Marketing to the marketers
What sort of marketing appeals to the people who do it for a living? Jason Mountney finds out on a piece that first appeared in Encore.
Andy Lark has a confession. “I’m an advertising tragic,” says the chief marketing officer at Commonwealth Bank Australia. “I’m hopeless. When I see an ad, I can’t help wishing we’d done it or feeling glad we didn’t.”
For many in Australia’s marketing industry, every ad break, newspaper insert and commercial interruption to their favourite radio show is analysed, mentally dissected and held up against their own output.
Some impress and leave green-gilled professionals wishing they’d come up with that idea first, while other campaigns leave them thinking, “there but for the grace of God…”
CBA’s Lark cites the colourful, noisy Coke Zero ‘Make It Possible’ series of ads as recent work that impressed him. “The Coke Zero campaign was right on the spot. It was fun.”
And this isn’t a case of someone in charge of a stuffy bank’s marketing output being jealous of a soft drink brand that gets to make sexy ads. Under Lark’s watch, CBA does “a lot of fun stuff” including viral campaigns once thought the domain of youth brands.
He says using social media, for example, means Commonwealth Bank ads can be “more audience specific”, with users less likely to “suffer through” advertising aimed at a different demographic. Another marketing approach Lark admires was Virgin Mobile’s Doug Pitt campaign even though the brand itself has decided to move on from the ambassador.
Despite an obsessive interest in the industry that has him taking photos of magazine ads with his tablet to show colleagues and family members, Lark believes he can still see an ad or campaign as he hopes an audience does. He says that while marketing people generally see reaching the audience as a key goal, there is a risk the agencies they hire are more interested in impressing industry peers and getting gongs. Problems arise, Lark says, when marketing departments let them do this.
“The success of campaigns should be measured better,” he adds, saying the user’s experience once they have been lured to a company through a marketing campaign is often somewhat lacking. “We need to know how good they are at the end-to-end marketing. It’s the back end that is sometimes poorly executed.” And Lark knows this better than most because when he sees an ad that lets him click through and contact the company, chances are he will test it out.
Chantal Walker, director of marketing at television subscription service Foxtel (pictured), is another self-confessed marketing obsessive. “I was not born with an off switch on so many fronts, and that includes looking at ads,” she says. “I love my job and this industry and never stop looking, learning and thinking.” She adds that the industry requires “the right attitude to work combined with an innate and insatiable curiosity”.
Walker, who has worked in seven cities and five countries on three continents says: “The vast majority of Australian campaigns don’t put the customer benefit and ‘so what’ at the heart of the communications.”
“They try to compensate for this by shouting at you claims they think you want – which turns people off,” she says. “We have all become very good at selective listening in today’s world of messages bombarding us 24-seven. A simple, well-executed message with a clear ‘what’s in it for me?’ is still the best way to go.”
Walker cites chain store K-Mart’s recent campaign as one the industry has got right. “This may seem weird, but these ads are a great example of a retailer that has totally changed the way their brand is perceived from in-store to advertising to make it less about shouting and getting in your face,” she says. “They have a great track, clever use of the price point and it makes me want to go into a store that I would never normally even have on my radar.”
Another industry professional who finds it hard to turn off as the ads come on is executive general manager of products and marketing at Salmat Digital, Mark Mulder. “It can be hard to switch off my marketing brain at times, but I enjoy seeing what others are doing in the industry and assessing how successful a campaign will be, or what I would have done,” he says. “I would definitely say I’m more aware of marketing and advertising campaigns that I see on TV or when I’m at the supermarket than the average person.” He adds: “The best campaigns are those in which consumers don’t feel like they are being influenced by a brand to buy their products, but capture their attention by being creative and unique.”
Mulder was also a “big fan” of last year’s Virgin Mobile campaign. “The quirkiness of using Doug Pitt brought media attention beyond their expectations,” he says.
“It was a real hit with younger audiences who actively engaged with the campaign on social media.”
Another fan of two-way, interactive campaigns is David Lyon, who is in charge of marketing and fan engagement at A-League football club Melbourne Heart.
Lyon, who has worked in sports-related social media in the past, says campaigns that don’t let the audience participate and are one-way don’t work for his three season-old club, which is trying to build a fan base in the face of two big competitors, the AFL juggernaut and the city’s more established football club, Melbourne Victory.
As someone in sports marketing, it is hard for Lyon not to be impressed by the American Oreo ad that popped up on social media during the American Super Bowl.
“They were able to have a still ad made up within 10 minutes,” he says.
“By posting it on Twitter they were able to catch a momentous amount of down time when people were looking for things to do, achieving 50,000 re-tweets and 20,000 shares on Facebook along the way.”
This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.