I think we’re becoming more formulaic as an industry. Easily said, but the opposite is hard to do – doing great work is difficult and I don’t deny that everyone (almost everyone) is trying for great work all the time. Producing something new is a labour of love. And it’s easy to slip along the way. Time pressures, workflow, production needs, and more, all stand in your way. A lot of times, the formula is hard to differentiate from process. When is it formula and when is it gold standard deployment? When is it good media choices rather than ‘the same old plan’?
I'm wondering about our politeness as brands. It all seems very British and correct to not knock others or be unduly negative. And we well know the difficulty of taking a negative position as a brand. The common law of the marketing land is to be positive. To talk oneself up, not others down. To focus on a brand's strengths and how it can overcome any negativity, rather than feed the beast. But is this always right?
The opposite of positive is what sells newspapers, online gossip, or soaps!
We have nothing quite like the Super Bowl in the UK. Yes, there’s TV events like the finale of “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here” which netted somewhere in the region of 10 million viewers – one of the bigger TV audiences we see nowadays. The historic event that was England winning the 1966 World Cup attracted an audience of just over 32 million people – the biggest TV event to date in the UK (according to The Guardian, anyway).
By comparison, the Super Bowl audience in 2010 (right now, in the age of diminishing TV audiences) is predicted to be around 150 million people – although actual audiences in past years have been closer to the 100 million people mark (source: TNS Jan 2010). It’s almost worth the $1 millionper 10 seconds that the ads cost!
It's time to upgrade from propositions as our holy grail of strategy and briefs.
I know you want to keep them, because they're familiar, pithy, sometimes single-minded (at least, the good ones are), they form the central part of the strategic brief and you're probably quite brilliant at finding the right one. Also, frankly, a well-crafted proposition is the strategists showpiece - an opportunity to encapsulate your strategy in a soundbite worthy of Oscar Wilde (or maybe Edward Bulwer-Lytton if you really know your stuff).
In the pursuit of a social networking strategy for the brand I'm working on, I've been digging around to see what other brands are doing and trawling for information, learnings, advice, etc… And I thought I'd share the five key things I learnt.
While you're thinking about it, also look at what Umbro have done, because it's superb and we all like a good case study for reference.
Just in case you're expecting something else, I was working on defining what a brand should do in the world of social networks, including the likes of Twitter, FaceBook, Flickr, Bebo, MySpace, YouTube, Blogging, etc…
My six main learnings were this:
Right now, there's a massive shift taking place - it's being discussed online, in agencies and with clients. As the media channels fragment and the internet provides the forum for debate, the messages about every brand being discussed by the general public can begin to seriously outnumber those 'paid for' by the brand itself. A Harvard Business Review blog article written by Andrew McAfee described it as shedding the "illusion of brand control" which I like as a way of thinking about it.