Death of the Message?
Brands are talking more and more and more and more. But we’re all listening less. As someone very clever said, there is ‘no market for messages’. Problem is, the marketing communications business has grown-up within a messaging culture (you know the drill; we tell you stuff, you passively consume it, it raises your desire, then you buy our stuff, theoretically). Marketing Myth
Sometimes, we refer to this among chattering Plannery types as the ‘Proposition Fallacy’ the great myth that marketing is all about messages. Actually marketing is more about feelings than facts, more about using a brand as a mental shortcut at the point of purchase than weighing up the pros and cons, more about fitting in socially than about being rationally convinced of the product’s USPs.
The truth is; there is a very limited market for messages. There is a massive market for interesting, entertaining, relevant, useful and emotionally-compelling content. Earned Media is the stuff that people distribute and share, not the stuff you pay big media conglomerates to push out for you. Marketing investment is moving slowly but very surely in one direction, from Paid to Earned media. Sure we’ll still use broadcast advertising when it is the right thing to do. But we won’t use it just because its all we know how to do, or all clients are expecting from their agencies. Earned media requires a shift in the way you think about your job. Where you’re used to tried and tested approaches, now you need to experiment a bit more (because Earned media in the digital sphere is still pretty new and changes everyday). The Start-Stop campaigning approach we grew up with is dying. Instead we need long-term, highly-responsive Programmes. Think more like a PR, a rolling newsroom or a TV series producer keep evolving, continuously but stick to an engaging theme. I’m losing control!
Most of all, learn to give up control. We’re used to saying what we want in traditional media, because, frankly, we’re paying for the privilege. In earned media, you’ve got to look at it the other way; what can we say, do or offer that people will really value and distribute on our behalf? We cede Control but we gain Influence instead.
Enough already of the ‘Theory’
give me some examples
For an instant set aside what the companies in your category are doing and look instead at:
The X-Factor – enjoys millions of viewers, millions of YouTube views, mass-participation, free media coverage, free artist/song pre-testing, merchandising and countless other spin-offs. There’s no sign of this franchise tiring just yet
Focus on entertainment first and foremost, then on the exploitation of your IP across every platform you can get your hands on.
DDB Stockholm’s ‘The Fun Theory’ http://www.thefuntheory.com/
for Volkswagen At one point in 2009 the most widely distributed viral content on the social web. With little or no media budget. An enjoyable interaction with street furniture to get people walking, recycling and generally doing good stuff for the environment, without the hair-shirt component (..a bit like driving one of Volkswagen’s ecofriendly BlueMotion cars
geddit?!) Music Companies Poor them, they’ve had a rough Noughties. The kids think free music is a right not a privilege all power to them. (Have you tried Spotify? its great). The solution? Give away the stuff that’s basically free to replicate and distribute (digital music) and make your money instead on the things you can’t download; backstage passes, after-parties, meeting the stars, buying the t-shirts, playing the game, being invited to pre-screenings of their next exclusive video. If you can give interesting stuff away for little or nothing, you can charge loads for the special stuff that’s harder to come by.
What about a DDB London/TribalDDB example?
Volkswagen: The GTI Project http://www.gtiproject.com/
The challenge: Sell all Volkswagen’s Golf GTIs without using a TV ad. Previously Volkswagen has relied on TV commercials to sell their stock of GTIs. And some lovely ads we made too (“Singing In The Rain” anyone?)
The insight: GTI drivers are online, they love cars, they love gaming and they loved Scalextrix as kids.
The idea: a virtual Golf Scalextric where people race each other online (often in leagues) to complete the race in the best time possible. Choose you car, get set, ready, go. On completing the race, click through to the website to find out more.
The result: Volkswagen sold all their GTIs without a TV ad. Whilst encouraging half a million people to spend several minutes engaging with the product, the brand and having a laugh at the same time. Show me the last ad you made that achieved that kind of engagement
DDB UK – The Sunday Times, Top 100 Best Company 2004, 2007 and 2009
DDB London – The Gunn Report Most Awarded agency in the World 1999-2008 and 2009
Tribal DDB – Advertising Age 2008 Network of the Year DDB London – IPA Effectiveness Agency of the Year 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006
DDB London – IPA CPD Gold Accreditation 2008
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