30 April 2007

Is Australian Fashion Week and Rosemount on the same catwalk?

This year naming rights for Australian Fashion Week have gone to Rosemount Estate Wines, but is there might be a perceived misalignment between the two brands.

With Mercedes surrendering rights to Rosemount, DIFFUSION would have thought that there would have been a natural synergy between the brands as there was with its predecessor's long association.

Sure, Rosemount positions itself in the US and other markets as "The Prestige Wine of Australia" or so it's 2006 website proclaims and Australian Fashion Week, under the aegis of Simon Lock and now IMG, has successfully grown a new fashion event brand in a highly competitive but small market.

But anyone taking a trip down to their local liquor store or bottle shop will see that the "Prestige Wine of Australia" sells for less than $10 in its country of origin.

While for some this might indicate a high level of accessibility for a great wine, "prestige" and low prices seem somewhat incongruous with an international event that has helped launched the careers of such notable Australian designers as Colette Dinnigan, Akira Isogawa, Sass and Bide and Tsubi/Ksubi.

Rosemount might be repositioning, and this is understandably a long process that requires years of work, but the Fosters' owned brand also needs to translate its brand and marketing efforts to the product side, particularly in the Australian market. Sponsorships and naming rights are usually local affairs and work best when there is a perceived and actual alignment between the brand and the sponsor, not when it's merely exercising a proposition and a tagline. Even Rosemount's website makes no mention of Australian Fashion Week, an embarrassing oversight and yet another indication that the brand doesn't appear to have its brand and marketing act together in Australia.

Locally any brand that can offer itself to consumers at a range of price points below $10 (Rosemount's Diamond Range) and up to $30 for it's sparkling is not really competing with the likes of Grange or Giaconda or estates like Cape Mentelle, Domaine Chandon or Cullen.

For IMG and Australian Fashion Week, it will need to work harder to convince people that their names are synonymous, particularly as Mercedes remains a sponsor for other international events, particularly in the US. There's no details on the monetary cost of naming rights for the even but it's obviously a lucrative arrangement as the cost of showing skyrockets and major fashion names decline to appear.

Hopefully, Australian Fashion Week invitees will be supping on some of Rosemount's more pricier vintages.

14 April 2007

Prada goes mobile.

In its latest move designed to enhance its premium portfolio, South Korean electronics company LG and Italian fashion company Prada launched their a high-end luxury handset this week.

Not to be outdone by US competitor Motorola and D&G’s take on the Razr, LG's Prada mobile phone is claimed to be designed in close co-operation with the Prada design team, with both companies teaming up to distribute and market the new handset.

The phone is really a rebadged LG KE850 model but is now officially named the Prada Phone by LG. It supports EDGE connectivity and features a fully touch screen technology, enabling advanced touch interface as well as unique pre-loaded ring tones and content. Priced at around 600 euro, the Prada handset will initially be available in the UK, Germany, France and Italy, with Asian countries to follow. There is no date for either a US or Australian launch.

DIFFUSION doesn't think the Prada phone is designed to take on Vertu’s section of the market in what is a much more differentiated offer. What’s more interesting is LG's claims that Apple swiped the cool design and buttonless features, innovations included in the iPhone, set to launch in the US in June and likely to leave most of the mobile market in its wake. In our mind the Apple and Prada brands are much more aligned by attributes such as design, style and innovation than LG. The Prada phone is at a higher price point than the Apple, though it's likely they will share similar customers. And there is also no indication of what Prada is actually bundling with the new phone (store finders?). Maybe its just content with giving it a lovely Prada gloss.

04 April 2007

Google challenges TV advertising's black art.

Google's breaking into the world of television advertising sales with a new targetted model.

Launched this week in this US, Google's TV Ads enables TV advertisers to bid for spots to more than 13 million households on US satellite TV network Echostar and only pay for what is watched.

It's a major new foray into the world's more lucrative $170 billion television advertising market, after the company's recent failed attempts to launch it's Ad Sense model into print and radio.

However, at this stage the new ad sale system won't get quite as personal as its online counterpart because of US privacy restrictions.

The system will be targeted more broadly at specific demographic groups, regions and programs on one of EchoStar Dish Network's 125 satellite channels which include Discovery, CNN and MTV.

Google will be able to do a daily analysis of anonymous data collected from Dish network subscribers and only bill advertisers for that segment of an audience that actually watched a commercial for a designated amount of time.

Former NBC executive Mike Steib, who recently joined Google as head of television advertising, said that the group was already “in active discussions” with other networks.

However, Google is also likely to meet with stiff resistance from bigger US cable TV operators like Comcast, Time Warner Cable or Cox Communications, who jealously guard the data their systems generate on customer-viewing habits.

It also must face off against ad measurement competitors like Nielsen Media Research and hot start-ups like Spot Runner.

Either way, DIFFUSION believes that if Google creates the same impact it has had on the world of online advertising effectiveness its also going to have a sudden and very measurable impact on the way TV ads are sold.

More importantly, the black art of television advertising will come under even more scrutiny from advertisers, as they start to demand their agencies provide real-time measurement of active viewers and results from campaigns.

It's yet another signal for the death knell of television advertising as we know it.