The drive to produce campaigns that are truly integrated across media has been taxing marketing’s best brains for years, but the results have often been disappointing, with some clients and agencies feeling that the way to achieve cross-media uniformity is to fold up the TV ad and put it in an envelope.
EHS Brann chief executive Terry Hunt has described this blinkered quest for creative consistency as “the equivalent of having all the instruments in an orchestra playing the same melody. Real orchestras work by allowing each instrument to contribute a distinct voice.”
Stacia Smales Hill, chief executive of integrated digital marketing company Fullsix, agrees that each medium has its own strengths: “We still get people coming to us with fixed ideas. They will turn up with a shoebox full of assets and ask us to put it online and make it look pretty.”
However, she says clients are getting better at understanding the power of different media – the internet being a great information-gathering and retention tool, for instance. Interestingly, Fullsix has found that teenagers find SMS messages intrusive, but they love “snail mail” because hardly anyone writes to them.
Smales Hill cites Procter & Gamble as a company with a great understanding of integration. Fullsix has just worked with P&G on a campaign for Herbal Essences Fruit Fusions, in which “herbal boys” handed out postcards in bars inviting people to events. The promotion was backed up with online work, including a club and games, and radio ads that emphasised the same message.
She says: “If you put work online that engages people and allows them to have fun and explore, then you will be able to have a conversation with them and learn from them.”
Strategy complements tactics
The trick in creating successful integrated campaigns is to ensure that the strategic idea is consistent through different media, while the final execution plays to each medium’s strengths.
Alex Nesbitt, creative director of the digital division of direct marketing (DM) specialist Craik Jones, has to find ways to put brands online without creating carbon copies of work from other media. “I apply a simple rule when it comes to creative integration: follow the spirit of a campaign, but not necessarily the letter,” he says.
Red Bull is one brand that clearly understands the power of the strategic idea. On the surface there is little relation between the brand’s animated TV commercials and its Flugtag event, in which people are invited to design a flying machine and show it off in a city park. But the cheeky irreverence of the brand values, and the consistency of the core message – “Red Bull gives you wings” – ensure that the approaches complement each other perfectly.
But can all ideas be translated to work well in several media, or is there a danger of ending up with a “disintegrated” campaign, rather than a cohesive one?
Keeping it tight
Aristoc is one brand that decided to avoid potential problems by restricting a recent cross-media campaign to a very limited audience and timescale. Under the banner “Legs for eyes”, a direct marketing campaign invited buyers from major stores to movie premieres, where they were shown cinema ads, foyer posters, ambient ads in washrooms and product samples. The campaign, created by Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy, used various media but in a concentrated way, ensuring effective use of a small budget.
Miles Calcraft planning director Helen Weavers says that strategic integration is essential, but points out that campaigns require varying degrees of integration at the creative level.
The agency has been working on a campaign for the Department for Work and Pensions, to persuade the 15 million people in the UK who are on benefits to open a bank or Post Office account, because benefit books and Giro cheques will soon cease to exist. In this case, says Weavers, it was important to ensure that clarity and consistency ran throughout all the executions, as some of the target population do not have good literacy skills.
The red arrow logo and the line “Giving it to you straight” appeared on all messages, including TV and press ads, signs in post offices and job centres, and direct mail.
“The advertising warned people to expect something in the post,” says Weavers, “so what they saw in the envelope had to have the same look and imagery as the press ads.”
Another Miles Calcraft campaign, for the Inland Revenue’s self-assessment scheme, focused on strategic rather than executional consistency. The theme was procrastination, but the implementation of the idea varied. TV and radio advertising used Adam Hart-Davis, but the campaign was backed by radio content based on the theme, such as psychologists discussing procrastination and surveys studying consumers’ comparative reluctance to do the ironing or fill in their tax return.
“You have to focus on the end result rather than the means and to keep in mind the campaign’s objectives,” says Weavers.
The buck stops where?
If the strategic idea is paramount, the question arises of who in the chain of command is best placed to police it and to ensure the spirit of the campaign runs throughout all work.
Weavers insists that keeping all the work under the same roof is the best way to guarantee consistency. “It’s harder to integrate if you’re not in the same place to bounce ideas around,” she says.
Big networks, on the other hand, maintain that having a large pool of specialist agencies to call on is the way forward. Euro RSCG Partners has recently relaunched under the banner “The power of one”, to offer media-neutral campaigns.
Director of strategic integration Mark Fiddes says: “If clients use different agencies, they fight for a share of the budget. It’s a lot more work for the client.
“We now have a single group chief executive and a single profit and loss account. All agencies work toward the same end. A strategy team, including planners from different backgrounds and disciplines, works together, then the campaigns are executed by individual specialist agencies.”
Kevin Jackson, director of innovation at integrated DM specialist Interfocus, demurs. He says there is still a danger of creating a “Frankenstein’s monster, with lots of bits sewn together” if a campaign is produced by several agencies, no matter how closely linked they are.
“People confuse integration with one-stop shopping,” says Jackson. “Integration is about an ethos that puts that fastest-moving of all factors, the consumer, at the centre and considers all media.
“It takes intelligent marketers who have real understanding of all points of interaction with consumers. Sadly, such people do not inhabit very many agencies and when they do, agency and client structures and methods of budget allocation and management often let them down.”
Stuart Archibald, managing partner at integrated agency Archibald Ingall Stretton, is more relaxed about agencies working together and says that clients have a good understanding of how to stretch and develop a brand across different media, while traditional ad agencies are giving up their insistence on being custodians of the big idea. “Clients don’t put up with that ‘lead agency’ stuff any more,” he says. “We work as partners, not as a hierarchy.”
On the Skoda account, for instance, Archibald Ingall Stretton works with ad agency Fallon, design company Duffy and fulfilment company Navigator, among others. “There is a key brand proposition and we measure all work against it,” says Archibald. “We have monthly status meetings, when all agencies sit around and brainstorm about directions for the brand, not just current work.”
David Atkinson, business director of integrated marketing agency Billington Cartmell, agrees that collaboration is the best way to go: “It creates openness, rather than resentment.”
The agency works on below-the-line elements of campaigns for Ribena, Lucozade and Vodafone among others. “We find that clients tend to put out a brief to all agencies and create a panel to judge the ideas,” adds Atkinson. “It becomes apparent which is the strongest. All agencies can play for the lion’s share of the creative input, if not the cash.”
All this talk about consistency in integrated campaigns misses one vital point, insists Craik Jones planning director Alison Payne: not all the elements of a campaign may be intended to achieve the same thing, or to target the same people.
She says: “It is rare that consumers get to see and engage with every element of a campaign. The fact that there is a direct mail pack, a press campaign and a matching beer-mat will probably pass them by. For most of our clients, a campaign is rarely trying to do only one thing, with a single group of consumers. Usually, clients have a number of objectives, targeting a number of groups, each of which require a different expression of the campaign proposition.
“For instance, with the Orange Learn campaign, we adopted the idea that used Dylan as the Orange trainer, but then expressed it in a highly targeted way to different groups of consumers. The Learn message used a different expression in the fulfilment aspect of the campaign, not based on Dylan, as the consumer had moved on.”
Yet, even here, the Learn message was the key. Different media may work best for different messages or audiences, but it remains essential to nurture the spirit of the brand and to ensure someone – or a team of people – is in a position to watch over it.
THE DM SHOW
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