“You’re not that special. Just one of many.”

Picture 2

(image by TSBAGO…and HI!)

Undoubtedly if you’re a job seeker, you’d have heard many rejection excuses that in the end boil down to those few words – just less harsh.

The Darwinian efforts of brands struggling for consumers’ attention and products for shelf space closely mirror what’s going in the world today. Too many job seekers, not enough jobs. And where there are jobs going ‘round, there aren’t enough trained people to do them, creating a major imbalance.

Whether you’re a brand or a job seeker, you’re going to need that something extra special and the clichéd extra factor. I often hear people ask – either directly to me or anywhere else: “How do you stand out? Is there a set formula?”

Unfortunately, for both brands and job seekers there aren’t. Like many things, there are several underlying rules, but one “formula” that works cannot be applied to everything else as-is.

How job seekers are like brands

Brands need to be flexible especially in times face adversity, but this is a gargantuan task. Along its lifespan, a brand gets to become known for one thing and to be described by adjectives that are vaguely similar to each other – comfort, speed, taste and so forth – and so do employees. As they advance through their career path, the more specialised they become – social media marketer, pop star, real estate broker, divorce lawyers.

However, there are those who transcend organizational borders fluidly, much like there are brands that can cater to almost anyone. For example, some people drink Coca-cola almost anywhere (ironically, I have yet to meet a marketer who has not used Coke as an example in their entire career span). Then there are those who would drink it on special occasions and some only with whiskey. There are also those who use it to cook and some use it as a medicine (which isn’t that far-fetched, since its original recipe was used as a medicine).

Another brand that does well in this is Virgin.

It boils down to the core; the heart; the DNA (this proliferation of terms is proof that branding can become a victim of its own making. Note that I did not use the original version of that quite). Call it what you want, I call it brand positioning.

Virgin’s core offering is a well known brand that will give you better value than the market leaders (and a sprinkle of edge). The point here to remember is that value means different things depending on who you ask. Cash-strapped people will define value in monetary terms whilst those are time-starved often quote time-saving as value, as can be seen in the rise of online grocery shopping. There are those who like the convenience of using the one brand to fit in with lifestyle. If you use a Sony VAIO, you can hook it up to your Sony Bravia to watch the videos and photos taken with your Sony Handycam and Sony Cybershot. If anything goes wrong with either of them, you only need to go to one place: a Sony shop. If you need a cable for the Handycam and a new battery for the Cybershot, you go to one place: the Sony shop. That might cost more than, say Maplin or Circuit City, but almost certainly saves you times.

Fluid positioning allows brand to move horizontally across industries and subsectors. Car brands are “engineering experts” and no longer “the best car your money can buy” and this allows them to produce anything related to engines and motors: from cars to lawn mowers to food blenders. Tech companies, similarly, are repositioning themselves not as technology experts, but future-proof entities. “Making tomorrow better” is expansive and might allow them to capitalise on their own environmental technologies. Mobile operators are now “better, connected” and “sharing” and have moved into fixed lines and internet services. In theory, they could try and move into “connectedness” and “sharing” subsectors. For example, Virgin could start an online dating site. Though the name could cause a controversy or four. Then again, what do you think their underwear line was called?

Similarly, mid career job seekers are half way through their chosen careers and moving on up. It’s not easy to leave that and pick a new career, or move into less related areas. And assuming they’ve weighed in on the consequences and took the jump, they’d still have to compete with others who are experienced in that area and those who are already in that industry who are looking for less pay just to get a job. If Coca-cola found a market gap – where the consumers wanting red and white clothing and that’s all they wear – and moved into that arena, the giant beverage maker might find themselves up against the (emerging) market leaders in that segment.

Coca-cola might have a few dollars to spend and a huge brand (incidentally the most valuable brand and second most utter word in the world – please tell me I don’t need to paste a link for this!), but they are still known for drinks, not t-shirts.

donkey copy

Consequently, an accountant who plays drums at weekends who lost his job recently might find it hard to be invited to play at a club when the local band is more in demand.

Unless he does it for free, which might help him to move things along a bit? But what if the club doesn’t even have space for him? Many graduates are being urged to do internships and “get new skills” (despite already spending loads on the newly obtained “skill” at university). So these newly fired up ants apply to the companies they want to work for. Remember that this is the entire newly economically workforce that we’re talking about. Employers then get inundated with emails and letters and Game Boys and get pissed off. Ants then get responses such as “We’re sorry but we do not have the resources to manage interns”. As a result, perhaps less than 10% (rough guess) of the graduates get internships and the rest get to work on ships (or at the checkout counter)

Perhaps the question to ask now is not “How can we reverse this”, but “how QUICKLY can we reverse this”.

NB. Just remember to NOT say these things.

And previously, Liverpool Street Station:

Good times.

A common advertising anomaly in marketing is that whilst it does wonders for brand communication, it’s extremely hard to quantify – in monetary terms – the sales they might generate. It would be sweet if we could say with full confidence “$xx buys us exactly x% sales”. The reality is that it doesnt translate quite as well and clear cut as that. Which sometimes makes me wonder about ROI projections and what the margin of error is.

On the other hand, you can imagine the T-Mobile execs going “yes! let’s do this!” since guerilla campaigns are quite cheap to make. That is, assuming the agency hasn’t actually hired the first few hundred people to gather and get the ball rolling in those venues (It’s not surprising that people do hire these people and make them seem random).

Grab ’em, then stun ’em

Two most important things to remember developing a campaign idea is Impact and Relevance (Thank you, Gareth, if you’re reading this).

This campaign definitely does not lack any impact or relevance.

The soundtrack, the venues, the ambience definitely appeals to T-mobile’s target market; mainly the young adults.

The ads also conveyed how communication and togetherness are important to these people and how T-Mobile can help to bring them together and all that jazz. Then again, most VMNO (virtual mobile network operator) say pretty much the same thing. The one thing that makes this campaign different is that it’s emotionally engaging, pulling at the heartstrings seeing so many different people coming together, literally in harmony (or somewhat slightly off). And that’s impact!

Incidentally, these ads remind me of the Network 3 ads, one of I’ve added here. The last sequence is what everybody remembers most.

I now cannot listen to that song without recalling that sequence. Or that cherry!


(image by lifechooser)

Going back to my post on aural branding, here is another interesting nugget.

What do these have in common:

(in the UK) The voice of the woman at post offices/supermarket who calls out “Cashier number one, please

The “voice” heard in trailers “In a world where” or “the hunter becomes the hunted” (no, not Pablo Francisco)

In their own way, they’re celebrities. They’re well known and recognised.

They also invoke feelings.

The queue voice reminds us of the frustration of having to stand in a queue. It could also bring back that feeling of relief when we’re finally being served.

The Trailer voice man (it’s actually Don LaFontaine 1940 – 2008) usually evokes horror and drama, since his voice is normally used in action movies and horrors or thrilers.

Which other voice overs or aural branding can you think of; and what feelings do they invoke?

Freckly faced Audi come in with pigtails, sees BMW, and sticks out her tongue.

BMW, with her beret and larger build, throws her lollipop onto the ground and flicks Audi.

A fight ensues.

Both juvees pull each others’ hair.

Playing in a nearby sandbox is our Asian weird-girl with a huge ass, thick glasses and braces (a good heart nonetheless) who sees this and tries to stop the fight.

They wouldn’t let go of each other so our asian weirdo pulls both their ears.


As Godzilla give a lecture, a shadow creeps up from behind and towers above all three.

They all look up.

Eclipsed by the scorching sun, they see a grinning British bulldog, doll’s head in one hand and body in the other.

Audi, BMW and Subaru split in 3 different directions at 120mph.

British fatty wins the day.


In Europe and Asia, Audi and BMW have never been openly seen to go head to head this conspicuously.

But in America, they do things somewhat differently.

All via MarketingGuy


(image courtesy of 37Signals)


(image courtesy of thetalentjungle)


(image courtesy of thetalentjungle)


(image courtesy of thetalentjungle)


(image courtesy of thetalentjungle)

Jason of 37Signals asked “What would you do if you were Audi?

Truth be told, I’d be tempted to put up a new billboard with the same car but with the price actually advertised. Typically Audi has better value for money, spec-wise.

So, the billboard could say:

“o-60 in $43,000”

(the M3 costs almost 50% more at $67k+)

Well, asking the same question, what should Audi do?


Recently, news surfaced that Boots plans to add a personal banking service to increase customers.Reason: Because Tesco is doing it.


How is that going, may I ask?

Enter Tesco

Tesco’s grip on the British public is so strong and widespread because prices are low (or competitive) enough and footfall is sufficient to sustain its other services.

True to the supermarket giant’s brand proposition, “Every Little Helps”, customers can save time and earn points using their mobile, insurance and banking services. Whilst they may not be the cheapest in town, they certainly are one of the most fuss-free. Everything done under one roof, from groceries to wine to topping up your phone. Heck, your pets will be safe and you get points for that too!


(image Copyright © Mike Smith 2003)

Now let’s go back to Boots.

Boots is a high-street chemist, healthcare and beauty products retailer. It was also where you could buy stamps, the Pill as well as grab lunch and drop off your film to be processed. When it dropped “the chemist”, the company showed that it wasn’t just enough.

One can only imagine what on earth they’re thinking trying to copy Tesco.

Putting on my strategist’s hat, I can imagine that the board was seeing their share price slip and sales stagnant and they’re thinking “How does the big 4 do it?” (the Big 4 being the 4 supermarkets that dominate in the UK; Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and the other one – actually, it could’ve been the big 3 and I’m getting that mixed up with the 4 aces of advertising). So they go:

“Right, who do we admire most?”


“What do they have that we don’t have?”

So the entire board visualises the shopfloor and start form the entrance.

“They have cigarettes and lotterty”.

Gets a backhand.

“They have shampoo!”

“We have shampoo”

“They have drugs!”

“We have drugs”

“They have food”

“We have food”

“They have drinks”

“We have drinks”

“They have cheap booze”

Another backhand.

“They have insurance and banking services!”

“AH HA!”

I can only see failure in this and urge Boots to not go down this route and try to be another Tesco, but rather, be the Tesco of chemists, healthcare and beauty.

Tesco is to value (not groceries) what Boots is to healthcare and beauty. I say it’d be better for Boots stick to what they know best and invest in reinforcing that image.


(image by wordenaar)

“Would you mind if I put you on hold for a minute?”

Ah the dreaded words when you have speakers that only work on 11 (Spinal Tap fans rejoice!).

The natural answer to that would be “No”.

But there is always the urge to add “only if it’s literally a minute AND [notice the emphasis] it’s not Ride of the Valkyrie, 4 Seasons or cheesy pop tunes from the 80’s”.

A couple of days ago an acquaintance told me about how her friend’s company uses Rick Astley as their hold music.


(yep, Rick Astley)

My immediate reaction was that they deserved to go bust.

Not because they were cheap enough to use that tune – which probably cost them all of 15cents a month – but more so that they were putting an annoying, sticky pop song from 1987 which is definitely going to stick in the listener’s head longer than Milla Jovovich’s MOOL TEE PAS).

Which got me thinking.

Why don’t more companies invest in hold music? It’s the perfect arena because it’s their space and one of the rare times when the customer is actually listening to you whole heartedly. Or almost.

If it’s obscure or interesting or good enough, that’s going to be another weapon in the marketing cache.

Music is undoubtedly one of the more powerful of the 5 (or 6, if you count subliminal) senses to cater to.

In Odeon cinemas in the UK until several years ago, a piece of music that played before the ads started had an obvious effect on cinema-goers. They were actually overheard humming the  20th Century Fox Searchlight sequence theme and the aforementioned Odeon theme on more occasions that the movie theme! And it was so distinctive that eventually, out of nowhere, it would pop into my head. Typical of a fanboi, I immediately looked it up on the internet and there were close to a million pages just on this theme song, mostly from people wanting to know what it was, whom it was by and where they can buy it! Now if that does not increase brand recall, I don’t know what.

And here it is:

I’d like to hear what ad jingle/theme/hold music that you remember most and why. Comments please.

Evidence that there are still holes to plug within marketing.


However I wonder how profitable is it to cater to these very minor niches.

Undoubtedly, it MIGHT work for an airline, as with code-sharing and a the plane needing to fly whether or not it’s filled, but what of industries where significant profits come  large economies of scale.

Japan is famously known for having everything catering to everyone, regardless of how little users there might be.

Spotted at Failblog. If you’re not a fan of hot webcam strippers then skip to the 45 sec mark.

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These are your favourite links this month at TWOM. Images link to post.

In no particular order they are:

(UPDATE: Dead links sorted out. Sorry!)








8. What not to write when applying for a job



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Today’s Daily Waffle is dedicated to the latter, which we’re sure you’d agree makes a more interesting read.

  • If anyone is feeling charitable, please buy this guy a Robbing for Idiots book.
  • This woman gives new meaning to the word upskirt.
  • You’d think that a criminal wouldn’t be stupid enough to run into a police station to get his cuffs removed. But you’d be wrong.
  • Of course, not all kidnappers have money ransom on their mind.

let friends laugh with you

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I cannot believe what I saw just now.

Reading an authoritative publication marketing, I came across this:

Amuse friends

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The title may sound serious, but believe us, it’s anything but

Recently we posted an entry about what not to say when applying for a job, so to follow up, here some stuff themed around working and office life.

  • “Call centre manager” is boring and not attention catching, “chatty zombie pack leader” is. More classic job descriptions.
  • “Dear Sir: with reference to the above, please refer to my below…”. Amuse your boss, get a holiday.
  • Don’t you wish you could get those people who keep stealing borrowing your pens to return them just so you can jam it in their palms as a reminder to return that freaking pen? Well with these pens you won’t need to. They’ll always be returned, if borrowed at all.
  • The other thing about office communicating apart from the fake “Hey, how’s it going” and awkward silences is corporate speak! If you are one of those that uses phrases like “we are still optimistic things will feed through the sales and delivery pipeline”, STOP IT! Or read this. Then these “live” additions from around the globe.
  • Otherwise, you’re going to find yourself a victim of these pranks.

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So more news from Singapore. First we spotted the affordable slut (ironically, I thought they were free), then the armpit sniffing psycho who is now in the sing-sing, and now we’ve discovered perhaps the first ever Batman-Suparman hybrid ever. We have reasons to believe this joker may be an imposter. He has no underwear on his head and he cant prove that he’s wearing it down there. But one thing is clear. If this is a clever ploy to throw us of so that the new Joker-Lex Luther hybrid (that would be shit-in-my-pants scary!) then it’s working very well. Even the name is original!

Another theory that emerged:

The “bin” is not something you put rubbish in. In Muslim communities, it means “son of”. So if this is true, we’re looking at a huge cover-up, one that no one saw coming: Batman is actually Superman’s son! That would mean Lois Lane gave birth to the Dark Knight. Could Joker actually Lex Luther then?! WOAH!

Amuse friends

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image by wagner machado carlos lemes
I’ve heard of people getting their rocks off on molesting women on trains, peeking under their skirts, masturbating on public transports and even peeping into toilet booths. But this by far takes a cake…and the cream.

This Singaporean Sicko likes sniffing girls so much that he’s done it to more than 20 women in 15 months in various places, including in their homes! This is one sick guy.

Deservingly, he got caught and has been sentenced to a long time in jail and he’ll be caned, too.

You can read the whole article here.

Speaking of ‘pits, here are some of the best Lynx adverts to-date.

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Is it just me or does Mylene Klass look like the Corpse Bride in the new M&S ad?

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