Hardhat Hustle: 22 May 2020

Welcome back to our cosy space, where we share with you everything that’s piqued our interest in the advertising realm and beyond. We’ve got robots; we’ve got dogs; we’ve got food … what’s not to love?

What’s happening with behaviour?

Australia is beginning to open up again and we’re due to find out which predictions by the prophets of the pandemic will ring true. We’ve all changed in ways we didn’t think we would, accomplished things we didn’t ask to do, and likely didn’t get around to those tasks we intended.

A new report by the Protein Agency looked to discover how we’re really going to change post COVID-19, and has found two key themes:

  • A shift toward prioritising the needs and values of the individual, and less so the needs of greater society or the workplace; and
  • A preference for local goods, connections, influencers and empathy, over the vastness of offerings in our global world.

With the massive shifts in routine which has forced us from the comfort of continued normalcy, many of us (sorry parents with school children — we’re thinking of you) have had ample time to unpack, or at least question, the structure and priorities of our lives and rethink what is important to us individually.

Through navigating recent events and the general disruption to our daily lives, 75% of respondents had a greater realisation that we don’t live independently. When our 1-click shopping breaks down, our local gym classes halt, and we’re having to cook more for ourselves, we become truly aware of the things we take for granted — AKA the Wall-E effect.

To capitalise on the local mindset, brands should be looking to build bespoke and local communities — digital or otherwise, or partner/sponsor those already built up and thriving. Harley Davidson Owners Group is an easy example of an owned community, and “Share Kmart Air Fryer Recipes Australia”, with over 260K members and 40 posts a day, demonstrates the raw power of fan-moderated online spaces.

Check out the full report here.

As a concept, AI is thought as both the saviour, and destruction, of man. As a tool for marketing, we’re generally told it’s “machine learning uncovering data-driven insights powered by big data”.

Most every tech product we interact with now has a form of these smarts, which analyse, calculate and inform in a way we could never imagine. Yet the data used to train the algorithms is from the best of times — the “normality”.

During a pandemic when purchases of facemasks and hand sanitiser reach never-before-seen levels, GPS signals don’t move 10m in a day, and searches for “good news” are at 5-year highs, machine learning models trained on normal data become more than a little perplexed.

There have been obvious impacts for systems such as automated inventory management, but there are also more subtle, tone-of-voice related AI issues being encountered. For example: using AI to generate email marketing copy or Facebook ads must now be filtered to not include terms such as “going viral” or previously accepted and effective sales hype like “brace yourself” or “stock up”, due to their now anxiety-provoking effect.

While this is fundamentally an experiment on the ways we should train our AIs, there is a general takeaway that we still must employ human intervention and our human contextual and cultural knowledge into these systems — ‘automated’ or not.

On a lighter AI note:
Spongebob can narrate your words,
Biggie raps Genesis,
And this person does not exist. Nor this word.
We’re not feeling any existential dread at all…

What’s happening on social media?

In a sizable announcement, Facebook is moving ever closer to the all-in-one app model of WeChat, with ‘Shops’ set to hit the platform soon.

A new tool ‘Shop Builder’ will allow businesses on Facebook & Instagram to add their products to a native and shoppable tab on their page — letting users move from discovery to purchase without ever leaving the platform. Although brands may lose out on the positives of owned web traffic, Facebook is still Australia’s largest social network by a longshot and that means many more eyeballs on your wares.

The service was announced to help small businesses transition online while physical stores are closed, but this feature comes at a time when online shopping is more prevalent than ever, and the argument to not leave your home is entirely valid. Pepsico’s creation of a D2C arm is a validation of this thinking and allows our convenient lifestyles and full bellies to continue well into the future.

In a deal reportedly worth $100M — approximately equal to the last dance payroll of the 97/98 Bulls — Spotify has acquired exclusive rights to the podcast on its platform. The Joe Rogan Experience has accumulated well over 4B views on YouTube alone and has such a large broadcast audience, stocks in Tesla fell 6% in real-time after Elon Musk got a little high on a live-streamed appearance.

Rogan’s regular 3-hour episodes bring with it plenty of potential ad time and hopes to further ingrain the habitual access of Spotify. Owning the platform also allows personalised advertising to be inserted in-stream — something yet to be seen by publishers in the podcast space.

The continual success of the podcast medium, as well as the proliferation of smart speakers, points to continuing of audio as a mainstay of our consumption. If you haven’t considered how your brand should sound — now might be a good time to start.

In a deal worth $400M, Facebook has acquired GIPHY — the most popular GIF database on the web, which flaunts 500M active daily users and helps to turn our loss for words into novel looping hits of emotion. Through increased messenger user, both emoji and GIFs have become ubiquitous in our digital lexicon as the speed and informality of our communication have increased.

As with any search engine, brands can pay to have their GIFs featured in the top of GIPHY results, and you’re unlikely to see a Superbowl ad these days without a GIF suite released alongside. Nail the emotion of the keyword, and your brand is suddenly included in daily digital conversations with joy — a marketer’s dream!

As for Facebook’s benefit: direct integration on its platforms and more ad dollars is nice, but the price tag carries weight due to GIF searching being a direct indicator of a user’s current emotional state — and thus having great effect in contextual ad targeting and purchase propensity. If a person is searching for “cute cats” in one instance and “heartbreak” in the next, it might not be the most effective time to serve an ad of a smiling, carefree couple.

Twitter, TikTok and Snapchat rely on GIPHY integrations, while Zoom has recently disabled GIPHY in video chat citing security concerns, so it’ll be interesting to see how this shakes things up.

Flipping our anticipation for a return to former lives, sexual-health brand Durex has played on the absurdity of what society considers ‘normal’ (such as shaming women who carry condoms) and definitely shouldn’t have before the pandemic.

Such a platform has the potential to paint broad strokes across a range of products and categories — but this cause is definitely a good place to start.

We respect that almost every ad is a zoom ad, but the power of puppy eyes and personification will always be a winner.

Pedigree wants you to meet and adopt a dog over Zoom, so you can finally ask: how much is that doggy on my Windows?

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As the largest audio streaming platform the world has ever known, Spotify is using user data to show our serendipitous global connections to one another through the “Listening Together” campaign.

A gentle reminder that although we might have different daily issues to the folks in Montenegro, we’re all still boppin’ some Chaka.

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When you’ve got one of the worlds most loyal audiences and the irreverent tone of voice to do so, making fun of your customers’ failings can be the perfect welcome back message.

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Any questions? Reach out to us. We’re a friendly bunch

We’re an independent creative agency helping brands capitalise on the why, when, where, what and how of human behaviour.