Here are the results of the latest assignment from A[P]SOTW – Advertising [Planning] School On The Web.
This initiative is run by a team of senior planners from across the world. They post challenges for up-and-coming planners and marketers – or, in fact, anyone with an interest in smart ideas and communications – and have the entries judged by a heavyweight group of marketers and strategy experts.
Read the original challenge, set by Andrew Hovells of PHD, and visit his blog for feedback on individual papers.
Now here's Andrew with the general feedback, followed by the winning entry by Hugo Fournier:
This was hard. But it's also representative of many briefs I get these days. Do more on less budget, do comms planning, brand thinking and media all in one.
So I think everyone did well operating so far out of there comfort zone.
With an open format, I was hoping for some great storytelling, some submissions that stirred my emotions. I applaud those that took the time to build some theatre, make it visually interesting and draw me in. Not everyone did this. I hate it when clients ask for a document rather than a conversation, but in large client companies, not just global ones like Sam Adams, you'll find that even when you get a good face to face, you need to enable your client to explain and excite another authority to buy.
One or two got over-excited about what might be possible on a budget of $400,000, but that's okay for folks starting out who might not work in the UK, or have massive experience of dealing with media budgets. Some of the more experienced folks have done pretty solid realistic plans.
But that's part of some other questions.
First, you can't avoid having to reach as much of the market as possible. I thought a number of folks defined a sensible audience and many planned for some decent reach, but within the plans there didn't seem to be the required planning for 'talk value'. On a budget like this, the mix of media and content needs to punch above its weight and build talk value. Few stated the need for fame; some did, but much of the fame planning didn't seem to relate back to the brand.
Also, a great media plan, especially one on tight budget, needs a big jumping-off point, a core content idea that everything will hang off. I thought too many plans had lots of phasing and different ideas, rather than one big theme everything would riff off.
When I worked on IRN-BRU for the Scottish Commonwealth Games, we had about an eighth of the budgets of other sponsors. Yes we could afford TV, but that worked more as two bookends to lots of integrated activity built on one idea: we would celebrate that through the highs and lows (mostly lows) the Scottish support their national teams through thick and thin (IRN-BRU is Scotland's 'other' national drink and fortifies its drinkers).
I wondered if anyone might have just concentrated on London, as well as some good work on a tighter audience.
I wondered if anyone might have done something with the fact that the original Boston in in Lincolnshire.
I wondered what you might do with just focusing on one channel, like YouTube, including Vloggers.
I wondered about phasing. Would it be most efficient to do just one thing in quieter periods - the run up or after the games?
For $400,000 you could have mixed outdoor and social media and focused on UK cities (craft beer is very metropolitan).
In terms of talk value and brand relevance, many talked about US v UK, which is solid, but I was frustrated that so many had some really golden discoveries and observations about the brand, the founder and other stuff but didn't follow through.
I thought quite a few got caught out by relating stuff back to the Olympics, and didn't push this bit hard enough... The Boston roots, that view about doing what you love and the link between passion and performance.
Seriously, lots and lots of gold, everyone just missed out on following it all through.
So, a winner. It's going to be Hugo.
Because I could articulate your media strategy in a sentence and it's doable for the budget I think.
Few talked about the thorny issue of decent content and Vice is a neat solution - and the network planned for the right context could be good.
I do wish you had thought of your audience more, it's why you nearly didn't win. Watch that.
But I could explain your whole presentation to someone the easiest and while I got a bit bored with everyone doing the UK vs US thing, you managed to do something more fresh and thought-provoking with it.
I do agree it could piss people off, but the first task of brand communications is to get noticed. This would. Tonally it feels kind of highbrow and self-selecting. You need to get the irony and with a nudge it could knowingly take the piss out of intellectual Boston types more than just out of the UK. It could have depth.
As your planning director, I'd be saying ditch the sampling and instead have trial as part of the story.
But this, along with the feedback above and knowing Vice would build on it anyway, is the one I could work with the most and see some great development coming out.
As I said, it was close, and I've been hard on others for not enough audience work, whereas you've done none at all, but this is the one that would get noticed and an interesting, but sensible plan for the budget.
Final piece of feedback, to you Hugo, but everyone. Don't put sampling in a response unless you KNOW the client can afford it. The cost of free samples for drinks usually outweighs the marketing budget by a staggering amount!