LONDON: Views on what constitutes marketing “innovation” vary, but four themes, ranging from the facilitation of brand purpose to disruption of category norms, are evident in a new WARC report.

The WARC Innovation Casebook 2017 analyses the key themes and summarises the winning case studies from the recent WARC Innovation Awards, and presents the views and opinions of the 25 judges.

The Grand Prix winner – Toyota’s LandCruiser Emergency Network – was seen as an innovation that met with most judges’ definitions of what innovation is and was by far their favourite case study.

This saw the brand transforming its LandCruiser vehicles into roaming communication hotspots by installing signal-providing devices in them in order to bring emergency communications to Australia's 5.3 million square km of no-signal areas.

“This shows people that they can have a much bigger impact because they own a specific vehicle,” noted Hugo Pinto, Innovation Services Leader EMEA. “It blurs the boundaries between personal and professional,” he added. “This will be the next stage of gig economy.”

The use of product or channel innovation to promote health and wellbeing was another trend evident in Award entries, from the Thai Health Promotion Foundation’s Helpmet, a smart motorbike helmet that alerts emergency services to accidents (15 motorcyclists die every day on Thailand’s roads), to vests from finance group Emirates NBD which were designed to cool construction workers in the UAE observing Ramadan and to start conversations with SMEs.

The physical retail sector faces significant challenges, with many businesses open to the use of innovation to power footfall, sales, trust and loyalty. Currys PC World’s approach to personalisation during the Christmas shopping period struck a chord with judges.

People were invited to submit details of their ideal tech present (and a present they definitely didn’t want) along with who they wanted to buy it for them and where they could be reached; humorous creative, including outdoor and radio, then targeted individuals during the course of their day.

“You could you do that on a larger scale,” said Layne Harris – Vice President, Innovation Technology, 360i. “That’s the future of advertising.”

Finally, disrupting category norms can be an innovative route to market, as feminine hygiene brand Bodyform demonstrated with a provocative film, ‘Blood’, showing women bleeding in different sports, but still persisting, and ending with the line ‘No blood should hold us back’.

Data sourced from WARC