Filed under: Advertising [Planning] School On The Web
So finally I have got off my arse and got round to doing this assignment thingy.
Before I give you the ‘problem’, I have some background ranting to do – and I apologise for the length of this email, I just think it is important you get an understanding of where my head is regarding brands and communication.
I believe planning is a creative discipline. This means we are not management consultants – but by the same token, we are not creative directors either.
As far as I am concerned, our job is to understand the needs / wants / fears of consumers / society and then use this to inspire [and work with] our talented colleagues to help develop an ‘idea’ … an idea that is relevant, interesting and naturally motivates people to fulfil our client needs – both short-term [which is often about sales] and long term [which is about developing/building their clear, concise brand idea]
I also believe planning is about understanding and appreciating ALL aspects of communication – including design, packaging, media, distribution, new products, promotions, price … EVERYTHING … because to truly help your client move forward both short and longterm, you need to appreciate all the elements that can make that happen, not just rely on 30 second television commercial.
For me, the most successful brands are the ones that win the hearts and wallets of consumers – where their success is not just based on their distribution strength or heritage – but something that has great emotional value to the people out there.
[Lets face it, a good idea is pretty much the only legal means left to counteract distribution, spend and heritage]
It saddens me how many clients think of their brand as basically a logo … or a template … or a particular colour … when in reality, consumers always judge them more than just those attributes.
However, the area I believe is the most powerful in truly developing brands for the future is the philosophy of moving cultures, not categories.
My problem is that too many marketing activities have been created by myopically looking at the category rather than looking at the broader and deeper issues going in consumers lives.
If all you ever do is focus your attention on what is going on in the confines of the category, then you have little or no chance of truly infiltrating the wider aspects of society – which ultimately is stopping you achieve bigger, stronger brand and profit status.
Let me give you a couple of examples …
A few years ago, when Y&R Malaysia were asked by LG Mobile to come up with an idea for a new mobile phone, they knew they were working with a client whose products didn’t really excite the consumer. Rather than look at the category needs and wants, they realised that being a devout Muslim country – where people are required to pray multiple times a day, always facing towards Mecca – they should get LG to produce a mobile phone with an inbuilt Mecca compass so that people could feel confident they are praying in the right direction, wherever they are. It may sound mad, but by appreciating how important religion was to the culture, they created a truly differentiated product that managed to sell almost 4 million phones.
A French Insurance company [apologies, I’ve forgotten their name] learnt that approx 10% of the French population suffered from hearing difficulties. By training all their counter staff sign language – then advertising this fact – they achieved their highest ever market share because a significant segment of society saw real value in what they were doing for them.
When NIKE learnt many new mothers feel alone and overwhelmed after childbirth, they created a website which allowed women to form running groups together – which not only helped them connect with other women in the same situation, but helped them get fit and healthy again … all contributing to higher self esteem and confidence.
When Tesco’s found out that shopping with kids was the 3rd most stressful experience after divorce and moving house, they fitted DVD players to some of their trolleys so that the children would be entertained while Mum did the shopping. Not only did this reinforce the Tesco brand idea of ‘Every Little Helps’ … it ensured people found the Tesco’s shopping experience far better than other places – which contributed to sales growth both interms of new customers and increased time in store.
Interesting isn’t it! [Well I think so anyway]
This isn’t about ignoring the category … and it certainly isn’t about ignoring the brand and it’s values/attitude/essence … it’s about looking at both these things but overlaying it with a deeper understanding of the consumers lives, not just their category habits and turning it into something that has real value for both the consumer and the brand.
So with all that, here is the bloody assignment …
HOW CAN YOU ENCOURAGE MEN TO BUY A HUMMER OVER OTHER 4×4 VEHICLES – DESPITE BEING BIGGER, MORE COSTLY AND MORE EXPENSIVE TO RUN THAN THE COMPETITIVE SET.
[The Brand Essence of Hummer [for this exercise] is TOUGHER THAN TOUGH]
That’s it. All that pre-sell for a one line brief. Ha.
I have kept it purposely brief/ambiguous to allow you to make some decisions/deductions of your own – however anything you decide has to be backed up with facts, you can’t rely in just your own personal opinion. Remember, your goal is to find an insight that lets you develop an idea that undeniably motivates people to choose a Hummer over other cars whilst still being true to what the brand stands for.
Finally – because I have a judging panel of hundreds … what I would like at the end of EVERY assignment is the following synopsis …
What insight/s led to this solution being developed. How did you get them and validate them?
What is the core idea that will encourage people to fulfil your clients fundamental business problem whilst still being true to the essence/attitude of the brand. No more than 3 sentences.
Based on the solution developed, what campaign idea/proposition are you going to use to motivate the masses to act in your clients best interests.
Explain how your idea is relevant to the essence of the brand.
To help you understand what I mean – here is an example [again using cultural/lifestyle insights] based on a campaign we’ve recently done for a luxury hotel chain who wanted to attract wives [of senior executives] to book their family holidays with them – despite not being as well equipped as the competitors nor in as many locations. [Their overall brand idea is ‘Away From The Everyday’]
Mothers crave moments where the family can spend real quality time together … however technology [Blackberries and Mobiles] has resulted in people never being totally ‘free’ from outside contact, which has caused family life to be continually interrupted and undermined.
Import ‘mobile signal blocking’ devices into key hotels which ensure no mobile device signal can get through.
DM campaign to the wives of these senior executives – explaining how only this hotel chain ensures a family holiday like a family holidays used to be – before he got too successful and technology got too invasive. [And yeah, it also highlights that if absolutely necessary, the husband can use the hotel phone to call the office. That’s if you don’t cut off his balls first, ha!] IDEA PROPOSITION: “Technology is as dangerous to family harmony as having a mistress“
Offering holidays where people can truly be together as a family – free from external interruption – is truly an ‘away from the everyday’
Get it? Cool.
Please remember this is not about developing an ‘ad or a proposition’ – it’s about identifying an idea that motivates people because it fulfils an emotional / psychological need and want [beyond just the category] which is in line with the clients short and longterm business goals.
An ad is not the solution – an ad is what you use to ‘communicate’ the solution to the masses in a manner that is fresh, bold, enthusiastic and interesting.
I’ve written about this sort of thing [and the importance of doing it in a manner appropriate to the brand] at various times in this blog so have a look – to start you off, go here.
We are treating this seriously so while we demand resonant, relevant, effective and exciting solutions … it is important you enchant, charm and inspire us because in the ‘real World’, ‘how you say stuff’ is as important as ‘what you say’.
Please note this doesn’t mean you can/should go into pages and pages and pages of ‘wank’ … think of it as a story – with a beginning, middle and end all expressed in an infectious, enthusiastic manner.
Actually, before I sign off, could I suggest you all read ‘High Concept’ … a book by dead-pervert-film director Don Simpson.
The reason for this is not because you might enjoy reading about sex, drugs and film stars [though that is a plus] it’s because he details how he used to sell ‘100 million dollar film concepts’ in a few sentences.
Think about it … ONE HUNDRED MILLION US DOLLARS IN A FEW SENTENCES.
Without doubt that is a masterclass in pitching and given he made iconic movies like Top Gun, The Rock, Beverly Hills Cop, Bad Boys, Crimson Tide, Flashdance … I reckon you might just learn a thing or two from him.
So there you have it, the assignment is officially ‘live’ … so if you have any questions you can email me or post a comment and I promise I’ll try and get back to you as soon as possible.
I will give you one month to do this and so please send entries to this address by JUNE 12th [which is my birthday so I will be in a good mood PLUS I’ll be open to bribes, ha!]
Oh … and there will be prizes too! Not sure what, but we’ll find something – and no Age, it won’t be an iPhone!
PS: The reason I have put [Planning] in brackets in the Advertising [Planning] School On The Web is because I think everyone should [or at least have the right to] contribute to the development of the idea.
Just because you have ‘planner’ on your business card doesn’t mean you are the font of all knowledge. If you can’t inspire and excite the wider team [including the client and the consumer] then as far as I am concerned, it’s indulgence, not intelligence.
Communication development works best when  its done in an atmosphere of inclusivity  executed with a real understanding of people’s lives [not just relying on what you read in a research paper / academic book] so remember that as you approach this assignment and make sure you have some bloody fun!
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