Category Archives: Mobile

Costa Coffee Snapchat Spectacles campaign – This is why we can’t have nice things!

Imagine how cool it would be to get handed a shiny new toy that everyone is talking about and told ‘you’re the first to get it, now do something cool’?

There’s a definite first mover advantage for brands. The PR story of being the ‘first company to…’ do something can draw attention, and there’s also a little ego boost for the agency and brand manager. Everyone wants to be an early adopter, an innovator.

Costa Coffee in the UK got that opportunity last week. We’ve been waiting for Snapchat Spectacles to come to this side of the Atlantic for months, and Costa was the first brand in the UK to get their hands on a pair.

Now just imagine the creative possibilities at the brief stage? You get handed an opportunity to do something nobody has done before, to use a product that shoots video with distinctive look and to come up with a really cool, novel idea that’s guaranteed to get some interest.

Plus, there’s no pressure, the bar is automatically low since nobody has done much with the tool before. It’s literally an open goal for a digital creative. 


Unless you forget to come up with a creative idea that is.

Unfortunately, Costa fell into this trap. They created a campaign that’s the definition of ‘meh’.

Their idea was

“to give fans a unique insight into the world of Costa, specifically through the eyes of its baristas”.

Basically, they gave the specs to a barista, who made a coffee, and they recorded that. That’s the ‘campaign’.

According to a spokesperson,

“for our customers and followers, we know…they’ll be intrigued to watch their favourite coffee being made from the perspective of a Costa barista”.

Will they aye? Does anyone really want to spend a minute and a half watching a Costa barista pouring coffee? Is that interesting?

To me, this is a wasted opportunity. It’s a channel thought without any creative idea.

It’s relying on a shiny new thing to do the work, and lazily not thinking up of a way to bring it to life.

I know this is a first use in the market, and there’s no Spectacles campaigns to get creative ideas from.

But surely Costa could’ve looked to campaigns like this from Eighty Twenty and this from Old Spice for inspiration.

Both were built on top of an immature platform, but had a strong creative idea at the core. Both won awards too.

I’m not picking on Costa here, this is something that we’re all guilty of. We forget that channels and platforms are the equivalent of creative canvases that we paint on. But they’re  benign without a strong creative idea.  It’s up to us as marketers to get creative, build cool things on top of them, to understand them, test them and sometimes break them.

But just using a new channel can’t be ‘the big idea’ on its own.

In Ireland meanwhile, Aer Lingus were the first brand to be given a go. They decided to hand the specs to Conor Murray to give an insight into a ‘day in the life’.

Again, this isn’t exactly a revolutionary creative idea, but it’s a smart way to use their sponsorship assets and give fans a look behind the scenes that they wouldn’t normally get.

The resulting short social video got plenty of traction.

Who wouldn’t want to see the world from Conor Murray’s eyes?
(Don’t answer that one!)

A simple idea, but an idea at least.







The Irish Digital Consumer Report 2017

Since 2013, I’ve been putting together a yearly database of publicly available digital statistics for the Irish market as a personal project. It’s nothing fancy, just a list of stats, but plenty of people seem to find it helpful for work and college.

I took a bit of a break in 2016, but to kick off the new year, the ‘Irish Digital Consumer Report 2017’ is back, with more info from a wide variety of sources. Hopefully, you’ll find it interesting to thumb through, but also, more importantly, very handy in your day to day work.

Of course, stats on their own are pretty meaningless, and nothing in here will give you the secrets to success with digital marketing, but something is guaranteed to spark a thought!

NB: These stats are all from publicly available sources, released throughout 2016. I take no credit for any of them, nor any blame for their accuracy!

Inside, you’ll find

  • how Irish people young and old use social media, and what new channels are growing.

  • how our media consumption habits are shifting.

  • how we shop online, and why.

  • some comments from myself, contextualising all of the above and much, much more.

As usual, it’s all free!

You can either pay with a tweet by clicking below…

or email me for a copy on






Adblocking – Stop the blame game and let’s just make better fucking ads!

In 2015, faced with the unavoidable evidence that people’s tolerance for crap, spammy, slow loading digital ads had finally snapped, the IAB made a pretty brave announcement. The body that sets industry standards for online advertising admitted it had fucked up, big time.

“Tasked with delivering content and services to users, we lost track of the user experience. We built advertising technology to optimise publishers’ yield of marketing budgets that had eroded after the last recession. Looking back now, our scraping of dimes may have cost us dollars in consumer loyalty.”

Scott Cunningham, IAB

The adblocking phenomenon has for some reason come as a shock to the advertising and publishing industries. The overlap of better, more widely available adblocking tools and a rising awareness of the creepiness of personalised ads combined to create a perfect storm and it didn’t take long the digital display house of cards started to tumble.

Initially the IAB didn’t rest on its laurels.

Though it holds little real power to command advertisers to clean up the way they buy, create and place digital advertising, the global body outlined new ‘L.E.A.N.’ guidelines designed to improve user experience.

But their tunes has changed.


Less than a year later, the IAB released this statement, in which it outlined why ‘adblocking is wrong’.

As abetted by for-profit technology companies, ad blocking is robbery, plain and simple – an extortionist scheme that exploits consumer disaffection and risks distorting the economics of democratic capitalism. A primary culprit is unethical technology companies seeking to divert ad spending into their own pockets.

“IAB believes adblocking is wrong”

That, to me, is at best a partial attempt to deflect attention by blaming others.
In fairness, elsewhere in the statement there’s a nod to the need to change display advertising for the better. But that’s not the point.

Why the need to apportion blame elsewhere in the first place? Why not just concentrate on our own failings? Why the need to attack adblocking and claim that it’s “evil” and “exploitative”? That’s not going to help now.

At times, our lack of empathy towards people is astonishing. We clog up social news feeds with irrelevant and meaningless ‘content’, freak web browsers out with creepy re-targeted ads and push ourselves in front of browsers in increasingly annoying ways.

And then we blame the people who choose to block these ads and accuse them of stealing from us.

It’s like a a child saying “yeah, we’re bad, but those guys are worse!”.

It’s like trying to scold the horse after it’s already bolted, jumped the fence and run to the next town!


And it’s not just the IAB acting like an ostrich. The prevailing message from a section of publishers and advertisers over the last year has been about a ‘war against adblocking’.

Excuse my language, but that’s horseshit.

It’s real ‘head in the sand’ stuff.

This isn’t about a ‘war against ad blocking’. That’s the wrong way to think about it. And if we keep thinking of it that way then we’ll go on not understanding the problems that got us here.

For the IAB and the advertising industry, it’s irrelevant whether adblocking is wrong or not, we need to just accept that it exists and it’s a huge issue caused by us.

Why waste time carping about users and blaming others when you’ve more than enough on your own plate trying to save a business model that’s burning all around you?

For once, let’s not complain, but instead try to accept and improve the root cause of the problem – our frivolous approach to consumer’s attention.


The first step is acceptance.
At the moment, this industry reminds me of this unfortunate pup.

Because most of us haven’t accepted we have a problem.
Recent data released in the US would support this.

  • 85% of advertisers and 82% of operators “think the mobile ad experience is positive for end users”

… while:

  • 47% of consumers think “the mobile phone ad experience (for them) is positive”
  • 39% of consumers “think ads are irrelevant”
  • 36% blame “poor or irritating format”
  • 40% “believe the volume of ads served to them are a main reason for the negative experience”

Basically, we’re so disconnected from reality that we actually still believe that the majority of people want our crappy advertising served alongside their content.

It strikes me that the solution to this problem is not about attacking adblock companies or the consumers who choose to use them.

It’s not about asking “are we winning the war?“.

It’s about being progressive and asking “do we understand why people use #adblock and are we improving their experience?”

All isn’t lost. Two-thirds of ad block users are open to welcoming ads back into their lives.

Adland and the IAB should take their own advice. We fucked up. Let’s cure the disease instead of treating the symptoms.

Let’s just focus on making better fucking ads!

Of the many pithy David Ogilvy quotes that still ring true for adland today, one in particular isn’t being heeded.

Ogilvy 2

We need to remember that.