Filming – take 2

The book is now available for purchase! Yay.


And Susan, Nigel and I are recording materials for the book’s companion website. Again.


We met 10 days ago to film the chapter introduction. It was scorching hot – 87F / 30.5C inside the room – but we persevered. All day. However, there were some technical issues with the videos and we need to re-do them.

book videos

I thought that writing the book was the hardest part ;-)


What exciting things are you doing this week?

What would you miss without your mobile phone?

Sometime ago this picture of a modified Maslow’s pyramid of needs was doing the rounds on Twitter.

It was meant to be a joke, but it turns out that it may not be that far off reality. According to research recently published by Ofcom, access to mobile services and access to the Internet are now viewed as essential to be able to live and function in society. These services help users:

  1. Stay (and feel) safe
  2. Keep in touch with family and friends
  3. Access information and entertainment
  4. Be productive


Ofcom essentials



It is a very good fit with the standard depiction of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, isn’t it?

#AcWri resource: How to cite social media sources

With social media becoming such an ubiquitous source of information the opportunities to use social media content are increasing, including in academic writing. For instance, I have personally used social media to conduct interviews, as well as in netnography.


But how to cite those sources?


This table, produced by teachbites, summarises guidance from the MLA and from the APA on how to cite blog posts, youtube videos and so on. Bookmark it!

The other side of free apps

Human is an iPhone app (no affiliate link) that monitors movement. It tracks physical activity throughout the day with the objective of encouraging an active (and, thus, healthy) lifestyle. And it is free.


While we are eagerly tracking how many minutes we have walked or cycled, grateful for this boost to our health from a free app, the company behind the app is amassing the data. Through a process detailed here, the company produced and released visualisations of the activity of its users.


The visualisations are truly stunning. The visualisations are also a reminder that, when the product is free, we become the product.


June round-up

June was a very weird month. Following some health problems, I had to take time off at the start of the month. Really off –the  ‘not-even-reading-a-book-kind-of- being-off’ off.


That means that I failed to achieve most of the things on my To Do list. Still, there were some highlights during the month.



Frustratingly, I had to pause work on the co-creation paper, and missed the kick off meetings for a new project looking at Digital Marketing in SMEs. I only managed a couple of days at the end of the month to catch up with what is happening in the services industry and reflect on the implications of these for services marketing research.



Again, I had to pause work in the co-creation paper and other writing projects. I only managed to work on a conference paper.


On the positive side, I received the great news that a paper had been accepted for publication on the journal “Qualitative Research”. Yay.



I am still involved with the Company Projects module, and looking forward to the students’ presentations next month.



MasterclassMy learning highlight has to be the Digital Marketing master class with Mark Schaefer and Ana Silva O’Reilly. It was a great lesson not just in terms of content – particularly about online influence – but also in terms of running this type of event. I also had the pleasure of catching up with Mark and Ana the evening before the class, when we put the world to rights and watched the world cup match between USA and Portugal.


Oh, and I had the immense pleasure of meeting computing legend NormanNorman Sanders 2014 012 Sanders, at Oxford Brookes’s graduation ceremonies. We talked about our shared love for Bletchley Park, and about early computing technology. And I learned about ‘mercury memory’, a very early form of computing memory.



But the main highlight of this month has got to be the graduation ceremonies at Brookes. When the students join our MSc Marketing programme they are fuGraduation 2014ll of hope and dreams, but also anxiety and doubt. So, it is always great to realise how much they have developed as professionals and individuals, and hear about the role of our degree in that transformation.

What were June’s highlights for you?

What cat food says about the cat owner

When I teach about positioning, I often refer to the market for cat food, using an example unashamedly stolen from my fabulous former colleague, David James.


There are 2 key aspects to positioning. One is to find an angle for the product that is unique and, hence, differentiates it from the competitors. Otherwise, you enter a “me-too” scenario where the only reason why someone might buy A instead of B is because one is cheaper than the other. The other aspect is to communicate that difference, through all your marketing initiatives, to reinforce the positioning.


David James used to illustrate this concept by comparing two brands of cat food, Whiskas and Sheba. Both products perform the same basic function: feed your pet cat. But while Whiskas’s positioning emphasises the nutritional benefits of the product, Sheeba’s emphasises the pleasure of owning a cat. Accordingly, Whiskas’s adverts showcase the cat exploring their environment, growing up, etc. By contrast, Sheba’s show the interaction between the cat and its owner – usually, a single woman of refined tastes, as in this advert featuring Eva Longoria:


And that’s not all. The packaging is very different, too. The Whiskas packaging displayed in the adverts can be easily opened – even with your teeth, while putting down your groceries shopping. Sheba’s, however, requires both hands, maybe even a fork, to transfer it to an elegant plate our saucer.


How the products are described varies, too. When you buy Whiskas, you get ‘tasty textures of chicken’, whereas when you buy Sheba you get a ‘terrine of poultry’. The choice of words makes the latter sound more like cuisine than pet food.


And the differences continue. The point being that positioning is, essentially, a mental construct. Cat food is cat food – but the choice of words, colours, packaging, etc make each product appeal to completely different buyers.


At this point, David would open a package of Whiskas and a package of Sheba, pick up a couple of forks, and invite his audience to try both to see if they could spot the difference. The volunteer, when there was one (usually, David would do the ‘taste test’ himself), would generally conclude that the 2 products were pretty much the same, as far as taste was concerned.


The bottom line of this example is that people do not buy product features. People buy feelings and emotions – be it the feeling of confidence, or the feeling of sophistication.


I remembered this example today, when I read a post by Seth Godin entitled ‘Cat food is for people’. Seth says that what’s important in cat food (or other products, really) is how they make us feel. To take the point further he asks:

“(I)f you think cat food is for cats, how come it doesn’t come in mouse flavour?



There you go. Mice would do. Cats might even prefer it?! But how many cat owners would wince at the thought of handling a pouch of minced mice?


Do you want to work with me?

At Oxford Brookes University, we are looking for 4 amazing people to join the Department of Marketing of the Faculty of Business. The deadline for applications is June, 20th 2014 and we have the following positions open:


We are a great bunch of people to work with.

We also have a lively research community doing work in the areas of Branding, Customer Relationship Management and Digital Marketing.

If you have any questions about working at Brookes, I am very happy to answer them.