Vodafone Christmas.. together to make the world a happier place

Vodafone values putting a smile on somebody’s face, making the journey from TV viewer to life-long Vodafone customer start on the right foot. Kids love to wake up to a white Christmas day.. and nothing beats the joy of experiencing their happiness. Vodafone organises the impossible, a white Christmas for the Italian bimbo (child) who goes to sleep hoping to wake up to a snowed up front garden.

The whole neighborhood puts in a helping hand. From Granny scraping ice from the freezer. To mummy busy crushing ice. And people cycling bucket-loads of ice – enough to cover the green lawn with a white Christmas for the boy. There’s even somebody dressed up as a snowman as he wakes up to a drop jaw snow-covered front-garden. Sono le piccole cose che ti fanno godere il Natale… Christmas spirit is all about enjoying little things.

Vodafone’s power to you, enjoying little things together, and bringing great smiles and expectation to TV viewers is working out well. And not just on TV, do people build enjoyment together. In Italy, ‘Bicciclettamente Smart’ invited people to the Arena di Milano to cycle 510 stationary bikes, generating enough electricity to power a large Christmas tree. I looked up news about this, but there’s yet no mention of whether Vodofone reached the objective of lighting up the world’s largest human energy powered Christmas tree.

Anybody who was there… please leave comments below, in your own language, and tell us all about it. Are you one of the fans that won one of the 100 smartphones?

Facebook Bicciclettamente Smart event page


How to build a succesful Social Network

In my post Social Media Campaign Fundamentals I spoke about how to start the journey and how to monitor the success of that journey. Enhancing the chances of success of that journey is the purpose of this blog post. A journey in social media is as succesful as one’s “social” capabilities – the art of living together or enjoying life in communities or organized groups[1].

Let’s figure that you start a Facebook page and start posting interesting content. Naturally, you will speak about with your friends and they will come and visit. They will like your page. And they will return every now and again to monitor what you’re saying, because your activity alerts others when you post. This is presumably not the only thing you want because as we go along in time only the friends who are really interested in your area of activity will come and visit.

What you want is social networking and thus, to put together the largest possible following from the extended community around you. This is where your friends, and then their friends, bring others and your online community extends beyond those people that know you directly. Use your activity in the community to indirectly bring in members of that community to you by linking to your page and building your own succesful social network:

  1. Do not spam or harass people as this is counterproductive.
  2. If you are active in the online community already, it’s easier. But if you aren’t, you will easily integrate especially if you are already known offline. Join the online communities that matter – ask yourself and your friends which are the relevant existing pages or groups on Facebook; people you should link with on LinkedIn and Twitter; blogs that already discuss the subject.
  3. Become active by commenting positively on other people’s activity, contributing useful content you find on the web, and posting links to your blog (if you set one up). You may be recognised as an expert in your physical community and this gives you an edge on a newcomer to the area because you will know how to tackle an argument and building a followup. It will be a challenge to extend or replicate this on the Internet, just like building a community of followers on any open broadcast medium like TV. Be selective and sensitive to the nature of a blog when deciding what to say in your contribution to it because you are doing this to attract (not push away) people to your own page or blog.

Good luck building your social network!

[1] Definition thanks to Princeton WorldNet – a lexical database for English

Mediaset and the freedom of TV in Italy

Starting with Canale 5 in the late 70s, the birth of Mediaset set the path for the liberalisation of the TV in Italy. Not all is clear about the situation of dominance of Mediaset in today’s Italy. The same liberalisation of the media, which was set in motion in the 80s, allows it to be publicly discussed on Italy’s television every day. 

Canale 5 and the other Mediaset Channels

TV in Italy was born in 1954, under a Christian Democrat government which led Italy between the post-WW2 years and the days of Mani Pulite (clean hands). Mani Pulite were the investigations that ran between 1992 and 1996, exposing the super-corruption nicknamed Tangentopoli (bribesville). The investigations exposed politicians from the main parties. The Christian Democrats (DC) ran Italy between 1943 and 1992 with only one major break — that between 1983 -87 when Craxi’s socialists (PSI) took power. Both Craxi and former DC prime minister Andreotti were later investigated.
TV has always been used by the party in power. Everybody in Italy understands the propagandist powers that the box in everybody’s living room and kitchen has. In 2005, Ambeyi Ligabo a UN expert on press freedom stated in his report on the freedom of opinion and expression in Italy, that “the public television network Rai has been strongly politicized since its creation in 1954. At the time and until the major political changes of the end of the 1980s, Italian public television was controlled by the political party in power, the Christian Democrats”.

The state-owned company Rai was the only one to hold a license to broadcast TV channels nationally. So much that when, in 1984 Fininvest acquired Rete 4 and Italia 1, Italian courts ruled that the acquisition was in breach of Rai’s right to a monopoly of simulataneous national broadcast. The courts ordered them to close doors. Craxi then rescued the situation with what many considered a rash decree which saved the Fininvest group. But that also ensured that Rai would stop being dominant.

  • It was a start of the end of the so-called lottizzazione (distribution) system of power in Rai, where the main political parties had agreed to control what went on the news and who got the top management postitions: the Christian Democrats within Rai 1, the Socialists within Rai 2 and the Communists at Rai 3. Of course, there still is lobbying and influence from government, but that’s Italy!
  • The European Audiovisual Observatory’s figures for 2008 show that the Mediaset and Rai channels together commanded over 80% of the market share. La 7, the channel owned by Telecom Italia, had a stable market share of around 3% which can be compared to the 10% of Italia 1, Rete 4, Rai 2 and Rai 3 and the 20+% of Canale 5 and Rai 2.
Berlusconi's Share in Mediaset: 38.62%
Berlusconi's Share in Mediaset: 38.62%

Are people wrong when they think that Berlusconi controls the media through his holding company: Fininvest’s share in the Mediaset group? Fininvest does not have a controlling share in Mediaset: the above chart shows it was less than 40% in Dec. 2009. In 2005 Berlusconi sold 20% of Mediaset to Kirch (10%), South African businessman Johann Rupert and the Saudi Prince Al Waleed Bin Talaal. In 1996 he continued to sell shares and relinquished control.  Today Berlusconi is an ordinary shareholder with his children Pier Silvio and Marina occupying the posts of deputy chaiman and director on the Board respectively. 

I am not drawing any conclusions. These are the facts and the rest is opinion which anybody can liberally use the media to share with whoever cares to listen.