'Secrets of the Superbrands', 9pm, BBC3, Tuesday 17th
mobbsey at gn.apc.org
Tue May 17 15:20:50 BST 2011
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First of a three part series starts tonight at 9pm on BBC Three. I think we
can learn something a little interesting from this (albeit, being BBC3,
perhaps not a lot):
"Alex Riley thinks he's immune to brands. When it comes to fashion, technology
and food brands he just goes for the cheapest and what works for him. He's
convinced he's not seduced by the advertising, celebrity endorsements and hype
which surrounds the big global brands. So how did that pair of Adidas trainers
get in his wardrobe? And how did that can of Heinz Baked Beans make it into
his shopping trolley? And why does he have a Nokia mobile phone in his pocket
rather than any other make?
With the help of marketeers, brain scientists and exclusive access to the
world of the superbrands Alex sets out to find out why we buy them, trust them,
even idolise them."
For further details see iPlayer -- http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011fjbp
I've appended a write-up on the programme from the BBC News website below.
Superbrands' success fuelled by sex, religion and gossip
Alex Riley and Adam Boome, BBC Three
BBC News, 17th May 2011
Before filming Secrets of the Superbrands, I'd never been to a porn shoot, and
in my wildest imaginings I never thought the reason I'd end up at one would
have anything to do with filming a documentary about the world's most powerful
My mission was to find out how these brands - such as Apple, Microsoft and
Google - have grown so explosively to become some of the world's biggest
I toured three continents to visit their headquarters, talk to fans and find
the inside story on why we hand over our money to them.
So there I was in a seedy nightclub in a Los Angeles suburb to meet Samantha
Lewis, chief executive of adult entertainment studio Digital Playground, a
company that for many years has been at the forefront of using new technology
in the adult industry.
I was surprised to learn that they have been trailblazers for ipads, HD and
While the rather distracting business of photographing a naked woman was going
on right behind me, Samantha told me that many technology brands used the
adult industry to test new markets, albeit in absolute secrecy.
Why? Well, the sheer scale of the industry is such that you ignore it at your
And it appears to have driven the take-up of several new technologies.
Sony, for instance, would not allow adult films to use its Betamax format in
the 1980s and so the huge business in adult videos went to its rival VHS,
hastening the end of the former.
Having lost out in the '80s, Sony wasn't taking any chances when it came to
the battle between its Blu-ray format and Toshiba's HD-DVD.
This time around they're playing ball with the porn industry.
But I discovered Blu-ray's success was not all down to moral compromise: there
was another revelation during my trip to Los Angeles.
A company called iSuppli reduced my Playstation 3 to a pile of screws, chips
and diodes in order to work out the manufacturing costs, and I was astonished
to find Sony had been losing money on every one it's sold.
This is partly because it has been giving away a free Blu-ray player in every
one, making the Playstation a games console and HD movie player in one box.
So, with 41 million PS3s sold to date, they've lost about £2bn, but captured a
huge share of the market.
As they're making money on every Blu-ray disc sold, and HD-DVD has now died a
death, it appears to have been a gamble worth taking.
All brands crave customer loyalty, but I wanted to know why and how a
technology brand inspired religious fervour.
The scenes I witnessed at the opening of the new Apple store in Covent Garden
were more like an evangelical prayer meeting than a chance to buy a phone or a
The strangeness began a couple of hours before the doors opened to the public.
Inside the store, glassy-eyed staff were whipped up into a frenzy of
excitement, jumping up and down, clapping and shouting.
When the doors finally opened, they hysterically "high-fived" and cheered
hundreds of delirious customers flooding in through the doors for hours on end.
And what did those customers - some who'd travelled from as far away as the US
and China and slept on the pavement for the privilege - find when they finally
Well, all the same stuff as in the Apple store half a mile away on Regent
street. No special offers, no free gifts (a few t-shirts were handed out), no
exclusive products. Now that's devotion.
I searched high and low for answers. The Bishop of Buckingham - who reads his
Bible on an ipad - explained to me the similarities between Apple and a
And when a team of neuroscientists with an MRI scanner took a look inside the
brain of an Apple fanatic it seemed the bishop was on to something.
The results suggested that Apple was actually stimulating the same parts of
the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith.
Witnessing the sheer scale of technology's takeover up close was breathtaking.
Facebook didn't even exist seven years ago; now the brand is worth £32bn.
In India I visited Nokia's biggest phone factory, churning out handsets at a
time when India alone is adding 20 million new mobile-phone subscribers every
How can this be possible? I asked people from the slums of Delhi to the
streets of London and Chicago who they call most on their mobile phones and
the answer was always the same: friends and family.
Like Apple, mobile phones and social networks offer an opportunity for us to
express our basic human need to communicate.
And it's by tapping into our basic needs, like gossip, religion or sex that
these brands are taking over our world at such lightning speed.
That's not to say that clever marketing and brilliant technical innovation
aren't also crucial, but it seems that if you're not providing a service which
is of potential interest to every one of the 6.9 billion human beings on the
planet, the chances are you're never going to become a technology superbrand.
Secrets of the Superbrands is on BBC Three at 2100 BST on Tuesday, 17 May. Or
watch online via iPlayer
"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')
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