It’s been a problem for some time now in the world of marketing and communications and it’s something that we in the industry seem to be somewhat oblivious to.
Or at least if we know about it, we don’t seem to be doing much to resolve it.
The following is inarguable.
People have a limited attention span. They grow tired easily. They quickly move from one thing to another. And technology is fuelling their desire to do something different.
On the face of it, this might sound like a familiar problem.
Something that has been pored over for years.
But, I’m not talking about your consumer or customers.
I’m talking about us. The marketing and communications professionals in charge of charting the future course of brands.
Unfortunately, we seem to grow tired of the work we are doing for the brands we work on all too regularly.
A few common examples I’ve seen played out in my own career…
You work on a brand strategy and launch campaign for 18 months. By the time people see it in the real world, the agency and client have become bored of it and decided to move on to the next thing.
When new marketers or new agencies start life on a brand, it’s naturally human nature to say “what this brand is doing is wrong, we need to start again”.
Some of the best and closest friends of mine who are creatives have confided in me that once they have executed a campaign for a brand, they often seek to change it up as they are worried that the chances of it being awarded are significantly reduced if they continue to do the same thing.
My own discipline, we strategists and planners, might be the worst of all. Rather than safeguard the brand and be the voice of the intended audience, we often fuel this short-term approach. Why? Because we so crave the respect of clients we enjoy uncovering interesting new insights and strategic approaches. And we enjoy it when a creative high-fives us because we have significantly increased their chances of walking down the Crosiette in Cannes (I have embellished this slightly to make my point, I have never been high-fived by a creative).
This is all symptomatic of ‘internal fatigue’. Different is often seen as a better way. But it shouldn’t always be that way. Here’s why;
Firstly, the brilliant work by the IPA in the UK has empirically proven that long-term campaigns are more effective and impactful than short-term campaigns (If you haven’t, you need to read the work of Les Binet and Peter Field on this). We have seen this with our very own ‘Pure Potential.’ work for Smirnoff. It’s no surprise to us that our longest running brand platform has also been the most consistently effective campaign we have ever produced. The campaign has now been recognised for Sustained Success at both the New Zealand, and the Asia-Pacific Effie Awards.
Secondly, it’s a huge misconception that campaigns cannot get better over time. There are countless examples of brand platforms that have delivered brilliant work for many years and matured over time. Snickers’ global campaign ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ and Johnnie Walker’s famous ‘Keep Walking’ campaign have delivered massive value for those brands over many years. Likewise, Ikea UK’s ‘Wonderful Everyday’ continues to be wonderful, and Mainland Cheese’s ‘Good things take time’, continues to deliver good things for Fonterra. I know from my own work on the now global Guinness ‘Made of More’ platform, that if anything, the more time you spend with a brand platform, the greater the opportunity to realise the full potential of it (this platform has been awarded for both its creativity and effectiveness around the world).
To finish, I borrow from the wise words of Andy Fowler, Founder of Brothers and Sisters in London.
He recently wrote an article in Campaign Magazine with the simple words ‘ideas wear in, not out.”
Let’s hope our fatigue wears out, and this mantra wears in.
- Rory Gallery is the head of strategy at Special Group.