Follow up on IPA Effectiveness Awards – The winners

Worth a read, text below from WARC.
The best in communications success was celebrated in London this week at the 2011 IPA Effectiveness Awards.
Visit warc.com/IPA2011 to browse all 28 entries – including the Grand Prix, four Golds, five Silvers and six Bronzes.
Operation Christmas, the Colombian Ministry of Defence and Lowe SSP3’s Campaign that persuaded 331 members of the FARC guerilla group to demobilise won the Grand Prix – just weeks after taking top honours at the Jay Chiat and APG awards.
Other winners included:

  • Depaul (Gold): An app added over 1000 people to the charity’s database.
  • Ovaltine (Gold): TV sponsorship moved the drink from bedtime to daytime.
  • Aquafresh Kids (Silver): Making brushing fun added £3.5m of sales.
  • first direct bank (Silver): A social campaign doubled consideration rates.
  • Lynx/Axe (Bronze): The grooming brand used Facebook to increase loyalty.

Visit warc.com/ipa2011 to browse all the entries. If you are not already a subscriber to warc.com, please email enquiries@warc.com to arrange your free trial.
P.S. Just published – Advertising Works 20 – read all the winning case studies from the 2011 IPA Effectiveness Awards, plus six chapters of exclusive insight and analysis.

Read: Welcome to the age of micro-planning

Truly worth a read is the article ”Welcome to the age of micro-planning” which you can find on the blog Adliterate. Don’t forget to read the comments which has a couple of nuggets in them. The blog Adliterate is runned by Richard Huntington, Director of Strategy at Saatchi & Saatchi.

Here is a sample from the article:

That said I think there was a clear difference in this year’s papers and presentations. A lot less brand planning (though there are some splendid examples) and a lot more micro-planning. I have no problem with the downstream approach to planning, it has always represented proof that the planner is more than a brief writing machine and is capable of and welcome to bring their skills to bare on the more executional facets of a campaign. This is particularly the case when real time planning is required as a campaign unfolds and evolves.
That said it seems a shame to me if planners are walking away from, or unable to deliver, ‘upstream’ brand planning. Planning that either repositions a brand in the marketplace (such as Matt Boffey’s Lurpak work or Craig Mawdsley’s Sainsbury’s thinking which both won in 2007) or shapes a communications campaign with a clever reframing of the problem or sharp proposition (think Richard Storey’s Met Police campaign or Stuart Smith’s Positive Hate thinking for Honda).
So why are we seeing a lot less brand planning and a lot more micro planning? Indeed this year’s particular theme was the selection and prioritisation of celebrities according to their social media reach. Worthwhile but not really award winning. Personally I don’t think it’s the quality of our planners, I rather suspect it is the quality or nature of the briefs that we receive and in particular the pitch briefs that we get.

Effektiva kampanjer – APG Creative Strategy Awards 2011

The shortlist for Account Planning Group (APG) Creative Strategy Awards has been released. It does require login but we still like to provide you with the link so you can see the list and read the summaries.
How fresh strategic thinking can lead to creative and effective work. The APG is the foremost and longest-established organisation representing the interests of account planners and other communications strategists.
We have tried to find the appropriate video for each campaign below. But if we happened to connect the wrong ad to the awarded campaign, please let us know.

SHORTLIST

IKEA: Happy inside

Stella Artois Black: Night chauffeur

 

I Lohas: Eco Crush

Promote Iceland

Tooheys NEW: Beer economy

The Green Bottle Story

Fiat: Eco Drive

Dixons: The Last Place.

Yeo Valley Organic: The X Factor

Stella Artois: 5%

Heineken: Star Player


Met Police: Choose a Different EndingWieden+Kennedy: Off-On

St John Ambulance

Nike: Grid

NHS: Organ Donation

Nigella: Quick Collection

Orange: Goldspots

Doritos: Late Night

 

Walkers: Sandwich

Motorcycle Safety: Named riders

Met Police: Who killed Deon?

FARC Operation Christmas

NHS: Smokefree

Cravendale: Cats with thumbs

 

French Connection(not yet available)

Go here for summary on each campaign.

Om konsten att presentera kommunikationens effekt effektivt


Om några veckor är det deadline för inlämning av årets bidrag till reklamtävlingen 100-wattaren. Därefter kommer ett antal kloka marknadsförare i de olika juryerna att försöka bedöma hur framgångsrika olika annonsörer – och deras byråer – har varit i att skapa effektiv kommunikation som genererat resultat. Jag tänkte inte diskutera bedömningskriterierna här, eller hur olika effektmått kan ställas mot varandra (det fanns en utmärkt diskussion om reklameffektmätningar och -bedömning i samband med 100-wattaren 2009 som tar upp ämnet). Däremot tänkte jag belysa ett dilemma som de flesta juryer som ska bedöma mer än enbart det kreativa uttrycket står inför – och som jag själv har upplevt de gånger jag har medverkat i både 100-wattarens och andra liknande reklamtävlingsjuryer.
En tävling som 100-wattaren bygger på att det finns en skriven presentation av kampanjens resultat och (helst) bevis på att det är just kommunikationsinsatsen som åstadkommit det. Tyvärr är min erfarenhet att det är väldigt få bidrag som lyckas åstadkomma en tydlig och lättförståelig presentation av vad kampanjen genererat. Det här är något som inte bara har bäring för 100-wattaren. Många marknadsförare ifrågasätts i sina organisationer; ”Använder vi verkligen marknadsföringsbudgeten på rätt sätt?” och ”Vad har marknadsföringen egentligen åstadkommit för företaget?” är två exempel på vanligt förekommande frågor från ledningsgrupp och styrelse. Och trots att det sedan ett tag har funnits en bra guide från Sveriges Annonsörer på hur man skriver en kampanjpresentation som undviker de vanligaste misstagen, är det frapperande hur vanliga dessa fel fortfarande ändå är:
1) Svårläst presentation (i vissa fall nästintill oläsbar). Visst är det mycket fakta som ska struktureras och ibland komplexa strategier som ska presenteras på ett komprimerat sätt, men förvånande många kampanjpresentationer verkar vara skrivna utan tanke på att någon som inte är insatt i branschens specifika förutsättningar inte bara ska kunna läsa presentationen utan förhoppningsvis också bli imponerad av den. Basala skrivregler som meningsbyggnad, syftningar och läsbarhet ignoreras. En ursäkt kan vara att många byråer skriver sina bidrag under tidspress inför inlämningen, men en enkel regel borde vara att åtminstone en person som inte har arbetat med uppdraget läser igenom bidraget innan det lämnas in. En högst personlig synpunkt är att detta kan vara en betydande del av förklaringen till varför vissa större byråer är mer framgångsrika i 100-wattaren (och liknande tävlingar) än de flesta andra. Dessa byråers framgång i tävlingar har kanske inte huvudsakligen att göra med att de oftare har personer som sitter i olika reklamtävlingsjuryer, vilket belackarna gärna hävdar. Jag tror att framgångsreceptet i högre grad handlar om den stora mängd tävlingsbidrag de lämnar in varje år, vilket gett dem större kompetens i att skriva och presentera sina kampanjer på ett mer relevant och säljande sätt än de byråer som bara lämnar in enstaka bidrag per år.
2) Viktig information saknas. Förvånansvärt många av de bidrag jag läst under årens lopp (inte bara i 100-wattaren) bygger argumentationen på subjektiva uttalanden som ”säljarna gillade kampanjen”, alternativt endast på (i sammanhanget) irrelevanta objektiva mätningar som t.ex. obs-värden. Alltför sällan redovisas ett ”balanced scorecard”, som inkluderar fler parametrar (i form av både indata och utfall), som t.ex. ”share of voice” (andel av reklaminvesteringar), ”share of shelf” (exponering i butik), ”share of mind” (erinran/preferens), promotion-insatser, kundnöjdhet, prissättning, antal leads/provköp/återköp osv. Och alltför ofta baseras utfallet på hur mycket bättre resultatet var än målsättningen, istället för att jämföra med t.ex. resultatet samma period föregående är, resultatet i andra regioner utan kampanj, eller konkurrenternas resultat under kampanjperioden.
3) Fokus på fel siffror. Det kan ofta vara svårt är härleda affärsmässiga effekter som t.ex. försäljningsökning, prispremie, återköpsfrekvens och liknande till en reklaminsats. I många branscher finns det inte data med tillräckligt noggranna och/eller frekventa mätpunkter. Eller så kan det röra sig om affärsmässiga effekter som utvecklas under en längre tid och därmed är svårare att bevisa kortsiktigt. Men bara för att något är svårt innebär det inte att man inte ska försöka.
4) Orsaksanalysen saknas. Även riktigt duktiga byråer missar ofta den här punkten. Det är en sak att visa vilka effekter som skapats och vilken lysande strategi och briljant kreativitet som ligger bakom utfallet. Det är en helt annan sak att visa att det enbart var den lysande strategin och briljanta kreativiteten som orsakade effekten, och inte andra faktorer som t.ex. produktutveckling, säljtävlingar, ändrat pris, lägre ränta eller bättre väder.
Att skriva en bra kampanjredovisning efter genomförd aktivitet borde vara lika viktigt som att göra en bra kampanjpresentation för att få kunden att godkänna och genomföra aktiviteten. Men hittills har jag inte sett att detta är en prioriterad fråga för t.ex. Berghs och de andra skolorna som utbildar framtidens marknadsförare. (Men det kanske är något att hoppas på inför stundande läsår?) För säkerhets skull tänkte jag därför avsluta med en enkel lathund på sex punkter som bör besvaras i en kampanjredovisning, vare sig det gäller ett bidrag till 100-wattaren eller en presentation för företagsledningen.
1) Vad var problemet som gav anledning till insatsen? (Vilket var syftet och målsättningen?)
2) Vilka insikter och strategiska val utgjorde grunden till kampanjen?
3) Vad var den bärande idén/det centrala kommunikationskonceptet?
4) Fakta om kampanjen; media/kanaler, timing, investering, etc. (jämfört med konkurrenter och föregående period)?
5) Resultat/utfall; i form av kännedoms-, attityd-, beteende- och ekonomiska effekter. Hur har dessa mätts och hur skiljer sig utfallet mot tidigare perioder och mot konkurrenterna?
6) Hur vet vi att det var just kampanjen/kommunikationsinsatserna som orsakade detta, och inte något annat?
Lycka till inför årets 100-wattare!

Strategy doesn’t spark new ideas – that’s the point!

How do people come up with great ideas? Do they systematically work themselves through the target group description and the business strategy via the marketing plan and then come up with that one earth shattering creative solution that makes the brand a classic and the business an instant success? Of course not.
Actually, there’s a myth floating around stating that if you have a great strategy you’ll get great ideas for implementing it but that is simply not true. Instead, strategy is the filter that lets a bunch of random and loosely connected ideas and insights emerge as a coherent and forceful set of actions in the real world. This is what makes strategy so important. It’s what sets the direction and shape of the impact the organisation creates in the world. But ideas are created in a totally different part of the universe. They need brains and stimulation.
Have a look at this diagram I made:
Creative and strategy
1. Brains need stimuli to work well. Some of the best stimuli is often found in the background material that was produced when developing the strategy. Use this, but reduce it to a good brief. It’s not the data but the insights that matter! All prior knowledge and experience is also a great help. The notion that young people are more creative is pure bullshit, they are simply less self critical and that is a fantastic asset when trying to come up with ideas.
2. Brains are the main thing here, and anything that makes them operate better is valuable. Make brains feel safe (no, not helmets, it’s about confidence!). Don’t rely solely on brainstorming. It doesn’t work for everybody, and you get a better spectrum of ideas if you vary the circumstances. Alternate between rushing and taking time to think, between going solo and working together, between writing and doodling, use projective techniques (e.g. write a letter to Ronald McDonald or the King of Sweden explaining why your brand is so right for him), etc.
3. Ideas change when expressed. Sometimes what felt great in your mind look pathetic when stated on paper. That’s OK. Save it anyway. You just created great stimuli for another time or another person. It’s better to get 1000 half-assed ideas down on record and choose later, than to be self-critical and end up with a poor set to choose from. Collecting and cross-stimulating idea spawning brains is terribly important and one of the main reasons for having Creative Directors in advertising agencies. Someone needs to have this role in every team. Actually, everybody should do it but someone needs to be responsible. After getting it all on paper, put it in a place where it can be accessed, and make sure ideas go forward in the process.
4. Now, finally, the role of strategy is to function as a screen to filter and format whole batches of ideas into a shape that gives them mutual support and creates an impact on the world that reflects the values, visions, ambitions and goals that the organisation stand for. The really great brands and organisations of the world manage to do this, and because the ideas that get implemented share a core of strategic alignment they support eachother and creates a “gestalt” that we usually think of as a personality or a philosophy when viewed from the outside.
So, do strategy first and use it as a screen in the final descision making, but never expect strategy to replace the creative process. You need both and in the correct order. And that’s all it’s to it.

GENERATION I: THE FALLACY OF INDIVIDUALITY

It’s time for marketing to stop promising false notions of individuality. 

The fallacy of individuality.

Individuality is overrated. In fact it’s become a distressing, destructive and depressive idea. Earnest psychologists such as Oliver James, author of the Selfish Capitalist, propose and provide evidence, that it actually causes a variety of mental illnesses from anxiety, to isolation to depression. In short it can make you mad. Alain de Botton, this time a philosopher, eloquently described our society as one that champions impossible ideals and puts people in perpetual anxiety over whether they are ‘occupying too modest a rung or are about to fall into a lower one’. Even hard nosed economists have woken up to the fact that the overly simplistic Adam Smith’ principals of the ‘invisible hand’ in business have led to a collective failure of financial systems commonly known now as the ‘the recession’. The ambitions of the few are the cause of the suffering of the many. Regardless of which pet discipline you like: psychology, philosophy or economics it is clear that this business of individuality has gone too far.

As marketers we have to acknowledge our responsibilities.

Naturally, these problems are due to a number of factors; politics, schools, t.v. media etc, however I will discuss how marketing contributes to this mess. Marketing and advertising still continue to play a significant role in the psychological, social and economical implications of selfish capitalism. I believe that it is a particular, type of marketing that is responsible. It probably began with a strategy that eventually became the archetype for many others. It promised individuality, granted permission for humans, who are normally social animals, to become selfish capitalists. It declared that you should: ‘Have it your way’.

Individuality often built on insecurity has been drummed into consumers minds, sunk into their hearts and shoved down their throats for decades … here is a small collection from Wikipedia:
“Have it your way” – Burger King
“You. First” – Banglalink GSM
“Expect great things” – Lucent Technologies
“Expect the world” – New York Times
“Express yourself” – Lavazza Coffee
“How many bars do you have?” – AT&T
“If you don’t get it you don’t get it” Wash. Post
“It’s for you” – BT
“See what you can do” – O2
“Broadcast yourself” – YouTube
“Yours is here” – Dell
“Where do you want to go today” – Microsoft
“Be extraordinary” – E-Trade
“What’s in your wallete” – Capital One
“Accelerate your life” – US Navy
“It could be you” – National Lottery
“Be the first to know” – CNN
“So where the bloody hell are you?” – Tourism Australia
“Thousands of possibilities. Get yours.” Best Buy
“The power to be your best” – Apple
“Live your life” – American Eagle
“Entertainment your way” – SKY
“Hear what you like when you like” Rex Records
“Drive your way” – Hyundai
“Your Airline” – Air India
“Make yourself heard” – Ericsson
“Because you are worth it” – L’Oreal
“Your Fragrance, Your Rules” – Hugo Boss
“You Gotta Have it” – Lisa Frank
“You are the one who’s number one” – Pathmark
“It’s time for U” – UPN

Generation I: A definition.

Marketers have often built this promise of individuality loosely on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. ‘Self-Actualization’ that appears right at the top of this hierarchy is a result of individuals fulfilling their potential. Fine in theory, but has horrible implications when practiced in marketing. The idea that consumers should engage in a relentless race to own and consume products & services that promise selfish individuality have created what I will call Generation I.
Generation I is the ‘Insecure’ generation. For decades marketing has largely used Maslow and other theories of individuality as the basis for setting aspirations and expectations that are generally impossible to match in reality. It has in fact created a viscous circle that played on and fed people’s insecurities as Chuck Palahniuk explained once:

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need”

My contention is that Generation I is – in reality – far from the self-satisfied, self-proclaimed individual, independent and influential rulers of their cocooned universes. It is an insecure generation that is caught in a perpetual race of trying to keep up with the Joneses and engage in mindless materialism. Of-course some materialism is necessary such as homes, clothing etc but the kind of materialism discussed here is insecurity based. It’s the type that is a response to the enormous pressure in western and developed societies to be an individual. To stand out. To equate one’s progress with their possessions.

Czech Dream
A couple of documentary Czech film makers launched a campaign around a spoof new mega mall in Prague. They’ve literally built an ad campaign promoting the non existent store. The film charted the journey from the ads to thousands of people who’ve come to the store on the launch day. After the collapse of the soviet system and years of lack of western style materialism there was an insatiable appetite. The filmmakers were essentially firing a warning shot, asking the question do we really want this? Should we jump head on into mindless capitalism? On the opening day of the fake store thousands turned up all hoping to buy a new t.v. set or perhaps to fill a deeply set insecurity.

Individuality is the basis for isolation which breeds mental illness.

Plato stated the obvious eons ago, hinting at the dark side of individuality:

“Winners stand alone”

The irony is that even at it’s moment of supposed triumph, individuality becomes isolation. Standing out, is by definition, breaking away from the group and the community. This is even more worrying. Multiplied by millions of marketing messages, un-supervised financial institutions and disappointing politicians, societies become a fragmented collage of highly macho and individualistic dreams. A collection of individual-group-thinkers. The so called triumph of selfish individualistic capitalism becomes society’s collective failure.

The trouble with marketing is that most of it is still stuck in a selfish capitalist mode.

Let’s consider how consumers today are claiming back their rights to be the social animals that they are. The astronomical explosion of social media online in many ways is consumers’ way of claiming their rights to simply connect and belong. To co-create and collaborate, meet and organise themselves and others around them. Technology have not only made them more inter-connected but also inter-dependent.
On an another level research from the Future Foundation has shown that at least in western societies where women have been making great progress into public and professional lives this has resulted in a move towards the more feminine values in culture of sharing, socialising and collaboration.
Meanwhile in ad land, brands are still peddling archaic macho strategies and toxic notions of individuality. Desperately failing to grasp the full implications of what consumers are doing online and where culture is going. They are being autistic in choosing not to hear what consumers are saying which is: ‘thanks we actually want to hang out with our friends if you don’t mind’. Or as a respondent in a group recently told us more aptly:

“I want to be independent like all my friends”

Individuality in a way is only a route to what people need – that’s belonging. Belonging is perhaps the more ‘human’ way of building brands.

The future is co-operative & collaborative – our survival – no less – depends on it.

From the environment, to poverty, from medicine to technology, social systems that are designed to bring people together, brains together and above all collective actions are exactly what we should champion and build in marketing. The reality is that in the wake of the recession the business world needs to look into more co-operative and collaborative forms of progress that go beyond the selfish capitalism of the few to the greater good of the many. The far more interesting model for a better form of capitalism is to think of ways where contribution not mere consumption is the objective. Brands that selfishly existed to make the customers consume more without a further contribution beyond their product are at a grave risk of becoming nothing more than a cost without a care. Some of this thinking is captured in co-opportunity – a new a book by John Grant. In it, he discusses the nature of new types of models where it isn’t communication anymore once you add the social dimension – it is actually a social innovation. The co-operative mentality I am proposing and the actions described by Grant are all indications of what social could mean to brands, it’s not individuality that they promise anymore it’s the genuine actions that demonstrate true commitment to their consumers and society at large. The basis of this commitment is not a fake promise of ‘if you buy this you will be individual’ it is the higher healthier delivery of what people really want and that’s not individuality but rather interdependence.

How can brands be built around interdependence instead of false notions of individuality.

Is it possible to create collective identities where the objective is not the selfish, lonely and impossible illusion of individuality? The answer is yes:
Firstly, the fundamental shift that marketers need to make is that a brand is not an image that could be managed simply by changing the ad campaign. It is an experience. An experience in it’s widest sense of the word. A brand like IKEA is not managed by simply changing the ads it’s a brand that is fundamentally an experience in every aspect from the product to the packaging to what you could do with the product eventually. At it’s core is a social idea – democracy of design – this is translated into every aspect of that brand. It is an ethos, a commitment and an intention to improve the lives of the many people. (for more on my thinking on brand as an experience read this article).
Secondly, brands that build their marketing around bringing people together instead of pushing them apart by encouraging, facilitating a sense of belonging between it’s customers will be better placed to survive in the hyper connected world of today. See box.
Thirdly, it is fundamentally about ‘doing’ not ‘saying’. Delivering the ethos of interdependence has to be something that the brand ‘does’ in order to show that it cares enough about its’ public to do something about it. Brands should be living up to commitments not producing campaigns.

T-Mobile: Life’s for sharing Campaign UK.
In a really competitive telecoms market T-Mobile needed to differentiate beyond price and offers. A strategy was established built on how life is lived live and broadcasted instantly to friends, family and strangers using mobile and web. Telephony was changing how people related to one another. Everything was lived now and shared now.
With this as the backdrop the idea was to create iconic and spontaneous experiences that gel together friends and strangers. The events were designed to be amazing enough to compell audiences to share. DANCE was the first out. An outbreak of spontaneous dance in Liverpool street captured the imagination of those present with random people joining and broadcasting the event on multiple digital media live and as it was happening. This campaign and it’s sibling SING in Trafalger Square were hugely successful for the brand on all metrics. But most importantly it delivered on the brand idea, the consumer reality and the commercial objectives. Above all it was a genuine brand experience that was worth sharing. A good example of the ethos that brands should do not say.
Life’s for Sharing.

What if?

What if we didn’t sell stuff based on a fake sense of individuality and ultimately isolation?
What if we didn’t give consumers the poor substitute of a mental experience instead of a real life one?
What if we didn’t aim to make consumer run towards goals that they can’t achieve and consumerism that feeds nothing except insecurity?
What if we stopped playing on people’s insecurities and started working on building their confidence and self esteem?
What if we stopped telling people have it your way when what really matters is a way for everybody to succeed co-operatively?
This is ultimately not a question of which advertising strategy we should pick, it is a question of can we take our responsibilities seriously enough to ditch toxic notions of individuality and start delivering on inter-dependence.

Hur får du ut det bästa ur planning?

Del 3 i vår serie med intervjuer om planningens roll i Sverige

Plannern bör fokusera på att hjälpa de stora idéerna som ska göra skillnad för framtiden och inte att hävda sig själv för mycket. Det ena tar ju tid från det andra. Men PlannerFed är en agentur som kämpar för vissa frågor på uppdrag åt våra planners. Vi tror att fler duktiga konsulter får chansen att göra skillnad om planning blir mer känt och tydligt i Sverige, något som man ännu inte kan ta för givet. Så medan du fokuserar på planning presenterar vi här ett par färgstarka planners från byråer och vår agentur.
Intervjuerna är gjorda av Christopher Norman som är en flitig juniorplanner och varumärkesstrateg med en stor dos nyfikenhet. Stort stort tack till dig!

Intervjupersonera i filmen är:

Anna Nordell – Saatchi & Saatchi
Saher Sidhom – Great Works
Stefan Rydén – PlannerFed
Olle Svensson – Gyro:HSR

Links to the future of planning

The first issue of our relaunched Admap magazine considers what the decade ahead will hold for planning, including:

  • The future of planning: a roundtable discussion featuring six of the industry’s leading lights (open access)
  • A new agency model: Simon Clemmow on why planning and agencies are joined at the hip (subscriber only)
  • Emerging brand wisdom: Guy Murphy describes the fun to be had in developing markets (subscriber only)

Browse the full issue of Admap at www.warc.com/admap.

Inside the US consumer’s mind

A new partnership with the Futures Company brings to warc.com an extensive series of insight and analysis pieces on the US consumer courtesy of its Yankelovich reports. These include:

  • Consumer profile – Hispanics: their attitudes, behaviour and values (open access)
  • 12 things about Moms: from over-parenting to the influence of Oprah (subscriber only)
  • Men – It’s a Guy Thing: tracking changing trends in the male market (subscriber only)

You’ll find a full listing here, and we’ll be adding many more over the coming weeks.

On the Warc Blog

Our new blog is the place on warc.com for keeping up with the latest news, views and content  and, of course, where you can post your own thoughts on what you find. Recent posts include:

  • Dan Calladine on the potential of the Apple iPad
  • Simon Law pondering the phenomenon of Super Bowl advertising
  • Warc News Editor Stephen Whiteside’s assessment of UK adspend in 2010

You’ll find all the latest posts at www.warc.com/blogs.
And finally, one last reminder that our Measuring Advertising Performance 2010 conference takes place in London on March 10th.
If you’re not a subscriber to Warc and would like to profit from ongoing access to a huge range of ideas and evidence on all aspects of marketing, media and communications, simply email us at enquiries@warc.com to arrange a trial.
Kind regards
James Aitchison
Warc

Great insight requires great creative – even in B2B

I have worked with several B2B brands, and most of them had a very good grasp on what made their customers excited. Others quickly recognized the importance of what I  found out while researching their target markets. Insight seems to come natural to people in B2B markets. Unfortunaltely, I can’t say the same for their grasp of creative execution.
Now, here’s a cautionary tale on the dangers of not being able to make the leap of faith from strategy to execution: You’re in B2B. Everyone you deal with is a pro. They might not buy one of your products every year (because it’s a huge machine that costs $50 000) but they are experienced and know what they want. You also know what they want, because like you’re buyers you’ve lived practically you’re whole life in this business. And what they want is a turbo-charged RX450 compressor powered Rock Combustor that will run 4500 hours or more before requiring maintenance.

Tomas Lundgren

Tomas Lundgren


There are many other firms selling similar machines, cheaper, more expensive, higher powered, etc, but you are the only one who sell such a low-maintenance machine at a reasonable price in the high-power segment. You’ve got your insight into the target audience down pat. If anyone buys this, it’s because they know maintenance is a real drain on the overall budget to keep a machine fleet operational. So, you brief the agency. The agency people nod and take notes and go to work.
They come back with a concept that is visually daring, has a memorable pun in the headline, and really stresses maintenance costs, but it doesn’t show the machine. Instead the image shows a guy dressed in a business suit asleep in a bed (aren’t we supposed to appeal to a male audience here?) with a “dream bubble” above where dollar bills are jumping across a fence. You immediately feel uneasy. This doesn’t look like what your company usually put in its ads. Actually, no one in your industry have ads that look this way. There’s supposed to be a machine in the picture. Or a bikini babe. Or both.
You’re customers are serious people that buy serious, powerful equipment for serious amounts of money. This is not going to work. So you say you like the copy and appreciate that it makes a good, strong point for maintenance cost reduction, but end up giving your great-idea-but-I-don’t-know-if-I-like-this speech to the agency team.
The art director stares at the table. The copy writer says it reinforces the headline that you said was good. The account manager tries to make a case for it, but quickly accepts defeat and takes the team back to the agency to have another go. A week later they arrive again, this time without the art director. It now looks like a typical industry ad, but nice. They’ve used your best product shot and done some quite magical effect in some image processing software and it looks stunning. Your boss is gonna love it. The guys at engineering is going to pin it to the wall and buy you a round. The customers are going to be impressed. This is going to work!
But of course it doesn’t.
Your customers, while not insensitive to the seductive image of a powerful yellow machine in a glowing late afternoon light, are so used to seeing product shots that they just skim over your ad. They are busy worrying about all that money disappearing in maintenance, and actually, they haven’t been able to sleep very well lately because they are going to take serious heat because of that budget running wild. They sure would like to find a low-maintenance machine, but can’t.
Your company still sell it’s quota that year. You even get a little bonus, and you’re very popular with engineering. Everything has worked out fine, just like last year , and the year before that.