Monday 17 February 2014

I’m a Secret Lemonade Drinker

Rod Allen was a founding partner of the successful London agency Allen Brady & Marsh and he wrote this memorable ad for R White’s lemonade. It was so effective that it was originally aired in 1973, revived in 1983, and remade in 1991. To turn an ordinary sunny afternoon drink into a guilty pleasure is almost as delicious as lemonade itself. It’s a world where bad mothers swig sherry from mugs, and chocoholics hide their stash for fear of sharing. Allen’s words were as delightfully daft as the tune was irritatingly memorable:
I’m a secret lemonade drinker (R Whites! R Whites!)
I’ve been trying to give up, but it’s been one of those nights (R Whites! R Whites!)
R White’s lemon-a-a-ade, R White’s lemon-a-a-ade
I’m a secret lemonade drinker (R Whites!)
At least three things that make this pure genius:
  • Inversion. Turning an innocent pleasure into a guilty secret is memorable (as well as silly). Allen was a funny man, apparently fond of telling Marsh “I’ll come to your funeral, if you come to mine”.
  • Research. Allen Brady & Marsh analysed market research data to great effect. Their ads were based on the best data their clients could buy. Mike Brady was the analytical part of the trio and no small part of their success.
  • Advertises the brand. Crazy as it sounds; not all advertising does this. The brand name is repeated 7 times in this 30 second ad.
Allen is known for having made brilliant and economical use of words to great commercial effect with slogans such as “This is the age of the train”, “Milk has gotta lotta bottle”, and “That’s the wonder of Woolies”. All were backed by thorough data analysis and research which enabled them to understand their customers.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

No man is an island

Microsoft has announced that Satya Nadella is replacing Steve Ballmer as chief executive. This is good news, not least because we have waited so long to hear it. The share price blipped up 1%, indicative perhaps that this was no great surprise. But Microsoft is such an important player in the software market that all eyes will be on Mr Nadella to see how well he performs.

What’s perhaps most interesting about this announcement, however, is that he will have the assistance of Bill Gates as Technology Advisor. Whilst it’s tempting to believe that the people who make the headlines are largely responsible for success, lessons from Microsoft and many more, show that it is the quality of teamwork that make or break a venture. Microsoft’s earliest days were a partnership between Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Their first operating system, DOS, was bought in rather than developed themselves, despite their obvious enthusiasm for software development. They could have had a crack at doing it themselves, but they smartly chose not to.

Whilst rumours abound about the personalities at Microsoft (both Gates and Ballmer have their critics) it’s hard to escape the fact that this is a story of partnerships as well as passions. Microsoft has certainly contributed to the sum of knowledge for great teamwork, and have massively improved standards within their own software development teams. So they have learnt their fair share about getting the best out of teams.

So will this be an inspired move? Gates has the tenacity and technical depth to be of assistance to any CEO. But he is also said to be abrasive and rude. So can he be a team player , as well as being competitive? The cloud and mobile technologies that Microsoft produce are amongst some of the strongest reasons why teams are more important to businesses than ever before. We now live in a world where relationships can now be as strong across oceans as they are across the table. Which is both empowering, as well as daunting. So I’m going to be watching this one with more than a little interest.