Agency head: ‘If brands want to create meaningful difference, start by earning their audience’s attention’

Founder and director of earned-first creative agency We Are Different, Stuart Terry, argues 2023 has been the agency's most successful year due to its focus on earned media, and pushing the boundaries for clients - and that's the future of advertising.

2024 will be a tough year economically, much like 2023 has been. Macroeconomic pressures are slipping through the cracks to the micro level, affecting budgets, risk taking and growth. Despite this, Terry feels optimistic about what the new year will bring.

In its fourth year, We Are Different’s growth this year has been “absolutely phenomenal”, Terry tells Mumbrella.

“2023 was no exception for us however, and ultimately I think that’s because of the rise and importance of what earned-first creative work means to the industry. That’s what we’ve been doing, and that’s what I see being the key to success in 2024.”


He says Different has continued to “push the boundaries” for clients – creatively, commercially and from a measurement perspective.

“There’s a real nervousness for next year within our industry,” he continues. “But I’m super optimistic.”

Terry refers to Kantar research that came with a proposition – Meaningful Difference. It showcases a three-fold benefit for brands that are meaningful, salient and different.

“It speaks about brands creating value faster, resisting market downturns and recovering from them sooner, and it’s so important,” he says. “If brands want to create meaningful difference, they need to start by earning their audience’s attention first.”

In 2024, as consumer purses tighten and they become more skeptical of brands, cynical towards traditional advertising and spend less, earned media has never been so important.

“As a consumer, you think ‘what’s in it for me?’. When you’re looking at a brand or product, you think ‘what difference is this going to make to my life?,'” Terry says.

“So brands need to get into that mindset and think like a consumer, to build the trust and earn their audience. And as an agency, that’s how we think. Then we blow that up creatively and strategically in big, newsworthy, attention-seeking ways.”

When We Are Different launched four years ago, “it was a little bit about us being different”, through their unique approach to creative work, according to Terry. But, the agency really started taking off when it changed its proposition to focusing on the difference brands will make to their consumers.

“Consumers are placing a greater expectation on brands and what they can offer, they want their products to change their lives. improve their lives, makes things easier. So that’s what we need to showcase in our work for clients,” he explains.

“And we do that via earned trust and loyalty, which comes from earned media.

“The focus for me next year is continuing to produce that kind of work, and delivering on our clients needs and their consumers needs.”

Despite economic pressures, Terry says the industry has never been stronger, and that momentum will continue into the new year.

“That makes it an exciting time, because although consumer mindset is more conservative in their spending, now’s the time we have to truly earn their attention, trust and loyalty, and that’s just exciting,” he says.


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