STO­RIES WORTH TELLING

Lessons in ef­fec­tive­ness

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - Lorna Hawtin is the con­venor of judges at the 2014 IPA Ef­fec­tive­ness Awards and the dis­rup­tion di­rec­tor at TBWA\Manch­ester For fur­ther de­tails about the win­ning cam­paigns and ad­di­tional ef­fec­tive­ness con­tent, visit www.ipa.co.uk/ef­fec­tive­ness and join the

Much has been writ­ten on the power of sto­ries and their sig­nif­i­cance for the com­mu­ni­ties in which they are shared. Sto­ries pre­serve his­tor­i­cal records in mem­o­rable and mean­ing­ful hu­man terms, trans­form­ing what would oth­er­wise be in­di­vid­ual in­sight into a salient col­lec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence. They are a com­mu­nity’s means of pass­ing from one gen­er­a­tion or group to another – the lessons and val­ues that are cru­cial for their sur­vival and suc­cess.

To me, the IPA Ef­fec­tive­ness Awards pa­pers – all 1,200 of them, span­ning 34 years – are im­por­tant be­cause they are not just “case stud­ies”; they are our com­mu­nity’s sto­ries.

Each year, the ebbs and flows of business for­tunes are laid out be­fore us in ev­ery IPA sub­mis­sion. We read of in­sur­mount­able odds, de­vi­ous in­sights, in­ge­nious ideas, as­tound­ing cli­maxes, turn­ing points and twists. All cul­mi­nat­ing in the dili­gent de­tec­tive work re­quired to demon­strate how com­mu­ni­ca­tions pay back.

The key ques­tion, though, is not whether we all en­joy a good story; that goes with­out say­ing. Our goal must be to see whether we can de­ter­mine what sep­a­rates a great story from a good one – and, im­por­tantly, whether read­ing that story has the po­ten­tial to change us in some way.

Those that we cel­e­brate here of­fer us grip­ping tales of sur­vival, resur­gence, quest and loy­alty; bril­liantly well-told and all with an im­plicit “moral” or learn­ing. So let’s have a closer look at some of the strate­gic plot lines and lessons that emerge from the win­ners in 2014.

The come­back kings

If you want the story of a de­clin­ing favourite who finds an in­tel­li­gent way to turn around their for­tunes, pick up the Grand Prix-win­ning Foster’s tale, or the Mercedes-Benz, Garnier, Premier Inn, ITV, Ever­est or Fairy sto­ries.

Th­ese tell how once mar­ket-defin­ing brands have gone on the of­fen­sive, re­turn­ing to com­mu­ni­ca­tions to re­in­force price pre­mi­ums, fight off com­peti­tors, tar­get fresh seg­ments or sim­ply re-en­gage with com­pla­cent au­di­ences.

Set in the pres­ti­gious car mar­ket­place is a story about how to be­have your way out of a prob­lem you have be­haved your­self into. Mercedes-Benz awak­ened to re­alise it had be­come “staid and stuffy”, lack­ing the glam­our, am­bi­tion and youth­ful­ness of its com­peti­tors. With echoes of Twelfth Night, it as­sumed the “dis­guise” of a youth­ful brand, dress­ing in the ex­cit­ing clothes of the younger gen­er­a­tion to tempt its tar­get into play­ing along. In do­ing so, it en­ticed peo­ple into mass par­tic­i­pa­tive ex­pe­ri­ences and cre­ated the im­mer­sion that leads to a new way of think­ing.

Ul­ti­mately, this makeover helped Mercedes-Benz sus­tain a con­sid­er­able price pre­mium to be­come the fastest­grow­ing brand in the sec­tor. And we learn that, some­times, you just have to “fake it till you make it” to set a be­hav­iour change in mo­tion.

In the Foster’s story, we meet an old en­ter­tainer, loved in the 80s but now

out of favour. It de­ter­mined that a brave new “act” could just get it on the up again, but it needed to emotionally con­nect with an au­di­ence who was strug­gling as much as it was. Walk­ing away from the bravado of old, Foster’s saw that it could use its uniquely Aus­tralian “no wor­ries” per­son­al­ity to in­ject some fun and soothe the re­la­tion­ship wor­ries of trou­bled younger English men. This be­came the “good call” cam­paign, help­ing Foster’s stim­u­late a growth surge that top­pled its long-term ri­val.

The rebels re­turn

If the tale of the plucky rebel look­ing for re­newed pur­pose is more your kind of story, why not try the easy Jet, First Di­rect or ONLY cases?

Th­ese sto­ries tell how the orig­i­nal rebel and cat­e­gory rein­ven­tor finds it­self no longer quite as new and in­ter­est­ing, no longer the cheaper op­tion, no longer the in­no­va­tor – but not yet the un­doubted leader ei­ther.

A num­ber of learn­ings emerge from th­ese sto­ries. First, th­ese brands dig deep into the roots of their or­gan­i­sa­tional and brand val­ues to find the so­lu­tion to their prob­lem. Th­ese are not so much rein­ven­tion tales but reawak­en­ings. For in­stance, easy Jet had to re­fo­cus its brand while cut­ting mar­ket­ing spend and found the so­lu­tion in “the Lu­ton way” – its long-held cul­ture of ef­fi­ciency.

The cloth­ing re­tailer ONLY re­vived its fash­ion­ista fo­cus and rein­vented the cat­a­logue as in­ter­ac­tive drama. First Di­rect at­tracted new con­sumers by fall­ing back in love with its orig­i­nal chal­lenger bank stance. As the brand put it, the “un­ex­pected bank” was “re­born”. The moral for ma­tur­ing rebels seems to be that the an­swer may al­ready lie within.

Sec­ond, each rebel story piv­ots on a strate­gic turn­ing point, where the brand stops chas­ing the old-guard com­pe­ti­tion, puts down its orig­i­nal func­tional weaponry and opens up a di­a­logue that is an­chored to its core be­liefs. For First Di­rect, this is its belief in “de­vi­a­tion”; for easy Jet, it’s about the joy, spon­tane­ity and hu­man con­nec­tion made pos­si­ble by low-cost air travel; for ONLY, it is “lib­er­a­tion”. The moral here is that there is great power in your pur­pose.

The Tro­jan horse

Sev­eral sto­ries are about brands over­turn­ing con­ven­tional wis­dom and carv­ing out new op­por­tu­ni­ties with the use of a “Tro­jan horse”.

With Re­nault, this was Da­cia and the con­cept of the ul­tra-value car. Top Gear’s neg­a­tive ban­ter cre­ated noise about the launch but, in ef­fect, set up a de­ri­sive per­cep­tion that prac­ti­cally doomed this new brand to fail. Its so­lu­tion was to wrong-foot the jovial bul­lies, use their weak­ness as a strength and cel­e­brate its simplicity by be­com­ing “the en­emy of the un­nec­es­sary”.

Sim­i­larly, McCain used simplicity at the heart of its strat­egy to launch the mi­crowave­able jacket pota­toes. It chal­lenged con­ven­tional cook­ing be­hav­iour and an in­cred­u­lous au­di­ence by wield­ing a sim­ple sen­sory-in­spired “oven-baked tasti­ness” cam­paign,

Sto­ries un­der­line the power of emo­tional in­sight and cre­ative in­ge­nu­ity, the un­pre­dictabil­ity of hu­man­ity, the de­sire to make your mark

creep­ing up on peo­ple at the places and times when ap­petite would be at its keen­est.

For the pre­mium tooth­paste Sen­so­dyne, con­ven­tional wis­dom said that the key prob­lems fac­ing teeth were stain­ing and sen­si­tiv­ity. Un­for­tu­nately, that meant its Pronamel prod­uct tack­led an in­vis­i­ble prob­lem peo­ple didn’t know they had. Sen­so­dyne had to help peo­ple wake up to a new prob­lem – acid ero­sion. And it did so us­ing the sim­ple cred­i­bil­ity of an ex­pert in­ter­me­di­ary: the den­tist.

In­ter­est­ingly, all th­ese sto­ries also have echoes of the David and Go­liath myth. David chose the sim­plest of weapons and out­ma­noeu­vred his en­emy. In our sto­ries, the simplicity of the so­lu­tions pre­sented is equally strik­ing. Per­haps the moral here is that a dis­rup­tive propo­si­tion might be made more deadly with the sim­plest of cre­ative weapons.

Follow the Pied Piper

Sev­eral cases cen­tred on the need to shift be­hav­iours, whether that was Trans­port for London’s cam­paign to mit­i­gate the po­ten­tial travel chaos of the 2012 Olympic Games, the Bri­tish Heart Foun­da­tion’s aim to equip the na­tion with the skills to per­form hands-only CPR, the New Zealand Na­tional De­pres­sion Ini­tia­tive’s goal to get peo­ple to self-treat rather than ig­nore the symp­toms, or the Fire Ser­vice’s need to get peo­ple to check their smoke-alarm bat­ter­ies with more reg­u­lar­ity.

Th­ese sto­ries draw on a re­cur­ring “Pied Piper” strat­egy. The brand leads the way by show­ing its au­di­ence a new be­havioural path­way to follow in a highly en­gag­ing way. The Fire Ser­vice’s Pied Piper was to link the check­ing of alarm bat­ter­ies to the chang­ing of the clocks. For the Bri­tish Heart Foun­da­tion, it was the Stayin’ Alive mo­tif that helped peo­ple feel con­fi­dent in get­ting hands-on in a car­diac emer­gency.

All the sto­ries that we recog­nise here help us see the im­pact of what is chang­ing in our world. But, more im­por­tantly, they un­der­line the im­por­tance of things that re­main con­stant: the power of emo­tional in­sight and cre­ative in­ge­nu­ity, the un­pre­dictabil­ity of hu­man­ity, the de­sire to make your mark and, ul­ti­mately, the pos­si­bil­ity of tri­umph against great odds.

We need sto­ries as they in­spire and help ex­plain what is in­ex­pli­ca­ble in our world, turn­ing in­di­vid­ual learn­ings into shared in­sights and cre­at­ing par­al­lels with our own chal­lenges that are strik­ingly rel­e­vant.

Think­ing about brand and cam­paign strat­egy in terms of character and nar­ra­tive might be more than a ret­ro­spec­tive tool. It could be a re­veal­ing ex­er­cise dur­ing cam­paign plan­ning too – help­ing to sug­gest the strate­gic twists and turns re­quired to move the story of the brand for­ward. The chal­lenge then be­comes how to fill one’s head with as many of th­ese brand archetypes and sto­ries as pos­si­ble be­cause, by do­ing so, you will give your­self a richer pal­ette from which to paint your own plot lines.

So don’t get bogged down in the chal­lenges that you might be fac­ing to­day. In­stead, take a lit­tle in­spi­ra­tion and courage from the IPA ef­fec­tive­ness sto­ries and you, too, may just start to see your prob­lem as a great story in the mak­ing.

Foster’s…the decision to lever­age its uniquely Aus­tralian ‘no wor­ries’ per­son­al­ity kick-started a growth surge that helped the brand sur­pass its long-term ri­val

McCain…ques­tioned con­ven­tional cook­ing be­hav­iour with a sen­sory cam­paign

First Di­rect…re­verted to be­ing a chal­lenger brand as the ‘un­ex­pected bank’

TfL…tried to al­le­vi­ate travel chaos

BHF…Stayin’ Alive boosted con­fi­dence

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