Do things differently to stay fresh: Collin

CAVELOSSIM: The refreshing words came from Naked Communications partner Will Collin who was speaking at the ‘Knowledge and Learning’ seminar on day 2 of Goafest 2010. “Freshness is not about doing different things, it’s about doing things differently,” he said.

Freshness in communications means truly embracing integration and changing the way things are done. It means asking what you are actually planning for. True freshness in communications means challenging anything including the way things are done. Freshness is not about finding newer ways to get to the same place or chasing shiny new things. The integrated strategy should be built around the needs of the consumer rather than the desires of the client.
Freshness in communications comes in lifting your head up and recognising the core problem, not jumping to defining a solution. “We are all of us carrying a legacy of irritation,” said Collin. Freshness in communications means avoiding irritation which is a legacy that still rules the thought processes in advertising.

Everything that a brand does is a communication. Agencies are obsessive about details of the content and text and forgetting style.
Collin gave an example of a large UK bank campaign with the tagline ‘You first’. This was a bank that spent millions in brand communication but did not integrate the message within itself, at one of the very first contact points with the customer – the telephone response system. The bank failed to keep up to the communication, because the telephone operators were not trained to respond to even the most basic questions from a prospective customer–“How do your bank put me first?”

Freshness means not living in silos that exist on both the client’s and the agency’s sides without being connected, because each of the disciplines in an organisation has its own bottom line to meet.

Freshness means never being compromised. There was a need to think objectively about what was needed. Each specialist in the ad industry is an expert in its own discipline and is commercially sensitised to optimizing its own self. Further, agencies are like supermarkets that often offer a diverse range of services. Advice needs to come from an objective place, a strategic censor who sits outside a communications strategy agency which can see the whole picture.

Freshness is not about chasing shiny new things. He cited a case of a client which needed to reduce its online exposure and was so advised. “Don’t do the cool thing, do the right thing,” says Collin.
“Freshness in communication doesn’t mean that you have to be sexy,” cautions Collin. “In brand communication, unsexy can be the new sexy if it is a holistic process to deliver profitability to the brand.” Collin highlighted this with an example of a European pharmacy Boots which went back to the basics by placing a message at the first contact point, the retailer, for filling a medical prescription. Boots managed to reduce its ad spends by 68 per cent and yet achieved a 104 per cent increment in revenues by adopting an unsexy strategy – placing its message on a signboard at the retailer and training and incentivizing the clerk who filled in the prescription to sign on more clients for online prescriptions.

Freshness means understanding your audience. “People are your partners and not target audiences,” he warns. The industry has been using warlike terms such as campaign, target, carpet bombing, conquer, guerilla tactics etc., “Why not think of the journey that a consumer makes from being an uninterested person to building an interest and making him a consumer through the relevant and effective channels and touch points?”, he queries.

Communication means overcoming memory muscles. It is not just about trying to add a few extra things around the edges. “You can’t change things to fit the way you work, you have to change the way you work,” he said.

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