The gravitational pull of integration

Jimmy Murphy, Director at Publicis Dublin

I was out for dinner with a senior client from one of the country’s biggest advertisers the other night. Not a client of mine I might add so felt safe in ‘hopping the ball’ on something I’ve been thinking about recently. I asked her, ‘how would you feel if your creative agency hired a media director?’. I expected an open mind (she’s a progressive client) but I didn’t expect the response I got. To say she welcomed the idea is an understatement. She took it and ran with it, imagining the pleasure of dealing with one strategic source, the benefits of a short communications chain, the cost efficiencies, the daydream went on.

Now I’m not suggesting that media and creative agencies are about to embark on a wave of re-integration but what I have observed, in both our world in any market, if the consumer wants something, there is gravitational force exerted and eventually suppliers will fall in line.

This gravitational pull has already seen a raft of integration between digital, above the line and below the line disciplines in creative shops. The agencies with separate P&Ls for separate disciplines have struggled to appear media neutral and this can be a source of frustration for the clients I speak to.

Digital, and particularly social, has meant that the lines between advertising, PR and activation have been blurred. We now have PR people working in ad agencies and PR agencies making what would once have been classed as advertising. Calling the output ‘film’ or ‘content’ smooths some feathers but if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…..

The need for integration has been amplified by digital. Powerful as it is, it’s hard to get away from the fact that it’s complicated as hell to serve multivariate copy into programmatic campaigns and monitor the results in real time. We make out like it’s a seamless, automated process but in reality there’s a little too much human input required; and this means balls will get dropped.

For me, this is an inefficient market. Inefficient markets attract ambitious competition. When the rules change and a market is slow to react, new entrants can exploit the gaps. In our industry, these new entrants are the consultants. They are masters of adapting their offerings to match the needs of clients. They will emphasise the need for design oriented, born-in-digital communications strategies that integrate with the clients own internal systems. They preach the gospel of true integration and they have brands that clients trust (and can sell upstairs). Creative agencies will say ‘yeah, but do they have a creative culture?’. The answer is often ‘no, but they can buy one!’. Witness Accenture’s purchase of Karmarama. A consulting blue-blood paying eye-watering multiples for a creative middle-weight. As Scott Galloway memorably yelled from the stage of the Lumiere Theatre in Cannes this year, “Wake up people, they’re on your F**king Beaches”

So. What to do. Double down on creativity and wait for the Accenture chequebook to come knocking? Could be a plan if you’re an independent agency but it strikes me that the gravitational pull could topple you before pay-day. Or do we beat them at their own game;  give up the petty turf wars, fully integrate all of our current disciplines and deepen our expertise in digital transformation. Are clients in a place where they’re willing to hand over a business critical digital transformation to an ‘advertising agency’?

I don’t have the answer. I’ll defend either strategy of you want to debate it. I just enjoy a good row.

I don’t understand the first thing about physics.  People who do have explained to me definitive it is. There is no debating with a black hole. You either find a way to deal with it, or you will disappear.

Live long and prosper.


Prize Promotions: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Chris Pearson, Account Director, Element

Prize promotions are as old as the hills. From cereal-box toys to Caribbean holidays, the idea of driving sales and engagement through prizes and rewards has been around for decades. But, for brands and agencies in 2018, the opportunities offered by prizes and incentives are truly greater than ever before…

While competitions are a regular component of annual marketing budgets for many FMCG brands, they have traditionally been a ‘bridesmaid’, playing a supporting role to above-the-line advertising campaigns. From social media giveaways to retailer overlays, prize-led activations reliably drive sales, engagement and loyalty among key target markets without necessarily being a core focus in themselves.

But that may be changing. From Coca-Cola’s ‘Win a Dream Holiday’ to Cadbury’s ‘Match and Win’ and ‘Cadbury FC’ campaigns, prize promotions are stepping out of the shadows and taking centre stage. Often supported by considerable above-the-line marketing spend, many brands are realising the power of prizes to engage consumers and, more importantly, to make bold statements about who they are.

The profile of such promotions is further multiplied by greater press coverage and, increasingly, by greater levels of attention on social media. Brands and agencies are rightly fearful of the backlash which can erupt on Facebook and Twitter when competitions are badly managed, but this is just one side of the coin. An innovative, original competition with aspirational prizes and an engaging entry mechanic can be great social content: fun, shareable and aesthetically attractive.

Spreading the word

While some of this sharing will be organic and spontaneous, there are also ways to maximise the social reach generated by prize promotions. Whether competitions are run on social media or dedicated microsites, you can prompt consumers to share entries on their social feeds, driving further traffic and engagement from their peers.

The entry mechanic is vital. Asking consumers to enter via a Facebook ‘like’, or by inputting their email on a microsite, has an appealing simplicity which will drive high entry rates. But asking people to tag an Instagram photo or upload a video can be much more valuable, in terms of interesting personalised content. Entry rates may be lower, but there’s the potential for your message to be shared and spread more widely.

Crucially, however, the prize needs to be right. Whether it’s an on-trend destination, a hot ticket event, a unique activity, or even a bundle of designer goods, the prize needs to fit the brand’s target audience. It needs to have the cultural cachet – by virtue of being fashionable or aspirational – to make people want to associate with it. If a person’s social media profile is the face they present to the world, your prize needs to fit with that face. As well as being something your target market wants, it must also be something they are happy being seen to want.

Creating content

One failsafe way to pass this test is by putting choice in the hands of the consumer. From Nutella and Kleenex to Budweiser and Glenfiddich, we’ve worked on a range of promotions where winners have designed their own prizes. Ask entrants to describe their perfect day/weekend/holiday/birthday – in words, pictures or video – and reward the winner by turning their entry into a reality.

The entries invariably make for fascinating reading. From touching stories of human kindness to hilariously bizarre descriptions of the perfect holiday, a gallery of entries constitutes superbly entertaining content. The bespoke prizes we’ve organised for these promotions range from month-long American road trips and Icelandic whale watching holidays to school trips, village fetes and even a wedding!

For winning entries, the potential for social activity is huge. Having selected an engaging story to bring to life, a brand can use social media to document the whole prize experience. From winners’ reactions through to trip preparations, and finally the experience itself, why not harness the power of Facebook and Instagram to maximise your reach? Written testimonials and photographs are great. If you can include a GoPro, and encourage winners to film a fun video diary, that’s even better.

If you’re offering a prize with real novelty or entertainment value, it might even be worth enlisting a professional camera crew. Whether it’s a celebrity meet-and-greet, an adrenaline-fuelled holiday or a wacky road trip, a promotional video can pay for itself. We’re talking about genuine, unscripted footage of a delighted customer interacting with your brand, while enjoying the experience of a lifetime. What better brand advertisement could there be?

All of this can be summed up in three words: make it count. Whether it’s a limited edition product or a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a great prize promotion gives lucky customers something amazing, something to cherish and remember. So shout about it.

Chris Pearson is an Account Director at specialist prize and incentive agency Element. With over 30 years’ experience, Element deliver travel prizes, incentives, winner management and fulfilment to a range of global clients, including brands, agencies, film distributors and media partners.


This time, it’s personal!

Zoe Behan, Account Manager, Runway Marketing

Where does our need for acknowledgement start? The assigned coat space in preschool? The morning Starbucks coffee cup? Your first business card? Let’s face it, we all like to see our name in lights! But what is personalisation?

 “Sometimes known as customization, it consists of tailoring a service or a product to accommodate specific individuals, sometimes tied to groups or segments of individuals”.

I like to think of it as a brand’s opportunity to get intimate with customers, to connect with them, be taken home and the following day be talked about amongst friends. This relationship will be all the customer can think about next time (s)he walks down the shopping aisle.

The principles of personalisation have been around for a while, however brands need to think further than just personalising an email out to their database. In order for brands to grow, they need to create up close and personal customer experiences. Doing so will not only build advocacy and loyalty, it will create an emotional bond between them and their customers, like no other.

The age of the consumer is well and truly upon us. Consumers are in the driver’s seat (whether we like it or not) and with the increase of competition, brands are fighting to provide the best and most engaging experiences.

Consumers expect more, they want to feel valued and don’t want to be just another number”. It needs to be personal in order to drive conversions and increase loyalty. Brands need to offer a tailored approach to each individual where possible and build a long-term relationship, making them far less likely to switch to rival brands.

One such brand that achieved just this, was Galaxy. As main sponsors of last years DFF (Dublin Fashion Festival), Galaxy sent out personalised bars to fashionistas and bloggers alike. At the event, Galaxy combined personalisation with sampling to deliver a ‘brand to hand’ experience that surpassed all expectations. Galaxy knew who had RSVP’d and was due to attend the event. They wanted to give a little personalised gift to everyone on the night – a bar with their name on it!  

It went down a treat with the experience being amplified through social sharing – the power of personalisation at its best. Galaxy’s willingness to bend their brand guidelines helped deliver this remarkable and memorable experience.

Brands need to gain a holistic view of their customers that will enable them to deliver even more personalised and tailored marketing interactions that increase brand engagement and drive sales.

With the constant evolution of Digital Marketing, it has become even easier for brands to engage and offer their consumers something a little more personal, based on their interests, location, demographic and purchase history, making a brand feel relevant and interesting.

Take Nutella for example. Another brand that placed personalisation at the forefront of their offering through their personalised jar campaign. Not only were consumers able to create and purchase their jars in store, they also offered this through online channels, allowing consumers to create their own personalised label, before being able to purchase and have it delivered!

Through the use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, this campaign sets the standard for synergy between offline and online whilst still offering that little personalised touch.

It may not be possible to personalise every communication, however it’s still possible to make it relevant through the use of pertinent imagery that’s appealing to the target audience, colours used, tone of voice, and font size. It sounds simple but makes a huge difference.

Time and time again, the results are clear. Brands that add in a little touch of personalisation receive greater success.

A few things to remember:

  • Use your database: If you have a customer database, don’t be afraid to use it, once you have permission. Look at ways to programme this data into a personalised platform at every touch point, from greeting through to sale.
  • Don’t forget about the human touch. Don’t use your data to merely split your audience into groups. Strive to deliver individual personal experiences where possible, not segmentation.
  • Keep the end Consumer in mind. Ask questions like: Will they appreciate the approach and platform used? Will they feel emotionally connected? Will it stand out from the competitor? And most importantly, will it take the brands relationship to the next level with the consumer.
  • Keep it personal and share it socially! If a bond has been made and the relationship has blossomed, invite your customers to share the experience with others. You may not even have to ask!