Don’t get preoccupied with what’s happening inside the business and neglect to look out to the customer, says the founding partner of Lucky Generals.
I wouldn’t normally begin with a quote from Norman Tebbit but, as we all know, the past 12 months have been strange. So here goes.
Reflecting on the Tories’ descent from populist landslide-winners in the 1980s to infighting losers in the 1990s, the “Chingford Skinhead” once said something along the lines of: “When you first move into Downing Street, the windows look huge but, after a few years, they begin to feel smaller and smaller.”
What I think he meant was that, in the early days of a parliament, governments are necessarily focused on the outside world: the politicians have just spent months tramping the streets and courting the media; they are still forming their views, so they draw their inspiration from an eclectic array of sources; on day one, they look out at the cheering crowds and are daunted by the size of the task but also genuinely optimistic about their ability to change society. However, after a few years, the focus typically becomes more inward-looking: ministers get drawn into the day-to-day grind of Whitehall; they get stuck in endless policy quagmires and increasingly end up debating among themselves; before too long, the world outside the window is forgotten.
Now, don’t worry – I’m not going to go off on some Faragian rant about how we’re all living in a Westminster bubble and are ignoring a disenfranchised underclass oop north. Instead, I want to voice a bigger concern that many organisations seem to be forgetting the customer full stop (whether they live in Bolton or Hoxton). Worse still, we might be encouraging their neglect.
There are several reasons why I say this. First, the growing importance of technology means that many organisations are now being driven by coders, engineers and white coats. In addition, the rise of the service economy means that companies often put the feelings of frontline staff first. Likewise, the increased complexity of modern business means that key stakeholders or supply-chain partners are sometimes prioritised. All of these developments are understandable and, of course, these internal audiences are very important. But when customers are routinely put at the back of the queue, organisations start to go downhill.
What’s worrying is that several developments within our industry may be inadvertently exacerbating this. For instance, in-house creative departments may bring added agility but can easily rob companies of their objectivity. Similarly, bespoke one-client agencies can flatter corporate egos but also reduce the opportunity for lateral thinking. Equally, placing agency staffers “on site” might improve their understanding of the client culture – but can also distort their take on the outside world.
Again, I’m not saying any of these approaches are wrong in themselves – but if your only source of creative inspiration comes from people who are immersed in your business, 24/7, without any other cultural reference points to stimulate them (or attract them in the first place), you should be concerned about the possibility of groupthink.
In my experience, the best marketing comes from a balance of internal brilliance, driven by external vision. That means organisations that do indeed have amazing technical skills, frontline staff and supply chains – but are always directed by a desire to serve their customers. It also means creativity that is infused by an understanding of the business, tailored to the brand and created in partnership – but always with the outside world in mind.
The truth is that ordinary people never care as much about our products or brands as we do. So as we sit in our brainstorms, review our NPD plans or discuss our communications, we need to eat hearty helpings of humble pie, not just drink the Kool-Aid.
Put another way, as well as making sure our products are great, our people are motivated and our stakeholders are happy, we need to make sure our windows are big – and that we’re looking out of them, not in.
Andy Nairn is the founding partner of Lucky Generals
Remember ‘Share a Coke’? Well, form an orderly queue because the technology used to create the campaign just became available for designers…
HP partnered with Smirnoff and emerging designers, the Yarza Twins, to launch HP’s SmartStream D4D
Personalisation has become a prerequisite for brands. When recognising that it is more than just “name on a pack” and done well, it can surprise and delight.
New technologies can help brands creating personal offerings to consumers more easily. Choice overwhelms consumers and brands want to capture their attention in new, relatable and stimulating ways.
HP has just announced the launch of the beta programme for the SmartStream D4D (Designer for Designers) software that allows designers to create up to 20 variations on a single design.
Until now the software was only accessible to owners of HP digital presses and helped to create hugely successful campaigns such as ‘Share a Coke’. HP D4D is a simplified version of the full commercial software. It democratises design for the digital printing process. Designers can register to join the three-month programme, and have the chance to provide real-time feedback to influence further product development process directly.
To demonstrate the potential of D4D, HP partnered with Smirnoff and emerging designers, the Yarza Twins, to launch HP’s SmartStream D4D. The Yarza Twins showed of the technology through a design concept for Smirnoff 21. Through individualised bottles, posters, table wrappings, wallpaper, based on an ‘Everyone the same, Everyone different’ concept, they demonstrate the wide-ranging capabilities of D4D.
Watch the video to see the full story on Youtube
To find out more about what this technology means for brands and designers, Campaign spoke to HP’s global head of brand innovation, Nancy Janes.
HP’s Nancy Janes
D4D adds this incredible dimension of limitless variations. Without variable data printing, once you create something, it’s going to look the same a million times over.
D4D offers brands and their consumers constantly personalised experiences. For the first time ever, it puts that creative process directly in the hands of designers. If a designer is creating something that will live on millions of units, now with the ability to vary each one of those units – all of a sudden there’s a greater element of creativity added. It allows designers to take into account current events, play with core elements of a brand in incredibly fun ways, or just make a product more personal and relevant than ever before. It can be more topical, more locally specific, more real time.
D4D also helps creatives maintain more control from idea to shelf. No longer will designs go through multiple levels of versioning, rendering, prepress and variation across regions. What designers imagine can now become what consumers purchase.
A brand should be dynamic, relevant and impactful. Consumers are swamped with choice so they are looking for brands to capture their attention in new and invigorating ways, and campaigns they can relate to and empathise with.
Emotion, has now become an important factor in the shopping experience. By creating personalised and exciting packaging, we make them feel and connect with the brand.
With campaigns like ‘Share a Coke’, brands have realised significant commercial success by blending recognisable iconography, with timely, personal and competitive innovation. Whether it’s a bottle with your name on it, a chocolate bar with your photo on it, or a bag of coffee with the day’s newspaper on its packaging – the possibilities are nearly limitless, and in each instance, they help forge a deeper bond with the consumer.
For marketing leaders, variable data digital printing has already reinvented the level of campaign sophistication possible at the point of sale. With D4D and the power shift towards designers, we will see better ideas, stronger creative and bigger leaps of imagination in a medium still very much in its creative infancy.
In consumer goods, competition is everything. Bringing richness and relevance, while reinforcing core iconography, creates more attractive products and significantly more dynamic shelf sets. It enables brands to engage with customers on this personal level, and at the same time affording the capability to enhance relevance around geography or current events.
The Yarza Twins did an incredible job leveraging the capabilities of HP Smartstream D4D to create vibrant, personal and impactful variations – that are all iconic Smirnoff. It was exciting to see these unique designs deployed across such an array of platforms, like shrink sleeved bottles, standard bottle labels, corrugated boxes and display, chairs, wallpaper, t-shirts and posters.
We had a very positive reception around the launch event, and I’m even more optimistic about the lessons that up to 500 D4D beta testers will be able to learn from the twins’ experience. As they start to get their hands dirty, these beta testers can trace the steps of this campaign to grasp the full capabilities and designer-focused interface of HP Smartstream D4D.
Creativity is our greatest renewable resource; we’re now offering designers this infinite platform finally on par with the breadth and imagination that’s always been in their minds. I think we’re entering one of the most exciting periods in the history of design, and CPG (consumer packaged goods) design in particular.
HP D4D looks to close the gap between concept creation, developing and editing the designs and the production stage. Brands can directly integrate designers into the campaign process – from creative concept to execution, injecting originality and playfulness to the brand image.
The body of research on video ad metrics is still limited
Recent studies from key players in the world of ad tech tell quite different stories of how video ads seem to be performing, based on completion rates, viewability rates, clickthroughs and more.
Although the body of research on video ad metrics is still limited, the noisiness in the data is remarkable given how concrete some of these metrics are. Nevertheless, those who have followed the industry understand that many complicating factors are at play.
One such factor is that each company measures activity on its own platform, which is only a small sample of the broader universe. Lack of standards also has an effect. The digital video space seems to be a constant flux of formats, aspect ratios, ad lengths and determinants, such as whether ads autoplay or have to be initiated, and whether the sound should be on or off by default.
This lack of consensus, coupled with the fact that in many cases each publisher, platform and video ad measurement firm may approach video ad measurement in slightly different ways, with slightly different data sets, also make it near impossible to uncover any universal metric for success.
What is certain is that YouTube and Facebook are the pillars of digital video advertising, with most practitioners using both rather than choosing one or the other. If anything, the question is how to combine each of those platforms with TV, not how to play them against each other.
eMarketer’s new report, “Digital Video Ad Effectiveness: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and More,” delves into the methods ad industry executives are using to measure the efficacy of video ad campaigns. eMarketer PRO subscribers can read the full report here. Non-subscribers can purchase the report here.