your monthly hit of marketing street knowledge


MARCH 2019

It seems that barely a week goes by without a story in the press exposing some shady marketing practice or fakery, from “influencers” being exposed for having fake followers, to social media heavyweights claiming that all web analytics data is fake. In this issue our writers take a close look at what’s happening and in the Rockstar penthouse we’ve dropped a track from a classic album, the Foo Fighters’ “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace”. Welcome to “The Pretender” Issue.

Keep you in the dark
You know they all pretend
Keep you in the dark
And so it all began

The Pretender – Foo Fighters

Our regular writers dig into the untruths: Gareth May leads the charge, uncovering the social media sponsorship con (#sponcon), Dave Waller pokes at the numbers game of fake followers, Ian Hsieh warns against the ultimate fakery of resurrecting dead celebrities, while Stephen Kelly takes a more positive look in suggesting how brands can reclaim their authenticity.

What’s real in this issue is the insight from our Rockstar marketing leaders. I go backstage with Ahmed Hasan, Global Head of Customer Engagement Marketing at Spark44, the agency that looks after the marketing for one of my favorite brands – Jaguar LandRover. Six of our Rockstar marketers gather in the Green Room to discuss authenticity in marketing and, in this month’s Tale from the Tour Bus, disruptor Hugh Thomas, co-founder of challenger brand Ugly Drinks, takes us on board to tell us about marketing the ‘ugly truth’, and the challenges of taking things Stateside.

Our resident Rockstar Ted Rubin returns for some straight talking (absolutely nothing fake there), marketing consultant, journalist and editor Morag Cuddeford-Jones offers us a guide to avoiding the creepiness of personalization, and Casey Petersen talks fake followers.

There we have it. A pack of lies or a packed issue? You decide.


Three Campaigns to Put You Off Dead Celeb Ambassadors

Deepfake videos are on the rise, resurrecting dead icons. But before you start planning your next no-longer-with-us ambassador, these three campaigns will make you think twice about looking beyond the grave. …
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Backstage with Ahmed Hasan

Ian Truscott sits down with Ahmed Hasan,Global Head of Customer Engagement Marketing at Spark44 to talk Blink-182, the advantages of failing fast, and why now is a great time for lean thinking marketers. …
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Celebrate the Lost Fake Followers

Keeping a close eye on your follower numbers? Getting a little too upset when those numbers dip? Casey Petersen, Photofy’s Vice President of Marketing, explains why you’ve got it all wrong…
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The Perils of #Sponcon

Unlike its musical counterpart of pop, where the lip-synch reigns supreme, rock has never rested on the laurels of authenticity. Not like social media. Gareth May unpacks the weird world of fake #sponcon.…
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A Creep Unlike Me

Marketing consultant, journalist and editor Morag Cuddeford-Jones on how to avoid being both creepy and stalkerish, and to instead use invisible personalization to smash your loftiest customer experience goals…
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Make Your Advertising a Part of the Customer Experience

Is there a disconnect between your advertising and your customer experience? Ted Rubin breaks down the importance of bringing the two together.…
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The Green Room: With All the Fakery, How Do You Keep it Real?

We sit down with six of our Rockstar marketers and ask how we can keep it real and appeal to the cynical, empowered consumer that craves authenticity.…
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Six Steps to Keeping it Real with Ted Rubin

Want to be authentic? Ted Rubin shares 6 tips on expressing a real point of view that your audience engages with…
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Tales from the Tour Bus: Hugh Thomas

In our second ride on the tour bus, FMCG disruptor Hugh Thomas, co-founder of challenger brand Ugly Drinks, tells us about marketing the ‘ugly truth’, and the challenges of taking things Stateside…
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Dedicated Followers (After a Fashion)

Influencers are the latest group to buy fake followers in order to boost their appeal. But while a large follower count may look good, as Dave Waller discovers, this isn’t just a numbers game…
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Six Things You Can Do to Turn Your Brand into a Friend

The days of brands being detached, abstract and ultimately faceless entities are long gone. Stephen Kelly explores how you can inject a little humanity into proceedings – authentically…
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Into the Pool #12: Omnichannel for the Sake of Omnichannel

This month, Ian Truscott is inspired by L. Michelle Smith as he looks to heft “omnichannel for the sake of it” off the penthouse balcony…
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Why it’s Time to Change the Conversation from Targeting to Match-Making

Ted Rubin on why matching your product or service with the consumer will always be more effective than hunting your audience like prey…
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