Posts Categorized: Advertising

Comms Strategy | Optus data breach

Posted in Advertising, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media.

Crisis Management or just crisis?

It’s been 28 days since the Optus data breach and their crisis management comms remain perplexing. A well written comms plan can make all the difference in how your brand is perceived in the face of a disaster.

In fact, there are case studies aplenty that highlight how desperately important immediate and regular communication is to brand preservation in a situation like this. Yet, as a customer, I’ve not heard a peep from them since that fateful day in September – other than a somewhat cryptic text message that was sent two days after the event.

The panic that must have unfolded at Optus at the time is unfathomable – nobody wants to be in their shoes. But as brand owners, their ‘deer in the headlights’ response has highlighted just how important it is to have solid crisis communication plans and why living your brand values and proposition, regardless of what happens, is paramount.

In a crisis, it’s all about communication.

Actually, if history has anything to teach us (thanks J&J’s Tylenol for the lessons), it’s about over-communication.

Optus (along with now an indeterminate number of hackers) has our email addresses so why haven’t they reached out beyond this initial ‘oops’ to their allegedly unaffected customer base?

Like most brands, Optus wants us to love them, to support them, to be part of their tribe. But at a time when we needed them to show their humanity and be personal with us during a very personal breach, to show us they had this in hand (or were working on it), to trust they’d do everything they could to fix this, they went quiet. And if the subsequent backlash for their brand is anything to go by, it might even be considered deathly quiet.

Here’s the kicker for me.

optus data breachOver the years, Optus has spent millions building a brand of ‘yes’. Like all good brand custodians, they painstakingly built a strong brand identity seeking an emotional connection with their audience and in their case, pushing positivity and optimism. Their brand proposition and “Declaration of Yes” was about thinking differently and saying “…yes to doing everything humanly possible to help our customers feel good about being with us”.

It won me over (I love a good brand proposition), and millions of others. But you can’t just have a shiny brand identity document and some clever ads. You have to breathe your brand identity to your core – in good times and in bad.

Yet, just like the apparent failings in their corporate governance, it seems they didn’t have a strong crisis management strategy in place either and have been left scrambling, trying to band-aid what is now a very deep wound to their brand.

And frankly, it takes more than a banner on your website, store posters and some FAQs to sure-up your brand’s strength and loyalty when crisis hits. Their customer base is hurting, frightened, and feeling their brand has let them down (still).

Without communication and respecting this was going to need more than a text message, any understanding folks may have had, has quickly dissipated. We expect our revered brands to have our backs, to be human with us, to be true to their stated vision and values – and that’s where Optus has dropped the ball.

It seems they’ve missed the point that in a crisis, the folks that will keep your brand safe are the loyal customers already saying ‘yes’.

A scroll through the Optus Facebook page shows the first post regarding the breach was 23 days after the attack. 23! Comments on the non-related posts prior have escalated with thousands of previously loyal brand supporters livid that their brand just wasn’t communicating with them.

When you use your social media account to “be a little more one-on-one” and regularly post seeking interaction and engagement, it’s equally as perplexing that at the exact moment they should have been using this medium to communicate and reassure, they went to ground.

Communication works

I had the privilege of seeing a brilliant CEO in action some years back when some pretty frightening things were afoot in the media about the brand he was heading up. His, and the brand’s, immediate and consistent communication with the audience was inspiring. They communicated every single day through the crisis. Every day. Even when there was nothing new to report, they did anyway, keeping the rumours at bay and the ship steady. The brand made it through, fears were allayed, and the incident became more of a speed bump than a crisis as a result.

Conversely, as Optus customers, unless one of the seriously breached folks (and even then, communication has been scant), we’ve heard nothing directly. Nothing to assure us being their customer is wise. Nothing to allay any fears. We’ve been left to do our own research (and we know how dangerous that is), hunting for clues and hating their brand a little bit more every day as the fear sets in and the random scam calls start coming in.

What a waste of their advertising dollars to date for a whole swag of their customers who no longer believe in the power of ‘yes’ and who definitely do not feel good about being with them.

You have to breathe your values and vision

Optus’ brand values include “customer focus” and their vision is “to lead Australia in outstanding customer experience”. A company’s values and vision should be the beating heart of their organisation – not just words on a page that tick a box.

Real, fundamental foundations for your brand that you base all your decisions and actions upon. Sadly for Optus, when push came to shove, the lack of connection back to their foundations has been palpable.

It’s so frustrating to see a brand that’s done such an awesome job of building its identity and connecting on an emotional level for customer acquisition, forget that customer retention, especially in a crisis, is paramount.

All this being said, I wouldn’t wish this sort of stress on anyone in a brand team (it’s bad enough being the customer). I feel for them and hope their brand can make it through the other side of this. But if ever there was an example of when to get on the front foot and over-communicate with your tribe when the proverbial hits the fan, this is it.

If you don’t have a crisis management plan and comms strategy that aligns with your brand vision and identity already, this should be good impetus to write one.


Want to chat to us about setting meaningful brand values and vision, or a communications strategy for your business? Please shoot us a note and we’ll be all ears.

It all starts with brand strategy

Posted in Advertising, Marketing.

Cutting through will come from a clear brand strategy

brand strategy Phenix Find the One

My mother had one just like it. One diamond for each daughter. A love that sines forever. I am the third. Phenix – find the one.

When Phenix, a primarily B2B jewellery business, wanted to move into the B2C sector, they realised they were up against the might of many very well established brands – both on and offline. They needed a solid brand strategy if they were going to make it.

Until now, it was more about relationships. But if you’re going to cut through in a cluttered and mature market, you need a solid brand strategy or you’ll wind up not connecting at all.

Taking them through a structured deep-dive into their business, their customer profiles and competitive landscape, we were able to find an emotionally engaging brand story that resonated deeply with their target market.

We were then able to write them a detailed communications plan to get their message out in the right channels to connect with their audiences.

The strategic task

As lead strategist, the task was to delve deeply into the global market landscape to understand the audience personas, key purchase drivers and barriers and where the brand could ‘win’.

To uncover their ideal brand positioning and story, delivering on a communications plan and creative that would set a compelling tone with the audience.

Having a solid brand strategy to work from, the creative team were able to develop the most beautiful work that was tonally on-point with captivating messaging that would build an enduring connection.

And that’s the trick. You have to understand who your audience is and what they desire. And you have to know who your brand is, what is stands for, and most importantly, why. That’s where you find the connection.

It’s about bringing your audience along for the journey with you. Holding their hand and having them want to hold it back.

We loved working with the Phenix team to deliver this. And can’t wait to see all of the elements roll out.

You can read more about how we delivered on this strategy whilst at Engine in this article. And if you’re looking to find the one – check out Phenix.

  brand strategy_Phenix find the one hero


Want to chat to us about brand strategy or communications plans for your business? Please shoot us a note and we’ll be all ears.



Webinar: Programmatic Advertising what you need to know

programmatic advertising what you need to know

Uncovering the mystery behind programmatic advertising.

This insightful 30min webinar delves into the oft-misunderstood world of programmatic advertising and what you need to know.

Whilst the strategist at Engine Group, this webinar interview with Michael Petersen, CEO at Pivotus, we uncovered some helpful insights into this form of media buying.

With the recent announcement of third-party cookies going away, there’s some consternation about the end of display advertising. But programmatic advertising just needs to shift and be mindful of how we target the audience. So in this webinar, we go through the basics of what programmatic advertising is and how you can best utilise this in your mix.

In this webinar, we provided the info you need, sharing knowledge, practical tips that help uncover the mystery behind programmatic advertising.

This interview-style webinar covered:

1. What Programmatic buying is in real language – and where it fits for the marketing team
2. The top 5 things you need to know about this
3. The different types of media you can buy programmatically
4. Examples of best practice and advice on how to manage the creative vs media spend
5. The impact the loss of cookies means to programmatic buying

Watch the webinar here.

Want to chat to us about programmatic buying for your business? Please shoot us a note and we’ll be all ears.

Webinar: Gen who? How to Understand Generational Nuances

Posted in Advertising, Digital Marketing, Marketing.

how to understand generational nuances

generational nuances – are you fluent in Gen Z?

In this webinar, we let you in on the secrets to bridging the communication gap and engaging with each generation in ways that make sense to them.

‘Gen who? How to Understand Generational Nuances’, helps uncover how you can affect change in an audience that doesn’t think like you.

Find out all you ever wanted to know about:

  • Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z and Generation Alpha
  • The how, what and where of communications
  • The triggers that work
  • Briefing tips

Every generation is different and whether you’re a government department, a private business focused on growth or a retail company keen to attract more customers, learning to speak the language of your customer should be your number one priority.

Watch the webinar here.

Want to chat to us about generational nuances and how that effects your business? Please shoot us a note and we’ll be all ears.


(this webinar created whilst lead strategist at Engine)

Webinar: Demystifying Behaviour Change

Posted in Advertising, Marketing.

In this webinar on demystifying behaviour change, we break down the motivations and methods you can use to effect positive change in your target audience.

Topics covered include:

  • 5 steps needed to create a campaign that genuinely affects change
  • Connecting with your audience through benefit-based communications
  • Distilling the ‘why’ of your campaign
  • Thinking like a ‘brand’ in the government space

If you’re not changing behaviour, change your thinking.

Whether you’re a government department, a private business focused on growth or a retail company keen to attract more customers, it’s a must-see for anyone looking to build a successful communications strategy that will create genuine behavioural change.

Watch the webinar here.

Want to chat to us about behaviour change and target market triggers for your business? Please shoot us a note and we’ll be all ears.


(this webinar created whilst lead strategist at Engine Group,)

Tomorrow thinking – marketing in COVID19 lockdown

tomorrow thinking - marketing during COVID19 lockdownMarketing in COVID19 lockdown – 
do we hunker-down, double-down or lie-down?

For those of us in the position to trade on during COVID19 lockdowns, it’s a question of not so much thinking about today, but more so, what about tomorrow?

How can we bolster our brand so that we are here, and our customers with us, when we hopefully pop out the other side?

In times of uncertainty, and especially when it’s as uncertain as it is right now, the brands who will be better placed to prosper will be the ones who seek to be empathetic and authentic.

To be human, to have a heart. To be about connection, rather than collection.

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs he noted that you can’t motivate people at the higher end of the hierarchy (in things like ego and self-development – where brands usually play when wanting to connect and engineer a sale) – if their fundamental physiological (food, health) and safety (shelter, stability) needs are not met.

Right now, consumers are hyper-focused on their basic needs and are looking to brands to either provide assistance with those basics or help meet their need for social connection (being loved, belonging, inclusion) – not to sell them.

Emotional connection

Brands who can share their truth and their hearts will be the ones to whom consumers gravitate. More attuned than ever, today’s hyper-sensitive consumer will see straight through a veiled attempt at selling them something under the guise of ‘doing good’.

What they’ll appreciate is a business trying to keep its doors open and in doing so, being real.

Being vulnerable. Being honest. And still finding a way to genuinely connect in the way they expect their favourite brands to do.

In a time where people are losing their jobs, not sure of how they’ll pay the rent/ the mortgage, the messages need to be mindful, respectful, conscious. But they still need to be there. People are seeking good news, wanting to feel safe, and still connected to their known community.

And brands form part of that community.

Now is the time to ask

So if it’s within your reach, now is the time to ask – what are your customers feeling right now and how might you help them through that time?

How can you be a positive, proactive member of their community, that is seen as being helpful rather than opportunistic? Or worse, not heard from at all.

In times like these, of course there’s the option of shutting communication down to either the bare minimum or turning it off completely. To hunker down and stop any ‘unnecessary’ spend. And that’s true – if it will mean further hardship, then staying afloat is paramount.

But know that if you choose not to (or can’t) keep communicating with your customers, the risk is they might not be there when you are able to eventually talk to them – that in leaving them to fend for themselves, they may learn to live without you.

This is about going back to your fundamentals of why you are in businesses – what your actual purpose is – and being true to that.

Finding your why

The interesting thing is, this is what strategic marketers have been saying for some time – only now it really, really matters that companies actually begin to live this.

Author Simon Sinek suggests, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

It’s connecting consumers with you emotionally that brings them along your journey. Not your what, not your how. Not your sales spiel, not being clever for the sake of it, or ‘hurry now 50% off’.

Right now it’s your why, and it’s never mattered more.

It’s moved beyond just selling your offer. Now more than ever, it’s about being human, being real, being respectful, and undeniably being conscious of the impact you do and can make as a brand at a time like this.

This is about your long game

When the dust has settled and we return back to whatever ‘normal’ might look like in a few months’ time, where will your brand be? Will it be coming out of the darkness and essentially starting from scratch in trying to connect again with your audience? Or will it be continuing the respectful, humble conversation you’ve kept going through our collective time of trouble?

This is not about being ‘seen’ to be a good corporate citizen, it’s about actually being one.

How to navigate ‘what next’

You don’t have to speak directly to the crisis, but still being mindful and conscious of how your audience is feeling right now means you can remain connected to them in their time of need.

  • What pain points do your customers have right now you could genuinely help with? (Woolworths opening early for older Australians)
  • Can you keep connecting by bringing a smile? (our client Vanuatu Tourism are receiving a wonderful response from their audience in sharing images of their fabulous island noting they’re keeping it safe for when you can come visit)
  • Are you able to be helpful in a way that truly connects with your brand? (XXXX beer asking us to swap a beer with mates to stay home)
  • Can you be generous and show some true empathy? (like Adobe Creative Cloud have done with free subscriptions for students until May so they can keep working while at home)

This is about protecting your brand and preparing for life beyond the immediate crisis we are facing.

There is historical proof that brands who keep talking and connecting in appropriate ways will emerge more successfully from an economic crisis than competitors who don’t. Kantar research showed strong brands recovered nine times faster than weaker brands in the 2008 financial crash.

So if you are able, now is the time to foster your brand, not deep freeze it.

Brands that can keep the communication fire burning, (even if only through continuing the conversation through social channels at very little or no expense), and bring warmth and compassion to their tribe, will be the ones consumers are most likely to return to when this is all just a memory.

So, tomorrow thinking is about asking how you can keep your brand alive in your customers hearts so you’re still top of mind, and still connected, when we emerge on the other side.

It’s your long game and it’s never been more important.


Want to chat to us about marketing strategies for your business? Please shoot us a note and we’ll be all ears.

If you don’t have image copyright, it could be cat-astrophic. Just ask STA

do you have image copyright

image copyright quickbrownfox

Do you have image copyright?

With all this publishing we’re all doing across social media, it’s easy to get carried away and see a great photo you like and just add it to your post and not give a thought to image copyright.

It won’t matter, right? Wrong.

STA Travel just found out the hard way that using a great shot you’ve found, without asking permission of the owner, can get you into hot water.

It seems they saw a photo online from a former customer and thought “we’ll have that” and just went ahead and used it both online and in a printed brochure.

Now I hear you saying, “oh how silly of them, who does that?”. But think about it.

When was the last time you added a photo to one of your posts without purchasing it or gaining approval from the image owner?

Or did you just go to Flickr, Google Images, or see something in your own feed and save it down and use it? We’ve all done it, some knowingly running the gauntlet and some unwittingly. But it’s all breaching copyright and you could find yourself in the same hot water STA are now in.

STA have done the right thing and taken the image down, but the owner of the photo still retains the right to sue them. Tricky situation because it breaches not only her copyright but also her privacy rights. That’s because a photo where the person can be identified falls under the Privacy Act. The ball is now in her court.

Free doesn’t mean permission

The hard part is that some sites say their images are ‘free to use’, but they rely on you to seek permission to publish. It’s easy to see how you can get into strife without realising it.

The best rule of thumb is – if you didn’t take the shot and seek permission from the talent shown within that shot to use it for promotional purposes, then you will need to either get approval to use or pay for it. Or end up paying for it in other ways.

Where to get images

There are some great sites that let you buy images – Shutterstock, iStock, GettyImages and more. These sites you pay for the image but at least you know you’ve got permission to publish.

Then there’s some great free sites like Pixabay, Unsplash and Pexels. But be sure you check the fine print to ensure you do indeed have permission to use and are attributing the image appropriately.

Happy searching.

*Note, Meeshka the cat provided permission for quickbrownfox to use this image for promotional purpose

Xmas Marketing Ducks in a Row

Posted in Advertising, Copywriting, Marketing, Social Media.

quickbrownfox christmasWith only 3 weekends to Christmas, it’s time to get a few of your Xmas Marketing ducks in a row if you haven’t done so already. Here’s a few things that might help in getting December off to a great start…

  • The festive season is not just for retailers

    Even if you don’t sell retail products, you can still promote to and engage your audience at this time of year. What about creating an offer you can tailor to the season? Or ask your database to share the cheer and give you suggestions for new services or products? You could ask your customers to upload a picture of their team in festive outfits using your product or service to your social media pages. Or perhaps find a way to count down the 12 days of Christmas? It doesn’t just have to be for the department store sales – you too can connect with your customers and followers.

  • Santa uses his branding well, so should you

    This time of year is a great time to thank your client base (and your key suppliers and staff), be that with a card or perhaps a personalised gift. And it’s a perfect opportunity to let your brand come to life for them. Get your cards made with your branding strong and proud (digital printing is really affordable now) and if you’re buying a gift, find ways to link this with your branding (for example, rather than a pen, you could do a branded cup cake). Get clever, your audience will appreciate your effort.

  • Being social takes planning

    With January only weeks away, you need to have your next round of blog posts decided and planned out, along with your posting strategy for your social media accounts. Take the time to review the stats and find out when is the best time to post to each for you and what seems to get the best reactions and tailor next year’s posts accordingly. Even writing 3 months of content in advance can take a huge amount of pressure off – and will allow you to look and feel more strategic about things. With many folks away in the few weeks over Christmas and New Year, it’s a great time to get ahead of the pack.

Hopefully you’ll get some time off to reflect on a great year and look forward to an even better one in 2015. Enjoy.

Privacy laws and SPAM Act (and not the porcine kind)

Posted in Advertising, Digital Marketing, Marketing.

Are you update to date with Australian Privacy Laws and the SPAM Act?

If you hold a customer database or sell products to customers where you hold their information and you have a turnover of $3m or more, then you need to read this so you don’t get into any strife. They’ve put together a nifty PDF that gives you the drum, which offers hours of entertaining reading.

The short story is:

  • there’s some things you need to be sure your Privacy Policy now states (the PDF has the list)
  • you have to make this Policy readily available and easily accessible
  • be careful about the types of information you request and store
  • storage and use of personal data must be safe
  • and there’s a new mandatory credit reporting privacy code

It’s dry reading and a little bit government-speak, so if in doubt, get your legal team to review your processes so that you don’t find yourself accidentally contravening this policy. Unfortunately, “I didn’t know” won’t cut it.spam

You must have consent

While we’re talking about policies, it’s probably timely to also remind yourself of the Australian SPAM Act and make sure you’re not emailing people willy-nilly without their consent. If you are promoting your business in any way (other than just your logo), then you MUST have the permission of the recipient. You can read more on the legislation here to ensure you’re following the rules properly.

It’s important you don’t break the law, but it’s even more important that the audience you are mailing to are engaged and want to hear from you.

Bedtime reading anyone?


when a PR stunt goes bad

Posted in Advertising, Marketing, Public Relations.

This week we were reminded of why a ‘PR stunt’ needs to be thought through from every angle before releasing it into the wild – literally.

under the dome PR stunt disaster

In a moment of madness, a Sydney PR firm, sent live butterflies to journalists to promote the DVD release of  Under the Dome. Yes, really.

Now, whilst technically ‘on brand’ (butterflies form a major theme of the show), sending a journalist a live butterfly in an envelope is not cool. Even if “great care was taken” to ensure their safety.

There is such a thing as a bad PR stunt

It certainly gained some publicity, but not the good kind. It also didn’t help that the PR firm managed a clanger of a typo in their pre-release. Asking if the journalist would be in office to “except” the delivery caused more than a few gasps.

Cut-through is one thing, but sensitivity to how your idea might be received cannot be overlooked.
(nor can spell-check).

And, given this is actually not a new idea (another PR firm did this back in August), it begs the question ‘what were they thinking?’ There’s some serious damage-control going on now in the agency and I suspect some lament they didn’t run with a ‘snow dome’ option instead.

PR is a tricky and fickle thing. Get it right and you can have media stories galore about your product and brand. Get it wrong and well, the opportunity flies out the door.

If you need some PR ideas to get your product noticed (that don’t involve sending live animals in the mail), we’d be happy to help.