H&M – also for people who love horse riding

Facebook has provided a great new way for brands to connect with people. But why you should connect, with what goal in mind and how to do it can be tricky and the answers are different for for every brand.

When we got a brief from H&M, more specifically the sponsor part of H&M, we were asked to conceptualize, start and help get off the ground, a blog featuring two long time H&M sponsored riders; Malin Baryard and Peder Fredricson. A good brief with a sound thought behind it given the massive interest in horses and horse riding amongst, primarily, young girls and teenagers. Exactly where H&M start selling their clothes. Clothes these young women can afford. Now they wanted to connect with them better, not just around the events but all through the year.

To make a long story short, after a period of netnography (on some of the very few active and interesting communities that existed – the latter opinion later confirmed in interviews), observational studies during a long weekend at the Göteborg Horse Show coupled with a number of visits to horse riding schools, stables and plentiful interviews – it was pretty clear to me. People who love (think The-Beatles-crazy-fan-screaming type of love) the two riders are closer to 7 than 15, meaning blogs haven’t really entered their world yet. The 15+ year old horse riding fans on the other hand, aren’t that crazy about these two riders. Why? Because their interest covers so much more; the whole horse riding circus. When our riders aren’t doing very well, or when they’re not participating in a certain event, the horse riding circus doesn’t stop. So looking at this from a larger context and bigger meaning perspective, what we had to do was capture the interest of the older group interested in horse riding rather than two riders, but at the same time give them a prominent and important role. Grab a bigger piece quite simply.

Where we would do this was obvious, and it’s not a blog. We created the very descriptive facebook page We Love Horses, brought to fans by H&M and (at least for the time being) headed up by our two riders and their bigger team.

The trick is to start small but have an idea and a plan for how it can develop. But never as fixed as to not be able to deviate or change the plan based on community input. It’s about high and low. Simple everyday activities that asks for participation and comments, updates from the life of a professional rider, quizes, educational articles on horse riding techniques, injuries and nutrition etc. Stuff that provides real value to these people. In our case coming from some of the top experts in the industry working with our professional riders, including the much looked up to stable girls who handle the day-to-day caring for the horses. The girl everyone wants to be, in case they don’t make it onto the horse riding circus themselves. Those are the lows, meaning everyday things.

The highs require some more exiting ideas such as competitions, participatory content generation, live streaming from events where no media go, behind the scenes photos and live-tweeting from the riders and interactive games even.


A web show hosted by our sponsored riders covering the whole industry.


A flash based horse riding game created for the We Love Horses fans to compete against each other.

Brands on Facebook is not a campaign

Brands setting up a Facebook presence sounds really simple, it’s just a Facebook page and a bunch of stuff. That’s exactly the important point to be made; setting these things up from a technical perspective is easy. But when it comes to launching a social media initiative the harder part is the organizational implications. In this case, get our riders up to speed with twitter, posting pics, mobile camera interviews behind the scenes. And that goes for the whole team. Will they be up for it? Do they understand the long-term engagement? Social media, unless it’s a short lived campaign (which often is not a good idea), is about managing a program. It’s about having long-term content strategies and never ending ideas and activities. It’s not a campaign, it’s a program.

Update 2011 – An example of how We Love Horses is used as the primary platform for behind the scene material, live streaming from events often not covered by media, as well as the place for the most up-to-date news from major horse riding venues. Something that got some coverage in 2011 when H&M sponsored the Stockholm International Horse Show.

rob campbell on ideas

The discussion about ideas vs. ad ideas has been going on for a while. Not amongst everyone in the industry, far from it unfortunately, but many. Although Rob’s presentation didn’t contain completely new stuff, It’s about the most exciting. I thoroughly loved it and the fact that he weaved it all together. To one edible little 30 minute fortune cookie. And did it in a very amusing and clear way. I hope I present like that. Plus that moped idea is right on, and makes you wonder “what’s been going on before that”? The answer being that we think of products as we’ve always done. Not from the user’s (people) perspective and its context (culture).

bigger strategies and smaller ideas

A lot that was said yesterday, at Patrick Collister’s presentation, really tilted towards smaller ideas but more frequent. I agree. I feel that strategies, however, need to be bigger. Grander. Big – how – I ask myself. Well not bigger as in more rigid, stiff, carved in stone, but more flexible and perhaps even less controlled in a way. Flexible in a way that allows more stuff to happen. More unplanned stuff. Quick. In order for smaller ideas to be “OK” – I think a big strategy that leads to objectives not through planned trails, as they most likely change quicker than they can be trodden, but rather flexible, adjustable strategies. A brand’s vision, belief and personality must be the primary influencer of a brand strategy.

I see a parallel to warm, smart and genuinelly good people. They are big people with big hearts and big brains, and they’re not affraid or insecure as to not change their mind and ways. Small people we all know, and they’re not easy to work with and most likely not very fun to be with and have a conversation with.

intercultural communications and planning

After flipping through an old book on intercultural communication from the times back in school, it struck me that all communications models therein is more relevant and applicable than any other models (of course the element “clutter” does include “cultural differences” in those models too). Not that any old model is applicable at all.

And the way the world looks today, planners on national level have to take intercultural communications issues more seriously in their work. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I believe it’s a fair assessment. The only thing all cultures share, is the fact that they’re ethnocentric. I’ve heard. And studying intercultural communications, or anthropology, pretty much proves this right (often in an painfully obvious manner).

It’s worth a think.

On that note. Westerners, including me who’s a blond, blue-eyed Swede, are per definition a low context culture. We communicate in a clear, “no bullshit” way. High context cultures leave much more unsaid (verbally) and trust the context and the knowledge about the one you’re communicating with to fill in the gaps. Funnily enough – that’s the type of advertising we like so much in low context cultures. Like: “don’t treat them (advertising victims) like idiots – let them co-create the meaning”.

Funny that. I’m pretty sure it’s to do with being more interesting that way. Less obvious. And again it hits you; why the hell is so much advertising over obvious, to the point of you feeling like you’re treated like an idiot?

That’s a whole other matter.

leveraging the norms and curiosity of the poker world

Everest Poker – the bathroom from funny you should ask on Vimeo.

Everest Poker – The Club from funny you should ask on Vimeo.

Everest Poker was a bit late into the Swedish market, considering the boom in 2005 and 2006. But then again the category as such seem to never get tired of playing and definitely not growing tired of sign-up bonuses. Talking to, and practically living with, poker fanatics from all buy-in levels of the game tells you many things and one of them is the fact that it’s a high interest category but with very low interest in the product brands in every aspect other than the functional benefits which is about functionality on the site (smart settings, auto fold, proximity of buttons and the order thereof etc), number of active players (need to be lots of tables across all buy-in levels), whether or not you can be lucky enough to play with real pros and of course the sign-up bonus (which you don’t want to make your only reason for acquisition as repeat playing gets tricky), most of which are experienced by trial.

Obviously brand communications play a role, first of all by getting people there (and then conversion is up to the site) and also by reminding players that it’s time to try something new (considering the fact that they are often registered on 5-8 sites and often active on 3+ at the time). How you do this, however, doesn’t necessarily have to be so functionally focused and not even bonus focused given the category norm which says; poker players try everything.

We devised a creative strategy playing on high quality feature film style, while communicating the most core brand value of Everest Poker; not making it about bling bling, not about taking the last dime off your opponents – but for the love of the game. A place less macho, and a tad bit more friendly without coming across as completely alien for that matter. That, we figured, is to be shown before experienced, but probably not told. For the player tuned to details, you’d see that the 4 films in total were actually connected in 2 stories. After all, it was all built on evoking curiosity as opposed to being stupidly redundant.