Campaign planning in the digital age requires an unraveling of brand complexity by understanding business objectives to achieve marketing effectiveness, IPA Campaign Planning Melbourne delegates heard in the final two days of the intensive course.

In ‘Shifting Clients to an Always On Mentality’, Cummins & Partners Co-Create strategy director Johnny Corpuz iterated that ‘always on’ is now an essential part of marketing, with customer experience the new battleground.

But it must be strategic: “Always on has to align with campaign messaging. Not many brands can do that, but when you do, it’s a massive win,” Corpuz told delegates and offered three ways to make always on work:

People: interaction is key between big idea thinkers, creative agency people, long idea thinkers and media agency people, so who you get in a room is key. Thinking ‘long’ and ‘big’ need to work together.
Process: a waterfall brief approach so there are multiple points of integration and that the client and agency continue to come back together and challenge things. This is hard and expensive and we need to work with clients to change ways of working.
Platforms: make them consistent and make them amazing. Create distinctive assets that will last three years or more, to build a more enduring brand.

Is campaign planning outdated in a world of complex brands?
J. Walter Thompson head of planning Simon McCrudden built on this to suggest that the concept of campaign planning was outdated and that planners need to be able to do both brand and campaign planning.

But because brands are complex, like people, McCrudden put forward key pillars of brand planning fundamentals:

Find the truth inside the brand that brings credibility to campaigns and leads to the long idea. For example, the MLA’s lamb campaigns, Nike’s Inner Athlete and Coke’s Share a Coke.
Brand voice: express the culture of the company in now just how you talk but what you say.
However, he advised delegates to always start with the problem and to interrogate, and not to jump to campaign solutions without solid brand planning work.

McCrudden left with three final points:

Each campaign should be a natural expression of the brand
Research is important to help you go beyond what everyone else is doing
Focus on the what, the how and the where

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Brands and campaigns in the real world
Brands also matter because of what they do versus what they say, so they need to be at the heart of popular culture, particularly in relation to earned media, stated Richard Brett, group managing director, brand marketing, Ogilvy PR, in his session, “The Role of Earned Media”, presented with Pulse Communications associate director Rebecca Brownhill.

And to do that, it’s no longer enough to have a good product or service – brands need to be seen to be doing good in the world also, so ideas and insights are more important than ever.

“The idea can come from anywhere,” said Brett. “The best approach is to have the best minds working on the client’s business problem from the start. The future is one brief across marketing and communications and moving from insight to strategic positioning, messaging and execution.”

It’s also important to explore how a campaign idea will live in the real world, argued, UM Australia chief strategy officer Sophie Price in her session “Campaign Architecture and the Importance of Collaboration”.

“Why is having a campaign architecture important?” she asked. “To get the idea to the right place.”

This is harder than five years ago because the conversation is two-way now, not just one, through a proliferation of channels, Price asserted, but the idea remains the currency of an effective connections architecture.

Experience – the new basis of competition
To do that, we need to be more agile to be present at more aspects of the customer journey, added CHE Proximity director of brand James Needham in his session, “Responsive and Agile Planning”.

“Experience is absolutely the new basis of competition,” he declared. “We have to consider the entire journey, not just the moment. We talk about elastic ideas that can live everywhere across place, person and position. Position is fundamental – at what point in the journey do we opt in to drive people to the next stage?”

Modern work needs a modern brief, he summed up, asking the questions, “What is the problem? Who do we need to engage? Who is the enemy? What is the behavioural insight? What is the engagement insight? This is the difference in the brief to spark an idea in the moment of influence.”

Purpose – not to be confused with social responsibility
Skyping in from abroad was GTB Asia Pacific head of strategy Paul Gage on ‘The Power of Purpose’. Purpose should be borne of authenticity and credibility, he said, and brands with purpose know what they are doing and take this through their business.

Gage encouraged delegates not to confuse purpose with social responsibility and to look for distinction in the long term value proposition, because purpose is about principles: “This is tough when markets are commoditised, but it’s important to have a clear audienced aligned to your purpose and then offer value for money, quality and reliability, every time, across all you do.”

He added that we need to translate reasons to believe into reasons to buy, using examples to bring genuine credibility to a brand. The best purposes have a high human level which can then be culturally nuanced, he explained – but brands shouldn’t lose sight of their product when communicating their purpose.

Purpose can also help drive effectiveness to determine the tangible effects of your work. “We need effectiveness and purpose to drive people’s affiliation with brands,” AJF Partnership head of strategy Pieter-Paul von Weiler stated in his session, “What Drives Effectiveness in Advertising”.

But he warned that marketing is unlikely to be effective, with success difficult to measure, if objectives are not clearly spelt out.

“Our responsibility is to work with the client to define the business objective, and this must be clear,” he said.

If you don’t define the problem, you can’t solve it
Defining the problem in line with the business objective can often incite feelings of anxiousness in planners, revealed AJF Partnership head of strategy Jacqueline Witts in her session ‘Defining Problems, Identifying Audiences and Unearthing Truths’.

But if you don’t define the problem, you can’t solve it: “Campaigns that set hard objectives are generally more successful than those working only to intermediate consumer targets such as awareness or attitudes. And the more people who know about the business problem and challenge, the better the intended outcome.”

So how do we get to the business problem? “Ask why,” Witts advised. “Get to people’s deeper motivations. And start laddering – what is the problem you see right now? And if I solve that, now what is the problem? Keep going up the ladder to get to the underlying issue at play.”

Delegates then channelled their learnings to present a solution to the brief: “Car sharing remains a marginal activity in AUS, used by only a small proportion of the population, despite potential benefits from reduced congestion, pollution, and energy consumption. How can we campaign to make it more desirable” Judges praised both teams for their ability to identify the problem, define the purpose and develop the insight and plan to market.

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