Fame chasing in the immersive age

Fame chasing in the immersive age

We’re very proud of our membership of the IPA. We’re also very proud of the fact that we’ve been awarded an IPA Effectiveness Award for our work with LV=. So we were also pretty, well, proud of the fact that the IPA asked our me to write a blog for them following their recent Brand Fame Effectiveness Masterclass.

Here’s a synopsis:

In 2012, Les Binet and Peter Field launched their follow-up to the much acclaimed ‘Marketing in the The Era of Accountability’ with ‘The Long and the Short of It‘, a study of over 1,000 IPA Effectiveness case studies over 30 years.

I remember attending the launch presentation at the IPA HQ and being seriously impressed with the results. One slide in particular stood out, a graph which spectacularly illustrated the long-term marketing effect of brand fame and the significant increase in profit shown soaring over time.

So how do brands become famous and what do they do with it when they get it? Designate entered and won an Effectiveness Award for LV= car insurance in 2012, and whilst this data was too young to include in Field and Binet’s work, our strategy wholly bought into this principle.

We knew that creating a brand that would cut through the noisy, low interest insurance sector which was flooded with big spenders, was the only way to build commercial success.  And it did. It took LV= from number nine in the market to number three in just four years.

We offered something different – something that consumers wanted. Our idea was simple: ‘Look After What You Love in Life’. And we built a likeable and positive brand against a backdrop of competitive negativity, in turn bringing fame and a staggering 696% sales increase.

The 2014 scheme rolled around all too quickly, and with winners announced, toasted and experiencing their own fame, a select few were invited to speak at Monday evening’s Brand Fame Effectiveness Masterclass – Matthew Philip (Manning Gottlieb OMD) on the success of Specsavers; Cat Wiles (AMV BBDO) on Sainsbury’s Christmas campaigns; Matthew Gladstone (Grey London) on the thinking behind the British Heart Foundation ‘Hands Only CPR’ campaign; and with Jenny Howard (Strategy from Sunshine) providing perspective on Baileys to finish.

First up, the Specsavers story was testament to both a solid business model and a steadfastly long-term vision. As with many of today’s famous brands, their success has been built both on a commitment to invest in advertising and on a very strong and flexible creative platform.

The fact that they created it all in-house was at odds with many interests within the room, but there is no denying that their uniquely own-able brand idea has entered popular culture.  It gives them the ability to be both proactive and reactive by tapping tactically in to real events with relevant and entertaining commentary – the Korean flag mix-up at the 2012 Olympics and Suarez’s mandible action in the last World Cup being prime examples.

Their media investment argument is particularly compelling. They have proved that – in their market at least – penetration is more important than loyalty and confidence and courage, even in a downturn, will win out.

Grey’s excellent British Heart Foundation campaign achieved something very effective by creating the very unusual pairing of Vinnie Jones with the Bee Gees. This campaign really understood that common perceptions, passions and even phobias provide true insight whilst importantly, reaching for an understanding of groups of people, not just the ‘typical individual’.

This led to one of my key out-takes from the evening. Brands need to have absolute cultural understanding within their ideas.

Both Specsavers and the British Heart Foundation used humour memorably, or as Matthew from Grey described brilliantly, ‘the right kind of wrong’ in a way that embedded itself within our consciousness. “Should’ve gone to Specsavers” has even become part of everyday British parlance.

Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, relied on user generated content from a broad spectrum of consumers and, curated by an Oscar winning director, cut through in a personal way to capture the hearts of a mass audience.

On the flip side, a campaign which has attracted brand fame but arguably for the wrong reasons, is the much discussed Protein World advertising. The response to the bikini clad model and ‘Are You Beach Body Ready?’ has been on the whole negative with accusations of body shaming creating a Twitter Storm, fuelled by questionable responses, (now deleted) from Protein World itself.

This, coupled with tremendous tactical advertising from Dove and Carlsberg, means that we don’t need consumer research to tell us that this will have caused a huge spike in awareness for the brand, but if the objective was to launch the product to a wider audience, the long-term effects will undoubtedly look very different.

IPA post Mims - pic 2

So confidence and bravery, cultural understanding, commitment to the long-term, and a belief that advertising can be an investment to build a business rather than solving short term tactical problems is the compelling message from Monday evening’s debate to absorb into our thinking, agencies and meeting rooms with clients.

Fame becomes even more important as consumers welcome brands into their lives in an ever increasingly immersive way, or as Nick Kendall so eloquently describes them in ‘What is a 21st Century Brand?’ – a cultural tool – and a tool which is used carefully and with smart investment to deliver the beautiful arc of profitability evidenced by Binet and Field long into the future.

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