Can boring brands create sexy campaigns?
Rosa Mitchell, Senior PR Strategist at Leeds-based connective3, says there’s no need to be pessimistic about dry-seeming brands.
Thinking smarter is the key to making a successful campaign, whoever the client.
Come marketing awards season, we’re all blown away by the creative, ingenious campaigns that win big prizes. From hilarious stunts to jaw-dropping products and unusual partnerships, we all want to strike gold with an amazing legacy campaign.
And while the lucky few of us get to work with exciting ecommerce brands, food and drink companies or travel providers, many of us are stuck with the companies that might be a little less sexy.
From factory machine parts to programming development software, I’ve definitely worked with clients that don’t instantly stoke the creative flame. However I was still able to have fun with them and create some fantastic campaigns - I just had to work a little bit smarter.
Getting your manager or client on-side
The first step is getting buy-in from your client, if you work for an agency - or your manager, if you’re in-house. It’s up to you to get them to try something new.
Figure out what they want
Just like with all clients and managers, you have to build up trust before you can start doing the fun stuff.
Get to know your client, their offering, their audience and where they want to be covered, or prove to your manager that you know your product or service inside and out - and how you can take things to the next level.
If your client or brand is scared of taking their campaigns to the next level, then you need to show them how much of an impact they can have, through evidence of previous campaigns.
Scope out their competitors to see what they’ve been doing, see if there’s a way you can develop that strategy to be bigger and better, and show your client.
Highlight your own case studies where you’ve had success before, or talk about campaigns run by other companies that have worked in the same way you’re hoping yours will.
Although it may be tempting, don’t jump right in with a huge, expensive, time-consuming campaign. Start with smaller, fun, proactive pieces that you can create in an afternoon to test the waters.
Speak to journalists for feedback, and let this shape your future strategy!
Creating the campaigns
Now you’ve got buy-in, it’s time to get started on the exciting ideas.
What are you adjacent to?
Your product or service will have buyers and clients, and they’ll have interests. Your product might seem uninteresting, but there’s always a culture around purchasing items. That could relate to someone’s job, which you can tap into, or their hobbies and interests.
If you have a software service for example, look at the common personality types of developers. If you sell parts for tractors, comment on the future of agriculture and what people can expect in terms of technology.
No matter how dry your brand is, there will always be a way to find some interesting data that the audience will be interested in. Sales data can be really interesting for industry publications, especially when cross-referenced with trends.
Get your best creatives on it
Everyone has their skillset, and every good team should have those really creative people who look at the world differently to anyone else.
Grab your top creatives who’ve worked on great campaigns before, brief them, and task them with coming up with the most outlandish, large idea they can think of.
You can always then work backwards from their ideas to come up with something realistic, but let it be an exercise where they can really shine.
Keep your ear to the ground
Reactivity is your best friend when it comes to doing exciting things for less-than-exciting brands. Football, Love Island, ‘Freedom Day’ - really good practitioners can use whatever is currently in the Zeitgeist to aid their campaign creation.
Your piece about procurement is going to work much better if you use the background of how people search for different goods after the final of Love Island, or how festivals coming back has had a huge effect on the supply chain for tents.
If your brand isn’t sexy then use whatever around them is to get you where you want to be.
Take (calculated) risks
I don’t mean launch a hugely expensive dangerous campaign with a random celebrity partnership.
I mean don’t be afraid to do something you’ve not done before or showcase a controversial viewpoint. Getting people chatting is one of the best ways to get the recognition you deserve, so as long as you mitigate the risk and don’t say anything that could be offensive, push out those talking points!
We all know it’s not difficult to create fantastic campaigns for exciting clients that have an exciting or beloved product or service.
The real fun, the real test of your skills, comes along when you’re asked to work on the less sexy clients. This task separates the best from the good.
So next time you're asked to pitch for a company that sells insurance to accountants - celebrate. It’s a great opportunity to really show what you can do.