The below post brought to you from Austin by Sean Stogner.
One aspect that is plaguing the modern marketer is this insatiable need to feel like they are on top of the latest trend, the hottest news, the next big thing. But this year at SXSW, we’re beginning to see some push back towards “normalcy” as I’ll term it, the ability for brands to create their own trends, forge their own paths, and cultivate a following all their own. It’s creating a clear division between Trendjacking and Trendsetting.
On the Trendjacking front, no brand has done it better than Oreo. During a panel featuring Bonin Bough, who heads up consumer engagement at Mondelez, he reiterated his belief that, in order for brands to win the hearts of consumers and stay top of mind, they would need to deeply integrate themselves into the trends that those consumers are following. Oreo is championing that at SXSW with their #EatTheTweet Installation, which monitors social chatter, and “3D Prints” Oreo flavors that match actual trending topics. From that, to Trident Gum’s integration with Trending 10 on Fuse, and more, Mondelez is firmly invested in the belief that being part of “the now” is the way of the future.
On the Trendsetting front, there was a talk entitled “Go home marketers, you’re drunk”. This session focused on the communication overload created by real-time marketing, and asking the question “does your brand really need a snapchat, pinterest or vine account?” Throughout my time here, there have been several panelists discussing the need for brands to shift back to a centralized messaging strategy. Pre-planned creative, dedicated distribution, and pre-aligned objectives. One example I’ll give is Old Spice, and their Mr. Wolfdog campaign. This character did not exist prior to the campaign, and there certainly was no outcry for a business minded wolf to take over as CMO at Old Spice. Just reading that, and you realize how outrageous that creative presentation must have seemed. But it’s that outrageous nature that made the campaign successful to many.
So the question becomes, which route should my brand take? Can I do both?
I don’t know. My guess would be that for some brands, the deep integration into culture is the right way forward. Certain CPG brands (specifically those that fall within the “impulse buy” category”) will almost always have difficulty driving immediate purchase through digital. And perhaps that cultural awareness will lead to brand awareness and purchase intent as well. While others, those who’s cultural cache is perhaps less robust or inviting, may be better served with a pre-planned approach (though I firmly believe this approach will call for less luke-warm creative as breakthrough becomes more difficult). Each brand will need a different answer, but asking the right questions is always the best way to start.