qatar world cup

Coca-Cola’s Terrible Response to a Letter Concerning the 2022 World Cup

Football fans put up with a lot of crap, and responsible for the vast majority of it is the governing body, FIFA. I don’t have time in this short blog post to list everything that makes FIFA evil, so I’ll just leave it to John Oliver to explain.

Holding the World Cup in the searing heat of the desert is a shining example of FIFA’s corruption and, for many fans, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back (absolutely no pun intended). As the beautiful game is being ripped apart by greed, many sponsors are stepping in, the likes of Hyundai, Sony and Coca-Cola have all voiced their concerns.

By paying over $700 million to be the official drinks partner of The World Cup, Coca-Cola have a huge influence over FIFA and could be a powerful ally against their mischievery. Even though it is unlikely to make such a drastic move at this early stage, it had an opportunity to show their caring side, which they duly fucked up.

A disgruntled fan took to the internet, after he wrote to Coca-Cola expressing his concerns about the human rights violations in Qatar. He goes on to point out that:

by claiming to be a supporter of human rights, it would be hypocritical for them to continue their partnership throughout the 2022 World Cup.

In Coca-Cola’s defence, it  did send a reply, saying that:

they do not play any role in the administration of the sport, and they cannot affect the result of any match.

A template response that is irrelevant and insulting, it would have been far better to have no response at all. It would actual make more sense for them to reply by saying “fuck you, we’re making millions here”.

As this is the internet, we can’t be sure that this is real, fake customer service letters have been popping up all over the place recently. If it is genuine though, we’ve learned two things from this.

  1. A multi-million dollar company does not properly read every letter it gets (who would have thought it).
  2. People actually write to World Cup sponsors protesting the result of a match.

coca-cola response letter qatar world cup coca-cola response letter qatar world cup


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dr evil

Facebook Should Just Keep Quiet About It’s Dodgy Experiments

By now you will have heard about Facebook’s dabbling with psychological experiments. Last week it emerged that it teamed up with Cornell University to fiddle with nearly 700,000 user’s  feeds. The plan was to expose some users to only positive or negative news, to see how it affected their mood.

Surprise, surprise, the results showed that good news all around makes us more happy. We hardly need to be told this, but that’s what science is all about isn’t it? Taking a hypothesis (or in this case, common sense) and testing it. That’s not the issue though, as this bit of Frankensteinery has kicked up a proverbial shitstorm.

Quite rightly, people have kicked off over the way Facebook emotionally manipulated so many users with no concern for their feelings or general wellbeing. In the age where every teen suicide seems to get pinned on Ask.FM, Facebook’s actions are ridiculously irresponsible.

Apparently though, we gave our consent to this. In the terms and conditions we all agree to, there is a few tiny lines saying that we permit research, testing, blatant spying and other silliness.

Facebook are not alone though, everywhere we go there are people testing on us. Websites are constantly A/B testing to figure out what formula generates the most sales. You might see the same version of an e-commerce site every time you log in, but your friend could have a completely different experience. All to find out if the logo should be pink or green.

Supermarkets are always playing around with products and pricing to find out what we think is a good deal. Just about every branch of Asda will experiment with different prices, just to find out that 26.78 pence  the ideal price for baked beans. (I made that figure up, but you get the idea.)

What these companies don’t do though, is share their findings, they keep their big mouths shut and reap the rewards that the insight gives them. With Facebook’s image as a greedy, corporate, spy-master, with no respect for our data or privacy, you would think that they would have kept shtum.

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parkife text

Parklife Festival Apologises For Insensitive Text

I’ll let you into a little secret, I nearly crashed my new car this week. I was driving into Manchester city centre when I received a text from my dear old mother…

“Some of the Parklife after parties have already sold out. If your going, make sure your home for breakfast.”

I wouldn’t normally be so irresponsible to stare at my phone while driving. This sheer bizarre behaviour though, had me gawping at the screen for a good 5 seconds until a nice taxi driver honked his horn to alert me to the fact I’d drifted into his lane.

The timely honk allowed a penny to drop in my mind. I’ve not been living in Manchester long and, to start mingling with the locals, I booked tickets to the local Parklife festival, something I’d been planning to do for years. Shortly after my booking was confirmed, I received a message from Snoop Dog saying he was looking forward to seeing me there (or something like that, can’t remember exactly).

While setting a cheeky sender ID like this does give your marketing texts a bit of a twist, it really wasn’t well thought through. Parklife faced a backlash from people who read the text whose mothers are no longer with us.

“I just saw Mum and I started crying,” said the 19-year-old. Even though it was only two seconds of sheer panic it was horrible because you just do think, ‘Oh my god. Is she still alive?'”

Ros Prior, whose mum died three years ago.

The organisers have handled the situation quite well and have since apologised for this moment of madness. We normally like to finish each article with a lesson, but what can we learn from this that isn’t ridiculously obvious?

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Newspaper Ad Kitchen

Dream Kitchen Hidden in the Small Ads

We’ve all flicked through the adverts in the newspapers. Unless there’s something you are looking for, you’re just going to skim through them. Even if a product you do want is on offer, sometimes you just don’t notice it. A problem that one Colombian kitchen company solved in genius fashion.

* Before I continue.. I do understand that this is not 1950’s America and that most women now have car, career and better things to think about than their dream kitchen…. We all have a dream home though.

Our dream home is unique, and companies such as Ikea, DFS and Moben have a hard time replicating this in their adverts. A kitchen fitter can run an advert featuring a photo of the most amazing kitchen in the world, with a message saying ‘we will personally design YOUR dream kitchen’, most of us will disregard the pic before they read the writing. It’s good, but it’s not mine.

Enter this fake classified section which makes the reader think that they’re on acid. Run your eyes past the awkwardly angled text and you will see a kitchen hidden in plain sight. While you can make out it’s features and modern design, your imagination can do the rest, the people who really crave a new kitchen will see THEIR kitchen.

A lot of psychological games at play here, check out Wikipedia’s bit on Gestalt Design.


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david beckham whisky

Brand It Like Beckham… Again.

I’m partial to a glass of whiskey every now and them, ain’t ashamed to say it. Many people are though, and its image of being an old man’s drink has caused a few problems recently; while it was once Britain’s most popular spirit, it lost this title to vodka many years ago.

Whiskey drinkers tread a fine line between:

  • Man of acquired tastes, edgy and refined, confident in their selection, not afraid to be different.
  • Fedora-wearing tool who just has to be different.

Diagio have tried tried to hit this problem square in the face and give whiskey’s image a shake up, by launching a new label in partnership with David Beckham. Seems like a good idea, everything that man touches turns to gold.

Haig Club is a new brand made by 400-year-old distillers, House of Haig. Blending heritage like this with a modern, trendy image is a formula that works in this industry, has anyone spotted the flaw though?

No, it’s not the bottle. The packaging though, is horrendous and looks more like a perfume than a beverage. Honestly, if I stumbled across this drunk at a party, my instincts would kick in and tell me that this is for wearing not drinking.

The main problem with this is the man himself, Beckham was a model professional and was teetotal for most of his playing career. Not that this is a bad thing, it just doesn’t make him much of an authority on whiskey.

The former England captain is the global ambassador for being the global ambassador of things. Brand Beckham is huge, but with every irrelevant endorsement and partnership, this brand gets eaten away. Haig Club will probably be a huge success and make me look stupid, but it won’t be long before Beckham’s brand is diluted beyond recognition.

Click here for more ridiculous football ads.

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Twitter is Playing Facebook at its Own Game

Remember when Facebook introduced embeddable posts? It was not the most overwhelming of updates, mainly because we’d seen it before. Tweets have been embedded into blog posts long before Facebook got in on the action, it was a bit like Ford announcing that all cars will now come with a CD player.

It was all part of Facebook’s grand plan though. They’ve achieved the position of being the world’s go to social network for a few years now, despite the odd threat of a wobble, they still hold this title. The way they maintain this is by offering a bit of everything, not leading the pack in innovation, but not falling to far behind either. Since we all got addicted to Facebook, specialist services like Snapchat and Soundcloud have popped up. Instead of trying to compete with these on their own turf, Facebook just copies elements and makes it easy for users to integrate between it and other networks.


Facebook is still the number one provider of online identity. When signing up to Soundcloud for the first time, most people with just lazily click ‘Sign In With Facebook’.

Taking embedded posts was an attempt to emulate Twitter as being an ‘information network'; if you post a problem on Twitter, there is a good chance that someone, somewhere will help you. Facebook is much more introverted, it is a genuine ‘social network'; unlike Twitter, few people outside of your real-life circle of friends will see your status updates. Embeddable Facebook posts , just like the irritating introduction of hashtags, help the social network achieve Twitter’s reach.

hashtag on facebook

Twitter is plagiarising the plagiarist though, last week the micro-blogging site introduced some interesting new features. We can now tag friends in photos, and group them together in what Twitter calls a ‘collage’, seems a bit familiar doesn’t it? This is part of a plan to turn the information network a bit more social, trying to muscle in on Facebook’s position of being the de-facto place for sharing photos, videos and other personal stuff you really shouldn’t be sharing.

But Why?

average time spent on Twitter

Twitter maintains a proud self identity of being the information network, so why rock the boat? Twitter’s problems lie in a lack of user engagement and time spent on site; we go on, check what’s there, tweet something, then click one of the links. We’ve off the site after only a few minutes.

Facebook though, we sit gawping at it, waiting for one of our friends to say something, similar to the way we stare into the fridge waiting for something delicious to magically appear. Why dumb down like this? Simple, ad revenue! If users spend more time transfixed at the homepage like a moth with a light bulb, the site can charge more for the ads we are mindlessly goggling at.

It’s a dangerous game though, and the signs are that Tweeters are not impressed by this Facebookification (yeah, that’s a word). Twitter has to find the balance between, ad revenue, attracting users and maintaining its identity.

How do they manage this? Not a clue.

twitter facebook

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holy grail

The Epic Quest Of The Sales Team

Your sales team is preparing to embark on their most dangerous mission. The fate of the world hangs in the balance (okay, maybe not the world, but your company, and their jobs, so close enough). Are they up to the task? Do they have what it takes to win the day? Not if they’re falling prey to these 10 weaknesses that can undermine any quest, be it for a sale or a ring of power.

Continue reading “The Epic Quest Of The Sales Team” »

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phone outreach in digital marketing

Phone Outreach In Digital Marketing

In this article, you’ll learn…

-        What phone outreach is and how you can use it to your advantage

-        Why should you use it? How should you use this marketing technique?

-        What ideal industries are best for phone outreach?

-        Some evidence on why it’s a successful tool

-        Some future implications for phone outreach

Continue reading “Phone Outreach In Digital Marketing” »

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Is This The End Of Ambush Marketing?

I love the idea of ambush marketing! Not only is it smart and cost effective, it sticks two fingers up to the man. Shoving your brand into the space that someone else has paid for is a cheeky way for smaller players to stay in the game. It doesn’t stop with them though does it? Remember when Opel hijacked a gathering of Volkswagen nerds? This time it was the turn of Subway to get one up of McDonalds’ and the Winter Olympics. Major sporting events are very protective of their sponsors, and are doing their best to stamp out mischievous brand jackers. Fifa and Baveria beer have long been at odds with each other about the latter’s attempt to sneak into the World Cup limelight. The cheekiness of the Dutch brewers repeatedly annoys football’s top brass, and has caused a group of promo girls to be arrested in South Africa, and 1000 fans to have their pants confiscated. ambush-marketing-team-from-bavaria-at-the-2010-world-cup All this madness was carried out to appease Fifa’s sponsor Budweiser. At the end of the day though, it’s Bavaria who are the winners, no such thing as bad publicity is there? Anyway, back to the story. Brands have to tread very carefully now, all those who narrowly escaped punishment before have been told, in no uncertain terms, to behave themselves. Subway, in its infinite wisdom, decided to ignore this warning. [youtube id=”rhZyHGXBKJ0″ width=”620″ height=”360″] The restaurant chain ran an advert during the Sochi games which featured skater Apolo Ohno and snowboarder Torah Bright. There’s plenty of imagery here, it’s obvious that this is a winter Olympics ad, but look carefully, no actual mention of Olympics, Sochi or anything of the kind. This will obviously piss off McDonald’s, which paid $200m to be the official restaurant of the games (because it’s widely known that Olympic athletes eat at Maccy’s). There’s not much they can do about it though. You can’t trademark the sport of skiing, or winter imagery, or the shape of a snowboard. We’ve been through this before with Aldi and Red Bull, the energy drinks brand is built around extreme sports, but until they invent and copyright their own sport, they can’t stop others doing the same. For years now, ambush marketing has been an arms race, with both ambushers and ambushees (they are actual words, I just made them up) fighting to stay one step ahead of the other. What we could have seen here though is the limit of ambush marketing, where both sides cancel each other out. The powers that be have put measures in place to stop Bavaria’s antics, but there is little they can do to stop Subway. It seems that this is where the line has been drawn and, although this ad looks rather uninspiring, it may have earned its place in the advertising history books.

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SEO Tips For Those With Time But No Money

In an ideal world, small business owners would have a limitless marketing budget and they’d be able to get awesome search marketing agencies to run phenomenal SEO campaigns, build amazing brand signals and generally win the Internet.

Meanwhile, though, back in the real world, there are businesses who simply don’t have significant enough budget to employ specialists in SEO (or other marketing channels for that matter). So how can you, assuming you don’t have a huge budget, at least build some foundations and start building your organic search presence?

These ideas assume you have some time. If there’s no financial budget, you are going to need to put some of your own time in. Here’s how I’d recommend spending time to start building your organic search presence:

1. Spend some time getting to know how your potential customers search

Get to know the way your customers might search for your products and services online. You can do this using Google’s own Keyword Planner tool. But don’t rely solely on this tool.

Other methods you can use to identify ways in which people might search you include:

  • Uber Suggest (a tool that scrapes data from Google Suggest)
  • Set up site search within Analytics (instructions) and use your internal website search data to assess how people might search for your products and services

2. Get the on page basics right

When I say “basics,” I’m talking about page titles, descriptions and content. This isn’t necessarily a quick job – if you have a big site this could take plenty of time. But it’s a good place to start.

Use the learnings of step 1 to ensure you’re mentioning key phrases in important parts of your page. There are resources to help here too.

Really do invest in getting things right on your website before you worry about the next steps!

Links, links, links…

If you’ve read those guides, you’ll know how much there is to do on site (particularly if you have a big site). But even if you get everything on your website absolutely perfect, there’s still a way to go. “Off page factors” make up, probably, the majority of what determines where you appear in search.

Off page factors are predominantly links, but also include citations of your brand and domain name amongst other things. But let’s focus on links given that they still play a significant role.

The remainder of these tactics are based on acquiring links to your site by distribution assets or creating brilliant resources.

3. Build a bank of Creative Commons Images

This is one of my favourite link acquisition techniques. You’ve probably come across blog posts where they’ve used an image belonging to someone else and they’ve credited that image with a link.

Well, with a bit of help from Flickr and Creative Commons Attribution Licensing, you can become the owner and distributor of images used by bloggers (and credited with links). I’ve written a comprehensive guide on “image link building” over on the Marketing Meld.

The basic principles, though, are:

  • Decide what images might be relevant to your business. If you’re a local business, for example, pictures of the area in which your business operates could work well
  • Upload images to a Flickr account and optimise the titles and descriptions
  • Advise people how to attribute. I do this by adding a single line to the description asking people: “If you use this image, please credit [insert URL].
  • Use Google Reverse Image search or a tool like Image Raider to track usage of your images and chase up relevant attribution

This can be time consuming, particularly accumulating images and getting them onto Flickr with relevant and unique titles and descriptions. But it’s certainly proven fruitful in my experience and doesn’t require a budget!

4. Guest Editorial and Expert Sources

seo expert

Whatever industry you operate in, you’ve probably learned a lot about it. In other words, you have expert knowledge. There are undoubtedly publications out there who’d benefit from your knowledge.

So this means you can potentially build links, citations and other brand signals by sharing your knowledge on other’s websites and online publications.

There are several ways you can go about this. Here’s the resources you’ll need:

5. Research and Experiment

I’ve outlined just two tactics above that can be used to build links. There are countless techniques out there and, over time, you’ll probably devise more.

Research, read, try and test. Dedicate time to experimenting and learning wherever possible!

Ask Me Anything

Well, not anything. I’m not much good on nuclear physics, for example. But feel free to ask me anything about SEO and content marketing. You can get hold of me via my own blog or on Twitter.


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