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ROI receiving too much emphasis

News, 14 May 2015

LONDON: Marketers should be able to take a break from the relentless task of measuring the effectiveness of their work and act on gut feeling, an industry figure has said.

Jamie Sterry, brand activation manager at Innocent, was explaining the thinking behind the juice-to-smoothie brand's upcoming off-the-grid festival. This will see 1,500 people attend a free event, where they will be blocked from accessing wifi and actively discouraged from sharing on social media.

"Everyone lives their life through a screen – the audience is more interested in Instagramming an event than taking part in it," he told The Drum. "So wouldn't it be nice if everyone could leave that behind?"

Innocent Unplugged is also leaving behind mains electricity, with solar panels being supplemented by energy generated in playgrounds with bicycles, hamster wheels, roundabouts and seesaws. The alternative nature of the event is further emphasised with foraging expeditions and talks from mindfulness experts.

Sterry conceded that projects such as this were difficult to justify in terms of return on investment alone. But, he added, "you don't have to constantly have to prove ROI".

Intuition still has a role to play, he suggested. And this idea is summed by an Innocent brand maxim: "If you're 70% sure, then just go for it.

"You may not be able to accurately measure the ROI, but if you have a gut feeling that people will respond to it in a good manner, that no other brands are doing it, that it feels right, fits with your brand promise and personality, then just go for it," he continued. 

"It's in doing things like this that helps you connect with fans and potential drinkers – perhaps a lot more than traditional advertising."

That said, most of Innocent's budget continues to be spent on TV and digital, but, Sterry argued, "it's really important to save a small portion of your budget to be brave"

If that bravery pays off – and there has to be some measurement of success, in this case, PR – Innocent may repeat the event next year, holding multiple versions in different cities across Europe over the same weekend.

Data sourced from The Drum; additional content by Warc staff