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Latest news from The Drum

Eurovision generates six million tweets with Graham Norton, Russia and Australia driving conversation
Posted on Sunday May 24, 2015

Early reports suggest last night's Eurovision Song Contest attracted around 6 million tweets from across Europe, and yes Australia.

The number is a modest increase on 2014's 5 million but is more impressive given this year's lack of stand out moments to drive conversation as Austria's bearded Conchita Wurst did in 2014.

The contest was won by Sweden's Måns Zelmerlöw, who had long since been the bookies favourite. His song Heroes had an upbeat and contemporary sound but it was the elegant staging that set it apart and ultimately helped secure the victory. Russia came in second place with a powerful ballad that led the voting for much of the evening, followed by Italy and an unexpectedly successful Belgium.

In honour of the contest's 60th year, longtime fans Australia were allowed to enter and came a respectable fifth, picking up a solid 10 points from the UK but sadly not repaying the favour - Electro Velvet finished 24th with five points. Germany & Austria came joint last on nil points, the latter being the worst performance by a host nation in living memory.

Analysis by Crimson Hexagon reveals that this year's conversations focussed more on the surroundings of the show than the acts themselves: fancy dress, food & drink, and scorecards were the biggest conversation starters, whilst UK commentator Graham Norton also made their list. UK viewers dominated the conversation with London alone representing a third of chatter, whilst despite airing at 6am down under Sydney was the second biggest, followed by Paris & Madrid.

Whilst Twitter represented over 70 per cent of the publicly visible noise (Facebook posts are typically private and harder to identify), 28 per cent of conversations took place on Tumblr where popular posts where shared as many as 40k times. Russia proved a popular talking point, with its attitude towards homosexuality something of a shadow over their entry, and of course humour played a big part too, not least as Europe tried to rationalise Australia's involvement.

First Great Western issues apology for "shocking and callous" on train announcements following fatality
Posted on Sunday May 24, 2015

First Great Western has been forced to apologise after an employee announced delays on a train to Plymouth were caused because someone "couldn't be bothered to live anymore". 

Esmee Phillips complained to the rail company about the "shocking and callous" announcements which she says left passengers "completely open-mouthed".

First Great Western has since apologised for "any distressed caused" by Friday's announcements which occurred when a man was killed on the line between Slough and Reading. 

Phillips said passengers on the train headed for Plymouth "cringed" at what they heard. 

"It was shocking as it was said in a very callous and tasteless way, especially as you don't know what personal experiences other passengers have gone through," she said.

A spokesperson for First Great Western told the press: "We expect high standards from our onboard teams, who are trained to make clear announcements about delays. When this involves a fatality this should be done with sensitivity and care. We're sorry for any distress caused to customers and can confirm that this incident is under investigation." 

Jay Young, who was also travelling on Friday, added the announcements made people in his carriage "gasp". 

Ad of the Day: Cadbury - Discover the joy of Puddles
Posted on Sunday May 24, 2015

A purple stuffed duck called Duckie has stolen our hearts and scooped today's ad of the day title. 

Introducing Cadbury's Dairy Milk Puddles, a new soft-centred chocolate, the minute-long spot sees Duckie bearing the brunt of the elements tied to the front of a lorry. 

As the sun breaks through Duckie brightens as the puddles on the ground reflect the beauty in the world…much like this Bank Holiday's weather. 

Advertising Agency: Fallon, London, UK
Executive Creative Director: Nick Bell
Creatives: Rob Spicer, Adam Griffin
Production Company: Academy Films
Producer: Tracy Stokes

Brands, celebrities and more come out in support of Ireland's historic #MarRef result
Posted on Sunday May 24, 2015

Brands, celebrities and, um, God have tweeted their support as Ireland becomes the first country to legalise marriage equality following a referendum vote.

With the highest voter turnout in over two decades ballots from 43 constituencies revealed over 60 per cent of voters were in favour of gay marriage.

Ireland's equality minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin kicked things off tweeting: "Ireland hasn't just said "Yes"…Ireland has said: "F*CK YEAAHHHH". A tweet that has now been retweeted more than 12,000 times and favourites nearly by nearly 10,000 Twitter users.

Paddy Power, Ben & Jerry's and Innocent all tweeted their support with the bookmaker joking that Ireland had next year's Eurovision entry "wrapped up" following the vote.

 

Entrepreneur Richard Branson said it was "great to see the people of Ireland voting to live in a country where everyone is treated equally" and author JK Rowling called the result "extraordinary and wonderful."

Prominent figures in the LGBT community Stephen Fry, Ellen DeGeneres and Ricky Martin voiced their support for the result with Fry tweeting: "The sanctity of marriage has been upheld."

 

Media owner Vice offered its congratulations to Ireland.

And as a double rainbow appeared over Dublin city centre an account purporting to be 'The Tweet of God' said the vision was clear indication of his feelings about the result.

 

Cartoon favourites re-imagined as breast cancer survivors to raise awareness
Posted on Sunday May 24, 2015

Artist AleXsandro Palombo has created a series of images which imagine well-known cartoon characters such as Marge Simpson, Lois Griffin,  Jessica Rabbit and a host of Disney Princesses as breast cancer survivors. 

Eurovision's Voting Secret - How voting is purposefully rigged to create drama
Posted on Sunday May 24, 2015

If you were one of the approximately 200 million people who tuned into some part of Eurovision this week you'll have experienced the roller coaster of emotions that was this year's voting. With several hot favourites it felt like anybody's to win and indeed the lead changed dramatically over the course of the evening, with first Italy and then Russia looking like they might stop Sweden's victory march. To look at the results this morning paints quite a different picture though, with a fairly decisive 63 point margin separating first & second place, equivalent to five countries giving maximum points.

This is not a coincidence, Eurovision has a little known and rarely spoken about secret - the voting is purposefully rigged to try and create this drama. The order in which votes will be awarded is announced after the Jury Final, a dress rehearsal during which national juries (who represent 50 per cent of the final vote) make their voting decisions. A simple note on the Eurovision website states that 'An algorithm has been created to try and make the voting as exciting as possible'. Whilst of course the public and juries might disagree this creates added excitement by broadly stacking the vote in a way which guarantees the winner is revealed as late as possible into the evening. Doing so is a remarkably clever trick by the producers, and one that we all fall for without realising it, but it has some curious side effects.

Ultimately the voting order builds so that the winning country peaks towards the end, which means that when the first few countries are voting the eventual winner is actually the favourite which is NOT getting points, unless the final verdict is going to be a complete landslide. Eventual winners Sweden got just five points from the first country, and sat in third place for much of the early voting. Italy in turn got a string of strong results and 12 points, all of which dried up in the second half, and in fact once Russia overtook them their goose was cooked. The very first 12 points of the night went (unsurprisingly) from Montenegro to former comrades Serbia, a sweet piece of neighbourly voting but in this context a kiss of death.

For a good chunk of the night it looked like Russia would win, with mixed emotions as consistently solid support pushed them up into first place. It was only when our own Nigella Lawson revealed the UK results, the 27th out of 40 to be announced, that Sweden finally edged ahead of Russia. Knowing now what we do about the voting algorithm this late burst of support could only mean one thing, Sweden were going to win:

A similar story happened in last year's final with Sweden building an early lead, followed by The Netherlands and Hungry. The unstoppable train of Conchita Wurst was however harder to hide, she took the lead when the 12th nation France voted, and never let go of it. In the heat of the moment the voting order creates an incredibly close & exciting story, but if you analysed it closely you would start to see the clues the producers give away - could we even have predicted the winner before the show began?

With hindsight it's easy to say yes, but there were indeed some clues - Norway awarding its points last was an inevitable 12 points to Sweden, a result which the algorithm would not have expected to leave this late on if Russia were going to be eventual winners. Italy, Iceland & Cyprus came before them, all Western European nations more likely to favour Sweden (or perhaps an Italy) whilst the bulk of Eastern European nations came early or mid evening, where Russia did well. Russia's own 35th placing did not bode especially well, again an unlikely point in proceedings for the winner to be drawing a blank, whilst Sweden got it's points out the way in 20th place when Russia was still leading. 

It's often best not to overthink Eurovision and to just enjoy it for the spectacle that it is, lucky really because for all their cleverness their voting trickery actually leaves a trail of breadcrumbs which starts to give the game away. Remind me of that next year when I'm boldly placing a long shot bet on the Austrian hosts, they finished last with nil points.

Bell Pottinger chairman David Wilson steps down after 15 years
Posted on Sunday May 24, 2015

Bell Pottinger chairman David Wilson has announced his decision to move on after 15 years. 

Announcing the move via email Wilson revealed he was leaving for pastures new, adding: "I've enjoyed a tremendous time here at Bell Pottinger and as I continue to be a shareholder, I look forward to seeing the company go from strength to strength."

He wrote: "It's now time for me to take a break after nearly three decades of working life and decide what I'd like to do in the future. More on that when I've worked it out for myself."

In October 2014 Wilson was promoted to chairman from the role of managing director. 

Tobacco giants file High Court action claiming plain packaging goes "too far"
Posted on Sunday May 24, 2015

Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco have filed what could be the biggest corporate damages claim in legal history against the government. 

Challenging plans for plain packaging on cigarettes the tobacco giants case with the High Court will argue that the move robs them of trademarks and the "deprivation of property" is a breach of UK, EU and international laws. 

Speaking to the press, senior vice president and general counsel for PMI, Mark Firestone, said that though the companies "respect the government's authority to regulate in the public interest" plain packaging goes "too far". 

"Countries around the world have shown that effective tobacco control can coexist with respect for consumer freedoms and private property," he added. 

The Department of Health countered that it would not be "held to ransom by the tobacco industry." 

"We would not have gone ahead with standardised packaging unless we considered it to be defensible in the courts," said a health department spokesman. 

Legal papers filed at the High Court claim the proposed regulations do not provide PMI, the producers of Marlboro, enough compensation with Firestone remarking that the government's rushing out of new regulations sees "many serious questions left unanswered." 

PMI is thought to be drawing on legal opinion from Lord Hoffman which concludes banning branding could be a breach of trademark law and by blocking internationally recognised trademarks in the UK could be in breach of the principle of free movement of goods in the EU. 

Exclusive Interview: Eurovision Winner Conchita Wurst on life and social media
Posted on Saturday May 23, 2015

BAFTA’s prestigious offices in Piccadilly hosted an unusual gathering last week as academics, broadcasters, fans and performers gathered to mark 60 years of Eurovision, an event watched by nearly twice as many people as the Super Bowl.

The conference, organised by the European Broadcasting Union, looked at the cultural, technological and political impacts of the event, and reminded us all that yes, you can get a PHD in Eurovision.

On behalf of The Drum, Carat's Jerry Daykin took the opportunity to interview last year’s winner, and the reigning queen of Eurovision, Conchita Wurst on her experiences since winning, how social media has impacted her and what the opportunity for brands and marketers is around the show.

JD: How has your life been for the past year? One interview after another? It must be crazy. 
CW: I’ve been talking a lot, which I love as I have a lot of opinions. I’ve had so many invitations and I was allowed to experience so many great things over the last year, it’s just overwhelming. It hasn’t sunk in yet what I’ve actually experienced.

JD: And for your own social media in particular, how has that helped you tell your story and communicate with people? 
CW: It’s very important. It’s such a fast way to get and also send information, and it’s such a lovely way of connecting with those people, the most important ones when it comes to career, the fans. Without my supporters all over the world I wouldn’t be here and no one would be interested in me, so it’s everything, an unbelievably important tool.

JD: So how do you manage that? Do you get time to read a lot of what they say to you?  
CW: Well I do read as much as I can, I do have people helping in this kind of area. I have a stylist, I have someone doing with my promotion, so of course I have someone helping me with social media or else it would just be too much and there’s no time. Of course, I try to get as many Tweets and Instagram pictures, I ‘like’, and I look at it so I really try to get into it and not lose that connection, because as I say it is an easy way to stay connected.

JD: Is there a bad side to that? Have you had people being rude to you and saying horrible things? 
CW: Well, even if… I really have a very impolite way to deal with it, I just don’t care.

JD: In terms of how much it’s blown up, Google reported that in the months after Eurovision last year you were searched for more than Beyoncé. When you went into it did you realise how big it was, how much it would change your life? 
CW: No, because I went into this competition because I’m such a Eurovision fan. I really wanted to be in it badly and I’d tried for so many years. I was bothering the Austrian broadcaster so hard that they just said ‘send the bearded lady and get over it’. My manager and I really saw this event from two sides: First, fulfilling my dreams, being able to stand on this ridiculously huge stage and giving the performance of my lifetime; And on the other side, in a very business kind of way because no one knew me, but with this we can reach so many people.  
 
JD: At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year there was a life size picture of you advertising Parrot Headphones, which must have surprised the Americans. How has it been for you, working with a big brand, have you found that a positive experience?  
CW: You know really I have to be completely honest I don’t think about anything or anybody else except me when I make those decisions. I was like ‘oh my god, I’d love to be in a Commercial, I’d love to do that, and of course these headphones are great let’s do it’ and only after that I realised this is going to be printed in American magazines and they actually sell their product all over the world. This is the way I went into it - quite naïve, though of course I have my whole team in the background seeing numbers and facts, which is good that I have them.

JD: So one of the things we see is that marketers, especially in the UK, are nervous about getting involved with Eurovision because it has a funny reputation – some people love it, some people hate it. What would you say to marketers thinking of sponsoring the Eurovision or being part of it? 
CW: Well I think it has the same reputation everywhere, it’s the same with Austria. We haven’t won for 48 years and so last year no one was staying home to have a party, but this year obviously everybody’s totally into it.

I think that’s not depending on a country, but people should really understand what a great opportunity it is and what a beautiful message the biggest music event in the world sends out. Everybody is allowed to come as they are, do whatever they want on stage. That’s great, and at the end of the day it’s really so many people joining one event by doing what they love the most, making music.

This year's Eurovision Song Contest will be screened on BBC1 tonight at 8pm.

Ad of the Day: Huawei's School of Pronunciation - Huawei
Posted on Saturday May 23, 2015

Former Arsenal stars John Hartson, Ray Parlour and Nigel Winterburn feature in this snappy slot, acknowledging the difficulty some westerners have with pronouncing the name of Huawei (Wah-Way by the way).

The three minute ad shows the pundits school in how to pronounce the names of server current Arsenal players in humorous fashion.

It follows Huawei becoming an official global sponsor for the North London club last January.

Campaign by This Is Dare.