Left to right: KC Ifeanyi (Fast Company), Peter Kain (BBDO NY), Claire Knebel (Ritual), Neil Shah (Smirnoff Diageo), Toddy Stewart (Picture Farm)
How do marketers break through in today’s over-connected society? It’s certainly no easy feat. With content at the touch of a button and brand messaging looming around every corner, consumers have become very wary of advertisers. It’s not that consumers aren’t hungry. Quite the opposite, consumers are eager for brands to add value to their lives. But the way marketers go about it can often feel disruptive rather than engaging. Peter Kain (BBDO NY), Claire Knebl (Ritual), Neil Shah (Smirnoff Diageo), and Toddy Stewart (Picture Farm) know it doesn’t have to be this way. In an Advertising Week panel curated by Press Kitchen and moderated by Fast Company reporter KC Ifeanyi, the four industry experts share how to maximize your own brand message:
1) Know Your Audience
“Have the consumer at the heart of it,” Neil Shah, the Global Marketing Director of Smirnoff Diageo, explained. Shah led Smirnoff’s Equalizer campaign in partnership with Spotify. The campaign was meant to drive awareness around the gender inequality within the electronic music industry. “Our consumers at Smirnoff are passionate about music… But we realize music is not equal and particularly electronic music has a gender disparity.” Though the main platform (Spotify) wasn’t a typical go-to platform for advertising, it was a platform relevant to an audience interested in this material. By knowing their audience, Smirnoff was able to create a campaign that was both relevant and engaging to their audience. The result? A half a billion impressions.
2) Give Your Audience Something
“An ad is like a deal sometimes,” said Peter Kain, an Executive Creative Director at BBDO NY. The deal doesn’t have to be huge, all the consumer wants is something worthy of their time. “You might be taking a little bit of their time but you have to give them something, a payoff, in return,” Kain continued.“It’s like a different deal everywhere. When your watching a football game you might put up with 2 minutes of ads…If you’re watching a minute long rabbit video, you don’t want 60 seconds [of ads].”
3) Customize Each Experience
“It’s all about being thoughtful,” said Claire Knebel, the Head of Brand Marketing at Ritual. “In this moment what do I need to most customize…this experience?” Knebel asks herself before strategizing. Knebel recalled a recent campaign she led that was localized to a highly specific area, the neighborhood of Venice, CA. “It was all about taking the multivitamin out of the wellness space and reminding people it relates to your core, foundational health. That everything else is an extra on top,” Knebel explained. “We take a slightly different approach to each touch point. A billboard is going to look really different from what someone gets in the mail. But visually it’s all telling the same story…there’s enough crossover so it’s all apart of the same family.”
4) Lead, Don’t Follow
Just remember, just because it hasn’t been done doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Todd Stewart, the Co-Founder and Executive Creative Director of Picture Farm, thinks his job title is “funny.” “It’s a production company, you don’t usually have executive creative directors.” But just because it hasn’t or is rarely done, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. Stewart believes that if you don’t like the way something happens, “you create a new world of metrics.” According to Stewart, “you can affect the marketplace by what you’re doing or how you’re doing it.”
5) Be Genuine
Last but certainly not least, the only way for a campaign or brand messaging to come across as genuine is for it to be genuine. In fact, it was a point all four industry experts touched upon. The campaign, the platform, the product, whatever needs to make sense for the audience consuming it. Authenticity is vital.