Taking creative thoughts to the strategy
What to do when the Boomerang comes back
OK maybe that’s a tad extreme. There is merit in retaining legacy approaches to comms. For example, it is still sensible to apply standard SEO guidelines to websites and to continue to manage your social feeds. But remember that everyone else is doing the same thing. The effectiveness of these, once powerful, strategies has been diluted by mass, almost universal, uptake. You need to be looking elsewhere if you are going to stand out from the crowd.
Let’s take a pace back
A few years ago, companies, driven by the need to reduce budgets and seduced by the success of social media, jumped headlong into social channel advertising because, in its early stages, it was very cost-effective. As the majors joined the party, the channels became flooded and their cost-effectiveness began to fall as costs were driven upwards. In case you haven’t seen it, we call this the Boomerang Curve.
It’s not all over yet for social media, but the ROI has already fallen dramatically and will continue to do so.
Forward-looking companies want something new, something different, something that will re-engage with a wearied and disenchanted audience. Something creative.
Precisely. All the social channels are awash with content, both user-generated and/or advertising. Free to Air Television is still only for the majors and commercial radio, whilst effective, is a rather one-dimensional and geographically limited format.
There are no new channels. Feeds like TikTok are springing up and taking massive market share with the youthful end of the population but it’s just more of the same. Oh, and with the added bonus of all the social media security and content manipulation concerns that are now being voiced.
And this is the point. The ease with which anyone who owns a smartphone can (and does) create and upload content has diluted the market to the point at which the audience is turning against it. Furthermore, that audience is prepared to pay for advertising-free media channels, and statistics clearly demonstrate this trend.
In 2019, around half of UK households subscribed to at least one subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) service (such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video) and UK adults watched, on average, about half an hour of YouTube per day (Ofcom Statistics).
This trend is growing daily as the audience takes control.
There are considerably more SVoD subscriptions than pay-TV subscriptions
Subscriptions to traditional pay-TV services (such as Sky, Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk) totalled 14.3 million in Q1 2019, whereas the total number of subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NOW TV and Disney Life reached 19.1 million (up from 15.4 million in Q1 2018). This is in part because many households take more than one SVoD subscription (Ofcom Statistics).
Time to be original
There appears to be a depressing lack of creativity in the tsunami of content that fills the internet. I know it’s there somewhere, but it is mostly submerged in the ocean of low budget sounds, images and video that assail us daily.
Edward de Bono coined the term ‘lateral thinking’ in 1967, we now call it ‘out of the box thinking’ and it’s what creative agencies are paid to do. Approach a question in a way that defies the norm. Use novel, unconventional methods to address the question and achieve the desired result whilst making the audience gasp in surprise, and we hope delight, at the beauty, audacity and originality of thought that produces the platform for the advertiser’s message.
VW’s “Think Small” campaign in the 1960s leaps to mind. At a time when American cars were becoming more and more extreme in design and scale, DDB (the agency working for VW) realised that honesty was the only way to sell the VW Beetle. In this case brutal honesty.
In 2000, John West recovered from a disastrous decade, following a botulism scare, with a humorous and memorable advert where a fisherman took on a bear in a fist fight.
I am sure you have your favourites too and I am also guessing they were not from social media feeds, or at least not originally. I am sure you can see where this is going.
Shrewd marketers spot the gap in the market and exploit it. The gap we are looking at is a creativity gap. Whilst the majority continue to churn out low-rent social posts, the opportunity is there to be different, to stand out from the crowd. To find a different way to engage with the audience.
Respect your audience
It really is that simple to express. Stop treating your audience as though they have no choice. They do and you need to change your ways if you are to keep their attention. Fail to respond to market changes and you risk going the way of the dinosaurs, or the British motorcycle industry, or Blockbuster. History is littered with examples and Darwin clearly expressed the reasons why.
I will be happy to show you the way if you need help
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