Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery

Over the past month, there’s been a huge surge in demand for virtual events, but when it comes to designing them, not many can see beyond the conventions of the convention centre.

In 1985 a new start–up called W Industries was formed, and in 1990 ‘VIRTUALITY’ was launched. If you were around at the time, you’ll remember the big grey headsets appearing at video–game arcades throughout the world. It was meant to herald a new era in gaming but the technology underpinning it wasn’t powerful enough and despite the massive PR machine behind it, the experience was quite simply, a bit pants.

The world of Second Life

In 2003, Linden Labs launched Second Life, a new ‘virtual world’ in which, anyone could create an avatar, and then go about building their own alternate reality, along with interacting with many other online ‘residents’.

It was hailed as the next big thing, and brands flocked to it. In fact, it became so popular that in 2006, U2 even hosted a live concert on the platform.

But as fast as it grew, people lost interest. After all, who wants to play something that quite literally mirrors real life, but without all of the drama, nuance, serendipity, idiosyncrasy and fun that often frequents life in the physical world.

It seems anything that’s ‘virtual’ usually ends up being a less-good version of the real thing.

And so today, with the self-isolation and lockdown implemented as a result of Covid-19, we see events around the world either being postponed, cancelled, or transformed into ‘virtual’ versions of the physical thing.

Welcome to the virtual foyer

Unfortunately, many seem to interpret a virtual event as something that’s a direct translation of a physical one. The welcome foyer. The plenary. Exhibition booths. Conference rooms. Reception desk anyone? And what this approach typically results in, is a crap version of the real thing. Not only is it not as good, it also acts as a stark reminder that once you’ve stared at the virtual lobby, and watched all the talks, you sadly won’t be walking to a bar serving ice cold drinks, or the nice roof terrace to go and network in the evening sun.

Putting a physical event online should never be about trying to replicate the physical world, virtually. It’s a broken formula – proven time and time again, and, as Tom Hanks’ character in BIG famously said: “What’s fun about playing with a building? That’s not any fun.”

When digital offers almost infinite possibilities in terms of the experience you can create for people, it seems crazy that an event would try to imitate the physical world and all of the constraints that come with it.

Think about movies such as Ready Player One, Tron and Inception – immersive, fantasy worlds unconstrained by the physics or realities of the physical world. Think about how these movies play with our minds, stimulate our imagination and helping us to see things in a new light.

A digital blank canvas. Wow.

Now imagine, if you had a blank canvas for your next event, one that was free from the constraints of elements like the location, size and shape of the venue, the colour of the carpet and the paint on the walls, or the distance between the various rooms for the talks, what sort of experience would you want to create?

Digital presents a world of creative potential for events – the only limit is your imagination and ambition.

Podium designed events combine creativity, craft and the very best uses of technology platforms to create events with theatre, quality and excitement that provide attendees with a feel-good experience from beginning to end.

We call it Immersive Digital Event Design.

So when you’re thinking about your next event, ask yourself one question; what sort of experience you want your event to deliver. Then call us.

Oliver Budworth
Head of Strategy at The Crocodile

Industry leaders launch Virtual Event Initiative

London, UK – 8th Apr, 2020 – Today, The CrocodileOnalytica, and Turtl are announcing Podium a global Immersive Virtual Events initiative, in partnership with ON24, the leading technology company helping businesses transform their marketing and customer engagement through data-rich digital experiences.

With high demand for enterprise organisations to pivot from physical events to digital, this offering enables enterprises with a readily available digital event solution that quickly delivers the scale, theatre, richness and excitement of physical events, online.

In virtual boardrooms globally, the same question has been echoing across video calls – “We have to pull our physical events this year – what are we going to do instead?” Switching to online events is the answer but the shift to digital isn’t as straightforward or as easy as it might seem. Now, it’s mission critical for brands to elevate their webinar experiences to match the engagement and impact of traditional sales and marketing conferences.

The Podium initiative pulls together best-in-class online event design, influencer marketing and media rich interactive content formats to create an immersive online event experience powered by the ON24 Platform.

The Podium initiative has an ambitious set of principles and goals:

  • To create the next generation of immersive digital event experiences
  • To replicate the theatre and excitement of physical events
  • To design data driven digital experiences that feel more human
  • To scale the engagement of in-person events to a much wider audience

This initiative is consistent with a growing trend for complimentary providers to work together to create agile, best-in-class solutions that address the fast-changing and unprecedented needs of business.

Tessa Barron, ON24 VP of Marketing, commented: "Our mission at ON24 is to help businesses transform their marketing into an experience their audience demands. And, we know that realising that vision takes more than technology. Through innovative service offerings like Podium, we hope to help companies successfully bridge the physical-to-digital event divide, now and in the future."

The Crocodile’s Managing Director, Jason Talbot, adds: "In the blink of an eye the world changed. It’s forced many of us to confront digital experience gaps that exist across many organisations. By breaking down silos and collaborating we’ve created Podium – immersive event design with craft, theatre, connected data and digital scale as a viable alternative to physical events in 2020 and onwards."

Tim Williams, CEO Onalytica: "Physical events create spikes of social media engagement, but brands have historically struggled to build and sustain dialogue and engagement pre- and post-event. Integrating internal and external influencers in the promotion of events drives an 8-week audience engagement cycle, improves the quality of events and creates inspiring content assets that can be used in the sales cycle throughout the year."

Nick Mason, CEO Turtl: "I’m very excited for Turtl to be part of Podium. In the present climate, the ability to deliver amazing digital events is an absolute must and Podium will be leading the way with best-of-breed technologies for every step of the digital event experience."

Visit Podium website.

Croc bolsters strategic social capability with Rabin appointment

Meet Tom Rabin, the latest addition to our award-winning B2B social media team.

Tom joins from social media communications agency, 1000heads, where most recently he was working as an Account Director in their Sydney office, looking after accounts including Google, Intel, Samsung, and Microsoft.

At The Crocodile, Tom will be leading social strategy and campaigns for tier one accounts including London Stock Exchange Group, Videojet, and Verizon Media.

The Crocodile’s Account Directors are among the industry’s best, combining top-end skills across strategy, planning, client relationship management, and team leadership.

The Crocodile’s Head of Social Media, Robyn Pierce, says: “The demand for talent in B2B social is at an all-time high. We are delighted that Tom has chosen to join the team. As well as being a confident and accomplished Account Director, he is an exceptionally talented social media practitioner with a deep understanding of how social media fits within an integrated marketing environment.”

Peter Berg joins The Croc as Senior Copywriter

The Crocodile continues to attract the very best talent in the B2B market with the appointment of senior copywriter, Peter Berg.

He joins us having built a wealth of experience at the likes of Earnest and April Six working on accounts including Facebook, Cisco, Microsoft and O2 to name but a few. He hails from Minnesota, along with Prince, Bob Dylan and the Coen Bros, and (like those noir-loving brothers) has a passion for script writing (cop thrillers) as much as copywriting and creating big ideas.

Creative Director, Chris Tongeman says: “At The Croc we believe in the importance of data and technology in getting in front of more of the right people, however unlike many others we also believe in the importance of ideas, experience and creativity to convert those moments into meaningful engagement. This requires intelligence, critical thinking, customer empathy along with the bravery to make a creative leap beyond the obvious. It takes people like Peter and we’re delighted to have him on the team.”

CX Shorts: Let’s talk tech

Next in our CX shorts series, we’re diving straight into one of the key buzzwords around CX: tech. So, who better to talk to than Charlotte Kennett, Global Customer Marketing Manager at Blue Prism, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) provider?

Charlotte has picked up on a key stumbling block in CX: many B2B brands are starting to talk the talk, but few are walking the walk. It’s something the industry is famous for. And for her, tech is the way to fix that.

Take a look at our first CX short, where we hear from Sylvia Jensen about the end goal for a good CX strategy. Look out for our next short coming next week!

CX Shorts: The end goal

The first in our series of CX shorts, we’re asking marketers what good CX means to them and (because true end-to-end CX is a tough ask) how the industry can get there.

After our first #IAMCX event, Sylvia Jensen, VP of EMEA Marketing at Acquia talks about the end goal of a CX strategy. ‘Loyalty’ is the obvious answer, but Sylvia believes there’s a higher goal.

Best Content and Best SME Campaign

Well – maybe not quite ‘best’ but almost…

We’re really proud to have taken silver at this year’s International B2B Awards in – dare we say it – two really high calibre categories: Best Content and Best SME.

The campaign for AIM was designed to further develop relationships with the SME market at scale, so being recognised in these categories – combined with the overall performance of the campaign – is a great achievement. Bringing data, technology and great creative execution to a global SME audience has been a huge team effort across a tremendously talented client and agency team.

For 3 years in a row now, we have been acknowledged for awards for our work with highly compliance-driven financial services clients. The thing they all have in common is an approach that addresses customer needs before product features. (Or perhaps we just keep getting lucky?)

Managing Director, Jason Talbot says:

“The AIM campaign is a great example of when client and agency teams really take the time upfront to get things right in terms of strategy, tech and execution. The result is a campaign with huge resonance in the market on a global level.”

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!”

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.

Love them or hate them? New social features to boost your brand into 2018

Popular opinions are sharply divided on many of the big changes and happenings during 2017 in social media. Influencer marketing rocketed, and fake news was fought by Facebook. But what are the major developments of the past year in social platform capabilities that marketers should be aware of? Let’s take a look…

Instagram: Polls, filters and influencers

In 2017, social photo sharing platform Instagram went Face Filter crazy – in a game of catch-up with rival Snapchat. Instagram also enabled users to save and bookmark favourite photos, create multiple-photo posts, and added new desktop functionality. With this constant evolution, Instagram’s popularity continues to grow at a rapid rate, predicted to reach 1 billion users in 2018.

But even more interesting from a B2B perspective, Instagram’s new Business Profiles – its equivalent to parent company Facebook’s Pages – are now being used by more than 25 million marketers. With a handy ‘Contact Us’ button on the profiles, plus invaluable in-depth analytics about the number of impressions and unique reach that each post achieves, it’s no surprise that businesses want a slice of the action, with 80% of Instagram’s 800 million users now following at least one business account.

Influencer marketing is exploding right now on Instagram. Brands of all sizes are forming both paid and unpaid partnerships with influencers to spread their message. In the spirit of enhanced transparency – and with the added benefit of bringing even more credibility to influencer marketing – Instagram rolled out a ‘Paid Partnership With’ tag in June 2017 for posts and Stories.

This year also saw Instagram Stories celebrating its first birthday by adding an interactive poll function – so your brand can now ask customers topical questions and easily share the results. It’s a great way to add more interaction to your Instagram visual storytelling.

Facebook: Smarter Stories, plus more Live and 360° video

Facebook created its own Stories function in 2017 and then rolled out an option to link Instagram Stories to Facebook Stories. The big news for business was that Facebook Stories also opened up to include Pages, allowing brands a new useful marketing tool.

Facebook 360 was also launched in 2017. Over 25 million 360-degree photos have now been posted on Facebook, plus 1 million immersive 360-degree videos.

Pushing forward with Facebook Live this year, it became possible to start broadcasting directly from your laptop or desktop computer, and to add comments to your live broadcasts. A great tool for PR, and experiential events, The Crocodile has used Facebook Live with a number of clients this year, including Volvo Construction Equipment, Swatch, and B2B Marketing – with exceptional results!

Twitter: Character-building experiences

In 2017, Twitter turned eleven years old – and decided it was time for an interface makeover, such as turning square profile pictures into circles and repositioning tabs, toolbars and sidebars.

The update was mostly cosmetic.

However, 2017’s big development on Twitter was the increased character allowance for each tweet – from 140 to 280 characters. This was a major long-awaited change for consumers and brands alike, and probably one of the biggest social media news items of 2017. The move followed criticism that it was not easy enough to tweet, and was seen as part of Twitter’s masterplan to attract new users, increase growth and compete with other social platforms. While Twitter currently has 330 million active users, this is a relatively small user-base – Instagram has 800 million, and Facebook over 2 billion users.

The good news for marketers? While it’s still early days, some preliminary research indicates that tweets longer than 140 characters get more engagement. Analytics company SocialFlow has reported that people are liking and retweeting longer tweets almost two-times more than shorter ones.

LinkedIn: Generating leads and leading generations

The big LinkedIn news for B2B this year was the introduction of Lead Generation Forms, allowing users to opt-in to your offer with just one click. According to, AdWeek: “marketers have reported that using the lead gen forms have helped lower their average cost per lead by more than 20%”.

Another major step forward for LinkedIn was the rolling out of native video capabilities this year, allowing B2B marketers the chance to stream live video to a professional audience.

The Crocodile was an early adopter, joining the LinkedIn closed video beta trial for client the London Stock Exchange Group.

All in all, 2017 has been an exciting year for social media, and an interesting time for B2B social marketing. Keep your eyes peeled for our next blog – about hot topics to watch out for in social media in 2018.

Can we snap up four B2B Awards?

The prestigious B2B Awards 2017 take place this Thursday at The Roundhouse, London. This year, The Crocodile’s brand of conversational marketing has led to us being shortlisted in no fewer than four categories for our Step Ahead With Confidence campaign for Standard Life.

Of course, there are no easy categories to win. All require a deep pool of skill sets, both client and agency side, to achieve connected strategies and exceptional customer experiences that deliver results.

The theme for the awards night is ‘Unleash Your Beasts’ – a good omen for an agency with a name like ours! Over the past few weeks we’ve embraced our inner Croc to create some epic beast-themed content, which you can enjoy on our Twitter feed.

Stay tuned to our Instagram and Twitter feeds to see how many awards we snap up. There may even be a few surprises in store – but hopefully not too many Crocodile tears!

Our 2017 B2B Awards Shortlist:

  • Best Multichannel Campaign
  • Best SME Campaign
  • Best Lead Generation & Nurture
  • Bravery Award

Taking digital experience to the next level

We are delighted to welcome Shimpei Okumura to our gang. He joins us from John Brown Media as Digital Art Director, having built a fantastic portfolio across fashion, lifestyle and finance brands.

This strategic appointment looks to boost our digital design team as the agency continues to push the importance of great digital experiences in the B2B industry.

Chris Tongeman, Creative Director at The Crocodile says: “In B2B there is no shortage of content being created, but what is often lacking is the craft and finesse skills required to take something to the next level and differentiate through the quality of experience. Shimpei will be a great addition to our talented team as we look to create higher value conversations with our clients’ customers.”