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Nick Bennett

Strategy Director

The danger of sitting on the Marketing Fence

What was the last piece of creative that you saw, that really made you go, wow?

It feels like that experience is becoming less common, albeit one that is not all that surprising given the amount of content that gets served up on an hourly basis on a multitude of channels.

The extension of this is have you ever met the marketer that wanted to do everything and cover every possibility or eventuality? Yep thought so. It is not unique - why would it be, the risks of getting it wrong are substantial for brands and companies alike…. or are they?

Combined, these two elements though are causing issues in the marketing and advertising industry. As technology evolves at a rate that is impossible to keep-up with, should we not be embracing this tech more that allows for new and interactive experiences. We are far more prepared as an audience to embrace technology both in on and off line environments, so why do brands often play the wait game, rather than involve themselves at an early stage.

Isolating creative and tech from one another again, the same neutrality exists on most creative…. its the same thing over and over and over again for some brands. We’re not saying they always get it right - but at least Paddy Power try and disrupt the market. Yes it matches their brand values, yes they have that audience but they are still prepared to try and make themselves topical. With real time marketing (something we ourselves have commented on recently) becoming increasingly important, those that are prepared to push the boat out that bit further will stand out.

Protein World was another brand that had experience of this, however in this instance it may never have been intended. When their summer campaign ‘Are you Beach Body ready’ went live - no one could have expected the backlash. You can argue the semantics of whether it was right or wrong but what was most interesting was how they exploited the opportunity to their advantage and remained firm with their stance throughout. They knew their audience, where happy to upset those that disagreed and have achieved record sales since. Had they sat on the fence and tried to appease all - they would have ended up with a foot in both camps and nothing to show for it. Protein World should be applauded for their bravado and being true to they want to connect with and not just be like every other brand that is active in the supplement market.

The choice that was made would probably have been debated far and wide before they embraces what we now identify as Outrage Marketing.During those discussion, the usual and considered notions around ROI being important and planning campaigns and knowing what to assess is critical - but, sometimes you should throw caution to the creative wind and try something a little different. Marketing at times now feels like a tick-box exercise, where multiple stakeholders don’t want to oppose one another with their brave efforts.

The power of search is amazing - an online database archive of successes and failures from the years gone by. Pinterest boards full of inspiration, and discussions on the actual impact of creative marketing and web build work. However, the search-ability of this has taken away the creative flow - it is easy to say ‘Well Toyota did it’, and ‘Heinz made it a success’. Yes - they did, but they still had a unique strategy aligned to their audience in the first place. Sometimes you will stumble upon marketing success - and when you do, this should be praised as it means that you more often than not, rolled the dice that one last time. Also, a magic algorithm and success formula does not exist - market conditions change so often that you can be just as likely to be right place, wrong time as being the right time, but in the wrong place with your campaign creative.

The blame game of this lies heavily between that of agency and client, both at times filling the neutral safeline of ‘it works for all involved’. Brand guidelines reign us all in from exploring further potential, more often with multiple stakeholders spread across multiple territories waiting to tell those off that dare push the boundaries.

So here’s our advice, stop ticking boxes where you exist to protect your job and decide which side of the fence to sit on. If you are ready, then perhaps adopt a mindset of ‘Safe is too risky’ as the industry will soon start to embrace those that rebel and fly in the face of normal. If you get the fish to bite, then utlilize them to your marketing advantage to the maximum.