How do you reach consumers who are going offline and don’t want to be found? By finding purpose and sparking joy.
1) Finding Joy Offline
One of the trends identified in the Ogilvy PR Futures #2 report was that of “analogue escapism”; a growing number of people feel they need a break from the relentless onslaught of digital life, and are exploring mindfulness through an array of offline mediums such as journaling, handcrafts and meditation. “Buzz is good and important,” says William Powers, author of Hamlet’s BlackBerry, “but so is de-buzzing.” Ad-blockers are a symptom of this online fatigue, and there is even speculation that this technology will evolve to be sensitive to branded content as well as traditional ads.
Brands are now recognising the importance of offering consumers the time and space for non-digital reflection. “There are so many ways brands can enrich and improve our lives away from the digital sphere if they start to prioritise people’s spirits and imagination over their data profiles,” says Jon Wiklins, Chairman of Karmarama.
Many brands are taking their cues from lifestyle maven Marie Kondo, who encourages people to apply one simple metric to all aspects of life: “Does this spark joy?”
For example, Chipotle’s Cultivating Thought campaign found a way to ignite joy and generate brand love in a non-digital and non-intrusive way; renowned author Jonathan Safran Foer curated a series of short essays from literary giants Toni Morrison, Jonathan Franzen, Neil Gaiman and Malcolm Gladwell, which were then printed on food packaging that had previously been blank. The concept was simple, unobtrusive and low-fi — and customers loved it.
2) Brand Activism
It’s important to know what your brand stands for, and as the Futures #2 report shows, it’s also necessary to define that purpose with action. Find a real social issue, and show what your organisation can do to address it. Speaking at Cannes Lions 2016, Sir Ken Robinson stated that “there is a place for brands to help where government’s can’t — or won’t.”
By all means, be topical; diversity, equality and sustainability are all spaces which offer a multitude of problems that brands can solve. But it is crucial to build an authentic and long-term role in this conversation; fad campaigns simply won’t be tolerated.
Don’t just campaign in this space — be a leader. Convene the best minds, create a community, and invest in new innovation. Centre your product or technology at the heart of the story, in a way that makes an actual difference, as this is what will foster love and loyalty.
3) The Ephemeral Web
Quick-thinking content which plays on of-the-moment topics as they are developing is the new frontier. Consumers don’t mind imperfection; in fact, they prefer it to something which is flawless but late to the party.
Relevance at scale is all about finding new and unexpected ways to tap into an existing cultural currency, not trying to create your own. For instance; REI gave their staff the day off for Black Friday, simultaneously subverting expectations and gaining visibility during a national moment. Similarly, Elle UK’s #morewomen campaign drew on the on-going conversation surrounding gender equality. Both of these are examples of only saying something when you can really add value to a conversation, while remaining contextual to your category and platform.
Once you have embraced ephemerality and are prepared for cultural moments, you will be better equipped for quick response communications (QRC), which builds on all of the above with a continued focus on speed; operating like a newsroom, predicting trends, reacting to breaking stories, and winning share of voice.
Creative guru Troy Carter’s advice for QRC is to find your “Top 50” — the most influential people for your brand or story — and work with them to produce a playbook which can be adapted for real-time situations.
Every day is a play, and every day will offer new challenges. It’s important to remember that consumers appreciate transparency over polish. And when dealing with trending brand issues, it is essential to keep a sense of humour.
These “new adventures in marketing” are explored in the Ogilvy Public Relations Futures #2. Click here to read the full report.