It’s been a year of pivoting for campaigns, as brands have had to adjust their marketing efforts to the pandemic environment. But what makes a great campaign, and what can we learn from this year? Head of Brand Strategy and Insight Katie Vickery investigates and looks at what we can take into 2021.
A great campaign has the ability to give you goosebumps or make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Often, we only put this down to gut feel – it just feels like a great campaign, it just feels right. But what really makes a great campaign, and how can we take this forward to inspire our campaigns of 2021?
A great campaign should stop you in your tracks and stick in your mind. Sometimes this comes from repeated exposure to a campaign – just think about the Coca-Cola Christmas ad. But often it comes from the way it resonates with you.
Campaigns should be rooted in consumer insight. If a brand has absolute clarity over what makes their audience tick, then they will be able to create a campaign that will resonate and has the potential to give the ‘goosebump’ effect.
My favourite way of testing a piece of advertising for a brand is to put my hand over the logo. Ask yourself, could anyone else have made this ad? A campaign should communicate a brand truth that is unique to your brand and no-one else’s. If you don’t know what your unique proposition is, define it, immediately.
What’s the point of creating an amazing campaign if you can’t measure its success, and how can you learn from it if you don’t know how it’s gone? Measurability is crucial for improving your communications over time and for better understanding your audience. Also, if you want to win some awards, being able to measure a campaign’s impact is the only way you’ll have a shot!
Yes, your campaign might look great, but what contribution is it making to the wider business? Is the role of marketing to build leads, increase sales or improve brand awareness? In order to move the needle (and build the profile of marketing within your business), your campaign needs to have a sense of purpose and not be for vanity.
While there are some constants in terms of great campaigns that resonate, it’s important to consider and look at the trends that we’re currently seeing in advertising and the predicted changes for 2021 and beyond.
1. Being bold
We’ve seen some bold moves in the advertising space over the past year. Not only is this intended to create stand-out and get people talking, but it’s also intended to represent the values of the brands who produce these campaigns. For consumers who can relate to these values, this creates a real sense of connection, loyalty and even advocacy for these brands.
Bodyform gained public attention when it went live with its #WombStories campaign earlier this year. By addressing the often ‘taboo’ subjects around women’s health including miscarriage, menopause, fertility and sexual pleasure, Bodyform have been able to engage their audience in a much more meaningful and genuine way than any other women’s hygiene product before it. Using vivid visuals in a range of styles, they were able to bring these women’s health issues to life and show the false images of blue liquid and women playing sport in white hot pants as outdated. By using an all-female project team, Bodyform have been able to tell stories in an authentic way that has had everyone talking.
2.Valuing the young audience
There seems to be an increased targeting bias towards the younger and highly defined millennial and Gen Z audiences. As these two groups get older and gain an increasing level of spending power, they become increasingly important for both B2C and B2B brands alike. They’re also highly motivated to causes and have a preference for value-driven advertising.The British Army ran a campaign earlier this year which aimed to tackle the issues that preoccupy the younger generation – from drug misuse to body image. The campaign aimed to fight back at the ‘snowflake’ generation by dramatising this stereotype through a poster campaign. The British Army’s promise to build ‘confidence that lasts a lifetime’ aimed to resonate with the younger generation, urging them to build confidence in themselves through their actions and careers choices, rather than through external ‘quick-fix’ factors.
3. Building trust
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, much like during the recession of 2008, brands have been working hard to gain and build trust with consumers. During tough times, brands attempt to secure the future of their business and they do this by establishing brand loyalty from consumers.
As lockdown approached, brands scrambled to create COVID advertising content, including the main supermarket brands. According to Campaign magazine, Tesco was named the top brand for positive contribution during COVID, and from their marketing efforts were able to build brand trust. Fellow supermarkets M&S, Waitrose and Co-op were also ranked in top brands.
So what can we learn from the campaigns of 2020? For me, the main takeout is that brands should endeavour to be authentic in their delivery. Much like COVID, the issue of consumer trust isn’t going to go away and so brands across B2B and B2C sectors should be putting their efforts into understanding their audience in a post-2020 world, and defining their unique point of difference in the market.