Paul Frampton gives some examples of brand campaigns that have inspired people in a meaningful, positive way.
Robert H Schuller once said: “What would you do if you knew for sure you wouldn’t fail?”
The fear of failure often stops agencies doing their best work: the fear that our peers and our clients will reject our ideas if they are different or not what we ‘normally do’. There has been a great deal of talk recently about creativity being ‘brave’ and the need to push our ideas so we feel excited about charting new and potentially untapped territories for our clients.
We’re living in an age of hyper-change. The rules of media engagement are being rewritten almost daily and consumption assumptions constantly challenged. As the recent Ofcom report showed, families are once more gathering to consume media collectively in living rooms, and as a Tech Nation report also revealed, consumer groups are being redefined by technology.
This is, clearly, not a time to hang back and let the fear do the talking. We must be bolder than ever – and being open is the first rule of bravery. We need to strive to throw off the false constraints imposed by what a brand or category normally do; something that is really going to make people stand up and take notice.
The campaigns that are really standing out in the post-digital age aren’t just brave per se; they also courageously connect with consumers in a way that is truly meaningful to their everyday lives.
If you look at the Grand Prix Cannes winners this year, at the heart of each idea is something that meaningfully connects to consumers bravely and innovatively. That could be meaningful in a way that speaks to personal motivations and desires, or something that is of great value to a wider collective. The winners spanned this spectrum, but the single thing that resonated with me was that they all had relevant innovation at the core.
In the Smart Textbooks example, the company took on the problem that young kids in the Philippines were becoming exhausted and, in some cases, developing deformed bodies because they have to carry heavy, cumbersome textbooks to school. As the children have very limited access to technology, Smart created sim-card textbooks, which meant the children could access text on their light, old pocket-sized phones. This was a simple, sustainable idea that transforms lives.
IBM, on the other hand, made an effort to ensure its smart ideas brand story came to life by using ads that have purpose and function, and ultimately go towards building a smarter planet. They took traditional poster advertising formats and revolutionised their physical make-up to be more meaningful and relevant to consumers by creating benches, ramps and shelters out of their ads. They all carried the message that if cities were smarter, people’s lives would be better. They then asked people to get involved and contribute ideas on how to make their city smarter (see how it looked here).
There were also fantastic examples of work that were more about building relevant emotional connections with consumers on a personal level. One of the best has to be Dove Real Beauty Sketches: a beautiful evolution of their Real Women campaign that results in captivating and emotive content that you just want to share.
This is a brand that now deeply resonates with women; it understands their fears and hang-ups, but shows them why they should be celebrating who they are and what they look like. It has surely consolidated this position with the latest campaign, underpinned by the extremely clever insight that strangers see more beauty in you than you do in yourself, therefore ‘you are more beautiful than you think’.
Another brave and beautifully meaningful standout campaign this year was created for DELA, a funeral insurance company in the Netherlands. Their insight was that people always say loving things about people at funerals when it is too late for them to hear it, so they quite courageously (given the sensitive subject) asked people not to wait until it’s too late but to say something wonderful to loved ones.
The campaign was connected across multiple platforms, produced lots of shareable content and resulted in DELA becoming one of the top 10 best knows brands in the country – previously unheard of for a funeral insurance company!
What makes all of these campaigns great is their success in inspiring people to touch, feel and manipulate their brand in a meaningful, positive way. They use technology where relevant and useful but, ultimately, they employ brave creative thinking to weave brands into everyday human interaction.