As media fragmentation gathers pace and the economic climate turns decidedly chilly, more brand owners are looking towards integrated marketing campaigns. Tim Weissberg examines the options
People are surrounded by media. Whether they are sitting at home or walking along the street, the chances are they will see or hear something – the TV, radio, the internet, mobile phone, product packaging, a billboard, the side of a bus, a newspaper, a magazine, a poster or one of many more, that can be used as a marketing platform.
In all of that, it’s easy to see how ads can be swallowed by the deluge. However, if marketers can give all the media consistency by getting their message across all platforms, a lot of people will see it and, hopefully, most will take notice.
This is where the integrated marketing campaign comes in – one message portrayed in a recognisable way across a variety of media, each one either working on its own or adding weight to the other elements.
In this time of economic slowdown, the lead-up to Christmas will be very important for marketers. Not only will they be competing with other brands for consumers’ money, they will have to convince the consumers to part with their cash in the first place. So it’s vitally important that all aspects of their integrated campaigns deliver the maximum amount of impact.
This leads brands to make what could be the most important decision for the campaign – do they turn to an integrated marketing agency to put together the whole execution or do they brief several individual, specialist agencies to work on each different component?David Atkinson, managing partner at integrated agency Space, says both are now viable options. “There are two ways to undertake an integrated campaign. The first, and most popular, is marketers appointing various agencies to work on their behalf. The second, which is growing in popularity, is the appointment of one agency to handle all areas of the marketing mix.
“For an integrated marketing campaign to work it first needs to be led by a big idea, which is then translated into every relevant discipline. This doesn’t mean that only one agency can work on it, it can involve multiple agencies,” Atkinson continues.
“However, if various agencies are used someone needs to control the process, egos, influence and budgets of the various participants.”
Part of the process of establishing a leader for the campaign is choosing which discipline should take the lead role. Simon Marshall, European managing director of The Marketing Store, says “One discipline will always naturally dominate, but it’s not always the right one. This should not be a decision led by historical prejudice, and clients need to demonstrate strong and clear leadership here; it’s not enough to say that ‘the above-the-line agency takes the lead because that is the way we’ve always done things’.”
Marshall says that the decision about which discipline should dominate should be based on where the big idea originated and, most importantly, should be centred on the agency that is most closely aligned to the core strategy of the campaign.
Once leadership of the campaign is established, those in charge must completely understand all the strands involved. Mark Patron, chief executive of digital services group redEye, says that thorough knowledge of the target consumers is imperative. “Today, consumers can choose when and where they do things, including what types of media they consume.
“This is sometimes called the Martini effect – any time, any place, anywhere – and makes the understanding of customers vital, particularly the media they access, if you want to implement a successful integrated campaign.
“Integrated marketing is not just a case of using the same creative across all different media,” he says. “Most integrated campaigns today take little account of how different media interact at the individual consumer level. The media planning tools simply do not exist to do real integrated marketing planning where individual consumer’s reaction to different media is taken into account. Even online where the data is available the norm is an overly simplistic ‘last click wins’.”
It’s not just consumers who are short of cash as the economy slows down, marketing budgets are also being squeezed. David Attinger, managing director of advertising agency Attinger Jack, has a solution. “Our main agency, which specialises in TV and press for direct-sell clients, has seen revenues fall by half over the past four years.
“By contrast, our sister agency, which specialises in digital, has seen revenues double. More than that, it specialises in lead generation meaning that whatever the economic circumstances, we can guarantee new customers for clients.
“At a time of economic belt-tightening, if an advertising or direct marketing agency can guarantee results, it will ride out the recession. It’s that simple.
“When the Bellwether report was released last month,” Attinger continues, “IPA president Moray MacLennan said that agencies cannot affect the short-term economic outlook, but they can strive for even more original and innovative solutions so they can buck the trend.
“What those ‘original and innovative solutions’ comprise of will be the making or breaking of a number of agencies. We’ve made our call and our experience shows us that the route we’ve taken will pay dividends. It’s called fully integrated customer generation, both on- and offline. Integration won’t be quite enough, it also needs to focus on customer generation to really harness its power.”
Phil Nunn, founding partner of media planning agency Trinity Communications, takes the idea of integration a step further. “Consumers don’t differentiate when it comes to marketing communications, so why should we?” he says.
“The communication is going to a core audience so executions need to target one audience, not three.”
He explains that when different agencies are used to create elements of a campaign, it is often the case that the result is their parts appeal to different consumers. While this is good for each separate part, it’s not so good for the campaign as a whole.
Balloon Dog, an integrated marketing agency also highlights the need for campaigns to engage the consumer. Agency chairman Chris Murphy believes the key to a successful campaign is consistency, as provided by a single agency.
He describes a campaign the agency produced for Pret A Manger last Christmas. “Pret has always sought to integrate communications – it’s about making it easy for the customer to understand what the brand stands for and key to this is consistency.
“For this, the fewer providers involved the better. All activity, from window posters to packaging, is handled by an in-house team working closely with Balloon Dog. It’s the way it works for the Christmas campaign and all year round. The agency works in the client’s offices a lot of the time and all who work on the account know exactly what the essence, tone and visual style of Pret are.
“The whole process is completed by applying the brand at all touchpoints in the customer journey, so the client/agency team work alongside the food and operations teams – even a sign on a vandalised window is on brand.”
Part of Balloon Dog’s campaign for Pret included sandwich packaging bearing the branded campaign material. The agency created this packaging themselves for the sake of consistency and, therefore, consumer engagement, rather than a traditional packaging company.
Murphy also says that, as marketing budgets decrease, clients will turn to integrated agencies. “Increasingly, clients with slimmed down marketing functions and budget pressures are seeking to consolidate their different communications into as few agencies as possible. It delivers them both time and cost savings. The invitation is for agencies to demonstrate their understanding of the brand and gain the skills to meet the breadth of client work.”
However, a third option has becomes available to clients looking to create an integrated campaign but aren’t sure whether to use one agency or several specialists. Eden State is an integrated communications group that offers brand and communication strategies across a network of individual marketing and creative agencies.
Traditional strategiesIt was founded by Simon Mathews, who recognised the importance of digital in today’s marketing campaigns. Digital is the foundation of work created by the group but the inclusion of different agencies, currently Rise Communications and Contented, means that clients will also benefit from expertise in traditional marketing strategies.
Clients that employ the group can choose which member agencies work on their campaigns, or they can opt for a bespoke team of individuals selected from all the agencies to work on their behalf.
Space’s Atkinson says that it is not just the agencies that will bring together minds from different areas of expertise, brands could start to do the same.
“It is possible to foresee a client servicing team containing experts in the different fields of above- and below-the-line, media planning and PR, for example. The creative side is a little more tricky, in that you need to recruit creatives that are all things to all men, who can embrace all disciplines when conceiving ideas.
“This is why the future agency model depends on a significant contribution from client servicing to creative idea generation, and from creatives to become greater contributors to the execution process.
“This direction might cause shockwaves in adland, but the breadth of understanding of each discipline will be what clients look for as media fragments ever further.” v©©©Max Bonpain Head of brand management, Samsung Electronics UK The success of an integrated campaign depends entirely on two elements – first, the investment (of time, of creative minds, from all the key decision makers, and sometimes of budget) in the big idea upfront and, second, the quality and united delivery of the idea from all involved. Inevitably, the more parties that make up the delivery of such a campaign, the greater the potential there is for the message to get diluted or for the quality to dip.
This is why the most important relationship is between the brand (the sponsor) and the sponsorship property (the media owner). The crux of great integrated ideas, therefore, is to build the right relationships to maximise all possible routes of exploitation.
Integration can only truly work with a team spirit and a collective goal.
Nick Turner (pictured) Director, marketing effectiveness practice, Deloitte In the present economic climate, integrated campaigns can play an important role in helping mark-eters justify continued above-the-line investment through the clear links they can provide between brand and awareness building, call to action and conversion to sale.
To understand the challenges involved in integrated campaigns, you need to zoom out and recognise that failures are symptomatic of wider problems in marketing. Marketing often lacks a common framework and process that would ensure all activities, including those around promotions and incentives, point of purchase and sponsorship, are really in tune.
In the marketing industry the need for design, automation and management of marketing processes and capabilities is now clearer than ever. Such a process would enable the full campaign cycle to be co-ordinated and ensure the meeting of objectives within (and across) areas. For example, increasing awareness of and responsiveness to forthcoming campaigns in customer-facing operations, such as contact centres, which bear the brunt of this demand without prior warning.
Only by taking a step back and defining a wider framework that encompasses people, processes and technology can full integration of campaigns on the ground become a reality.
Catherine Ladousse Executive director, corporate marketing and communications, Lenovo EMEA Integrated campaigns are especially useful when multiple goals need to be achieved simultaneously and time is short. Close co-ordination of PR, direct marketing, web communications and sponsorships means you can address multiple, targeted audiences with overlapping, complementary classes of messages. There’s a definite leverage effect. At Lenovo, for example, we’re using an integrated approach to advance three key initiatives at the same time – a global branding programme, market-by-market launches into the consumer space, and, as part of a transactional business approach, demand- generation programmes aimed at small business customers.
If each of these was viewed and managed as a distinct programme, costs would be much higher and resources would be spread too thin. Instead, all key initiatives – PR, Olympics and F1 sponsorships, web marketing and customer programmes – are synchronised to deliver strategic branding and corporate messages in sync with product marketing. The result is a snowball effect, with each set of messages and initiatives reinforcing the others.
Isabelle Connor Head of marketing, ING Renault F1 programme We use an internal team rather than external marketing agencies to develop marketing campaigns for our global F1 sponsorship activity. The F1 sponsorship team, comprising marketing, internal communications, PR and events, helps provide a clear understanding of the opportunities F1 offers to connect more closely with customers. A central part of this is the appointment of F1 officers by the ING executive board. These senior staff members have special responsibility for driving F1 activation throughout their business. We also share knowledge where the businesses have developed successful campaigns in many markets, enabling other countries to quickly develop and roll out similar campaigns. I believe that using internal staff, executing simple, clever and clear campaigns, and sharing success has played a clear role in the success of our sponsorship. By using our internal staff to develop and execute integrated marketing campaigns for their business, and their customer base, in conjunction with a small central team who provide advice and evaluation, we are successfully achieving the business objectives of the sponsorship – to grow ING’s global brand profile and drive business.