Campaign UK

RAN­DOM ACTS OF CRE­ATIV­ITY: THE ART OF AT­TEN­TION IN THE DIG­I­TAL AGE

Cam­paign and cre­ative-tal­ent spe­cial­ist Vi­ta­min T as­sem­bled a panel to ex­plore the emerg­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for cre­ative com­mu­ni­ca­tions in the age of swipe-right cul­ture

-

In the decade since Ap­ple launched the iphone, smart­phones have cre­ated a new re­la­tion­ship be­tween brands and con­sumers. No one is be­yond the reach of in­creas­ingly smart mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions, but tech­nol­ogy has lev­elled the play­ing field, giv­ing con­sumers greater con­trol over what they en­gage with.

For brands and agen­cies, these are ex­cit­ing and chal­leng­ing times, with the fight for a share of con­sumers’ at­ten­tion now cen­tral to brand vigour.

THE AT­TEN­TION ECON­OMY: now and next

At­ten­tion is hard won these days. Con­sumers are bom­barded by thou­sands of mes­sages a day, many of which they now doubt. And with “fake news” the phrase of the hour, trust in jour­nal­ism, pol­i­tics and brands is bot­tom­ing out. In a post-truth era, brands are no longer nec­es­sar­ily lis­tened to; con­sumers can cir­cum­vent them any­way.

Brands them­selves have a re­spon­si­bil­ity here, too, be­cause they have helped to muddy the water, said Ni­co­las Roope, co-founder and cre­ative di­rec­tor of Poke Lon­don.

“Brands have be­come fo­cused on get­ting their mes­sage into the click­bait feed and chas­ing num­bers, but have ended up with lots of shal­low, un­re­ward­ing stuff that leaves peo­ple empty,” he con­tended.

Pro­duc­ing less but bet­ter con­tent could com­bat this cy­cle of dis­ap­point­ment.

Leo Ray­man, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Grey Lon­don, even sug­gested a sort of ad­ver­tis­ing Hip­po­cratic oath, along the lines pro­posed by Sil­i­con Val­ley soft­ware de­vel­op­ers, to min­imise the harm from their prod­ucts.

With 18 Feet & Ris­ing re­cently awarded B Corp sta­tus for try­ing to do so­cial good, some pro­duc­ers are try­ing to take a more re­spon­si­ble line, said Andy Day, cre­ative di­rec­tor at Sense Lon­don.

How­ever, there is a counter-move­ment to sim­ply chas­ing reach through click­bait. It’s the emer­gence of longer-form con­tent that seeks to pro­vide “thumb-stop­ping” mo­ments that con­nect at a deeper level.

An­thony Newman, di­rec­tor of brand, mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Can­cer Re­search UK, said its “Right now” cam­paign de­liv­ers en­gage­ment through doc­u­men­tary-style con­tent. Work­ing with the TV pro­duc­tion com­pany be­hind Chan­nel 4’s 24 Hours in A&E, it shows the re­al­ity of can­cer for pa­tients, fam­i­lies, med­i­cal staff and re­searchers.

“A lot of it is bad news, with peo­ple dy­ing, but it’s to­tally real con­tent. It’s not feed­ing a closed au­di­ence, which so­cial me­dia does well, but get­ting en­gage­ment as well – which is the hard part.”

CON­SUMER BE­HAV­IOUR: em­brac­ing new bound­aries

The key ques­tion, as al­ways, is: “What does the con­sumer want?” On the one hand, as Si­mon Rich­ings, cre­ative part­ner at Analog­folk, pointed out, the “al­ways-on” world is mak­ing us un­happy. We ac­tu­ally want less in­for­ma­tion, hence the rise of dig­i­tal detox­ing and switch­ing off alerts.

On the other hand, maybe con­sumers just want dif­fer­ent forms of con­tent, said Chris Nut­beam, se­nior dig­i­tal pro­ducer at Chelsea FC. “Foot­ball con­tent used to be very news-led,” he noted. “Now we’re hav­ing great suc­cess us­ing sim­ple pieces of con­tent com­bin­ing mu­sic and skills. We are get­ting dou­ble or tre­ble the traf­fic on In­sta­gram and news has be­come sec­ondary.”

Es­capist con­tent is also grow­ing with VR and AR tech­nolo­gies. The boom in im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ences and ar­eas such as e-sports posed the ques­tion of whether future gen­er­a­tions would still want real ex­pe­ri­ences – and whether they would be able to tell the dif­fer­ence any­way.

Au­then­tic­ity is a pow­er­ful no­tion in this re­spect. Some saw it as a cru­cial char­ac­ter­is­tic in cut­ting through to the eva­sive con­sumer. “Peo­ple in­stinc­tively know if some­thing is fake or real,” said Ge­orge Crabb, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Other Me­dia.

Newman said CRUK’S ex­pe­ri­ence in­di­cated a shift in how me­dia was per­ceived. “Peo­ple don’t be­lieve it’s real on TV, but they do on so­cial. Peo­ple think [real-life con­tent in] a TV ad is act­ing. They’ve got to see it on so­cial first.”

Janine Mostyn, new busi­ness sales di­rec­tor at Vi­ta­min T, pointed to Sport Eng­land’s “This girl can” cam­paign as a great ex­am­ple of a brand telling a real story. “They had sports celebri­ties bang­ing the doors down to get in­volved, but the ads worked be­cause they fea­tured peo­ple off the street.”

Ray­man sug­gested a more mixed, post-au­then­tic­ity future, with brands em­ploy­ing “fake au­then­tic­ity”, such as Sains­bury’s ”#food­danc­ing” be­cause they know that peo­ple ac­cept it.

MIND THE TAL­ENT GAP: flex­ing for the future

In a fluid mar­ket­ing land­scape, the skills agenda is cru­cial. Snapchat is among the plat­forms that have evolved rapidly to be­come a space for brands to cre­ate some­thing with which peo­ple gen­uinely want to in­ter­act, said Lucy Bar­bor, head of dig­i­tal at Carat UK. “Ten mil­lion peo­ple used Snapchat’s Christ­mas Day fil­ter – brands will have grasped that,” she said. “If peo­ple want fil­ters, give them fil­ters. Don’t push out classic me­dia and ad­ver­tis­ing.”

If brands are to seize the mo­ment, they need ag­ile thinkers, she added.

Flex­i­bil­ity and teach­ing peo­ple that the tools they’re learn­ing to use might not be around in five or 10 years’ time is also im­por­tant. Data skills are in big de­mand, es­pe­cially if com­bined with a sto­ry­telling bent, although this seems to be a scarce com­bi­na­tion.

How­ever, the abil­ity to recog­nise a big idea that is not chan­nel-spe­cific, as Unilever’s Dove and Red Bull have

(with “Real beauty” and “Wi­i­ings”, re­spec­tively), is a peren­nial re­quire­ment.

Ul­ti­mately, as Crabb con­cluded:“if an idea is au­then­tic, use­ful and gen­uine, then you can craft a mes­sage, ir­re­spec­tive of the plat­form.”

 ??  ?? GROUP PHOTO (BACK ROW, L-R) Ge­orge Crabb man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Other Me­dia, Si­mon Rich­ings cre­ative part­ner, Analog­folk, Ni­co­las Roope co-founder and cre­ative di­rec­tor, Poke Lon­don, An­thony Newman di­rec­tor of brand, mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Can­cer Re­search UK, Chris Nut­beam se­nior dig­i­tal pro­ducer, Chelsea FC, Ni­cola Kemp trends editor, Cam­paign (mod­er­a­tor), Lucy Bar­bor head of dig­i­tal, Carat UK, (FRONT ROW, L-R) Andy Day cre­ative di­rec­tor, Sense Lon­don, Do­minique King ac­count di­rec­tor, Vi­ta­min T, Leo Ray­man chief ex­ec­u­tive, Grey Lon­don, Janine Mostyn new busi­ness sales di­rec­tor, Vi­ta­min T
GROUP PHOTO (BACK ROW, L-R) Ge­orge Crabb man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Other Me­dia, Si­mon Rich­ings cre­ative part­ner, Analog­folk, Ni­co­las Roope co-founder and cre­ative di­rec­tor, Poke Lon­don, An­thony Newman di­rec­tor of brand, mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Can­cer Re­search UK, Chris Nut­beam se­nior dig­i­tal pro­ducer, Chelsea FC, Ni­cola Kemp trends editor, Cam­paign (mod­er­a­tor), Lucy Bar­bor head of dig­i­tal, Carat UK, (FRONT ROW, L-R) Andy Day cre­ative di­rec­tor, Sense Lon­don, Do­minique King ac­count di­rec­tor, Vi­ta­min T, Leo Ray­man chief ex­ec­u­tive, Grey Lon­don, Janine Mostyn new busi­ness sales di­rec­tor, Vi­ta­min T

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK