Category: Advertising

Active Case Study: Creating Extra Value for Ice Watch


Ice case

Active International works with some of the world’s top brands and retailers – take a look at this example and get a full spectrum view of how we have worked together with our partners and Ice Watch on generating them Extra Value with Barter.

In the famous words of Hot Chocolate, ‘Everyone’s a winner baby…’

View the full PDF Ice Watch Case Study

Corporate Barter for Disruptive Companies

Corporate Trade or Barter is usually discussed in the context of a financial solution for well-established companies that have an issue with an excess or under-performing asset. These companies have a history of media buys, a product distribution pipeline, and other normal and predictable systems. For these companies, corporate trade is used to get more value from the asset while optimizing their media presence , increasing  marketplace awareness through events or retail marketing activities.

slider_financial_senseHowever, disruptive companies, the ones that appear out of nowhere with a new product, can also use barter to their advantage.  These disruptive companies are competing with established companies, their own competitors, or both. As such, they have a wide variety of challenges:

  • Limited, if any, history of financial success or profitability
  • Need to determine priorities – constant pressure to determine if funds should go towards
    1. R&D
    2. marketing education
    3. manufacturing
    4. distribution
    5. consumer engagement
    6. lowering margin to increase exposure
  • Competition from “gorillas” in their related fields that can out-spend and out-wait them
  • Possible reactive legislation or negative response from various groups or associations

Many of these disruptive companies may not be familiar with the capabilities and advantages of partnering with a corporate trade company. Or they may think they’re not big enough.  However, using product to offset the cost of media is a savvy move, and one that would give them a competitive advantage. In addition, barter companies that offer other services such as experiential, provide a unique opportunity for creating consumer relationships while maintaining a cost advantage.

Disruptive companies have a small window to make big gains. Corporate Trade offers a financial solution that can help them get ahead of the competition – give us a call now to find out more.


First published on, January 8th.

Awe Inspiring Ads

Ads are created to make you buy – buy a product, buy into a concept, buy into a lifestyle. The ads that really stick are the ads that go a step further, often in a more abstract way than some good angles of the product at its shiniest.

Ads, like stories, if told well can inspire you to change – your lifestyle, your hobbies, your mind-set.

Here is a collection that not only struck a serious chord with me, but also with millions of others around the world.


Van Damme has inspired me to take up gymnastics and work on my fitness. I’ve just renewed my subscription to the gym – and I plan to start using it!


How we see ourselves, and how others see us. Dove proved how harshly we women judge ourselves – and why we shouldn’t.


My personal favorite, having inspired me to give many olive branches – Foot Locker’s ‘Week of Greatness’. If Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield can hug it out and make up, anyone can.

Real time content marketing – the future of advertising?

Since social media took the web, and indeed each and every one of us by storm – I find myself asking people if they have seen this video, or that meme. If they haven’t, “where have you BEEN?” is the common response.
Meme – that’s a word I only started using in the last year, if even that long?

Times are changing. Marketers and advertisers are no longer expected to only be planning a few months ahead – we want real-time reactive content to engage us right now. Something happening in the news? Nowadays brands react and engage with it. Twitter storm a-brewing? Brands now have a voice; they post their responses as quickly as we do.

The gay marriage bill was passed in the UK Parliament, within 30 minutes Virgin Holidays quickly offered its services for all the new potential honeymooners out there. I saw it on my Facebook news feed 10 minutes after that. Why? Because if you create something engaging, people will share.

Another example of instantaneous viral success was Oreo. During the Super Bowl blackout, they tweeted the following picture – getting over 15,941 re-tweets and counting!


The Oreo ad team made the following comment “We had a mission control set up at our office with the brand and 360i, and when the blackout happened, the team looked at it as an opportunity. Because the brand team was there, it was easy to get approvals and get it up in minutes. You need a brave brand to approve content that quickly. When all of the stakeholders come together so quickly, you’ve got magic.”

For Oreo, that was the key to their big win that night and going forward – while this is no longer new, this is the tip of the iceberg for brands and how they will continue to evolve.

Is it time we all stopped ad-bashing?

Consumers find advertising a nuisance. It is something infused in them from a young age, from Chris Tarrant leaving a tantalising four minute gulf between them and the right answer, to parents wearily pointing out that a £2.50 magazine was ‘all adverts’ and not worth the money.

Times have changed and brands can now talk to us more frequently and by and large more accurately. Targeting has improved to such an extent that consumers will soon be shown ads based on their facial expression (an invention patented by Microsoft last month).  But despite these triumphs, advertising has still not shaken its role as the interrupter, the shoulder tapper or the arm tugger in consumers’ lives.


This week, the BBC reported on activist group PublicAdCampaign who claim that advertising is exploiting public spaces which many people would like to be free from commercial influence.  One activist said that he finds “an exasperated public who would like to see less or no advertising at all”.

Curiously though, it is as if the industry propagates this perception.  We are now, after all, living in a world of freemium models where we can choose to dispense with advertising altogether, albeit with a healthy cover charge.  Festivals have been loaded with sponsors only to be revered for stripping them and Sky + is still gleefully promoting its fast forward feature as a tool to whizz past the pesky commercial breaks.

It is time the industry stopped acquiescing the idea of its work as a complete and utter nuisance?  With the endless pop-ups to close, pages to flick through and commercials to fast-forward, sometimes we in the industry need reminding that in doing so we are choosing a work of art that has been dreamed up, designed, debated, tweaked and perfected and brands which provide a real and useful product or service.

If we are to turn the perception of advertising on its head, the battle lies in the hands of not just creatives but also media planners.  We have the technology to know when consumers are most receptive to advertising and when they are not.  The tide is turning, and it is the industry’s job to convince consumers – and ourselves – that advertising should be noted for the right reasons, and that ultimately, it is then when it is its most powerful.

Rio 2016 and beyond

Ahead of the Olympic torch handover to Brazil this Sunday, all eyes are on Rio in the run up to 2016.

Much of the Brazilians’ presence in London over the past few weeks has been an education exercise, to learn from our mistakes and ensure 2016 is a better experience than London, to procure sponsors and most importantly to use London’s model for generating revenue.

But Rio 2016 has an edge over London besides mere experience: investment impetus.  For the Brazilians, the Olympics are a sideshow.  Casa Brasil has opened in Somerset House to encourage investment in security, infrastructure and security in Brazil over the next four years.  Film Brazil, a project to encourage media interest in Brazil set up shop in Cannes this year to generate interest in the advertising sectors.

Pertinently from a media perspective, the four years until Rio is likely to yield technology which will revolutionise the way sponsors can speak to the enormous audience available to them, in a way only previously dreamed about in celluloid.

Rio 2016 planners are no doubt keeping a very close eye on the latest opportunities for Out Of Home.  Earlier this year, we reported on Plan UK’s  ‘Because I Am A Girl’ campaign where women would see a 40 second clip on digital billboards across London and men would simply see a message inviting them to visit a website.

Facial detection technology is making it possible for brands to make their sponsorship space which is shown to a mass, cosmopolitan audience into some of the most targeted campaigns ever created.  According to a piece on the Huffington Post this week, this technology could go even further – an algorithm is being developed to judge whether you look “happy, sad, sick, healthy, comfortable or nervous”.

For current sponsors, this is great news.  But for Brazil and the Olympic brand in general, the doors it opens for a whole new genre of sponsorship are myriad.  2016 will be the showcase for a new generation of sponsors who no longer need an association with sport to make their presence relevant.  The superbrand monopoly on Olympic sponsorship may soon be over – brands can split costs, team up and reap the rewards.  At its most basic level, Nivea for Men can appear to men, Clinique moisturiser to women: all on the same site.

This means that come Rio 2016, if technology continues to evolve as it has been, and Brazil’s commitment to innovation remains just as strong, we are in for a very different brand Olympics.  And all for the better, we say.


Things we’ve seen… things we love

This week, media agencies lament the latest IPA Bellwether report, TiVo lays the foundations for a new TV ad buying model and the BBC launches a fictional bagel shop to put Facebook likes to the test.

These are our water-cooler moments this week. Tell us yours @ActiveIntlUK

Companies cut back on big-brand advertising

The IPA Bellwether report published last week found that there has been a trend towards ‘quick win’ promotions including point of sale discount promotions and coupons to attract customers.

This is a sign of the times, says Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, who compiled the survey.  He said that companies tended to increase big brand campaigns in good economies but have been cutting back of late.

Sales revenues and profit margins are the words du jour but what does this mean for the industry?

How effective really is TV advertising?

We’re about to find out, according to TiVo, which has just bought TRA, a company that quantifies the impact of television advertising with household purchases.

TRA has more than 45 brand clients and 27 network clients including CBS, A&E, Proctor & Gamble, and Starcom MediaVest Group.  Neilson is looking more primitive by the hour…

Do you really like me?

The BBC has taken the Facebook advertising debate into its own hands with technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones launching his fictional bagel business and marketing it through the site.

In the damning study of the value of Facebook ‘likes’, Mr Cellan-Jones tells us that his Page garnered over 1600  likes  despite offering no products or interesting comment.

Take a look at the video – what do you think?

The Wednesday Wrap – Is it all over for the banner ad?

This week in a Wednesday Wrap online advertising special, Microsoft battles its recent aQuantive disaster, Richard Sharp at ValueClick Media ponders what consumers actually want from online ads and Yahoo and Facebook solve their differences to develop a digital media superplatform.

Is the online advertising bubble about to burst? Tell us what you think @ActiveIntlUK

Reuters sounds the death knell for a declining format

We’ll begin with a bleak look at online advertising from Reuters last week, describing Microsoft’s recent aQuantive loss as an indication of the declining profitability of banner ads.

Facebook advertising, it says, has contributed to the banner ad misery, increasing the inventory of ad space and diminishing its value by almost half since the first dot-com boom.

But it is user behaviour which is the main concern for the industry, as people train themselves to avoid banner ads altogether.

ValueClick Media points to consumer trust as the answer

A report from ValueClick Media appears to contradict Reuters’ claim, finding that 60 per cent of UK consumers understand the value exchange between online advertising and the content it pays for, agreeing that the majority of the internet would ‘disappear’ without it.

52 per cent are ‘happy’ to see online advertising because they accept it supports online services.  ValueClick believe that it is trust over privacy holding online ads back and aim to close the gulf through proper education.

Ad tolerance is one thing, ad engagement is quite another, and we’re left wondering if those 60 per cent “don’t mind” banner ads because they simply don’t notice them anymore.

Yahoo and Facebook carry on regardless

Amid all the gloom, Yahoo ploughs on, announcing a partnership with Facebook to create a synergised platform for media planners to place ads across both websites.

Could the integration of social with content media be the answer to online advertising’s woes, or are Facebook and Yahoo still just one step behind the industry?

Things we’ve seen… things we love

This week in the Wednesday Thursday Wrap, Twitter still reigns on mobile, YouView launches to widespread media interest and we look at some mouth watering campaigns for our noses.

These are the stories we’ve been talking about this week, tell us yours @ActiveIntlUK

Twitter still winning the mobile ad war

Facebook is still playing catch up to Twitter when it comes to mobile ads, and it’s all down to differences in their original propositions, according to Emma Barnett at the Telegraph.

Twitter by design lends itself to mobile: it is instant, it is relevant and most importantly, it is what’s happening now.  140 characters may take some creativity to get your brand message across through a promoted tweet, but it forces brands to make a valuable contribution with their ads.

Facebook on the other hand has moved toward a magazine format, a round-up of mixed media posts  suitable for digest on a bigger screen.  Its format isn’t easily translatable to mobile, so it’s no surprise that its ads aren’t either.

With Facebook’s new mobile app design in the offing, it will be interesting to see how it marries its desktop vision with mobile.

Everyone wants a piece of YouView

As YouView launches this morning, the rumour mills are circulating about Channel 5’s sustained intention to invest in its ad platforms.

Suddenly a connected second screen becomes a reality and advertisers can synergise their messages across all devices connected to their home Wi-Fi network.

Will marketers finally get their long-awaited insight into the consumer’s home and use it to create high-impact, targeted and engaging campaigns? Let’s hope so.

The new era of outdoor

Earlier this year, we at Active International HQ in London were lucky enough to stumble upon a bus stop which not only smelled of delicious Mr Kipling’s Angel Slices, but gave us a slice as well.

Situated down the street from our offices, it perhaps was not the healthiest treat for our morning commute to work, but it certainly got us thinking about what else could be done with this break into fifth sense marketing.

Here is a great blog showing the best in smell-vertising (usually a lot more appetising than it sounds!), including campaigns from McCain and Greggs from JCDecaux.


The Wednesday Wrap – A Microsoft Special

Lately we’ve noticed a buzzword flying around the industry not heard so prevalently since early last decade.  Suddenly everybody cares about Microsoft again, and it’s not just to muse over what bugs have been fixed in the latest version of Windows, or to critique an ever-so-slightly more user-friendly version of Internet Explorer before everyone migrates back to Firefox.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen Microsoft as something that works, but never particularly entrepreneurial – it seems that’s all about to change.  Far from resting on its laurels, Microsoft has been working on a number of important initiatives which are not only set to help it reclaim its 90s crown as technology innovator but as leaders in building a new advertising model and a new proposition for brands where competitors Apple and Facebook are famously struggling.

Here’s what Microsoft is getting us excited about, tell us your thoughts @ActiveIntlUK


Yesterday’s launch of Surface is a game changer for the tablet world.  In a market dominated by Apple’s iPad (iPad2, New iPad etc), the standard is set high and competition is fierce.  But commentators have been underwhelmed by Apple’s standard of innovation of late, with Mashable lamenting the relatively stagnant iOS6, the tide may be turning.

For media planners though, Surface is a beautifully designed platform for the long awaited Windows 8, a veritable theme park for brands and advertisers.  This week at Cannes Lions, Microsoft Advertising announced it was working closely with agencies to develop in-app advertising across the operating system with a refocus on customer experience to tell brand stories.

Stephen Kim, general manager of global creative solutions advertising and online at Microsoft, said, “Our team is focusing on creative agency evangelism to develop compelling brand experiences that incorporate Microsoft Advertising’s portfolio.


The clue is in the name on this one; last year Microsoft announced a new ad format centring on user interaction – less push and pull, more tug-of-war.  NuAds allow consumers to respond to an ad by simply a voice or gesture command.

In doing this, Microsoft has created a new world of ads that people will want to get involved with simply because of the novel format.   Genius.

This year, the format is being rolled out across its Kinect console and the crude oil pool of data will begin to accumulate at warp speed.


The Ad Exchange

While Facebook is proudly announcing its latest ad exchange model: Facebook Exchange, Microsoft is totting up prestigious and influential partners for its own.  Microsoft may be only just becoming a truly consumer-facing brand, but it hasn’t lost its foothold in business and has astutely pledged to put a focus on keeping agencies, advertisers and brands involved and spending money.  Earlier this year, advertising giant WPP signed such a partnership, giving them access to all Microsoft tools and advertising offerings.


Despite futile attempts to drive the phrase ‘Bing it!’ into the global vernacular, Google should be keeping a close eye on Microsoft’s plans for the next generation of search.  Stefan Weitz, its senior director of search last week gave us a teaser in the evolution of search.  He references new interaction models already patented by Microsoft, such as voice command and gesture recognition.

As he says himself: “Search is changing dramatically. The web is becoming more social, and these social signals can do a better job of understanding who people are and deliver more relevant and more personal results that understand the context and intent of the query”.


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