Convergence, Contradiction and Collaboration: Case Studies on Developing Creative Strategies for Digital Components of Integrated Campaigns

Convergence, Contradiction and Collaboration: Case Studies on Developing Creative Strategies for Digital Components of Integrated Campaigns

Brian Sheehan (Syracuse University, USA) and Antony Young (Optimedia International US Inc., USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-792-8.ch015
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This chapter explores the profound impact of the digital revolution on the advertising business. Specifically, it looks at how advertisers and their agencies are changing the ways they plan media, create advertising ideas, and integrate their campaigns using digital and traditional media. Three key themes are explored: 1) the critical importance of context, which challenges advertisers to fundamentally re-evaluate the relationship between media placement and messaging; 2) the challenge of fragmentation to goals of integration: in the digital scenario, the ability to manage complexity has become a key competitive advantage; 3) the need for a new process to ensure the creative development process is in tune with context and focused on simplicity: this process is called the contextual creative brief. A number of case studies are provided of advertising campaigns that have pioneered in these areas. They are: Mitsubishi’s “Which Car?” campaign, Lexus’ “Mosaic” campaign, Toyota’s “Best in Jest” and “Sketchies” campaigns, Ambien CR’s “Points of Stress” campaign, and the Simpsons Movie launch campaign.
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The purpose of this chapter is to highlight the key dynamics in developing digital creative strategies for integrated campaigns. We will explore three basic themes: convergence, contradiction and collaboration. In doing so, we will consider how the creative objectives of digital and mainstream media converge. This framework will establish recommended steps to deliver effective digital creative approaches, and strategies that integrate into the overall marketing communication mix. We believe these steps have significance for clients and agencies who are increasingly challenged by the proliferation of digital media and the goal of integration.

Creativity and Media Forms: An Evolution

While creativity has always been at the heart of the advertising business, the industry has found it necessary to evolve due in part to the development of new media forms. When NW Ayer & Son the first full service advertising agency opened its doors in 1869, newspaper and poster advertising was the main advertising form. For over half a century ad agencies and brands built their reputation on their ability to create print ads. However, between 1923 and 1930, 60% of American families acquired a radio set (Carter, 2006), which launched the golden age of radio advertising and with that a new set of creative skill-sets were called on.

Television in the 50’s and 60’s opened a new era for advertising agencies and creativity. Initially, television advertising was a crude form of radio with pictures, but as advertising agency techniques developed and as audiences became more sophisticated, a creative renaissance of branding and slogans materialized. Coca-Cola wanted to teach the world to sing and Michael Jordon in his Nikes urged consumers to Just Do It.

While direct marketing had been well established since the Second World War, it really picked up momentum in the 70’s, coinciding with an oil crisis and a recession, which led to increased demand for more sales responsiveness from advertising. This marketing channel continued its steady climb in the 80’s with the growth of cable television. During this time, advertising that delivered results, and a higher degree of measurability, formed an entirely different set of creative rules.

Enter the Internet in the 90’s. In the same way that television advertising evolved, the general ad industry started with their equivalent of “a radio with pictures,” which was essentially putting brochure pictures and copy online. Independent digital marketing specialists led the way, initially combining creative skills with technological savvy and data competencies. A new creative order was established. In addition to a growing list of new media options, the existing old media adapted and evolved to attract new audiences. For example, 125 year-old institution, The Wall Street Journal is pushing its content beyond its newspaper readership base across cable television, its website, email pushes, a color magazine and mobile. Radio stations are broadcasting on the web, via satellite and through podcasts; while the nation’s major broadcasters are investing or acquiring digital platforms. These developments are forcing advertisers and their agencies to adapt and demand creative concepts that can ‘live’ across multiple digital and traditional media forms.

The Internet Is No Longer a Niche Medium: It Is Mainstream

According to a recent IDC study (2008), Internet advertising will grow 8 times as fast as the advertising industry at large and is expected to be the #2 medium in the US by 2012, outpacing newspapers, cable TV and broadcast TV; to be second in spending only to direct marketing. The IDC report also went on to say that video advertising would be the biggest disrupter of Internet advertising, with advertisers expected to shift advertising online from national broadcast. According to a survey by Netpop|U.S. (2006), four of the top six sources used for influencing purchase decisions are found online, with “browsing in retail stores” only slightly edging out search engines as the most important influencer. Marketers are quickly feeling it is uncomfortable to manage their mass advertising media channels separate from other specialized communication channel disciplines, in particular, digital, but also in-store, sponsorship, marketing PR and trade efforts. Developing digital creative in isolation of other advertising efforts is now far less attractive than establishing digital’s role within the collective strategy and overall advertising mix.

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