advertising, storytelling

Of BBQs, Basting and Bears: Lessons in the power of multi-channel storytelling from this year’s crop of festive campaigns

this week on the Addington Bugle-sponsored PHDcast we talk the future of retail and Christmas ads. obviously. it being five weeks(ish) out from the big day thoughts turn to Santa’s sack, goodwill amongst people, and GRPs – after all who wouldn’t want a healthy carryover of adstock into the week before Christmas.

and so it came to pass that this was the week that Aussie retailers launched the slings and arrows of their Chrimbo adverts. first up we have Coles and Woolies going head to head with Curtis Stone basting food porn in the red corner, and in the green corner newcomer Jamie Oliver throwing a BBQ for Aussies in London (a deliberate choice of location we’re sure).

meanwhile the department stores give us the art of giving from Myer and, well, I’m not sure what from David Jones (B&T go with ‘a DJ’s branded Christmas cracker exploding to reveal a colourful array of gifts’, which is good enough for me).

of course the daddy of Christmas ads is John Lewis, who (as you’ll already know as the YouTube video is past 6.1m views already) this year unleashed a Lily Allen soundtracked Disney-inspired tale of the Bear who gets woken by a Hare for Christmas.

its amazing. of course. but where John Lewis genuinely stands out is not the creative solution, but the media infrastructure build around their story. the Lily Allen soundtrack (which has the chance of keeping a reality-TV winner off the Chrimbo #1 spot), the interactive eBook narrated by Lauren Laverne, the digital Christmas card maker, and of course activation of the ideas in stores … all add up to a genuinely integrated effort to deploy a story into the pre-Christmas season rather than just an ad.

its a valuable and timely lesson in the power of story; told elegantly, across multiple platforms, both broadcast and demanded, which stretches from awareness and salience all the way through to retail engagement – and all without a hero product shot in sight.

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advertising, campaigning, integrating, voting

Calling to Action: What Australian Political Parties can learn from Marmite

so in this week’s PHDcast we’re talking Aussie election, which kicked off (officially) this week with a deluge of media and collateral, including these two efforts from the two leading parties, Labor offer us a New Way:

whilst the Liberals are offering us a New Hope:

there will no doubt be other places and spaces where the ads themselves get debated and dissected, and aside from the observation that naming an election slogan after Star Wars Episode IV is just plain awesome, we’ll leave all that to one side for the moment.

there is one difference between the two ads though that I think is important. it’s a really subtle but I think significant difference in the dying moments of each. quite simply one has an embedded call to action and one doesn’t.

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Labor’s video has not just a specific call to action in the copy, but an embedded ‘click to volunteer’ button in the video.

in the podcast, Stew (who anchored magnificently) asked me for the advice I would give the comms teams in the election, I commented that at the moment there isn’t one communications strategy, there are several (broadcast, social etc).

the big opportunity it seems to me is to join the dots … and identify very specific roles for comms, with all roads leading to getting people to act … if people act early, cognitive dissonance will kick in and people will act to maintain consistency with their perceived beliefs when they get into the booth.

that the Labor ad gets that its not just an ad may seem to be a simple and indeed obvious distinction, but its a simple and obvious distinction that its Liberal counterpart – nor a great many commercial brands for that matter – grasp. which brings us of course to Marmite, who this week unleashed this awesome little gem:

the predictable and ridiculous backlash has fortunately been met with a truckload of praise for the ad … but the sheer entertainment value that the ad provides aside, the communication is a gold-standard example of two really important aspects.

one, it doesn’t take too much pondering to work out that there is a very specific business issue being tackled here. the team have clearly done their homework and gone beyond ‘consideration’ or ‘like-ability’ to identify a specific issue that they’ve gone on to tackle head on.

two – and this is where I’m making the tenuous link to Australian politics (because its my blog so I can) – there’s a clear and integrated call to action strategy. the video ends with a clear call to action that is an integrated and consistent extension of the creative construct of the ad:

marmite_cta

this then takes you through to an owned-media platform from where you can interact to your heart’s content:

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there’s one last aspect for both of these that I think bears repeating, and that’s the importance of cognitive dissonance – the first fundamental assumption of which is that “we all recognize, at some level, when we are acting in a way that is inconsistent with our beliefs / attitudes / opinions. In effect, there is a built in alarm that goes off when we notice such an inconsistency, whether we like it or not. For example, if you have a belief that it is wrong to cheat, yet you find yourself cheating on a test, you will notice and be affected by this inconsistency.” (source)

the really smart opportunity is that by getting people to act within a communications content (for a brand or a political party), you potentially establish and crystallise such a belief / attitude / opinion. when people subsequently come to a supermarket shelf or a polling booth they will – according to the theory – be more inclined to behave in a way that is consistent with said belief.

in short … a integrated, powerful and engaging call to action, far from being the tick-box exercise at the end of the ad, can be the linchpin of the whole communications operation. given the choice, you’ve got to love that.

featured image via Herald Sun

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