Brands embrace big ideas

08 July 2011

NEW YORK: Brand owners such as Levi Strauss, Kraft and Coca-Cola are placing a heightened emphasis on big ideas to engage consumers.

Levi's, the apparel brand, recently revealed it is to roll out its first global creative campaign, spanning 24 markets, and incorporating TV, cinema, print, online and outdoor.

This effort, entitled "Go Forth", draws on a platform devised in the US, and is argued to reflect the sentiment among young shoppers, despite on-going economic uncertainty, that "Now is our time".

According to Levi's, research across numerous countries found many members of its target audience have adopted the view they are responsible for "making the world a better place."

"Youthful optimism and energy are at the core of our DNA and this overarching theme resonates with people around the world," said Robert Hanson, global president of the Levi's brand.

"'Go Forth' is more than a marketing idea. It is also a rally cry; because now, more than ever, the world needs people with a pioneering spirit who still believe that anything is possible."

"For youth today, optimism is power."

Launching in August, this initiative will include a digital component encouraging consumers to take part in a sustainability drive and new product development.

"We want customers to leave our stores not just wearing Levi's jeans, but feeling inspired, empowered and determined to create a better world," said Rebecca Van Dyck, global CMO for the Levi's brand.

Coca-Cola, the soft drinks giant, is also attempting to achieve clear differentiation, a trend that is becoming more common.

"We're all trying to separate ourselves as brands with strong messages," Wendy Clark, the company's SVP, integrated marketing communications and capabilities, said.

One example of this was a US campaign featuring Dr John Pemberton, creator of Coke, enabling teens to discover information about the brand via sites such as Twitter and YouTube.

"The formula is a $70bn trade secret so it's not something you bandy around but the campaign requires us to let go of the story," said Clark.

"This activity is emblematic of the shift to storytelling. Letting consumers feel like they own the conversation is important."

Keith Weed, Unilever's chief marketing and communications officer, has equally suggested it is engaging content, rather than budgets, which are increasingly crucial.

"We are not short of resources. What we are, like everyone else, short of is opportunities and ideas ... and I am very greedy in that area," he said.

"So I am trying to find new ways to innovate in this space. So you will continue to see us innovating."

Elsewhere, Kraft, the food group, is now leveraging "brand storytelling", based on the two principles of "plot and premise".

"Plot is, for example in Romeo and Juliet, two teenagers who fall in love against their parents' wishes and die. The premise is the power of love," said Dana Anderson, its SVP, marketing, strategy and communications.

"If you know your plot really well, you can get really focused on that part, but it's understanding the premise that helps our customers and consumers make their choices."

Kraft has also overhauled its approach to media planning - where the company boosted in-house capabilities - and creativity, with highly beneficial effects.

"In the US, 16 of our top 20 brands had new campaigns last year and saw a 4% increase in revenue," said Anderson.

Data sourced from Levi's, Marketing Week, CNBC-TV18; additonal content by Warc staff