The Fluxx Honesty Advent Calendar 2012       Honesty, trust and transparency: more than just buzz-words in 2012.   For Flu...
American Apparel hot on honesty                           “I’m not touching that – I don’t know where it’s been”          ...
NatWest earn some credit                          I’m not going to email you in the middle of the night to tell you, but I...
Fairtrade? I should cocoa                             Christmas, a time for giving. A time for conspicuous over-consumptio...
Dear Starbucks                           I’m writing this because I think we both need to move on – the trust we once had ...
Nokia: using creative licence?                              Nokia released their Lumia 920 smartphone in November to much ...
Wait, how they Rose to the occasion                             “I shop at Waitrose because it makes me feel important and...
The X-Factor? Oh no it isn’t                         Even before the Christmas lights get switched on every autumn, that f...
Apple Maps, a fork in the Road?                         Open up the Maps application on the shiny new iPhone 5 and it woul...
Be Honest, warts and all                                  No Christmas would be complete without the reluctant donning of ...
The Devil’s in the T&Cs @Ryanair                              Ryan Air and its infamous CEO Michael O’Leary are the airlin...
Trust… A measured response.                           It’s official. The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer, which has been meas...
Honesty’s yellow peril                             2012 will be remembered as the year that one of the world’s most famous...
Bank NABs the honesty box                    Financial services brands typically have no choice about whether or not they ...
Honesty – I’m lovin’ it                             So common are the stories of the failures over the successes in corpor...
Honest approach helps Virgin stay on track                          Earlier this month, Sir Richard Branson announced what...
Dishonesty leaves us feeling Blue                         If a senior employee at a high-profile company were to be found ...
Google’s gift that keeps on giving                                  Google’s early Christmas present to its users this yea...
Is there a right time of the month to be honest?                                    *DISCLAIMER: NOT SUITABLE FOR SQUEAMIS...
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word                              ‘Sorry’ did seem to be the hardest word back in 1976 when ...
Is it fine if you fix?                             Libor. The London Interbank Offer Rate. The basis for pricing over £185...
Odeon project the wrong image                           ‘The Customer is Always Right’ is a time-served mantra, but what i...
Tea bags our attention                             Some companies live out their brand name; Honest Tea asks its customers...
The BBC’s blind eye                           Pantomime season started early this year with Auntie flouncing around the st...
Instagram loses its gloss                           Instagram gone and done a bad thing. It’s let down the loyal community...
Fluxx Advent Calendar 2012
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Fluxx Advent Calendar 2012


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From airlines and banks to retailers and media owners: 2012 was been the year of the confession, the apology and the corporate blush. Similarly, we have also seen some true champions of transparency who have not just doffed their cap at honesty but given it a seat at the boardroom table. Peer back through the windows of our 2012 advent calendar to find out more.

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Fluxx Advent Calendar 2012

  1. 1. The Fluxx Honesty Advent Calendar 2012 Honesty, trust and transparency: more than just buzz-words in 2012. For Fluxx they are proof of the “flawsome” trend we highlighted as the one to watch for this year.We warned our clients that consumers won’t expect brands to be flawless but they will embrace brands that are FLAWSOME and at least have an essence of humanity, empathy and generosity.
  2. 2. American Apparel hot on honesty “I’m not touching that – I don’t know where it’s been” An everyday turn of phrase – but until recently we seldom applied it to retail. Often decidedly murky, the sources of most company’s products used to be unclear at best. Many firms are now making a virtue of provenance. H&M declares it strives to improve labour practices and minimize the adverse environmental effects of not only its suppliers, but its suppliers’ suppliers, right back along the chain. Similar claims, once the preserve of a handful of niche retailers, have now become widespread. American Apparel went through the mill last year, with controversy over its provocative ad campaigns, having to fire 1,500 illegal immigrant employees and needing a $15million bail-out from investors to avoid bankruptcy. But by rebuilding its reputation around honest, open and ethical practices in 2012, the business has turned around their brand fortunes. American Apparel is one of the few retailers to prove that their business is sweatshop-free by showcasing an unusually detailed online tour of its Los Angeles factory, giving visitors the chance to look around the many different departments on the shop floor. As customers take greater interest in the origins and authenticity of the things they buy, providing them with tools to track provenance will become an important part of the marketing mix and will give retailers new ways to capitalise on brand value. The key decision is exactly how honest to be: how much data to make publicly available – and in what degree of detail. by Sheel 1st December 2012
  3. 3. NatWest earn some credit I’m not going to email you in the middle of the night to tell you, but I do respect the way NatWest handled their summer crisis. The largest banking systems failure in years was well covered in the press but the way in which NatWest carefully communicated the crisis with its customers has had precious little airtime. The bank may not have been completely open about where the failure occurred, but they swiftly came clean about the fact that the problem existed. Their first comms started within a couple of hours of the failure – by 12.43am they had already flagged the issue on Twitter and kept the dialogue going. Before most of the country was even aware that there was an issue, NatWest was gearing up a multi-channel response. Following Twitter updates, they brought other channels into the equation, pushing out emails and texts to people specifically impacted (admittedly not always at particularly sociable hours) and readying their call centres for a tsunami of complaints. Then there were those forgotten fortresses, the branches – with over 1,000 of them putting on extended hours they demonstrated that there is still a great deal of value in the in-person channel. Although the failure should never have been allowed to happen, I can’t help but give NatWest some points for handling it through open communication with their customers. They might have done more. But they could have done a whole lot less – and that is what the public have come to expect from banks. by Dan 2nd December 2012
  4. 4. Fairtrade? I should cocoa Christmas, a time for giving. A time for conspicuous over-consumption. To be not-so-precise, about 200,000 tonnes of chocolate will be sold worldwide over Christmas. In these more environmentally conscious times it’s encouraging to see that c. 20,000 tonnes of this has the fairtrade tag. So 10% of us are doing and eating the right thing, right? Peel back the wrapper on fairtrade cocoa and discover how farmers receive a premium for growing cocoa in an organic, sustainable way. That’s a good thing. The premium is supported by higher prices from manufacturers/distributors who pay to be able to display and use the fairtrade logo. In turn that higher price is paid by consumers as a way of showing they care about what they are buying. That’s still all good, right? Now the interesting part. It would be really hard, and really expensive, to have an entirely different logistics system for fairtrade/organic cocoa beans. So in reality cocoa beans get mixed up in trucks, ships, warehouses and factories. For all you know, the cocoa beans that go into your beautiful fairtrade chocolate could have been grown in penal conditions next to a chemical plant. So by buying fairtrade you are doing the right thing (and you should do it if you can afford it), but you’re not always getting the right thing? That’s not a point widely touted on the packaging. A wise person said you shouldn’t give to receive at Christmas. They may have been involved in the fairtrade model, too. by Richard 3rd December 2012
  5. 5. Dear Starbucks I’m writing this because I think we both need to move on – the trust we once had has gone and maybe it’s time I started sipping from a different cup. It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s hard not to love all the creamy, fair-trade goodness you have given me each day before work (sometimes at lunch if I was lucky). But being blunt, I just don’t feel like you are contributing. I know you’ve said you’ll think about changing your ways. I’m just not sure I believe that – and even if you do, it’ll probably be too little, too lat(t)e. When we first got together I knew you had a past, who doesn’t? And though my friends were suspicious and didn’t like you much, I just thought they were jealous. I loved that you had no problem if I occasionally brought other boys/girls along for the ride. I never saw you as the jealous type, and I know you see other people (32m+ at last count). Sure, it was good in the early days. But now that I am a bit older and wiser, I can kind of see that what goes on the surface isn’t always matched by your actions. I’m not convinced you’re as fair as you claim – you make a big deal about caring for others but don’t seem to care about matters closer to home. I know you probably have an explanation for everything that has happened but, and it pains me to say it, I think you’re in denial and in need of help. You’ve taken more than you’ve given and I need to be with someone who is willing to be completely honest. So goodbye Starbucks. Goodbye. Dean by Dean Wilson PS You can have your Joss Stone CD back, but I’m keeping the Rufus 4th December 2012
  6. 6. Nokia: using creative licence? Nokia released their Lumia 920 smartphone in November to much anticipation. It was their ‘do or die’ comeback in a bid to steal market share from the current starlets: Apple’s iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3. Nokia showcased the device’s impressive new camera feature in a promotional video – all well and good until some wily viewer spotted a professional cameraman filming with specialist kit. So before they knew it, Nokia had a viral campaign that was spreading fast and entirely out of their control. An apology was issued quickly: the company can’t take any more risks bearing in mind Nokia’s market share has fallen so significantly recently. It’s natural for brands to wax lyrical about their products in a bid to convince us to part with our money. But as consumers, we have matured and are more discerning: we demand honesty and transparency too. And the Nokia Lumia customer is tech savvy, so creative licence just won’t wash if it doesn’t stand up in practice. Providers are under a lot more scrutiny and where, even a decade ago mistakes could be swept under the carpet with a brief PR statement, today’s customer is ready to troll – within seconds – and a corporate faux pas will be socialised around the globe Companies like Nokia need to focus on honesty and be prepared to respond to an audience who are ready to tell the truth on their behalf via social channels, news and through traditional media. by Louise Convery At Fluxx, we understand that the customer expects honesty and as we help clients with their product and service innovation, we reinforce the fact that corporate honesty and sensible omnichannel communications are an essential part of the strategy. 5th December 2012
  7. 7. Wait, how they Rose to the occasion “I shop at Waitrose because it makes me feel important and I absolutely detest being surrounded by poor people” When the Waitrose social media team dreamed up the Twitter campaign ‘I shop at Waitrose because…‘ #WaitroseReasons they were probably expecting a celebration of their product range and exemplary in-store service, not anticipating widespread public ridicule. You can imagine the planning meeting where everyone was staring at a slide reading ‘How do we increase customer engagement with our brand?‘ I know, let’s get everyone to tweet about why they love us. Brilliant, how much does it cost? Nothing, it’s on Twitter. Double brilliant, let’s go! It certainly got Waitrose trending on twitter very quickly, but more as a source of mockery then brand evangelism. There was the odd compliment, but some of my favourite responses included: “I shop at Waitrose because the butler’s on holiday” and “I shop at Waitrose because I like watching Daily Mail readers support neo-socialist institutions.” At this point in a social media campaign other brands have been known to freak out, delete or send an excruciating follow-up, but the Waitrose response was actually the best bit of their campaign. Rather than retreat or denounce the detractors, Waitrose responded with such open, honest humour and charm that even the hardest of hearts must have loved them for taking it on the chin and laughing along. @Waitrose Thanks again for all the #WaitroseReasons tweets. We always like to hear what you think and enjoyed reading most of them. by Clemency 6th December 2012
  8. 8. The X-Factor? Oh no it isn’t Even before the Christmas lights get switched on every autumn, that familiar hyperbolic voiceover booms into your lugholes and a bunch of lean up-starts force their way into your consciousness. Yep, on the eve of this year’s final, ITV show absolutely no sign of closing down their annual Christmas Number One testing lab, the X-Factor. And to paraphrase the ground-breaking programme which kick-started this endless parade of prototypes filling our television screens: Who stays? You decide. A promise never truer than during the farcical scenes which viewers endured on October 7. The weekly elimination sing-off pitted talented but distinctly beige singer Carolynne Poole against flamboyant tone-deaf cruise-ship act Rylan Clark. And it appeared the novelty act was heading for the door until bumbling judge Louis Walsh bizarrely changed his damning verdict after an ITV producer was spotted whispering in his ear. The clumsily manufactured U-turn meant the power switched to the telephone voters, where the public had been firmly in favour of Rylan (whose real name is Ross, the dishonest swine) – and the emotional Essex boy was sensationally spared. Fellow judge Gary Barlow was seemingly so incensed he stormed off, tracked by a conveniently pre-positioned spotlight. And the Twittersphere was suddenly awash with conspiracy theorists up in arms about being treated like fools. But there is a reason they’re being treated like fools. by Tim Dykes At no stage did the X-Factor judges promise to eliminate the least talented contestant. It’s pantomime season and a heap of users faithfully clutching their telephone keypads still haven’t seen the lights. 7th December 2012
  9. 9. Apple Maps, a fork in the Road? Open up the Maps application on the shiny new iPhone 5 and it would appear you’ve reached an unintended and undesired fork in the road… Since the iPhone 5’s launch, Apple has drawn significant criticism over its decision to replace the incumbent Google powered Maps application with their own proprietary version. So much so in fact that their CEO Tim Cook recently issued an open letter reassuring us that “At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers” He goes on to say that they fell short of this commitment and are sorry. So they came clean, ‘fessed up and made a sincere apology. But did they need to put themselves in such a vulnerable position in the first place? There is the old adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and in the case of maps, why change something that, up until then had delivered a more than satisfactory experience to the user? All the signs point towards unnecessary muscle flexing by Apple who, according to some commentators, dropped the ball in terms of foreseeing how strategically important mapping needed to be. In turn Apple were not being entirely honest with themselves about their specific capabilities within this arena especially in terms of rushing to market. In time, no doubt, Apple will of course enhance and improve their Maps and the overall experience will return to its original levels, perhaps even beyond them. Perhaps the unusual step of using the word “Sorry” was humbling enough for the brand to remember its roots. Maybe after taking a good honest look at themselves they could see the right direction to take was back to designing products and services for customers based on needs and wants. by Peter Hay Ultimately for us, the end users and customers, it is all about getting from A to B so who ever ends up providing with richest and most engaging experience will win. 8th December 2012
  10. 10. Be Honest, warts and all No Christmas would be complete without the reluctant donning of a Ron Weasley style knitted jumper, but would you be more inclined to wear the fruits of Grandma’s labour if you knew where the materials came from? Launched in January, Honest by claimed to be the first company in the world to share the full cost breakdown of its products. But is that a moral endeavour we’d more likely buy into? Brands have more data and more means to share it than ever before so honesty is an obvious next step in a corporate strategy, but at what price and how far is the fall from grace if they are found to be dishonest? If brands choose to open the doors of their supply chain, what they are actually doing is passing the moral acceptance to the consumer. Although a jumper may be produced from fair-trade wool in a remote Mongolian village, its carbon footprint is a year’s personal allowance due to the fact that it was flown to the UK on a Boeing 747. In this case, the message isn’t wholly palatable, but at least we haven’t been lied to. Deliberately hiding information about which customers are curious creates mistrust in a brand; stakeholders react positively when they feel a brand is trustworthy and in this case feel that they’re getting more than just a Christmas jumper. As long as you don’t reveal too much, too soon, we feel that honesty probably is the best policy this Christmas. by Melanie 9th December 2012
  11. 11. The Devil’s in the T&Cs @Ryanair Ryan Air and its infamous CEO Michael O’Leary are the airline and boss we all love to hate. While Mr. O’Leary maybe dedicated to delivering rock-bottom airfares he is never far from controversy. He is well known for expressing his transparent if ill-advised views on a variety of subjects ranging from climate change to ‘Boris Island’. This August there was another classic example of his transparent charm when he commented on a customer’s complaint about excessive charges saying – “We think Mrs. McLeod should pay €60 for being so stupid … She wrote to me last week asking for compensation and a gesture of goodwill. To which we have replied – politely but firmly – thank you, Mrs. McLeod but it was your f***-up, and if you screw up, you compensate us and you send us a gesture of goodwill.” Mrs. McLeod had complained about hidden costs – adding up to £236 – but was primarily annoyed that she had been charged for not printing out all her family’s boarding passes prior to flying back from a holiday in Alicante. On returning, like many disgruntled consumers she took to Facebook to promote her cause. Before long she had accumulated over 500,000 ‘likes’ and the press sensed a story. How hidden are Ryanair’s costs? The devil is in the detail, or at least the T&Cs. While Mrs. McLeod may have been a victim of an offensive CEO and a confusing corporate experience, you could hardly accuse Ryanair of dishonesty. Are Ryanair the most honest airline? It ain’t pretty but they embody commodification and make no bones about it. Perhaps they are keeping the other airlines honest with their low cost approach. Perhaps we need to be honest with ourselves, if we want the old world dream of air travel then we need to accept that we have to pay more. If we don’t like what Ryanair has to by Richard Edgley offer or O’Leary, then there are other options. Given they fly more people than most airlines and are rumoured to healthy cash reserves in a tough industry, then it seems many are willing to compromise experience for cost. 10th December 2012
  12. 12. Trust… A measured response. It’s official. The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer, which has been measuring our collective global trust for the last 12 years, has called out an unprecedented drop in our trust of governments. Apparently we trust governments 9 points less than the year before. Our trust of businesses is also low, 3 points lower. But government leaders are now less trusted than business leaders to tell the truth. This doesn’t appear to be the beginning of global anarchy. Ironically, whilst we don’t trust governments as much as businesses, half of us want government to regulate businesses more. Generally we are less likely to trust what we’re told at face value. 81% of us need to hear something from 3 or more sources before we actually believe it. In a world where everyone talks of transparency, are we becoming more sceptical? The Harvard Business Review recently pointed out that short term attempts by companies to build trust can be damaging to business. Are people tired of cynical spin, CSR, PR and the dishonest engendering of trust? Who doesn’t give a knowing smile as they read the title of the new book - The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use “Plain English” and Other Tricks to Rob You Blind. It’s enlightening to see where an increase in trust has emerged – there is a very clear swing from government and execs to trusting “people like us” (22 point uplift) and “regular employees (16 point uplift). The Edelman trust and credibility survey also shows that we are trusting social media 75% more than last year. by Gary Whilst China showed a drop in trust, it still has one of highest levels of trust in its government….really? Should we trust the Edelman Trust Barometer? Maybe I can ask “someone like me” on Twitter? 11th December 2012
  13. 13. Honesty’s yellow peril 2012 will be remembered as the year that one of the world’s most famous sporting icons was exposed as a cheat, a liar and a bully, and the yellow empire that he had forged fractured. I am talking of course of Lance Armstrong, the once former 7-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor who founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation back in 1997, the same year he was declared clear of the cancer that had riddled his body. The fairy-tale story that I and millions of others lapped up in his first book “It’s Not About the Bike”, was proven to be exactly that, a fairy- tale. The testimony of 11 of Armstrong’s team mates from this period proved his feats were actually enabled and masked by a dark and murky sub plot of systematic doping and corruption that engulfed the sport for years and was protected by a strict code of silence, or “omerta”, that Armstrong enforced ruthlessly. Lance Armstrong’s saving grace, according to many of his die-hard fans, is seen to be his charity work and in particular the Livestrong Foundation (as his original charity was recently re-named). Since it was founded, it is reported to have raised over $500m towards cancer support and sold over 80m of the ubiquitous yellow bracelets that you once couldn’t even go down to your local supermarket without seeing someone wearing. Livestrong are clearly in a tricky position with regards to Lance as their name, their brand colours, their celebrity endorsers and many of their donors exist for two main reasons, namely that: 1. Armstrong recovered from cancer 2. Armstrong went on to win the Tour de France The first is undisputed; the second proven to be a lie. Unlike the flight of Armstrong’s hoard of sycophantic sponsors, many of whom initially pledged support following the USADA revelations, Livestrong’s connection to Armstrong cannot be undone so easily. They have taken steps by Michael Jones to distance him from their charity work, removing Armstrong as their Chairman and reducing his prominence on their website, but association endures, and until Armstrong decides to do the honourable thing, like his former colleagues, and confess all, then Livestrong despite all the good work it undoubtedly has done and still does, will remain forever tarnished. 12th December 2012
  14. 14. Bank NABs the honesty box Financial services brands typically have no choice about whether or not they are honest. Their industry regulators ensure that financial products are explained in an honest way. But out of all business types, they rank the lowest with consumers when it comes to an expectation that they will be ‘fair and honest’. So, it was certainly a moment of inspiration when NAB seized on an experiment focusing on honesty driven by their ad agency Clemenger as the source of a major campaign for their credit card business. The ad agency’s initial experiment set up a coffee stall that gave Australians $5 too much in change. Every single person on the receiving end of the error pointed it out and handed it back. NAB’s then launched a hugely clever and complex ad that ended with the tagline: “Honesty deserves to be rewarded” – they congratulated Australians for being so honest and told them they could now have “the credit card they deserve”. Brilliant. The ad even nearly brought a tear to my eye. But wait a minute… how exactly are NAB rewarding honesty? Is NAB more honest than others? The answer? Out of the nine credit cards that NAB offer, two of them appear in the Top 20 of ‘best credit cards’ on comparison sites and the way in which they describe their products is the way approved by the regulator i.e. the same as everyone else. What is actually going on is that they are tapping into an emotional zeitgeist and attaching themselves barnacle-like to it in the by Paul Dawson hope that it rubs off on their brand by association. There is no additional honesty on their part, but it certainly feels like is; even though they haven’t actually said it. 13th December 2012
  15. 15. Honesty – I’m lovin’ it So common are the stories of the failures over the successes in corporate transparency and social media, you might wonder if it is worth the grief when noble efforts at honesty can so easily become the stick to beat you with. But once in a while, a business gets it so right it makes you stop and admire. If you haven’t seen it already, check it out: Our Food Your Questions. – a hugely successful Q&A website from McDonald’s Canada where no topic is off limits and answers are provided from all parts of the organisation. With 8,000 questions answered, 15 video answers produced with over 13.5million views, it is rightly being lauded industry-wide. What makes the campaign so good? Great content: this isn’t just a social media programme it’s a content programme. The videos are charming and informative. The behind-the- scenes burger photo shoot is brilliant. Real honesty: they don’t shy away from any topic. There are answers on animal welfare, nutrition, marketing and ingredients. Organisation wide support: from the CEO to producers and suppliers, everyone is behind the initiative – not to mention that you sense a real sincerity from the execs taking part. The conversation is a spectacle: unlike a hotline, email address or simple FAQ, the amplification of the conversation and viral nature of the content is immense. Maintaining some control: there is clearly some vetting that keeps it from being easily hijacked, but because the rest of the campaign is so strong this doesn’t detract. by Brett Simple things in isolation, but it’s the combination of ingredients that make this campaign work. 14th December 2012
  16. 16. Honest approach helps Virgin stay on track Earlier this month, Sir Richard Branson announced what he called “the perfect early Christmas present for our wonderful Virgin Trains staff” following signature of a 23-month extension to continue running services on the West Coast mainline. Less perfect for the tax payer is an anticipated £50m bill from the shambolic bid process. All of this news would have been hard to believe back in mid-August, when the DfT unveiled First Group as the new operator of the West Coast rail franchise in a 13-year deal worth £5.5bn. The government lauded what they said was a “good deal for the tax payer” and one that had been “carefully assessed” and “tested very robustly”. What they failed to anticipate was the media backlash and widespread cynicism about the deal, fuelled largely by the incumbent operator, Virgin Trains, and its publicity crusader-in-chief, Sir Richard, who immediately shouted, screamed and jumped up and down a lot. Among those outraged by this perceived injustice was one Virgin passenger who created an online e-petition, in which he acknowledged that while not perfect, Virgin did provide a reliable service and had turned the line around over 15 years of investment. He also highlighted previous disastrous experiences of the government selling out to the highest bidder. Spotting his moment, Branson backed the campaign, roped in various celebrities and the petition achieved over 174,000 signatures, provided widespread media coverage and triggered a parliamentary debate. Buoyed by the public support, Virgin’s threat of legal action then blocked the signing of the deal just hours before it was due to happen. The subsequent investigation uncovered a flawed bidding process comprising significant errors and resulted in the government scrapping the West Coast bid, suspending three staff and proposing a new bidding process be held. This has been a powerful demonstration of how a brand that engages with its customers, that is seen to be upfront and honest when it fails to deliver, and that succeeds in developing a relationship over a period of time, can ultimately reap the benefits. It’s hard to be certain in a case like this but I think First Group may well have been operating the line by now without Virgin Train’s brand champions. by Paul 15th December 2012
  17. 17. Dishonesty leaves us feeling Blue If a senior employee at a high-profile company were to be found guilty by an independent board of using aggressive racist language to insult a black colleague, they would surely soon be unemployed. Not so in the relentlessly spirit-sapping sphere of professional football, where Chelsea are today hoping to be crowned world champions. “The best team in the Galaxy” – surely advertising’s equivalent of an open goal for club sponsors Samsung. This unmissable commercial opportunity was presumably a factor in the Korean technology giant’s decision not only to retain their fiscal support in the light of the John Terry racism row, but also to extend it. The captain of a club with a “zero tolerance approach to racism” was found guilty of using a racist insult by the national association’s panel in October – and as a consequence football fans of most clubs will now remember Terry as much for being an ignorant thug as a fearless athlete. Not so at Stamford Bridge, where he is unblinkingly revered by the Chelsea supporters and, crucially, backed by the board. Despite the Blues’ boast of “zero tolerance” they reportedly saw fit to punish Terry to the tune of just a fortnight’s wages and move on. It would be unfair to conclude that by keeping quiet on the whole affair, Samsung are proud to see their logo across Terry’s chest. But by extending their £18m deal by a further two years they are at least suggesting that a successful football club will get them more positive publicity than a bold gesture distancing themselves from dishonesty. by Tim Dykes And sadly, they’re probably 16th December 2012
  18. 18. Google’s gift that keeps on giving Google’s early Christmas present to its users this year is the latest edition of its Transparency Report which it has published every six months since 2010. The report highlights those governments and organisations who have made requests to remove content, and the growing percentage of pleas – a 98% increase on the previous reporting period in the United Kingdom – proves that we do still live in a much-censored world. The Transparency Report represents a snapshot of information, but we are heartened by others who are sharing similar statistics (Dropbox, LinkedIn, Twitter). So, we may not have the whole picture but Google’s act of kindness is a step in the right direction towards keeping the Internet free and open. But this honesty is sparking bitter responses about data aggregation and whether there will ever be anonymous browsing again. But Fluxx would like to thank Google – it’s heartening to see data giants trying to do something respectable with their intel. So whether or not you read the report, one thing to note is the distinction between those who release regular transparency reports versus those who keep telling us they’ll share content but have yet to do so. To be honest, it’s about time they did. by Melanie 17th December 2012
  19. 19. Is there a right time of the month to be honest? *DISCLAIMER: NOT SUITABLE FOR SQUEAMISH MALES* So Bodyform recently went a bit Carlsberg. “Bodyform don’t have a CEO, but if we did, she’d be…” this absolutely awesome, belching, ironic, iconic lady, who happily hands gentlemen their testicles back if they dare to encroach on the hallowed ground of our monthlies. If you’ve not seen it, Bodyform reacted to a chap posting a rehash of an ancient joke about tampons on their Facebook page by creating an extremely entertaining YouTube video with a fake CEO telling the truth about periods. This was brutal honesty at its most charming and witty. The phrase “blood coursing from our uteri like a crimson landslide” was probably a first for the advertising of feminine hygiene products. This sector has previously been very happy to let euphemism and metaphor run amok, usually whilst wearing white spandex and roller blading. But we were left asking if Bodyform can be honest about menses, why not use the real CEO? Probably because their real CEO is a man. The only lady at board level within Bodyform’s owners, SCA is in charge of Incontinence. Oh yes, SCA also own Tena – the advertising of which is as disingenuous as that for menstrual products. Women suffering from stress incontinence do not go ‘oops’ and then shrug safe in the knowledge that they’re wearing a Tena. It’s unlikely they wear much satin either. The video also included a not so subtle dig at P&G’s Always brand and their bile-inducing slogan of ‘Have a Happy Period’. The audacious insincerity with which, until recently, was repeated on the adhesive strip of every one of their products leaving the hormonally challenged seeing more than one kind of red. But do we really want honest advertising about periods? Bloated, grumpy, spotty women wish to buy products associated with bloated, grumpy, spotty women, even less than they wish to buy products advertised by prancing half-wits in pastel spandex. Until someone invents a product that simultaneously stops the cramping and clears up the mess whilst ensuring partners only enter the vicinity bearing chocolate, it’s hard to imagine there will be much interest in honest advertising – and even then, who would believe it? by Clare 18th December 2012
  20. 20. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word ‘Sorry’ did seem to be the hardest word back in 1976 when Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote their hit. In recent years we have seen countless celebs and politicians using the media to make a heart-felt apology about everything and anything – be it a personal indiscretion or a serious blunder. Ahead of this September’s Liberal Democrat Party Conference we witnessed the latest public mea culpa. Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg recorded an apology for the Lib Dems’ broken electoral pledge on university tuition fees. Soon after Clegg’s apology, the satirical online magazine The Poke released a spoof remix version and it went viral. There was even a download to be purchased from iTunes with the proceeds going to charity. We live in a media saturated culture with trial by Twitter and spin doctoring. So does the heart-felt ‘I’m sorry’ work anymore? Does it seem trite? Can we see through the honest face and scripted words? It seems you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Perhaps we need to be honest with ourselves and accept the reality of political compromise. But politicians need to be honest with the public rather than merely saying sorry as a reaction to the opinion polls. Otherwise, Elton and Bernie’s song needs to be rewritten – “Sorry Seems To Be The Easiest Word”. by Richard 19th December 2012
  21. 21. Is it fine if you fix? Libor. The London Interbank Offer Rate. The basis for pricing over £185 trillion of financial instruments. And Barclays rigged it. At least that was the message sent out in June, when Barclays were fined a record ( at that point) £290m by US and UK regulators for fixing their Libor submissions. On the trading floor these fraudulent submissions were no doubt driven by greed. But at the top table of the bank the motivation was very different. At the top, it was about survival. Libor submissions are an estimate of the interest rate at which a bank can borrow money from other banks. They’re averaged and published on a daily basis, and represent the cost of lending in the market. But very importantly, they also reflect the health of the submitting bank. Let’s turn the clock back to October 2008. Leman Brothers has just collapsed. RBS is on the brink. Banks have holes in their balance sheets larger than national economies. The UK – the entire western world – is in the eye of the sub-prime storm. In this confidence collapsing environment the Bank of England called Barclays to question their Libor submissions. They seemed rather high. Were they struggling to borrow money? Was the bank in trouble? Rumours were rife that a British High Street Bank would collapse. And so the apparent choice emerged: keep making honest submissions and risk a headline shattering the share price. Or fix them. Two days after the Bank of England call, Libor submissions from Barclays had dropped 35 basis points. CEO Bob Diamond didn’t survive the politics that followed the fine. But then was this scandal really about him or Barclays by Zaheer Jassat alone? Now the scandal is expanding and enveloping other banks (the UBS fine announced this week is five times the size the Barclays one) does it tell us more about how most organisations and people make choices in the face of adversity? The Libor conundrum may be closer to each of us than we’d like to admit… 20th December 2012
  22. 22. Odeon project the wrong image ‘The Customer is Always Right’ is a time-served mantra, but what if that customer thinks your company or product is rubbish, and has just very publically shared that opinion with fellow customers, and they all agree? The options available for companies to promote their brands, from posters to radio and television are well established and varied but these traditional methods all have one thing in common, they are one directional. The rapid rise of real time, bi- directional customer engagement, has led to companies making the inevitable leap into Facebook and Twitter and other social media platforms as hugely popular methods of reaching their customer base. However, the price of being able to get your message out there is that your customers can do the same, with serious reputational consequences. Take the recent example of a disgruntled customer who posted a 400-word rant on Odeon’s Facebook page. The thrust of the note was one of disgust at paying a premium price for a low-grade experience; the post went viral with over 190,000 likes and 16,000 comments. In the old world, such complaints would require a modicum of effort on the part of the customer to make their feelings felt; a wait on the phone or a strongly worded letter to the customer services department which could be handled with the time and (hopefully) the training to soothe the aggrieved correspondent. And all this would be achieved behind closed doors. In the digital age the ability to respond appropriately, quickly, and in the public eye is the key to customer satisfaction. And this is the crux of the issue. Whilst it doesn’t require a revolution in thinking in the marketing department to establish a presence on social media platforms, it does require a sea change in accepting that customer services and complaints departments need to evolve in tandem. A truly successful Digital Strategy accepts that not only is the customer always right, but that they have a right to reply, and is ready to hear that message. by Karl 21st December 2012
  23. 23. Tea bags our attention Some companies live out their brand name; Honest Tea asks its customers to do so. For the past few years, they’ve conducted a social experiment: setting up un-manned kiosks on city streets with an honesty box asking for $1 for a bottle. Point of the experiment: what is the most honest city in America? Surprising results? In my opinion, not really. The more liberal west coast is more honest than the cut-throat north-east (Boston being an exception). However, with hidden cameras, streaming behaviour live the experiment turned viral. And the subplot of the social experiment took shape. In terms of gaining public visibility and brand awareness, the 2012 Honest Tea experiment had 280million total impressions, 160 newspaper articles, $2.79million in earned media and received double digit growth in each target market. Now these are impressive results for an experiment that cost less than $20,000 (or about the same as a usability test). So what of this experiment? Some may find the results interesting – I agree Boulder, Colorado is a much more pleasant place than Brooklyn – but it’s the concept of being able to open experiments/usability testing to the social media and reality TV generation that can really validate companies’ ideas and brand. by Toby de 22nd December 2012
  24. 24. The BBC’s blind eye Pantomime season started early this year with Auntie flouncing around the stage, pretending not to have noticed dirty Uncle Savile lurking in the background. A grotesque, deeply unfunny story that is still unravelling. I worked for Auntie and maintain a deep affection and respect for her. So when the first malodorous scent of this story emanated, my senses were twitching, on all channels. Pity the new DG didn’t respond similarly. He might have noticed, at the very least, a story in the online Guardian late one Friday … but all channels seemed to have been ignored, as were the victims of decades of abuse. In case you’ve been in a coma, the creep formerly known as Sir Jimmy Savile has been exposed as a prolific paedophile. Apparently there were widespread rumours about him – and a former Radio 1 controller even asked him if they were true. Savile answered “Nonsense”. Would a turkey vote for Christmas? The cornerstone of the BBC’s values is Trust and the public’s trust has held strong, until now. On the inside, trust in senior management can be as rare as frankincense. It seems the Newsnight Savile report was shelved by senior management – but this betrayed the brave people who came forward and the journalists who supported them. Had the BBC lived its values from top to bottom, this would have been a very different tale and Christmas wouldn’t mark the end of an annus horribilis. by Tony 23rd December 2012
  25. 25. Instagram loses its gloss Instagram gone and done a bad thing. It’s let down the loyal community of people who regularly snap pictures of their dinner, cloudporn, their kids, carefully composed selfies etc, agonise for what must be whole seconds over which filter to apply for ultimate artistic/dramatic effect, then spew them on to the interwebs. Now the oh-so-loyal community that has thanked Instagram founder Kevin Systrom every single day since its inception by erecting tiny square shrines with distressed edges to him, has responded vociferously by having a little look around. Problems began when Systrom sold out to Facebook. Instagram was small, independent and inherently good. Facebook, on the other hand, is the ITV of the internet. It even keeps changing its privacy policy so that users have to read things before deciding if they should continue posting pictures of cats and this kind of thing for free. And it wants all your precious contenteses for itself. Subsumption into FB unnerved instagrammers, as did the inevitable entrance into the community of everyday people who can’t really compose photographs and apply pre-defined filters without really knowing what they are doing. Some of them don’t even own a digital SLR. But this latest debacle is really testing community loyalty to the limit. As a member of that community myself I, like so many others, have chosen to quite assertively see how things go. I’ve also sent a strong message by downloading the free Flickr app to my phone. As a result, I’ve been warmly reminded of how good photographs taking with proper cameras, by people who actually know by Dean Wilson what an F-stop is, can I’ve also realised that none of my cool friends has posted anything on Flickr since about 2008. 24th December 2012