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Marketing Tip, Tricks and Insights from The Buzz.

APRIL FOOL’S DAY ADS: Just humour us.

It’s been said by many an advertising maven that what’s being sold, whether conventionally or otherwise, isn’t necessarily the product itself, but the emotion behind the product. And the emotion we’d like to centre on, at least for the purpose of this here blog, is humour.

Yes, the month of April is upon us and, besides being renowned for showers and kite-flying, it’s also well-known for humorous pranks. Namely, April Fool’s Day.

When used in the right spirit, humour not only enhances an ad in terms of its delivery but it can also make it memorable. We at The BUZZ certainly have no qualms about using humour in advertising — our work over the years points to evidence that we’ve tickled a funny bone or two.

But what about ads that can get away with the absurd only on April Fool’s Day? No doubt they are sure-fire attention grabbers. According to Jared Kozel, EVP and Executive Creative Director at Wunderman Thompson, April Fool’s Day is a great sounding board for both ads and agencies, adding: “It’s pretty low risk for the most part, as it doesn’t require much effort and might help a brand break through the clutter.”

Above are April Fool’s Day ads from The Buzz for Castrol Lubricants.

Moreover, it also gives agencies (and the brands they represent) the opportunity to showcase their lighter side to the general public. Comedy, however, can be hit-or-miss. There are too many stories of campaigns that fizzled out or caused a furore because they failed to connect with their audience or offended in some way.

Even so, when one is talking about April Fool’s Day ads, it’s still perceived as advertising. So, the challenge is to craft an ad that is so funny (and within the boundaries of good taste) that the audience will get to see it for what it is: a lighthearted creation to draw the consumer even closer to a well-loved brand. 

Creativity in de advertising DNA or nah? 

The onus is always on creatives to craft something dazzlingly original but as the iconic American writer Mark Twain pointed out, there’s no such thing as an original idea. What we can do, he elaborated, is turn old ideas into new and curious combinations.

But the question as headlined in this blog stems from soca writers and advertising jingle writers. Is the combination of established soca hit and corporate brand/product lyrics for the creative good… or bad?

A small brouhaha erupted on social media (where else?) when Mical Teja’s DNA was converted to a jingle for a popular airline. In this all-too-short Carnival season DNA is THE strong favourite for the Road March title (at least at time of writing). The conversational fallout on the soca writer side went along the lines of the song itself been cheapened and “force-fed” with corporate product prose and possibly hurting its chances of being the Road March winner. The fallout on the advertiser side along the lines of creative laziness or pure “bandwagonism” capitalising on a trendy song.

Now just to be clear and for full transparency, turning soca hits into a product jingle is nothing recent in the advertising industry – including for us at The BUZZ. In fact, we’ve even done the same to old hits too. Take a sample here…

So how do we see soca hit/corporate brand colab?

Firstly we’re not in the least bit churlish about Mr. Teja’s or any other artist’s success. If they can maximise reward for their work, however they see fit, go through by all means. Imagine if DNA remains an airline anthem long after the roads and road march results are swept away come Ash Wednesday? That’s a good thing right?

Secondly, on the advertiser side — and creative side in particular — there’s no one rule about what’s right or wrong. There’s only what’s right for the brand in the moment or circumstance. Take a soca and twist the lyrics with corporate finesse. Leave the soca as is and just play it as is cause “we like this track jus so”. Write a totally new soca. Have a signature beat and not say a word and make it your corporate “riddim”. Each of these can be right… in their own “write”.

Whatever is decided, just make it inspiring and keep that brand jumping. 

Free Willie Fuh All!

Tiny confession 👀 When we first saw the Steamboat Willie story, we were totally stoked about kicking off the New Year with a BUZZworthy opinion piece to set the tone for the year. But we were also on vacay so… we kinda stick. But look how, 2 weeks later, no one else picked it up so here we are! 

Just in case you missed it, on January 1st the copyright expired for one of Walt Disney’s first animation films featuring Mickey Mouse, Steamboat Willie. It was originally due to expire in 1983 but was extended to 1997 and again to 2024, for a total of 95 years. Other iconic characters, including Pluto and Donald Duck, are set to enter the public domain unless Disney goes to US Congress for an extension. 

Apparently, this copyright issue is a pretty big deal in the US and UK with people actively tracking copyright expiration for characters, videos, music and more. Which begs the question: how invested are we in copyright here? We were all up in arms about whether or not Japan owned the rights to our national instrument and then that died down. And we claim to be the meme gurus, but is anyone copyrighting those? Can we? And what’s the situation with Nagib Elias Guy, the Chubby Man and Peppy the Penguin… Is it that we’ll soon be seeing them used freely, much like how people keep TikToking the Island Finance jingle? 

We don’t really have the answers and, at the AI Symposium we attended least year, we learned that there really aren’t any — as yet. So tell us, what piece of Trini creativity would you be most excited to see join the copyright free ranks of Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh? 

Happy Hallo…what?!

Depending on how long you’ve been in and around advertising, you might realise that a particulartrend has emerged that’s even sillier than all the election season campaign gimmicks… somethingthat we’re calling bandwagon season! Towards the end of this month, you’ll start seeing brands advertising spooky savings...

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Our Republican Status: Forty-seven years have gone. How yuh feel?

Hard to believe but it’s been a dizzying forty-seven years of change since Trinidad and Tobago became a Republic. It’s safe to say that we as a country have come a long way since then. But we wouldn’t be out of line to say we’ve still got a long way to go as forty-seven years is still young. A Republic is a lot more than replacing a monarch as our official Head Of State with that of a President. As Sir Ellis Clarke, our first President stated in an interview: “It’s a matter of substance, it’s also a matter that is symbolical of shall I call it the adulthood of the nation. We have grown up.”

The local marketing communication landscape has had a lot of growing up to do as well with so many changes through the years. And The BUZZ knows it well.
As an agency repeatedly taking the leap into the unknown means experiencing the whole gamut of emotions ranging from exciting to terrifying. But it also made us evolve beyond what we initially knew and to develop skills that would provide growth, fulfillment and pride. It’s a continuous opportunity to view the world from a bold fresh perspective.

As a nation and as an agency we cannot simply retrace the footsteps of the past. We must take revolutionary steps forward. While some solutions can be found others need to be crafted.

How do we feel? Optimistic! We’ve got what it takes to be bold and imaginative. We can adapt and succeed in this ever-changing world. It’s a feeling we hope you share with us as well – as there is no limit to what we can achieve together.

Happy Republic Day!

Happy 18th BuzzDay!

The Buzz celebrates our 18th year – proud of the past and embracing the future.

In 2005 there was no WhatsApp, Twitter or Instagram. Facebook was only about friends connecting with no company pages, ads or even video. Youtube was just beginning. And your phone was probably a Blackberry or Nokia, as the iPhone and Galaxy weren’t invented yet. However since 2005 there has been the marketing communications agency The Buzz Ltd.

Over the past 18 years, The Buzz Ltd has been a trusted partner to numerous renowned companies, creating advertising communications to build brands and drive growth. During this time consumers, technology, and business have changed immensely and the rate of change seems to be increasing at an ever-faster pace. Despite this, some of the brands The Buzz Ltd started out with nearly two decades ago are still with us today – and thriving. This is testament to the constant evolution we undergo to help our clients leverage trends and innovations to their benefit. As stated by Fernan De Gannes, Director Client Services, “the key to success and thriving in this business is to recognize the rapid changes in the industry and to embrace and adapt to them.”

Irrespective of changes and technological revolutions, there are some core principles which underpin all what we do. These include a deep understanding of the client’s business, strategic brand insight and creative excellence. Another core principle that’s becoming ever more important for the future is dynamic collaboration – both with people and ever-changing technology. Chief Creative Officer Simone Jacelon says “Collaboration is key. I’ve worked in agencies that operate in silos and that format simply does not work. Part of our success is the free flow of ideas between our creative teams, between departments, between us and the client, and even with external suppliers”.

Speaking on the topic of working with technology, Chief Innovation Officer, Jason Stedman says while utilising new technology is a must for today’s and tomorrow’s world, its use is best served when based on strategy. He states: “There’s a lot of technology available to everyone, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can make the best use of it. This is why innovative and strategic thinking are so important to get technology to work for you, and not you working for technology. Our investment in technology is continuous, and most recently we’ve invested in AI tools. But to be truly beneficial for us and our clients, there must always be a strategy that carries from implementation to delivering results”.

Looking forward, we are excited to embrace the new era of brand communication solutions, where technology and collaboration play an increasingly pivotal role. Our new Managing Director, Mary Fullerton expressed excitement about the agency’s future in the ever-evolving landscape of advertising:

“It’s an exhilarating new dance! A fusion of connections and connectivity. Reaching people has attained unprecedented levels of complexity and fragmentation. Gone are the days when consumers were confined to geographic location or age brackets; now, they must be reached within communities of special interest. This paradigm shift allows consumers to actively participate in shaping the brands that cater to their needs. With the advent of new technologies and global connectivity, we embrace a new era of connected campaigns, voices, and experiences. These connections form the pulsating rhythm that fuels ideas, ignites inspiration, and propels creativity in the realm of brand building and adding value to our client’s business.”

The AI Phenomenon: For Better Or Worse

The problem’s plain to see. Too much technology. Machines to save our lives. Machines dehumanise.
Styx, Mr. Roboto (1983)

Has it come to this?

Is it just a matter of time before this new kid rampaging on the technology block known as AI (Artificial Intelligence) eventually evolves to such an extent that we face the prospect of being under complete dominance by our robot overlords?

It may sound far-fetched but even Styx’s Dennis De Young, who penned the above lyrics of that 1983 classic, conceded that “robots are going to matter.”

The spirit of confession compels this writer to explain that what you’re reading right now is written by a 100% flesh-and-blood human (the last time I checked, anyway). However, the above image is AI-generated (Source: Adobe Firefly with human i.e. Buzz people prompts).

We don’t expect, at least in the not-too distant future, to be replaced by AI, even though just recently the advertising company VCCP recently launched an AI agency. And this is not people using AI – but basically AI using AI to create automated work for clients.

So, the reality is that AI isn’t going away. Just like other modes of technology, it will adapt and become even more nuanced than before.

AI helps navigate our way through creativity.

We here at The Buzz get it… and use it… experiment with it and learn with it.

For quite some time already, advertisers the world over employ AI services to identify and target audiences. It’s also used to improve on ad efficacy and optimise spend at a much faster rate.

Adam Binder, of US-based digital marketing agency Creative Click Media says, “AI can’t help replace human writers, but it can help writers ideate quickly while improving the structure, syntax and style of their own original ideas.”

Even so, there’s growing opposition to AI, especially as it relates to art and the written word.

Take, for example, author and illustrator Rob Biddulph who said in a UK Guardian online interview, “[AI-generated art] is the exact opposite of what I believe art to be. Whatever form it takes, be it a sculpture, a piece of music, a piece of writing, a performance, or an image, true art is about the creative process much more than it’s about the final piece. And simply pressing a button to generate an image is not a creative process.”

Put another way, you may love Van Gogh’s paintings, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any AI generator to replicate the emotion as well as variation of tone and energy into the mix.

Furthermore, a recent article from the Los Angeles Times highlighted a story in which U.S. technology news site CNET had employed an AI engine to write online articles for its personal finance page. Ostensibly, they seemed coherent until it was revealed that the bot-written articles were studded with errors. Also, there was evidence of plagiarism – not just from CNET itself but also its sister websites.

Yet, for all of its obvious drawbacks, can there be a happy medium between AI technology and the human factor? One is reminded of that old adage that “Fire is a good servant, but a bad master.” Perhaps the same sentiment applies here.

As Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel puts it, “Technology itself is inherently neutral; we must constantly shape it as a force for good. The technology industry must serve as the role model for companies across all industries making breakthroughs using systems enhanced with AI technology. When built and used responsibly, AI will create prosperity and enrich lives.”

In theory, that sounds highly laudable, but in practice, given the vagaries of human nature, one has got to be vigilant. From that seminal moment when our ancestors discovered how to create fire to the present day, technology has been used for either good or ill. It’s yet to escape from human prejudices which, as much as we refuse to admit it, still exist in AI algorithms. We still have to deal with the humanity of AI. The paradox, then, is that the only path to removing said human input is to remove humans. AI, for all its marvels, is incapable of doing just that.

So, maybe it’s not so much about being obsessed with better technology, but with becoming better humans.

Now there’s a thought.