It’s Complicated.

What works better, simplicity or complexity?

Marketing is all about ‘cutting through the clutter’, being different, and grabbing the attention of the customer. Probably my favourite slogan that practically encompasses the ideology of marketing into five basic words is the one that drives the creative culture of agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) – “When the world zigs, zag” 

In essence, do different. Do unique. Do what isn’t being done. Therefore in answering the question ‘simplicity or complexity?’, we must first ask – what is being done?

Digital marketing today integrates the real and digital worlds to create spectacular yet efficient campaigns. But are they becoming too complex? Depends on the definition of complexity, and the point at which an ad becomes so complex that it doesn’t effectively serve its purpose any longer. defines complex as “so complicated or intricate as to be hard to understand or deal with.”

At the end of the day, it is up to perception. My perception of what is complex is different to yours. I may find certain ads extremely simple whilst you find them complicated. That’s because the knowledge, experience, and understanding of certain topics vary from person to person – and that’s what determines our perception of simplicity and complexity.

Here are two digital campaigns of which in my perception, one is simple and one is complex:

1. Volvo Trucks – Van Damme

Van Damme is best known for his martial arts. He is flexible. The Volvo trucks are able to determine their direction of travel so precisely that it maintains Van Damme’s split. Simple.

What about someone that doesn’t know who Van Damme is? What relevance does he have to the ad? And what about someone who isn’t familiar with automotive technology trends and who doesn’t realize or appreciate the precision of the truck? Complex.

2. The Dark Knight Rises – Viral Marketing Campaign

A marketing campaign / alternate reality game in which you must work with people online to find clues and hints around the world and solve a mystery. You must complete tasks that include painting your face to look like a clown, dialing a random secret phone number and buying a rigged cake just to dig your hands into the middle of it to find a classic Nokia with a clue that steers you to do other awkward tasks. Complex.

What about passionate Batman fans who know the story of the legend like the back of their hand and own a collection of comics and games that surround the superhero? And what about people who attend Comic-Con and immerse themselves in the fantasy world of good vs. evil by dressing up and behaving like their favourite character? The game is an interactive, enjoyable, social, immersive and unique way of getting them excited about the upcoming movie. And they love it. Simple.

Ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether an ad is simple or complex. If you’re interested in the topic, know lots about it and interact with the brand often, the most complicated campaigns may seem like a piece of cake (a delicious Nokia-free Red Velvet) to understand. If not, the most interactive, fun and vibrant campaigns may repel you from the brand or product category even further than you already were.

It’s important for brands to consider their target audience and the depth of their knowledge and understanding of the product when tailoring a creative campaign.

Creating something complex is perfectly simple. Creating perfectly simple is something complex.


  • What’s one ad you found too complicated to understand?
  • What do you think works better today, simplicity or complexity?
  • Red Velvet or Black Forest?

The Man With No Mouth

NoMouthSmileyThe internet is our one stop shop for anything and everything these days. We do our groceries on the internet. We sell our cars on the internet. We play Scrabble with each other on the internet. We read our books on the internet. We conduct our business meetings on the internet. And we even make our [or buy] real [or imaginary] friends on the internet.

Our reliance on the internet has become so great that we challenge the credibility of people, issues, events and facts in the real world if they do not have a legitimate presence in the online world. Of course there is the issue that our reliance on the internet is so great that we become mindless gullible fools when absorbing knowledge from it. It’s like each person lies somewhere along this imaginary continuum of credibility that they attach to the internet. Some believe everything. Some believe nothing. Some believe some-things.

…but if you know how to use the internet (yes I believe there is a right way to use the internet), you can maximize the amount of non-fictional knowledge you obtain from it.

That being said, is the average human’s reliance on the internet so great that we question the legitimacy of a brand, company or organisation if it doesn’t have a website? Does that mean it isn’t…legit?

Maybe you looked up a car workshop on Google maps that you noticed whilst driving along Princes Highway and BMW’s showroom popped up as a result instead. Does that mean the one you saw initially wouldn’t be able to fix your broken headlight?

Maybe you met a John Appleseed at last week’s networking event who’s the marketing director at some big company, but you can’t even spot him on LinkedIn. Does that mean he lied?

It’s shameful but true. If we can’t find it online, a lot of us wouldn’t buy [into] it. And by ‘finding it online’ I mean on the first page of your Google search result – because who actually clicks Next at the bottom?

I would ask the question, “how many times have you seen a brand offline, searched for it and found it had no website?” but I know I wouldn’t get an overwhelming response. The point here is that it has become absolutely essential to create an online presence if the objective you are trying to accomplish involves other people. And the objective always involves other people. Always.

A company website is the first step – and probably the most important one too. Here’s why:

If you have a company, you have a goal. The internet and having a website can help you achieve that goal. Whether it be selling a product, offering a service, looking to raise capital or recruiting a new director, a website will help. The probability of each of these happening can be enhanced by occupying a spot on the virtually infinite space. Search results will direct lost souls towards your website if it helps them get what they want (and even if it doesn’t, at least you gained one more exposure for your brand).

Makes it seem more legit. A company website is the face of the company. Imagine meeting a stranger with a face mask on. Wouldn’t that just be super dodge?

Helps you compete. This includes competition against much larger companies as well. Once online, your website competes against other companies’ websites. Its website vs website, not company vs company. You’re all in the same ring. The size of the company is therefore concealed and a website can make your company seem as attractive as the market leader’s – to some extent.

Seriously, why not? Making a website is as easy as searching ‘make a website‘ and clicking on the first website result you see on Google’s website which then takes you to a website that practically makes a website for your company website.

See, it’s all about the websites these days..


  • What is your interpretation of the title of this post?
  • What’s the most awesome website you’ve come across?
  • Do you click Next on or is it just me?

Nike, just does it.

I’m a huge fan of Nike. Not just their products but their corporate culture of being innovative which resonates throughout everything they make and do. I’m not being paid [much] by them for this post, but let me tell you why Nike has got another ✓ from me. Nike is the perfect example of how marketing can make your company flourish. They started out selling shoes out of the back of a car that looked something like this:

Now the company’s worth $25 billion with 44,000 employees in 160 countries worldwide, that looks something like this:

Nike Indulgences #5 Gold Shoes

How? Integrated Marketing. And of course a whole heap of excellent corporate practices – but dude, integrated marketing…they practically integrated the world into a simultaneous 10km run back in 2008. Is that the definition of integrated or is that the definition of integrated?

Some of their other great campaigns include the interactive billboard in Times Square, turning the streets of London into a game, and a modified version of Quidditch in Vienna.

What I’m particularly fascinated about by Nike, however, is their ability to perfectly – and I mean perfectly – integrate the digital world with the real world in almost all of their marketing campaigns. And a lot of these campaigns involve the most essential digital ingredient – Nike+

Nike+ is basically to you what Batman’s secret cave is to him. That’s right. It is your digital assistant, your cyber coach, and your key to the most connected society of active human beings on earth. Or that’s what we are sold from Nike. And it works oh so well.

A batcave with many fancy computer monitors.

Nike+ is an account you make on the aesthetically pleasing website and it stores all your information surrounding your ‘activity’, measured in NikeFuel, whilst also providing a way to plan and improve your running, walking, football, tennis, boxing, or any other activity you may participate in. That was a long sentence, apologies. But it’s justified, because Nike+ does a lot! And need I mention that of course – like anyone who perfectly integrates digital and reality – it provides you with the ability to digitally share (virally market) all this information to your real friends (potential customers)?

The concept of these accounts and the information that they store is utilized by Nike in many of their running campaigns. They’ll organize a running event or competition in which runners clock their miles and post them to their Nike+ account where it is shared and compared with hundreds of thousands of others. And more recently, they’ve found a way to convert these miles or activity into a currency which can be used to redeem Nike products.

Nike’s Secret Vending Machine Dispenses Free Gear For FuelBand Points

This is a ‘secret vending machine’. Runners can use their [Nike] FuelPoints accumulated in the last 24 hours to redeem [Nike] merchandise. And it moves from place to place to create [Nike] buzz in different parts of New York City. Yet again, Nike smashes it on social media and in the press. They’ve now got customers feeling rewarded for keeping fit.

I mean I would’ve been pretty satisfied knowing I had a few hundred ‘FuelPoints’ under my [gradually tightening] belt – but now a t-shirt and a pair of socks too! Here’s an idea, let me wear this new apparel that screams Nike whilst I run, so I can be a moving ad for this fantastic company that has done so much for me. That way other people will be aware of the brand, purchase its gear, get involved on Nike+, and run around the streets of NYC like me and a million others.

By studying marketing, these almost manipulative strategies and intentions become exposed to our ever-so-observant minds. But that only makes me appreciate the brand more. When it comes to marketing, Nike just does it.


  • what excellent marketing have you seen from Nike?
  • which other brands implement stuff like Nike+?
  • Batman or Superman?

QR in the ER

Many of you probably already know what a QR Code is – and if you haven’t, I’m sure you’ll recognize it when you see one.



Ring a bell? Yes? No? Doesn’t matter – here’s a little summary:

The QR Code stands for Quick Response Code, and is used to store information in a visually displeasing arrangement of bricks (are they black bricks on a white background or white on black?) Using an appropriate app on your tablet or smartphone, you can scan this wonderful image (using the device’s camera) and it presents you with a surprisingly wide variety of information such as details on the business, a redirection to a URL or even a coupon you can use for your next purchase – at the brand that placed their QR code somewhere visually effective and got through to you.

That’s where the purpose of this post kicks in – QR codes suddenly lost their spark in the last couple of years, soon after creating a breakthrough in the way we interact with brands. One of the primary reasons for this sudden downturn in what could have been a powerful marketing tool is that they weren’t used correctly, often being placed in ineffective positions within the brand’s touch points.

I was in Bali over this past weekend only to be diagnosed with food poisoning and an overnight stay at the paradisiacal BIMC Hospital. Yay. Anyway, as I got off the bed to relieve myself of one of food poisoning’s treacherous symptoms, I saw this:

2014-08-20 10.28.16

A QR code on the base of the IV drip hanger. The person who came up with this idea is both a genius as well as…not so much one. He did foresee that hospital patients only look at two things whilst sick: the ceiling when they’re lying down, and the floor when they get up (therefore achieving 50% exposure success). But would any patient in their right mind (and body) put their pain and suffering aside to take out their phone and scan the QR code for more information on the last thing they want to see, an IV drip hanger?


For some fail examples of QR code placement, click here.


So what makes a good QR code then?

  • Location. They must be in a location that does not inconvenience the customer – not too high, not too far. Sometimes when they are large enough it can compensate for the distance but then this may drown the supporting stimuli that appears alongside the code. 
  • Incentive. The customer must be offered an incentive that makes it worthwhile for them to scan the code. Despite the simplicity in scanning a QR code, no one would carry out the action without purpose. Why should they?
  • Relevance. Many brands decide to throw in a QR code where they can, just for the heck of it or because it became a fast-growing digital trend. Marketers must learn to keep them when relevant and ditch them when not.
  • Mobile-site. The importance of leading to an mobile-optimized site is underrated. No one wants to be directed to a page where they have to scroll horizontally to read text, and where half the links are unclickable – it ruins the experience!

For some great examples of QR Code placement and marketing integration, click here.



  • What do you think is important for brands to consider when implementing a QR Code?
  • Do you think QR codes still have a chance at digital marketing?
  • What great/failed examples have you seen of QR Codes in your everyday lives?