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5 Marketing Tips I Learned in London

  |  July 8, 2014   |  Comments

Marketers here in the U.S. can learn a thing or two from their counterparts across the pond. Here are some digital marketing insights gleaned from a recent trip to London.

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting London, where the advertising is everywhere and always a bit edgy. It was inspiring to see the great brand experiences our friends across the pond have developed. Here are a few best practices I picked up along the way.

1. Go Big or Go Home.

For the past decade, I've been holding my breath waiting for the ads that line the tube tunnels in Tokyo and London to come here to New York. In London, not only is there advertising in the tube itself, but ads also line the walls of the track. Out-of-home (OOH) media spend continues to outpace that of television, magazines, and newspapers (up 4 percent year-over-year, according to Zenith Optimedia), so it's no wonder big media companies are getting in on the act. The best ads acknowledge their environment, poking fun at commuters or using arresting imagery to take advantage of this huge brand canvas.


Expert tip: Think about your customer's path to purchase and message them along the way (not just with OOH, but also via mobile).

2. Access Trumps Aspiration.

Londoners pride themselves on their "keep calm and carry on" attitude - even around celebrities. Outside Wimbledon, HSBC charmed fans with an ingenious marketing experience: free tennis lessons from none other than Grand Slam champion Goran Ivanisevic. Wimbledon, itself a tentpole event for luxury marketers, places a higher value on access over aspiration: Each day, Wimbledon sets aside thousands of tickets for the public to queue up and claim. (We waited for four hours, but with brand experiences like HSBC's, the time passed quickly!)


Expert tip: Where can your brand grant access to exclusive experiences or subject matter experts? What can you teach your audience in a contextually relevant setting?

3. Evolve Your Owned Assets.

When I worked at AOL, we struggled with the legacy problem: how do you innovate and evolve your brand, while staying true to your roots? In London, they've embraced the most outmoded of icons - the telephone booth - and turned it into something truly fresh: a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Huzzah, London!


Expert tip: Think about what assets keep your brand tied to the past, and evolve them.

4. Diversify Your Social Media Presence.

Unlike here in the U.S., where Facebook still dominates most brands' social efforts, in the U.K., Twitter and LinkedIn are the leading platforms for content marketers. LinkedIn itself just launched its first brand campaign in the U.K., highlighting the way in which the service has helped members achieve their dreams.

Expert tip: Create and post content to all the social channels where your audience is spending time.

5. Connect Your Experiences.

Smartphone penetration in the U.K. recently passed the 50 percent mark, according to eMarketer, and mobile marketers are quickly connecting the dots. Despite England's early elimination, the World Cup continued to capture the hearts and minds of Londoners. McDonald's made the most of it, with a global redesign of its fry boxes that sources artwork from across the globe and turns the containers into an interactive mobile game. McDonald's "GOL!" app downloads when people hold their smartphone in front of the fries, using augmented reality to turn the box into a goal, and letting consumers take their best shot. The campaign found its digital counterpart online in the form of a great viral video, showcasing cool soccer tricks from aficionados around the world.


Expert tip: Give users a reason to download your app.

Have you been abroad and seen something worth sharing? Tweet it to me @kristinkovner.


Kristin Kovner

Kristin Kovner is a digital marketing, technology, and media industry veteran. Her firm, K-SQUARED STRATEGIES, helps high-growth media and tech companies develop and execute best-in-class marketing strategies. Prior to opening her own consultancy, Kristin served as the Vice President of Marketing Strategy at AOL, where she managed the AOL and AOL Advertising brands and set and executed the go-to-market strategy for AOL's owned and operated websites, including AOL.com, Moviefone, MapQuest, Engadget, and The Huffington Post.

Prior to joining AOL, Kristin served as the Head of Industry Marketing for YouTube and held various roles on Google's marketing team. Kristin has also worked as a journalist for Newsweek and SmartMoney, The Wall Street Journal's magazine, and as an economic consultant at Bates White LLC.

Kristin graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from Yale College and currently lives in New York City.

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