Why do Mars get football so wrong?

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Ok, so we can all breath again. Roy Hodgson’s team did the business last night and courtesy of a Rooney header and late bit of Stevie G magic I can fantasise that come summer 2014 I’ll be watching England in the World Cup final at some lovely new stadium in Rio.

There was however one thing that took my attention away from what was actually a very absorbing (for England) game and that was the rubbish advertising that Mars displayed on the boards around the pitch.

Talk about cringe-worthy! It gave the impression that it was displaying messages from real punters, presumably harvested from Twitter (I think there was hash tag there) cheering England on. Now they might have been real – but the names like Dave C!? were so generic it seemed unlikely.

Even worse was the content of the messages. They were mainly of the trite Good Luck England variety. In fact one was so bad it became etched on my memory – it said ‘Qualification is our goal.’

Quite honestly which self-respecting football fan would tweet a Mars hash tag such nonsense. It smacks of something rustled up by a Mars marketing executive who really has absolutely no understanding of football and its culture.

I thought the days of ‘dad on the dancefloor’ social media approaches from brands were at an end given that we all understand that brands need to be sincere, genuine and authentic these days. It appears not.

BT’s content marketing strategy – why it needs a bit of relevancy

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What’s the first rule of content marketing? Well you could argue that it is ‘keep it interesting’, or ‘don’t undermine your brand’, I do however think that there might be a case also for ‘keeping it relevant’ as being the place where brands need to start.

There ‘s a very interesting post on Mediatel today from Dominic Mills, the one time Campaign editor and now freelance journalist/media strategy guru, that highlights why relevancy is crucial. In it he takes a pop at BT for filling its BT.com website with largely irrelevant content.

Mills says that he went to the site as he moved house and needed to make amendments to his BT account, But he couldn’t easily find what he was looking for as the site was chock full of largely irrelevant content from the Press Association.

He says

What I discovered when I logged in – which they insisted on telling me about before I could get to my BT e-mail – is that this involves full-on lifestyle coverage across areas like news, entertainment, technology, fashion and beauty, TV, film, video games, family and home (and on and on and on).

Yes, dear reader, there are approximately 50 of these channels including, believe it or not, motoring and home and garden.

So the big question is: WHY? And that leads to all sorts of other questions you think BT should have asked itself first, such as: why do people go to BT.com? What do they want to achieve as a result of going there? And what makes BT a legitimate or credible provider of this sort of content?

Well I do wonder if BT has fallen into the trap of not really thinking through quite what its users really want to read about. It reminds me of the time a decade and a half ago when BT amongst others, hired hundreds of journalists in a bid to help them become media portals which would rival News International etc. It become obvious very quickly that the net benefit of creating huge amounts of news copy was largely not useful to BT’s core business and the company, and indeed many of its ISP rivals, canned their services and shifted away from content.

Now with every Internet consultant worth their salt repeating the mantra that content is king and that it is editorial which keeps consumers amused and engaged BT, among others is heading in the same direction.

It isn’t that filling a site with content per se is a bad move – I am sure it has huge SEO benefits for a start, and while you are mulling over your BT Sports subscriptions you might want to read a few football stories. It is just the unimaginative way in which BT has undertaken this. Grabbing a few store from the Press Association along with a few viral  videos, hardly makes for a compelling editorial destination. That man on a bike on the M1 story has been everywhere today. If you have looked at a news site you will know all about it.

The content needs to be more relevant too. An intriguing tech channel might be more useful to consumers, and why not get a few high profile journalists and bloggers to deliver interesting opinion pieces which will help engage the company’s business customers.

BT also has some the potential to create some compelling content of its own, Surely a look behind the scenes look to see what its boffins are up to in its Suffolk research HQ is worth a hundred celeb stories which could be read elsewhere?

Where brands have succeeded in creating engaging content portals they have done it by delivering content that it relevant to their audience. It helps cement the relationship between the brand and the customer – which really is the main reason why brand undertakes content marketing in the first place.

Maybe BT  will evolve a content strategy that is both interesting and innovative as time goes by. Here’s hoping.