history of adland. As a result, the industry has come in for a great deal of criticism as parallels are frequently drawn between the fictional Martini drinking, womanising world of Sterling Copper Draper Pryce and the realities of modern day agency life.

Indeed there are some within the newer disciplines that have been adopted by the industry who go to great lengths to distance themselves from the term ‘adland’, preferring instead to feed the popular misconception that advertising agencies are somehow caught in a time loop and incapable of generating an original idea, when it’s the ability of agencies to adapt and evolve ahead of popular culture that sustains them.

Yes Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce provides us with virtually every stereotypical advertising agency cliché you can think of, from the smooth-talking, chain-smoking, misogynist advertising executives to the obligatory Vodka Martini lunches, backstabbing power plays and more womanising than you could shake a lawsuit at; but the fictional world of Don Draper, Peggy Olson and Roger Sterling is just that – a fictional world – a convenient backdrop for telling a series of overlapping human stories. Perhaps that’s the shows truest link to the world of advertising – it’s ability to tell a compelling and believable story.

For those of us working in adland today, the show barley touches on the pioneering work that was being done at the time by the real-life Mad Men of the era – work that underpins so much of the knowledge that is now taken for granted by those so quick to criticise it.

The show also conveniently glosses over another aspect of our industry – one that seems so intent of dividing the industry. In Mad Men, next to no mention is ever made to the technology that enables and facilitates so much of what we do. On the 14th of May, Collision will meet in London to discuss ‘Is Techville Eating Adland

Adland being defined as the communications sector – advertising, graphic design, content creation, web design and build, SEO, social media etc.

Techville being defined at Internet entrepreneurs and budding technology engineers who are building, apps and cloud-based services.

As an industry, adland has always proven to be an early adaptor and advocate of new technology for the simple reason that it’s always looking for the next competitive or strategic advantage to bring to its clients.

Indeed I recently came across a series of images from Shutterstock that attempted to illustrate how this has always been the case and prompts us to ask some serious questions such as: ‘how much more would copywriter Peggy Olson have accomplished had she had a MacBook at her disposal as opposed to her old typewriter and would Don’s Hawaiian presentation have received a warmer welcome had he jazzed it up with the power of cloud computing as opposed to his presentation boards?





So my question is this – instead of seeing adland and techville as being two different places with conflicting interests, shouldn’t we think of techville as being the place where most of the people working in adland actually live?





Don’t become a victim of brand arrogance.


I really love this image. It’s one of those beautifully interpreted cultural observations that makes Banksy such an important visual commentator on our age. However, for me, the image symbolises much more than just the ‘Every Little Helps’ generation of BOGOFs and Club Card points; it symbolises the bubble that many brands are living in (not all, but some).

It captures the misguided and vein assumption some brands have that customers are ‘loyal’ patriots who have sworn an allegiance to their brand by hitting the ‘Like’ button on their Facebook page or following them on Twitter.

They forget or ignore the fact that the person that just hit ‘Like’ on their Facebook page has probably also just hit the ‘Like’ button and ‘Share’ button on the picture of their nan’s dancing cat.

Yet many brands still see the number of ‘Likes’ and ‘Followers’ they have as a measure of commercial success and proof of a meaningful ‘relationship’ with ‘loyal’ customers. Some even dare call it a successfully social media strategy until you bring up the thorny question of customer retention, repeat sales and how many of those ‘Likes’ actually translated into hard cash or meaningful engagement that extends beyond the generic ‘hello’ across the room.

You see; the truth of the matter is that your consumers, both online and offline are simply someone else’s consumers who occasionally buy your brand. In one survey, 77% of people said they didn’t have a relationship with a brand. In another, 72% of Pepsi drinkers admitted to also drinking Coca-Cola and I’d have to admit to being one of them.

So what’s causing the confusion? Are we in a meaningful relationship or not?

I suppose in its simplest and most human of terms, you could say that if a brand were to sit down over a coffee and have a chat with the vast majority of consumers, the conversation would go something like this:

[BRAND X]  We’re great together, aren’t we?

[CONSUMER]  Actually – I only came over because I thought you had something for me.

[BRAND X]  But I thought you ‘Liked’ me?

[CONSUMER]  I did. But that was then. This is now.

[BRAND X]  But I thought we had something special?

[CONSUMER]  Look – we’re just in different places.

[BRAND X]  But I counted you as being one of my best friends. I’ve told everyone at work all about you.

[CONSUMER]  You’re taking this way to serious. I think we should see other people. Bye.

(At this point the consumer gets up and leaves you to pick up the bill.)

OK – so maybe this is an over simplified explanation and a little harsh. But I’ve seen too many companies falling into the trap of misinterpreting the meaning of the word ‘relationship’. They take it literally and try to humanise it. But the reality of the matter is that brand relationships are nothing like human relationships even though we are increasingly using the same communications channels that we’d use to keep in touch with our family and friends.

As much as we’d all love to think that our brands’ Facebook and Twitter followers are loyal friends and stalwart advocates just sitting waiting to hear from us, you only have to watch an episode of Jeremy Kyle to work out that Facebook isn’t the forum for forming loyal relationships – even in the real world.

It’s a forum more given to opportunity than commitment. And for brands, that opportunity is to flirt with someone else’s consumers and invite them over with the promise of something worthwhile. Yes I know that sounds a little seedy, but the number one reason why people say they interact with companies via social media is to get a discount. I suppose that would explain the success of all those annoying websites that compare prices on everything from hotel rooms to home and car insurance. In-short, most people just want to save money and not get drawn into a long-term relationship that they know will always end up in the same place – with them being put in the awkward position of eventually being asked to part with cash.

So what’s the solution? Your brand is ready to settle down and have a committed relationship, but consumers just want to have fun. Well maybe we need to start by accepting that whilst what we’re saying might be really important to us – it’s not really all that important to other people. Not in terms of everything else that is going on in their lives. Remember, brand communications are more often than not an intrusion more than a welcomed distraction. We’re just clogging up Facebook and Twitter space that is needed to find out who is doing what tonight and discuss the really important topics such as, ‘does she really think she has the figure to wear that dress?’ and those obligatory promises of, ‘I’m never going to drink again’ with a choice of happy smiley face or cheeky wink.

So the challenge for brands is to become part of what is important to people. To be part of what interests them. It means taking a position and opposed to simply having a positioning statement.

And remember – not every conversation has to be all about you and how great you are.



TNS Impulse Panel (UK) & IBM in ‘To Keep Your Customers, Keep it Simple’. Harvard Business Review, May 2012.

Unleash Your Creative Monster


We all have a Creative Monster lurking somewhere inside us. The problem is that society has conditioned most of us to lock it away and conform to the social norms.

But here’s an idea. Why not let your Creative Monster out to play today? Go on. Unleash Your Creative Monster today and do something creative that you’ve always wanted to and then share it with the world.

Sorry folks. False alarm. Nothing to see here, just some attention grabbing headlines.


Stop thinking about websites – they’re dead,” that was the headline statement from Asda at the 2013 Social Media World Forum in London. Naturally there was a lot more said at the event than just that, but for some reason this was the statement that caused millions of us to fall to our knees and ask the question, “Why God? Why?

The nation, neigh the world was still paralysed with grief at the news that we had just lost websites when adverting industry legend, Trevor Beattie announced that we had also lost television. Yes my friends, Mr. Beattie, the man who had brought us FCUK and ‘Hello Boys’ broke the news that after 70 years, “the 30-second TV commercial is dead.

Websites and the 30-second television all dead within days of one and other – it was just too much to cope with. Imagine it, a world with no more dancing ponies, or websites with pets that look like their owners. It really was the start of the Aztec Apocalypse we had been promised.

So you can imagine my surprise when I got home and turned on the television expecting to find reports surrounding the End of Days, only to switch on and see not one, not two – but dozens of 30-second TV commercials’, including one from Mr, Beattie’s own agency: http://www.bmbagency.com/projects/moo) featuring a mooing cow cheese container

Fearing some sort of television zombie apocalypse, I rushed to my computer to see if I could contact other survivors and glory be – I found that there were still websites out there.

So what’s going on? Has London heard something that the rest of us haven’t, or is it just the latest hype by a PR machine that’s churning out the same basic obituary story, but with different victims. {INSERT NAME is dead}.

My money would be on the latter. You see; it seems to be the popular thing to do at the minute to come out and announce the demise of one media channel or another. I suppose it’s like the old adage says, “no news sells like bad news.

But what if we didn’t have to play media Cluedo and no one had to die? What if we could find a way for all of the communication channels to co-exist? We did it in the past, so why can’t we do it again? I mean, radio didn’t kill press and television didn’t kill radio. And I did hear a rumour on the lowdown that television and online had even worked together.

In an earlier post, http://wp.me/p3lEBu-10I’d touched on the subject of how planners were having a much more difficult time now trying to solve the Brand / Channel / Audience equation. But it’s not an impossible task and some agencies are managing to do it without having to resort to channel murder. Yet whilst some are embracing the challenge others appear to have found a much more brutal approach to resolving the problem. They just kill off what doesn’t fit into their neat pigeonhole equation.

However – rather that killing channels off, shouldn’t we be welcoming the arsenal of opportunities that are now at our disposal and finding new and exciting ways of using them to improve the conversations that brands are so desperate to have with people?

OK – so television isn’t the dominating force it once was, but it’s still a pretty useful card to play if you can afford to do it right and most importantly of all, if it’s relevant to the people you’re looking to start a conversation with. And there I go again with that word – ‘people’. It’s strange how often they get forgotten about in the melee of obituaries and channel bashing. And to prove my point, think about this – two weeks ago television reintroduced us to something that many of us will have spent thousands of pounds in therapy trying to forget – PJ and Duncan’s, Let’s get ready to rumble: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bj_g50RXFbA

Television brought it back to peoples attention and the web allowed people to make it the UK’s Official Number 1 – something it failed to do when it was originally launched all the way back in 1994 and something that those of you who bought it online will one day have to answer for.

But it does go to prove a point – people are fickle and you shouldn’t be in a rush to kill off anything that still has a role to play in communicating with them. Just because we start the conversation on TV doesn’t mean to say that it has to stop there. If the subject matter is relevant and engaging, people will take it and pass it on.

More importantly, what are your customers looking at and where?


There was a time not so very long ago when planning your brands media activity was a straightforward process. Audiences could be relied upon to act in certain ways and to follow predefined viewing and readership patterns. Life was simple if you were a planner.

But then something changed. Well actually – everything changed.

The arrival and subsequent explosion of social media forced planners to rethink the Brand / Channel / Audience equation. Social media did not follow the rules of traditional media and that made a lot of people very nervous. It was rebellious, undisciplined and accessible anywhere and at any time and people loved it for all of these reasons.

For the first time control of where, when and how people were exposed to and accessed information was out off the control of the planning departments and in the hands of the individual. People were becoming their own broadcast networks with their own followers.

Audiences were no longer faceless A, B, C1 demographics who could be relied upon to line up at 7:45pm on a Monday and Wednesday evening to be spoon fed brand messages during Coronation Street. They were suddenly real people with Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and they were talking and tweeting with one and other. They were sharing experiences and discussing views on everything from politics to which brand of shampoo they preferred.

In an attempt to regain some form of control, many planners began to reposition themselves as authorities in specific disciplines. In doing so, the discipline of media planning itself fractured and broke away from its rightful place at the marketing table instead of embracing the opportunity and combining its knowledge and market insights to maximum effect.

However, limiting yourself to just one area of expertise reduces your ability to engage with the very people you are looking to communicate with.

Think of it as going to a party and getting stuck in the kitchen with someone who insists on telling you the complete history of the Great Northern Railway. Yes, they have a defined area of expertise – but will you want to talk to them again?

People get bored and unless you can keep their attention, they will move onto someone more interesting and with more to say for themselves.

So if you are going to put your brands future in the hands of Roy Cropper – then your brand is in most likelihood going to come a cropper.

Forget B2B and B2C marketing, its P2Pthat counts.

We think it is time that brands stopped trying to pigeonhole the people they are targeting into neat definable clichés. Society is not that simple. In the world of B2B marketing for example, many brands and planners forget that behind the ‘B’ in business that there is a ‘P’ as in person making the decisions.

Our approach is to target the person and not the cliché. We focus on getting to know the behaviour of the individual and identifying the content they will find most relevant – content they will want to view, use and share. In achieving this, we are effectively turning each person in a brand advocate of the product or service we are selling.

From observing peoples behaviour, we can also identify other areas where we can reinforce our brand truth in a meaningful and relevant manner.

In our world, it’s not about digital and it’s not about channels. It’s about people and understanding their behaviour so we can manage and successfully stimulate positive behavioural change.

The psychology behind P2P

As a species we are genetically programmed to be socially aware and to be communicative with one and other.

Indeed long before iPhones and Blackberry’s were even thought of, our ancestors were busy Tweeting and blogging on cave walls all across Europe, North America and Africa. Later they were chiselling profiles on any surface they could find and when they ran out of people to communicate with here on Earth, they launched the Pioneer 10 mission in 1972 to search for a new form of life in outer space to talk to.

We simply love to communicate.

However – for a brand to successfully engage with people, it has to be prepared to communicate and understand what ‘communication’ means. P2P works because it is a two-way process. It lets people engage with the brand and have a say.

It makes the brand someone as opposed to something. The brand steps down from its historic place on the pulpit where for generations it preached at the masses and it allows the brand to enter into dialogue with people. It allows the brand to earn a ‘trust’ value.

This insight into the human communications value hierarchy system shows us that people are increasingly basing purchasing decisions on the advice of family, friends and peers. Think about it. When was the last time you booked a hotel without first going to TripAdvisor and seeing what people have had to say about it?

Yet despite this knowledge, many brands continue to ignore the opportunity they have for becoming part of that influencing hierarchy and earning a trust value.

Change is good

Change keeps us on our toes. And for those willing to explore the opportunities presented by behavioural led P2P communication strategies, the future promises to be very exciting indeed.

However – at the risk of being taken out and stoned by the digital evangelists in our midst, social media remains a medium that has still not been fully realised. There is no end of brands preaching about its virtues, but in reality, very few have had the steal to commit to a fully immersive, behavioural led strategy.

Whilst there can be no denying that statistically, social media makes an impressive case for itself, as a tool within the marketers arsenal, used in isolation social media like any other channel will have a limited effectiveness.

For brands to fully capitalise on the opportunity that exists today to engage with the people they do business with, there has to be a fundamental change in the behaviour of marketers first and foremost.