Super Bowl XLI just ended and we were blessed with a slew of funny, entertaining, and creative marketing and advertising by some of the world’s largest (and deepest pocketed) brands.

As an inspired member of your company’s marketing and advertising team, the gears in your head are spinning for ideas on how you can execute something memorable for your next campaign.

You and your team work day and night thinking of a campaign, spoke to your agency on execution strategies, getting your budget approved after a rosy projection on how great the campaign will be, and a week after you launch, you got some PR firm mentioning your campaign, some colleagues posting it on LinkedIn, but ultimately, no one outside your company cared.

What happened?

We’ve all seen marketing campaigns from multi-million (if not billion) dollar companies that fail on a grand scale, from a soda company’s tone-deaf collab with a millennial influencer to beer companies using racially insensitive slogans, you’d think that these are missteps are outliers.

However, even without disastrous, publicized events like the aforementioned, we can probably see a huge percentage of marketing attempts are far from being memorable, relevant, or effective for brands, and it’s sad to realize that the reasoning is extremely simple.

Brands have lost sight of their purpose – putting their customers’ needs first.

The Narcissistic Side of Marketing

After a business reach a certain size, marketing deviates away from focusing on “what’s best for my best customers” to “what can I brag about me?” really quickly.

We see this in brands regardless of size or segment.

From the small, home-based business that’s starting to get inquiries and bookings passively, to the large brand that always uses “since 19xx” as evidence of stature, the phase where marketing focuses solely on what’s best for the customer shifts to humble bragging very, very quickly.

No wonder there are so many opportunities for disruptors to enter the market and shake things up despite offering pretty much similar products and services.

Be Relevant to Your Customer – They Don’t Owe You

Does that mean you can’t be creative or learn from great campaigns, of course not! However, understanding why it worked for the company often hinges on the fact that they know their customers’ wants and interests.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to the product or service, even the brand’s mission can be tied up to what matters to your customers.

Here’s an example.

Back in 2017, Australia launched a high-stakes, high-cost tourism video campaign.

Like any other tourism campaign, the objective was pretty standard. Promote the unique locations, experiences, food, and culture – the usual stuff.

What made their 2018 campaign work well, however, is understanding and focusing on who they want to talk to and from there, what can they do to reach as many of these relevant customers as possible.

They wanted to attract American tourists and decided to partner with celebrities that the Americans are already familiar with. From the older generation who watched Crocodile Dundee, to the younger, under 30s who are obsessed with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this campaign hit the right spots in fun and effective ways.

Instead of specifically mentioning the usual Sydney Opera House, Great Ocean Road, Uluru, or the Great Barrier Reef, they focused on what matters to Americans who have disposable income when it comes to traveling and amplified existing positive stereotypes that the audience already have.

The details and locations are relatively irrelevant at this point of the campaign, they know anyone who’s interested is more than capable of Googling everything Australia has to offer themselves, so why not focus on leveraging what the audience already loves about Australia and let the Yelps, Google Reviews, and countless travel blogs take over the conversion?

The message is so targeted to Americans that choosing to launch this on Super Bowl 2018 just made a lot of sense.

The Dundee campaign increased American spending in Australia by 30% to the Australian economy, talk about a great ROI! (source: WARC)

Compare this to their older campaign that copies pretty much every single tourism video out there, not even Chris Helmsworth can save the campaign.

Adding a celebrity, a custom soundtrack, dramatic scenes of what every single country boasts deliver a very shallow message as it tries to speak to everyone, ending up speaking to no one.

It was all about “Australia, look at how pretty we are” and nothing else.

I’m sure that your home country has released video after video of similar tourism campaigns with ever-changing slogans that fail to raise the bar.

No Ego K.I.S.S. Still Works

It’s tempting to over-complicate marketing campaigns with tools, creatives, and copy-cat tactics, but all you really need is right in front of you – your best customers.

Spend the resources, time, and budget you have to learn more about the people who are happy doing business with you.

Engage them through surveys and interactions to know what matters to them, why they chose to do business with you over your competitors, and what they wish you’d improve on.

Those three should be more than sufficient north stars for your brand to succeed in perpetuity.

Once your brand, management, staff, and product adhere to those points, you honestly cannot go wrong.

The pitfalls, wasted budget, and tone-deaf marketing campaigns often stem from spending too much time and effort copying what your competitors are doing and chasing the quarterly growth targets at the expense of the customers that got you there in the first place.

It’s a tempting route that almost all brands succumb to, be better and focus on your customers instead.

In your next marketing exercise, be honest and ask whether the team is focusing on what you want your customers to think about your brand, or are you focusing on amplifying what your customers already love about your brand?

One’s easier and more effective than the other.


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