In a digitally enabled world where consumers are effectively “always on”, VF, the owner of apparel brands such as Vans, Timberland and The North Face, is dialling down its activation content.

“When we were watching TV or newspapers no one was worried about, can I click my newspaper article or touch my button on my TV and buy?” Jan Van Mossevelde, vice-president of strategy at VF, told Marketing Week.

“It was a vehicle to communicate to the consumer,” he said. And today the vehicle is increasingly likely to be digital.

“That doesn’t mean we need to be there with a ‘buy me now’ because we weren’t doing that when it was a print newspaper or TV 30-second ad,” he added.

But, as the work of Les Binet and Peter Field has shown, marketers have become enamoured of the efficiency of short-term activation in digital so they tend to put their money there rather than into the brand building that brings long-term benefits. (For more, read WARC’s report: Les Binet examines how digital affects brand building/activation model.)

VF’s brands are currently set on a course correction. “That’s the mental shift we have to make,” said VF chief digital officer Velia Carboni.

“Digital marketing for a long time really became about pushing that one-time sale and that model has significantly shifted because our consumers want it to shift and we as a company want it to shift,” she added.

“I’d rather not make the sale right now but make that long-term investment with you as a consumer and know we’re going to have more of a relationship over time. Sales will come from that.”

Sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by WARC staff