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Draftfcb Breakfast Club: “A New Era of Engagement”

At Draftfcb’s London office Phil Nunn, global communication architect for Draftfcb, and Matt Teeman, soon to be group commercial director for Metro Newspapers, delivered insights into the new era of engagement for the agency’s Breakfast Club event.

As the world gets more and more connected brands are – and should be – moving from a push to pull strategy to attract consumers. However they should also remember that they must retain both for the best results.

Of course, to achieve genuine engagement and reap its rewards we as advertisers and marketers must truly understand what we really mean by engagement.

“The opportunities [of multi-connected digital platforms] are turning brands into this generations’ publishers…brands that do this successfully will win.”

-SXSW

In this new sphere, brands are focusing on entertaining consumers by becoming publishers. Nunn and Teeman challenged this concept, offering practical advice based on real world examples and years of experience, inviting attendees to question if this was really the right path for brands.
 
 
What does being an entertainer mean?

While the “brand as publisher” is a strategy that has worked for certain brands, the market has become saturated with companies producing similar content.

Red Bull’s success has been driven by innovative, entrepreneurial people at the helm and has truly become a value-added entertainment brand. In tandem with the core drinks business, the company owns Red Bull TV and hosts a number of festivals around congruent adrenalin sports and music. In addition, they have significant financial resources.

 
Of course though funding helps, it is the creative concept that is core. To illustrate this, Nunn highlighted Pepsi’s “Refresh” project. Moving their budget out of classic Super Bowl spots, Pepsi spent $20 million on peer-voted community projects. Wall Street analysts reported that during this period they lost $450 million. Pepsi have since returned as a key Super Bowl advertiser.

Perhaps the most poignant reminder of the changing landscape comes from creator and curator of legendary British music and arts gathering, Glastonbury, who commented on the deluge of festival cancellations this summer:

“There is a feeling that people have seen it all before”

- Michael Eavis

Nunn and Teeman surmised that in the game of brand publishing, only the highest quality providers will survive.
 
 
Top tips for success as a brand publisher

 
Having over a decade of practical experience within BBC Worldwide, Teeman gave a media owner’s perspective on the cornerstones of successful entertainment.

Since its launch in 1978, motoring interest TV show “Top Gear” has grown into an entertainment juggernaut, helped largely by the decision to shift focus away from a factual magazine format and adding a “men behaving badly” stunt element. It is now broadcast in 244 territories worldwide with additional revenue streams from computer games to bubble bath and over 18 million Facebook fans.

Teeman’s lessons from the success of "Top Gear” rested on these pillars:

• Understanding innovation: react to feedback and trends quickly.
• Expertise: be realistic about what you can achieve with your current portfolio.
• Partnership: recognise your weaknesses and leverage relationships to fill gaps.
• Learning: it’s ok to make mistakes – as long as you learn from them.

Investment was once more brought in as a secondary success factor. After all, not many brands can afford to have a 10,000 person strong panel providing daily feedback.
 
 
A new paradigm

As Teeman highlighted, unless you have the ideal mix of investment and skills, you will find it difficult to be heard. Nunn offered a solution that would avoid the classic pitfalls; adopting a reciprocated symbiotic relationship. This is a pyramid of media, brand and agency working to engage with the consumer.

The goal of this pyramid should be to find new, diverse ways of doing things.

“Comms need to be multifaceted and spreadable; they need to encourage immersion and discovery. And, in a digital ecosystem, they also need to encourage engagement through social media.”
 
- Jonathan Mildenhall, VP Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has a “liquid and linked” strategy which splits into 70% standard comms, 20% innovative activation ideas and 10% brave engagement ideas structure. This has proved very successful, but it is now five years old. Nunn prompted the crowd to think about what their communications balance was and urged them to be braver.

This sentiment is supported as we have seen time and again that innovation is the real opportunity, e.g. the Coca-Cola mixer and Nike Fuel Band, so it is vital to continue investing in these departments and nurturing innovative people. To put this in context, Nunn gave the example of Walt Disney, who came up with the simple idea of “a place where kids and parents could have fun together,” which has turned into the £22.9 billion theme park industry.
 
 
What does this mean for me?

The session wrapped up with some key outtakes for each branch of the reciprocated symbiotic relationship pyramid:
 
Brands

• Celebrate new and exciting suggestions & invest new ways of doing things.
• Don’t be a publisher, use a publisher. They will do it better than you.
• Innovate new products, dedicate sufficient resources, and package it interestingly; then your audience will follow.
• Challenge everything.
 
Media

• Recognise the broader commercial opportunity beyond the bottom line.
• Use existing assets, e.g. events, to mobilise your audience.
• Use new assets gained from the partnership to maximise potential.
• Be brave.
 
Agencies

• Don’t rely on recycling old solutions and paradigms to solve briefs.
• Stop publishing and focus on hacking technology to find new paths to consumers.
• Generate the spark that creates the magic tipping point into true engagement.
• Facilitate the opening up of ideas within the symbiotic relationships.