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01 November 2016

Are your campaigns portable?


It’s no secret that more and more campaigns include an experiential or ‘live’ element, either as the focus or playing a key supporting role. However, many brands and agencies are not getting the most from these activations, because they are ignoring a vital factor – portability.

Brands are investing more and more in marketing in the real world because it is proving increasingly effective at engaging consumers thanks to the amplification factor through online channels, particularly social. This increases ‘portability’ – or rather extends the reach and lifespan far beyond the actual live experience.

Sounds easy. Let’s simply share the campaign online through as many social channels as possible during the ‘event’ itself and after it has taken place. However, delivering true portability isn’t that simple. The sheer act of doing this will indeed extend the reach, but it won’t necessarily make the campaign more portable. That’s because portability is all about extending not just awareness of the activation itself, but also, more importantly, ensuring the right meaning about the brand and all the messages you want to get across are carried through the various channels of ‘amplification’. And these might not necessarily just be online, but could also be through other techniques, such as word of mouth, PR, out of home and more – essentially maximising not just engagement, but also effectiveness.

Every campaign needs a portable strategy – whether experiential or not – to increase reach, but for true portability it has to be relevant to the brand rather than scattergun, and also convey consistent messaging and impact.

Take the 60 second viral video created for the launch of the Jaguar F-PACE sports utility vehicle at last year’s German motor show. It was simple, spectacular, and, more importantly, meaningful. It succinctly showed the successful world record attempt to drive the F-PACE around an illuminated vertical circular track – essentially performing a loop-the-loop in a car for the first time.

I remember flicking through YouTube on my phone while on the train and coming across the video. It was very simple, yet highly impressive and impactful. But the key was that it conveyed a lot of meaning about the car: high performance, impeccable engineering, agility, speed, reliability and safety – messages that were right on brand. I got all this in just one minute from this awesome stunt – and I was watching without sound.

Yes, the way the video was shot and edited helped. However, the main driver behind the portability of this campaign was the creative idea, which was designed in such a way as to carry all the right messages, even when amplified through social channels. It was simple and rather obvious, but also highly appropriate and effective. Receiving over 700,000 views in around two weeks, it is likely to have changed perceptions about Jaguar, while reinforcing the views of existing fans of the brand.

In stark contrast, I saw another video online for a different car. It looked highly impressive for those who attended the live event, but the construct of the idea and the creative concept just didn’t convey very much meaning for me about the brand when viewed on video. The creative ideas seemed all about the event and the people there, who I’m sure took away some great brand messages. You could that see the creative concept had been very much geared around the immediate live audience, with little thought given to the wider amplified reach. So the brand missed a trick through a lack of portability. The video was viewed by around 20,000 people (20 times the original audience), but they are likely to have missed many of the key brand messages.

The lesson here is that if you’re coming up with a creative concept you always need to consider secondary reach and whether the key messages about the brand will be carried through that amplification, which of course has the potential to connect with a far greater audience than those who experienced it first hand. To create truly meaningful portable campaigns that are going to resonate with both the original and amplified audiences, the creative team needs to be multidisciplinary in their approach, particularly in terms of digital and social marketing. It’s about far more than just focusing on creating a great experience.

A multi-channel approach needs to be taken from the outset to make sure that the live concept can be amplified in a way that conveys the key messages through the appropriate channels, rather than this simply being an afterthought. Only then will brands realise the full potential of their campaigns.

By Nick Adams, Managing Director at real world marketing agency Sense


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