Ahead of the deadline for entries to the WARC Prize for Asian Strategy on 3rd July, Lucy Aitken spoke to prize judge Anita Kanal of Visa about how to write a case study, why purpose is a buzzword, and what brands can learn from Ariel's Share the Load.
In your biog, it states that you are "A proponent of the 'marketing-is-always-on' thinking". Can you tell me more about this please?
In today's world the consumer never sleeps, we are plugged in 24/7, 365. On holiday or at work, we have multiple devices. We're always on. In those moments, marketers can't afford to not be present. Few marketing companies have the budgets to be on 24/7, 365. But we have to design our moments appropriately so we're hitting a whole bunch of customers in their decision-making at all their points.
Look at how content is produced. I use content to describe any comms that a marketer prepares with a view of distributing it. There are three types of content that marketers can create: firstly, what YouTube calls "hero" content, so two or three spots a year around entertainment or sports which have high production values. You can rarely afford to do much more than that. Next, what YouTube classifies as "help" content, so that's how to use an oven or how to hail a taxi from a hotel on holiday. Then there's "hub" content which you create to make people want to come back to. This content comes up when they're searching for a way for brand to be present but not like a hero. This means you are in all the moments when a consumer is either intentionally or passively looking for you.
Read more in the Best Practice paper How To Develop An Effective YouTube Content Strategy
In the short video you have made for WARC offering tips for this year's entrants you were encouraging people to bring their customers in more and to empathise with their pain points or their aspirations. Why do you think there is a reluctance to do this or to show this in awards papers?
Sometimes these case studies are written after the fact and there wasn't enough investigation or research done. I think the case study writer has to put themselves in the judges' shoes and recognise that we have to do this after work every day – we spend a few evenings ploughing through the case studies, so help us to empathise with the customer. You can't do that unless you're bringing aspirations, pain points or desires. They've got a lot better at building the business case, but somewhere along the way we've lost sight of the customer. If you have a comms piece and you have results that you feel are worthy of an award, then hopefully you have either solved or created a need or a desire, then don't be shy! Show it to us.
In that same video, you mentioned business-to-human advertising, inviting entrants not to differentiate between B2C and B2B advertising. Tell me more about this. Do you, for instance, think that many B2B campaigns fail to treat their audience members as human beings?
The reverse struck me as they were all BTC. I read an article by GE and they had this beautiful report they'd written about changing the way they'd started communicating. A CTO or a CIO is a human being who is not connecting to a different internet at night. They are still going through a research process, applying filters and searching using Google, so why are we treating them as separate audiences? If you apply a BTP (business-to-person) approach it might just cut out this impression that if I'm going consumer I need to be silly and if I'm going BTB I need to business and factual.
Do you think we will continue to see high numbers of purpose-led campaigns entered into the WARC Prize for Asian Strategy this year?
CSR and gender diversity are buzzwords these days and we want to support those causes behind which brands are putting investment and resource. But sometimes the link is, at best, tenuous. If their business was giving funding then it wouldn't be a case study, if a business felt passionately about that purpose and invested resources into it, at some level there has to be thinking about how it's helping our business and it has to be on a reputational level.
As a judge, how hard is it to compare the strategy for a non-profit operating on minimal or zero budget alongside a campaign with a sizable budget from a large multinational company?
The case studies from 2016 popped to the top because, as a judge, it connected with you, whether it was the cause or whether it was the way it was portrayed or the comms that came out, there was a real insight that someone was trying a really smart, clever or heart-warming way to resolve a need. The difficulty came in the enormous number of social causes that came out of India because it's so hard to read those without being emotionally affected and there's an over-abundance of them. More than 1.2bn people live in India and 40% live below the poverty line so there are a lot of causes. For me, there were so many of these and they're not brands that are being judged by shareholders where they have to show year-on-year growth, they are genuine human needs and we are applying the same lens – you have to put your rational brain at ease and let your gut take over.
What is your biggest bugbear when you are reading case studies that have been entered for awards?
There are a few!
One is poor English: even if they're non-English-speaking – I'm empathetic to that - there's a way to get the English clear.
It is a pet peeve when they're overly long: I don't want to read 14 pages; I want you to stay within the boundaries.
In terms of numbers and figures: if I start seeing metrics – for instance, "it had so many views on Facebook" – I know that Facebook regards a view as three seconds – so I would discard that as it should be a view completion rate. Assuming that we don't know any of this as judges is a foolish mistake because we live and work in this space. Entrants should be harder and sharper on the metrics they use – Likes, shares and views are not it – show me dwell time and where it links to and whether you saw an uplift in sales volume and view completion rates and comments that were positive.
What, in your view, is the biggest advantage of collecting a body of work together in this competition every year?
It serves as a reference point on the best in class. It's a good take within the region on what's popping to the top – consumers keep changing but really the same emotions still hold the way you are able to present a really beautiful integrated campaign that touches at every point. The Ariel Share The Load Grand Prix from 2016 is a case in point: they had the hero ad, the help moments and the hub content and it created a full picture. These are good examples to share with the rest of the region's marketers.
To enter the prize, go to the WARC Prize for Asian Strategy hub