Ogilvy Germany’s Carla Funk shows how German Rail’s Gold-winning No Need To Fly campaign bypasses the data-versus-creativity conundrum.

Over the last decade, marketing teams have been split between performance and brand marketing. Each school of thought has developed its own language, culture and objectives. Performance marketing attracts the metrics-driven, acquisition-focused, left-brained, algorithm-loving data junkies, while brand represents the purpose-driven, experience-focused, right-brained, creativity-loving storytellers.

The conundrum for marketers has been connecting them. German Rail managed to create these synergies, showing how to join the dots between performance and brand marketing.

A strong proposition

No Need to Fly served relevant ads based on an individual’s interests in real time: video ads showed a user popular international travel destinations and combined them with similar destinations in Germany. The campaign focused not only on price comparison but also the CO2 savings synonymous with travelling via train, making a strong proposition: a cheap train ticket and minimised CO2 emissions. The automated campaign is then delivered to individuals in an infinite number of variations.

Data, performance and creativity: inspiring each other

The starting point was a single print ad with the unique visual comparison. The next step was to add data to the visual idea, spawning a price comparison tool. Because of the price aspect, a performance-driven media approach became important. The target audience was specified and dynamic ads with real-time data were created. The campaign was a success, but the travel industry and our society were faced with another problem: how can we all reduce our CO2 footprint? Based on this, we added CO2 data, taking the campaign to the next level.

Collaboration is required

The combination of data and creativity demands multi-disciplinary teams with creatives, strategists, technologists, data scientists and experts. At Ogilvy Germany, we call this combination of strategy, creativity, and innovation, Creativity+. This way of working has already resulted in a number of projects where creativity and data inspire each other.

Telling stories in a new way

We gave people a story they were looking for: saving CO2 is easy if you travel within Germany by train. To enhance the story and its creative potential, we had to address the right people at the right moment. Potential customers aren’t interested in offers about irrelevant locations, regardless of price, so personal travel preferences had to be identified without prior targeting.

We have never had more insights available to us, especially on social media channels. Location, interests and desired destinations can be targeted. The key was to combine these insights and data so we could address the right people at a good time. This generated an entertaining, relevant campaign and 113% more clicks.

Avoid using data without vision

According to McKinsey, marketers who use consumer data reap higher financial returns. Endless data is available, but using it without vision is like a bad teacher quoting the textbook: it’s all there, but lacks a meaningful connection. The right data needs to reinforce the meaning and the creative idea with one goal: decrease ad avoidance by focusing on relevance.

A strong brand strategy determines

which data enriches the creative idea. For German Rail, this led to a defined set of data: target audience data like interests and locations, competitor information like the cheapest flight offer, CO2 emission figures for planes and trains, visually similar German destinations and product information, like the cheapest train connections.

The ‘right’ data created a relevant message and inspired the audience with something powerful: their own wanderlust. As a result, the individual message targeted people on a personal level and led to a 26% rise in sales.

Bringing in the brand strategy

There are endless possibilities when it comes to creative assets. The challenge is to navigate through them, considering how they can work together to build a cohesive brand. A brand strategy helps to define criteria, scenario planning and detailed decision trees. It helps to determine which content is relevant.

Technology can then manage the thousands of asset combination options in an effective and sustainable way. Dynamic ad technologies assist by streamlining the complexities arising from producing multiple assets for different target audiences, messages, visuals and formats.

Innovation must improve a campaign, especially in terms of cost-effectiveness and relevance. As a result of these correctly applied technologies, the campaign’s media and production costs shrank, and the client was convinced to continue using an automated and data-driven approach to scale it even further as the new standard for future campaigns.

Embrace a common goal

To link brand and performance marketing, avoid silo mentality and embrace a common goal: create customer-centric, effective and relevant communication. That isn’t a data-versus creativity conundrum; rather, it’s a Creativity+ and data solution – a holistic practice where one point of view inspires the other.

This is an extract from WARC’s 2020 Effective Social Strategy Report.