Lights, camera, action: Live streaming at Ignite 2018

by Lotte Wilkinson

For the second year running, we were delighted to be the official live streaming partner of the world’s largest growth marketing event, Ignite 2018 hosted by B2B Marketing. And this year we went bigger and better!


Our carefully planned production schedule and broadcast studio were geared up to stream event highlights and exclusive content live from the 1-day event. This included opening and closing keynotes, a session on industry hot-topic: customer experience, and interviews with highly-respected B2B gurus, presenters and exhibitors – from the likes of LinkedIn, Salesforce and Marketo.

Top quality broadcasts with high production values, were achieved by our on-site team which consisted of a presenter, producer/art director, camera crew of two, a sound engineer, production assistant and social media specialist. Notice: multiple camera angles, audio quality, on-screen branding and captions, professional-standard interviews etc.


Opening keynote on behavioural science in B2B marketing from Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy Group UK:

The Crocodile’s MD Jason Talbot talking CXy Marketing:

Watch all videos from the day here:


In total we produced 13 live videos, which resulted in:

  • 17,000 individuals reached / online event ‘attendees’
  • 1,577 post engagements (an 18% increase on last year)
  • A strong 10% organic engagement rate
  • 24% increase in video views versus last year

The day was a challenge – as all live streaming is – but one we relish with our well-oiled production machine. The team is proud of the huge success of this year’s broadcasting, and pleased to have the opportunity to push ourselves to exceed last year’s efforts in terms of approach and technical skills.

Want to talk about how live streaming can support your campaign or event? Get in touch.

CXy Series. Part 1 – Why B2B Marketers should give a XXXX

By Jason Talbot, Managing Director

As marketers, we can get so caught up in strategy, that we forget the most important part of the process: our customers and their experience with our brand.

Speaking in the Customer Experience (CX) stream at Ignite 2018 this week, I urged B2B marketers to keep CX front of mind and to be prepared to lead the conversation with their CEOs going forward.

Much has been written about CX and when I speak to people it’s clear many see it as another lofty abstract idea or soundbite from the jargon list of marketing. I’m of the opinion it’s a big deal that’ll have positive, far reaching consequences for our profession.

And apparently I’m not alone in this opinion:

Today’s reality is that customers conduct a referendum on your brand every day. That’s across every aspect of the business, across every touchpoint. They’re not thinking in channels or departments, all they care about is the overall experience and how you make them feel.

I don’t subscribe that these expectations are exclusive to B2C – of course they apply to B2B marketing. B2B or B2C, when we start looking at the world through the lens of CX, customer expectations are set by the daily exposure ‘people’ have to – well, everything!

And the forward-thinking companies have not only realised it but they are tapping into it. They’re chucking outdated product or silo-led strategies and are pivoting to customer-led strategies. This train has already left the station, don’t get left behind.

I’ll also wager over the coming months/year the CEO party line will continue to shift from “digital transformation” to “customer experience”. It seems to be the natural progression from a more operational led statement to a benefit and growth-based statement. As marketers it’s definitely time for us to challenge our perspective on things.

Peter Drucker, called the ‘father of business consulting’, and in my mind a marketing rockstar had high expectations for the industry. I LOVE THIS QUOTE. He’s telling us to stop managing channels and platforms and realise our true value – making happy customers.

This couldn’t be more relevant right now. We’re in a world where customers have never been more sceptical about brands, about big business and are even paying to ignore digital marketing!

As marketers we should all be in the business of building trust, relevance and stronger customer relationships. The customer experience agenda should matter to us as B2B marketers, because CX is a business strategy that can place marketing right back at the heart of business. Let’s make Drucker happy, by making our customers happy. It’s what he would want.


Article 2: No BS Fundamentals


Live-streaming Ignite 2018 to the world

Being asked to live-stream the world’s biggest B2B marketing growth event to marketers across the globe is an exciting brief.

And after the huge success of Ignite Live 2017, we plan on making it bigger and better for 2018. It plays to everything that excites us: video, social, mobile – it’s real-time and it’s conversational. Viewers can get involved, share opinions and interact, which makes it a great digital event experience, second only to being there in person.

If you’re interested in taking part, drop us a line – it could be time for your 5 minutes of fame.

Jason Talbot, Managing Director says: “This is the biggest B2B marketing event in the calendar and we’re thrilled to be a part of it. Extending the event experience through social is something many try, but don’t necessarily get right. A number of elements come into play from video, production values, art direction, as well as building a non-attendee viewership. Last year was great and we expect this year to be even better.”

2018 is the year of personalisation

There is new (and huge) potential in personalising our approach to marketing. It increases efficiency and lowers costs, and here at The Crocodile we’re pushing to make B2B marketing personal.

It’s about change, it’s about data, it’s about platforms, but above all it’s about people: fostering real connections and putting the customers back into the very centre of your marketing efforts.

The benefits are obvious. Yet it’s a hugely under-utilised approach – it seems the wave of mass-adoption for B2B brands is still to come. Which means now is the perfect time to rethink your strategy.

The opportunity to expand and make the most of marketing spend is there. For some help getting your strategy off the ground, take a look at our guide. We’ll start you on the road to a truly customer-centric way of thinking, and talk you through a more conversational approach to digital marketing.

Click here to download our personalisation guide

Going behind the lens with Leica

It’s a privilege to work with a world-famous brand whose craftsmanship defines them, but with that privilege comes pressure to deliver work of the highest standard. The latest brief from Leica presented us with this tough but exciting challenge.

The task was a social media-led awareness campaign for Leica’s APS-C system, including the new CL with classic 3-part Leica design, the intuitive TL2 (which has been co-created with Audi), and complementing lenses. These are entry-level camera systems, so targeting strategy and positioning were crucial.

The Crocodile took Leica in a new direction with the #LeicaXMe campaign, which aimed to tell the stories of the people behind the lenses – Leica ambassadors, Cat Garcia and Kim Leuenberger. The concept was simple: two photographers, two cameras, one location.

For efficiency, all campaign content was captured in a single shoot day. Keeping the target audience front of mind guided the focus on ease of use and functionality of the cameras.

The strategy included organic and paid tactics, as well as innovative, high-performing social content formats:

  • Facebook Canvas – This immersive, mobile content format told the #LeicaXMe story through a real 360° view of the two cameras and the variety of accompanying lenses.
  • Instagram Stories – A full-screen engaging mobile format provided a sneak peek into the #LeicaXMe story before the full campaign launched. See the Story highlighted on Leica UK’s Instagram profile (on your mobile) here.
  • Behind the scenes video – A dynamic, engaging look behind the scenes.

Showing the strong personal connection between photographer and camera throughout was particularly important. When you own a Leica, the camera is as inspiring as what you are photographing, and it was key to convey this emotional aspect of the brand through the content.

The campaign harnessed the power of immersive social media content to give viewers a full experience of the two cameras from a real photographer’s perspective, and create the narrative and connection needed to drive high-quality engagement with the target audience.

Giving customer experience the AR treatment

In the business world, so much is focused on offers, acquisitions and sales that it can leave some of the most important people a little overlooked. We’re talking about the current customers: the business bread and butter.

And Nectar wanted a way to thank them, to give them something fun and engaging, a reminder of the good that comes from collecting and spending with Nectar. It had to be different from the usual offer-led emails, but to still give customers something to get excited about.

So we built an email to send to customers on the month of their anniversary with Nectar, to commemorate their ‘Nectarversary’. It showed them the points they had collected along their customer journey, and how many times they had swapped points for rewards along the way. With customers armed with the stats, they now needed only one thing: a way to celebrate.

We created eight AR filters to use through Facebook’s camera effects platform on mobile. Customers could then have some fun and share their Nectarversary news online easily, as the filters open straight into the Facebook app.

The effects include virtual doughnut deely boppers, and a revolving cupcake hat (complete with icing and sprinkles, obviously). Of course, there are seasonal variations; our bow-tie, party-hat-wearing Easter bunny filter was rolled out for March, and there are Halloween and Christmas variations to come. It gives all the fun of a party photobooth, complete with dress-up props, but right from your sofa or your desk at work.

It’s a reminder that in our marketing, we shouldn’t forget the value of things that are fun and shareable. As well as being engaging, they allow the customer to feel valued, creating something that they will enjoy and remember.

GfK hires The Croc

We are excited to announce that The Crocodile has been appointed by GfK to work on a number of digitally-led projects.

GfK is one of the world’s largest market research organisations. It connects data and predictive analytics to help businesses from around the globe to make better decisions, now and in the future.

The Crocodile’s managing director, Jason Talbot, says: “For a bunch of agency data geeks that spend their life aligning customer behaviour and go-to-market propositions, it may well be a match made in heaven!”

Lifting the digital curtain on dance

by Rachel Turner

Digital transformation conversations are part of our everyday here at The Crocodile, and increasingly so of late with many of our enterprise clients. Introducing innovation and creativity – enabled by technology – can really shake things up, and ambitious marketers are up for it. An organisation on the front foot of such an approach is the Royal Opera House, and they’ve got it so right.

Years of dance school have fuelled my love of ballet, and since hanging up my pointe shoes there’s no greater pleasure for me than watching professional ballet live. It’s an expensive hobby as good seats tend to shock the bank balance, but there’s nothing like being present in a theatre amongst such talent. Until now…

The Royal Opera House’s annual Live Cinema Season is a game-changer. Through the power of technology, they’ve expanded beyond their Covent Garden bricks and mortar to bring live theatre and dance to the masses.

Last night, watching three short ballets as part of a centenary celebration for the late composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein, live at my local cinema, it struck me how far they’d gone to ensure that what was lacking in Opera House ambience was made up for by pretty much EVERYTHING else.

Exclusive interviews with choreographers, costume designers, and set designers, and engaging host (Oré Oduba), behind the scenes footage, unrivalled views…. Even a digital version of the coveted hard copy programme was available with added films, articles, photos and exclusives to bring you closer to the production.

During the intervals, live tweets were shown on cinema screens, and immediately after the production, social posts went live encouraging online reviews and feedback, with #ROHbernstein featuring as one of the top 10 trending hashtags in the UK.

A Crimson Hexagon review of the last 24 hours on Twitter shows 1,000 uses of the hashtag, across 37 countries.

All of this demonstrates a carefully planned and exceptionally executed approach by the Royal Opera House to broaden its reach and to appeal to a different demographic, through increasing accessibility via technology. In addition to affluent theatregoers, more frugal (and digitally native) dance lovers can share their appreciation of the art in real-time.

The customer experience, of course, is key, whatever you’re marketing. Personally, I think the Royal Opera House has nailed it on multiple levels. They’ve expanded their product offering, without compromising the experience of their traditional customer – no mean feat in an industry so rich in tradition and heritage. Delivering a feeling of exclusivity to both theatre and cinema audiences is impressive; doing it simultaneously is a masterclass in marketing, and digital transformation in particular.

What lessons can we learn from this in B2B?

  • Tradition and heritage can embrace digital. Technology elevates products, services and marketing.
  • Accessibility is all-important. Make it easy for your customers to reach you, engage with you, buy from you, have a conversation with you.
  • Think customer-first: existing and prospective. Sometimes these can be complimentary. They may want the same things, but in different ways. Technology could make this possible.
  • Innovation doesn’t mean re-inventing the wheel. Look for opportunities where integrating technology can add value.

A bloody good customer journey

Our Head of Customer Engagement, Matt Garisch, describes his recent experience of giving blood.

Sat planning my next tattoo, I suddenly found myself focussing on a rather different type of needle, and considering giving something back instead – by donating blood.

It’s not every day that an organisation makes me stop and re-evaluate my life choices. In this instance, it was the NHS’s Give Blood appeal.

Somewhere, somebody customer obsessed, thought about how to get people to donate, and keep them coming back for more, by using a clever mix of channels, technology, and a focus on customer experience to evoke an internal conversation in the recipient – in this case me!

Everything from the booking process online, the Give Blood app, the experience in the donation centre, and the follow-up (which was the thought-provoking icing on the cake for me), altogether created an awe-inspiring customer experience. They did their job so well, that it made my behaviour, dare I say it, predictable!

Here’s the journey they took me on:

  1. I decided I wanted to donate – so downloaded the app via a link in a tweet by the Give Blood appeal.
  2. I was offered a convenient appointment – signing up with no fuss.
  3. The experience on the day was great – the waiting room wasn’t full of awkward Londoner strangers, catching each other’s eye and quickly looking away. On the contrary, there was a feeling of camaraderie amongst us.
  4. I left feeling happy – I’d done a great thing and was proud of myself.
  5. I received a thank you message – an unexpected text message thanking me for donating, stating that my blood type would be updated on the app, along with my next potential date to donate.

And, I assumed that would be it…

However, about two weeks later, I got a further text from the service. My blood had been given to a named London hospital that day – wow!

Now, it may not be much, but that last message stopped me in my tracks. It had instantly made the whole process real for some reason. Donating is not something I did a few weeks ago, but now that I knew that it was actually being put to some use, and I knew whereabouts, this immediately created a flurry of internal dialogue around my choices of whether to donate again in future.

How is this relevant to B2B?

Often when we talk about customer journeys, it’s usually a straight line on a diagram which leads to some positive benefit for your organisation. The flaw (as it is with most things in this world) is the human element. You cannot predict, or encourage, the reaction you get from someone. Or can you?

Customer journeys do not begin with web pages, events (virtual or physical), emails, or social channels. They start in the mind, beginning with a conversation as a person works through a problem.

Have you thought about the conversation you want your customer to have when they are not engaging with your brand? Customer analytics platforms like Thunderhead and Kitewheel can show you the path, and (much like ABM theory and frameworks) they are useless, unless you look at how you fundamentally influence the decision-making process. Through using multiple channels that manage the ongoing conversation, you can minimise the chance variable in the decision tree.

And how can you break through the noise to positively influence their decision? Well, 97% of decision-makers say they have a preferred vendor before they go into a pitch process, according to a new study entitled Group. Mind. Set. How Group Dynamics Impact Business Decisions – conducted by B2B Marketing.

The point of the journey

Customer journeys are not a straight line. Spanning multiple channels, they start way before you have intentionally turned your marketing sights on them.

So, if my experience is anything to go by, and the journey I’ve been on influenced the chance variable in my internal dialogue, the stage has already been set, and I have made 92% of my decision already.

Only time will tell what the most likely conclusion will be. Let’s connect and I’ll let you know the outcome.

The difference diversity makes

Here we are in 2018 and we still need to educate the world on the merits of diversity.

Happy International Women’s Day!

At the risk of being over-simplistic, businesses that have a knack of spotting talent and nurturing it tend to thrive. Talent is not a gender, an age, a sexual orientation, or – dare I say it – a disability. Talent is talent.

Living in digital or IoT times, one could argue this has never been more necessary. I believe it’s critical to have a varied outlook so as to stand a chance of connecting with the world on a daily basis. Spoiler alert: the ‘world’ is varied and so requires a varied and balanced outlook – common sense surely?

At The Crocodile we have a talent-first policy.  This has resulted in a team from over 5 countries, multiple ethnicities, a female bias inclusive of top roles as Department Heads and Partner. We believe that diversity and a balanced perspective directly impact performance.

If you need a bit more persuasion, don’t just take my word for it, take a look at some factoids:

  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
  • Case study: Facebook. They have over 75 nationalities in the International HQ in Dublin. This is because they realise when they’re trying to speak to 1.86 billion people worldwide, they need to have diverse talent and multiple voices so they can scale globally and engage locally.
  • Also, when considering a potential employer, 61% of women look at the diversity of the employer’s leadership team, so diversity is also important for securing your future workforce.

We’re proud to celebrate International Women’s Day today and recognise just how necessary diversity is to businesses and the wider world. But diversity should (of course) be on all of our agendas, no matter what day it is.


by Jason Talbot

What the click is in store for PPC this year?

It may be a cliché to say that the marketing landscape is an ever-changing one, but it certainly is true. As marketers, it’s really important for us to look to the future and see how we can improve, aligning with the constant advances in tech. And looking at the emerging trends in the ad world, this year looks to be an exciting one!

With that in mind, here are our PPC predictions for this year:

1) The importance of personalisation

We’ve all heard the well-known phrase ‘personalisation, personalisation, personalisation.’ No? Well it’s certainly key to us here at The Croc, and to marketing in 2018. People are individuals, so we should treat them that way. And when you start on the road of truly personalised content, the scope for inventiveness and creativity increases tenfold.

Personalisation also results in a huge uplift in lead generation when compared with non-personalised content. Inbound marketing platform, HubSpot, estimates this to be as much as a 42% uplift. On top of this, personalised web experiences get double the engagement and response.

However, personalisation in itself is a two-step process. To tailor content, we need to know the audience that we are marketing to. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is set to help with this, but more about this later.

There are, of course, many ways in which we can tailor our content and messaging. It can be done via geography, intent, industry vertical, or even a person’s position within a company. Focusing marketing resources on target accounts is, of course, account-based marketing (ABM), and it’s now more important than ever. According to US marketing company Wordstream, over 70% of B2B marketers are ramping up their programmes with the likes of ABM platform DemandBase.

With a smaller set of target accounts you can then track the effectiveness of a campaign more easily, align your sales and messaging perfectly to your specific targets, and see a very clear ROI. From here, the next step is in actually creating the content. Good personalised content listens to its audience and their needs.

When sales and marketing resources are concentrated on a clearly defined audience, we can deliver relevant and personalised information that people will be receptive to and genuinely interested in, and so give a better overall experience.

2) Machine learning and market automation

AI seems to be all people are talking about right now, but it’s largely from a speculative point of view. That’s going to change. Yes, a machine has written a book and is able to beat humans at chess, but it can be utilised in a far more practical way. Machine learning is here, and we will soon be using it in our day-to-day marketing.

We can use machines to learn about customers on an individual level. This will work practically in terms of assisting customers and, in detecting and adapting to shifts in customer interests.

Google’s Smart Bidding is a useful example to bear in mind, particularly in terms of optimising campaign strategy in real-time. Here, machines work within defined targets for the cost per action (CPA), return on advertising spend (ROAS), or other key performance indicators (KPIs). The result is, of course, an enhanced cost per click (CPC) bidding strategy as a whole. It is able to factor in an enormous amount of data, such as the precise time and location of the individual auction, and so can gather relevant information that we can use to deliver the best results.

Put simply, it’s efficient. Machines are able to process far more information than whole teams of people. Time is saved, but far from the machine overthrowing the human, it will ensure that your teams have time for creative tasks and producing excellent campaigns, free from hours of labour-intensive data processing. The intelligence that is gathered can improve both existing and future strategies. Used in this way, technology doesn’t take power, it empowers!

3) Better audience targeting

For the very first time in online marketing, a solid keyword strategy just won’t be enough on its own. But this shouldn’t be damning, but liberating.

At The Croc, we integrate targeting into our marketing strategy. For example, with clients, Linux Professional Institute and AppDynamics, we looked very specifically at the types of audience who downloaded a guide. This told us that they were engaged and actively searching for information: effectively ‘in-market’. By looking at characteristics such as age group, gender, and content they have interacted with, (overlaid with CRM data of existing customers) we were able to serve ads to reach people that were most likely to engage with the content.

Of course, there is more to learn about a customer than simply what they may have clicked on, say, in the last hour of browsing. Equally important is how long someone has spent on the page. Have they pogo-sticked and bounced off the page, or spent time immersing themselves in the content? If it’s the latter, then you have found that top tier audience. You can remarket to them, yes, but also bid higher. We can create marketing plans based on activity and actually understand and nurture the people we are speaking to.

For example, if someone has recently bought a phone, they may need insurance or a contract, and we, as marketers, are able to guide them with this purchase. This is essentially what tools such as Google’s Custom Affinity Audience allow us to do. Ultimately, better targeting stops ads from being simply background noise, and elevates them, making them relevant, interesting, and able to shift in real-time to the specific demands of an individual. Marketing and ads can then operate in terms of a conversation, rather than a loudspeaker.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what’s on the horizon for 2018. Another thing to look out for is the use of video marketing. When the typical organisation publishes 18 videos per month  (which looks a lot like the production schedule of a blogger a few years ago) it’s clearly on the rise. Video content engages audiences and it is a really interesting area to bear in mind. Stay tuned to our blog for an in-depth look at emerging and upcoming video trends for 2018, coming soon.

A little more conversation, a lot more interaction

Our most recent recruit and Head of Customer Engagement, Matt Garisch, opens up the conversation between brand and customer. 

Conversational marketing – yet another marketing buzzword to throw around the B2B marketing universe. But what does it mean? Well, the truth is like many grandiose marketing pedigrees bandied around today, like account-based marketing, influencer marketing, and (one of my favourite catch-alls) CX, it isn’t a new concept, but rather a different way of thinking about how you engage with your target audience.

I feel I have an insight into this connected conversation world, both from a marketing standpoint and from the rather more unusual perspective of living with a shrink – the master of connected conversations. Or at least she thinks she is!

Valuing the human element

Starting a conversation in a room full of people you don’t actually know is one of the hardest things to do. Even harder to engineer and create ‘genuine’ interest with one another. I’m not talking about interest in the product, but in the person. A conversation completely hinges on two parties being engaged in the here and now. With that in mind I wondered, can a machine do this? Is a kick-ass ABM program and tech stack alone strong enough to deliver this for you? In a word, no! Just this week I picked up on this very honest LinkedIn post by Nikki Nixon, reiterating that the biggest challenge with any form of marketing is that we’ve forgotten that we are trying to connect with an actual human being. Customer personas, detailed interests, and company information alone do not make for a good conversation.

How odd then, that when we try to utilise something that we as people do every day, it often fails. It’s now far too easy to get lost in the data, with people becoming just lines on a spreadsheet.

This is where marketing evangelists would potentially say that sales and marketing alignment comes in to play, as salespeople are adept at creating conversations. I disagree. Part of the problem is the ability to truly listen.

‘True listening requires the setting aside of one’s self’
M Scott Peck, psychiatrist and author, The Road Less Travelled

Listening is the step before the use of customer data, marketing tools, content, and CX – and contextualises it into something meaningful.

Admittedly conversational marketing has been around for a fair bit. The resurgence brought forward by chatbot vendors like Drift. However, they were not the first people to start the conversation. In fact, the rise in a more real-time and personal way of engaging with your audience has been seen as the key for a long time. In 2015, the Gartner report predicted the rise in a more real-time and personal way of engaging with audiences, stating that by 2018, organisations that excel at personalised customer integration online will outsell slow to act rivals by more than 30%. Now more than ever digital experiences, understanding our customers, and engaging with them on their terms and at the right times, is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s expected!

My aim is to see this blog as the start of a connected conversation with you. And next time you think about your marketing plan, strategy, or product launch, try putting the types of conversations you want at the heart of your thought process, and see if you get a different result.

As a parting thought, I would like to share a couple of points on the subject of conversation from Celeste Headlee, TEDx speaker and radio broadcaster:

  1. Be present – in a marketing context, it has to be real-time and personal.
  2. Go with the flow – conversations, like customer journeys, are not in the shape of a funnel or a straight line, but more like a DNA Helix.
  3. Don’t equate your experience with theirs – all experiences are individual. Unless they actively ask, they don’t care about the great work you did for someone else.
  4. Conversations are not promotion opportunities – in your experience have you ever enjoyed an evening out with someone who only talked about how great they are as a human being, how amazing their business is, and how freaking awesome their life is?
  5. Forget the details – people buy people, then they buy value, everything else is irrelevant.
  6.  Listen.

Watch Celeste’s TEDx talk here, and if you’d like to carry on the conversation then get in touch with us at The Croc.

LPI Launches New DevOps certification through integrated multi-channel campaign

October this year, global leaders in Open Source certification, LPI, launched its first DevOps certification. The Crocodile devised a global, multichannel campaign to launch the new exam to the market with a splash.

The Crocodile was asked to develop a creative concept that would engage DevOps professionals, Sysadmins and Software developers, build brand awareness with these new audiences, and encourage sign-ups to take the new exam.

We designed multivariate landing pages for A/B testing and produced a brand video for the campaign, which was edited into short teaser videos for use across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Blog content was produced to support the campaign messaging.

We also produced a DevOps Exam Guide to help candidates to prepare for the exam; providing practical guidance as well as access to sample questions and a checklist to help track progress.

The campaign theme ‘there are easier ways to stand out in DevOps’ ran through all elements of the campaign – video ads, static ads, graphics, landing page copy, blog content and even the exam guide. All campaign assets were distributed to regional partners for local translation and execution.

The campaign was rolled out internationally, across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Search, Display and YouTube, using hyperlocal targeting to reach tech-hubs around the globe with the greatest appetite for DevOps.

Just three weeks in and traffic to the LPI site has more than tripled; with over a thousand IT professionals downloading the exam guide in advance of taking the exam. How’s that for standing out?

Black Mirror tube takeover is a shocking New Year wake-up

The Crocodile’s Marcus Gibb shares an unsettling vision of the near future….

The first day back at work after New Year is never easy. It’s a real shock to the system when you finally have to crawl out into the cold January dawn and face the horror of a London commute. So, imagine my fear, dread and anxiety when I stepped off the tube at Old Street to be confronted on every poster with the bleakest headlines you can imagine…

  • ‘Tech startup turning dead loved ones into chatbots’
  • ‘Brain implant lets parents monitor teens’
  • ‘Hackers blackmail victims using their internet history’

What was happening? Was this the news in 2018? Had the world gone mad? (Well, madder.) Had Donald Trump pushed the big red button instead of the Tweet button? Or had I stepped into some kind of dystopian future nightmare?

As I headed up the escalator, my latter suspicion seemed to be confirmed. The stark black-and-white posters, filling every advertising board in the station, began to feature the words ‘Black Mirror’.

I realised that Old Street station had been completely taken over – but not by aliens, incompetent world leaders, or technology tyrants. This was an imaginative, unsettling and subversive takeover advertising campaign by online broadcaster Netflix, for its latest season of Black Mirror – the ‘future shock’ TV drama series created by British writer and TV critic Charlie Brooker.

And the ads weren’t the end of this immersive Black Mirror experience. As I exited the station, I was handed a box labelled: ‘Are you being watched?’ Inside was a plastic cover to stick over my webcam – alluding to a Black Mirror episode where victims are blackmailed with covert webcam recordings. The box itself makes no mention of Black Mirror or Netflix – a very brave move by a major brand.

The station takeover was arranged by Netflix with TfL through ‘pop-up space marketplace’ Appear Here. Old Street was selected as it’s apparently a hub for “forward-thinkers and early-adopters” – (ahem) – “making it the ideal place for brands to test out more daring ideas”. All in all, it’s a great execution of an idea that perfectly reflects (excuse the pun) Black Mirror’s themes of zeitgeisty techno-angst.

But why am I discussing a B2C ad campaign on a B2B blog? Because it highlights that in 2018, more than ever, any brand, whether B2C or B2B, has to overcome people’s ability to zone out their message as background noise. (Rather like the Black Mirror episode where people use augmented reality to mask out things they’d rather not see.)

By contrast, this campaign is surprising and affecting, thrusting big and thought-provoking ideas into people’s faces – making them literally stop and take notice. But most of all, it definitely succeeds in creating conversations. And at The Crocodile, that’s an objective we think every brand should mirror.

Black Mirror Season 4 is on Netflix now.