Decisions are made by deciding, right? Deciding is an act. You have choices and you make a choice. But how do you know that choice is right, that your decision is the best one.
Do you trust your gut? This one feels rights, let’s go with that. Maybe that approach works if you’re choosing dinner, but you don’t want your marketing agency to operate in that way. If you’re committing to a certain media spend, or a budget for a new website or brand, you don’t want to trust anybody’s gut.
Maybe your agency has lots of experience. They probably know what works by now. That’s what they’ll tell you, anyway. But is experience enough? Especially in today’s changing times. Today’s truth is tomorrow’s assumption. And we all know where that leads to.
Marketing has changed too.
Once a great idea on its own and enough media spend could be successful. But now people connect with a brand across a whole range of touchpoints, from social channels on their way to work, eDMs in their inbox, opinions of friends, browsing at home in the evening, and so on. There’s no hiding for a brand anymore. Bad feedback floats from person to person, unstoppable.
Now to connect to an audience effectively we need to understand the Customer Journey – mapping out those small interactions and touchpoints that make up the whole experience. We can’t just make that up. We have to make important decisions. And we need a way of making them.
This question about decisions gave birth to NeonLogic’s Methodology.
After working on gut, assumption, experience, we made a decision. We wanted to know.
So, what is knowledge. Well, in this context it’s having insights and understanding that enable us to make the right decisions. It’s about knowing what channels your audiences can be found on to know where to put your media budget or knowing the strategy for your business to define your future messaging and brand positioning. It’s about learning. The first phase of our Methodology, and to me, the most important, is Discover. It serves no other purpose than to learn things. It’s where we run workshops, review current and past activity, crunch data, and ask questions.
We build up knowledge and then we Think.
As the second phase of our Methodology, Think takes that knowledge and challenges it and digs for insights. We take those insights and only now we begin to make decisions. We define the objectives. That’s right, we often rewrite them, even when they’ve been spelled out in a brief already. We select channels, state how they should function and their purpose. We bring our creative thinking into the mix. We take those insights and decisions and begin to give them something unique, something magical. The formal phrase is ‘creative thinking to solve business problems’. Doesn’t really do it justice, but you get the idea.
This is how we get our Bright Thinking.
This need to understand before deciding is how we know that when we propose a solution, we are confident it is the best it can be, as right as it can be. When we wrote the Methodology and outlined each step, this was the foundation it was built upon. I have the scraps stored in a file somewhere of the early drafts. I have argued its case – ‘why would you spend money on a solution based on guesswork. Isn’t it better to know?’
Possibly of all the changes and projects that have rolled out across NeonLogic, the methodology is the one I’m most proud of, because it fundamentally shapes how we work and how we think, and consequently, what we deliver.
That’s what I think, anyway.
Stephen Williams, Director of Strategy and Digital
Since 1954, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has been celebrating and recognising creative communications from around the world. Each year people gather in Cannes, France to judge and award the most inspirational and successful campaigns and this year’s 2019 line up was nothing short of impressive. Congratulations to all of the winners.
Celebrating and learning from successful campaigns around the world is a great way for our NeonLogic teams to keep up with market trends and generate inspiration for their work. We compiled a list of some of the 2019 Gold and Grand Prix Award Cannes winners and sent them through to a range of our staff members, asking them to nominate which ones stood out to them and why. The responses have been bright, thoughtful, emotional and very insightful into how different minds perceive different campaign executions. Here are their thoughts.
The New York Times – The Truth is Worth It. (Agency – Droga5, New York)
This campaign really stood out to me. The Point-of-View delivery was original and had an honest feel. The video takes the viewer on a realistic and dramatic journey from the perspective of the journalist seeking the truth to a story.
In an age of ‘fake news’ I found it refreshing that the concept felt authentic and first-hand. It clearly demonstrated the lengths the New York Times go to – to uncover the truth. As the viewer I felt the excitement a journalist would when breaking a major story and typing the dramatic events unfolding before me live.
The NYT understand their readers expect the
truth and to ensure their loyalty the video cleverly confirms their news
sources are real and dedicated to the consumer. Authentic and honest marketing
can be a very powerful strategy.
This was a special piece. It’s special
because it is about brand. And risk. And that we’re never as clever as we think
During a period of aggressive political
discourse in the US, football star Colin Kaepernick began sitting and kneeling
during the US anthem rather than standing. This was to highlight racial
injustice. President Trump stated that players who protested the national
anthem should be fired, which ensured massive public attention.
Nike made the controversial decision to
star Colin Kaepernick in their next campaign. Shoes were burnt. Newscasters
debated. Investors in Nike stocks panicked.
Why is this about brand? Well, brand is
more than a logo, colour, or a phrase. It’s about understanding who you are as
a business and what you believe in. A brand defines actions and approach. Nike
took a risk with their brand, because they wanted to be seen as a business that
acted in a certain way, supported a certain cause. The campaign tag ‘Believe in something. Even if it means
sacrificing everything.’ is not about just about Colin Kaepernick, but
about the Nike brand taking a position.
It was a risk. They knew it would alienate some customers, but they also knew it could make them a champion to others. And that deeper connection would go beyond media spend, or product hygiene. It would embed a maker of shoes in the national consciousness, one way or another. Celebrities rallied behind it, so too did the investors. It worked. In taking that risk Nike also re-positioned itself and showed that brands can evolve by actions (not by a new font or colour palette).
And just because even very clever people can make a mistake, in July 2019 Nike released a shoe featuring the Betsy Ross flag and were pilloried by Colin Kaepernick and others because of its associations to slavery. An embarrassed Nike pulled the shoe, and found themselves criticised on both sides.
Stephen Williams: Director of Strategy and Digital, Auckland NZ
For me personally the clear standout was
the Nike – Dream Crazy campaign. This stood out to me because it represents
leadership through ‘cause marketing’; using social justice issues to target and
engage younger audiences.
Nike has never been a brand that has shied
away from controversy and this campaign certainly doesn’t. It was provocative and elicited passionate
reactions (both positive and negative). I think the biggest learning for me
personally reviewing this campaign is that we’re now living in a time where
brands can no longer sit on the fence. They must decide what they stand for,
which can often mean publicly opposing something and the backlash that comes
While their share price took a hit, they
received a massive amount of media exposure and brand awareness through this
campaign, that overall was measurably favourable for a company their size. Of
course, their size also meant potentially they were able to absorb any losses.
It was bold, it was on brand, it was inspirational, and it struck a chord.
Personally speaking, they definitely gained some brand loyalty from me with
Bird: Account Manager, Auckland NZ
Burger King – Whopper Detour. (Agency – FCB New York)
This campaign from Burger King really attracted
I thought it was a really clever and creative idea as was the process of how it evolved from its original concept. The unique way in which geo-fencing and geo-location was explored and utilised on a massive scale was also very fascinating and you can’t go past the incredible results delivered for Burger King, including the significant long-term impact of the campaign.
It was quite interesting that they opted not to utilise TV, radio, social media influencers – instead making a minimal investment in out of home, a handful of print ads and a small amount of digital to push the short film they created as part of the campaign.
You can often see from successful campaigns, the trusting relationship between brand and agency and this campaign demonstrated the belief from Burger King’s GCMO in the creative idea and the faith he placed in FCB New York.
My top 3 key takeaways from this campaign were:
1. How relevant the power of a big idea is – “Big creative ideas eat programmatic, AI and trends for lunch, and these days people seem to forget that a bit” Fernando Machado, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Burger King Corporation.
2. Perseverance and dedication to a client and an idea is crucial – the campaign took almost a year in planning, building and testing as they had to make many tweaks to an existing app
3. Reaching out to clients with creative ideas can pay off immensely – FCB NY had never worked with Burger King before
Roach: Art Director/Social Strategist, Perth WA
Purina – Street Vet. (Agency – McCann Paris)
Clever, innovative and memorable – that’s
what made the campaign stand out for me. Using an outdoor billboard to check
your dog’s health I felt is an innovative way to provide a solution; it’s new
and simple to do using what seems like quite comprehensive technology. Yet for
the user and their pooch, the method was very easy to engage with. Using
technology, research and various locations in a country where dogs are a way of
life, has certainly worked well for this campaign.
Marston: Agency Manager, Wellington NZ
Stabilo – Highlight the Remarkable. (Agency – DDB Dusseldorf)
This campaign is using the framework of
current global conversations – women’s rights, #metoo, equal opportunity – to
organically spread the campaign via social media. Stabilo has become part of
the conversation – or a conversation starter. This one probably stands out to
me as a woman – they are possibly taking a gamble focusing more on one gender,
but if you take a cynical view, they may have data that shows women are still
taking on the stereotype office management role and ordering the stationery!
The campaign was created like most/all of
the others to be spread via social media shares and mentions (supported by print
also), but what stands out is the design – very simple but effective, the
black, white yellow palette is so strong. This would be so easy to spot once
shared on busy social media feeds.
The advertising strategy is to use a strong
emotive message that can then be shared online as a talking point in an
existing global social media conversation. It’s fairly safe compared to say,
the Nike campaign; the company is using history as ‘creative’ – they’d just
have to make sure they have no skeletons in their closet. If you get involved
in conversation of ethics it would be so easy to have this turn on you very
quickly. My other thoughts were – people are only going to get involved in a
campaign and share it if it means something to them, for instance the Purina ad
– I don’t have a dog so lost interest fast; it basically comes down to knowing
who your target market is.
Fisher: Senior Graphic Designer, Auckland NZ
Nike – Air Max Graffiti Stores. (Agency – AKQU, Sao Paulo)
I really loved this campaign. Nike have
never been afraid to do something different, and this is another example.
Nike has cleverly leveraged the cultural
impact its product has away from the sporting field by acknowledging their
street cred. It’s not a mass market campaign, instead Nike have created an
original bespoke campaign targeting their passionate and loyal fans in the
urban environment of Sao Paulo. In an age where brands can be cool one minute
and passé the next, Nike have continued to remain on top thanks to projects like
this which leverage youth culture, graffiti and political activism.
The campaign touches on online shopping,
experiential activation and customers appetite for exclusivity. While clearly
designed to win an award, (see Purina and Souvenirs De Paris) this campaign was
original, clever and by all accounts very successful.
My top 4 key takeaways from this campaign were:
1. Know the segments of your audience and don’t be afraid to target a specific audience
2. Look at the culture in which the product operates
3. Look outside traditional media channels (graffiti on building walls)
4. People love brands that give back! Get your customers involved and excited and give them something exclusive or special.
This work by Volvo/Forsman & Bodenfors
encompassed all the qualities a gold standard campaign should have; leadership,
category breaking creative, great insights and idea that inspires real change.
Looking at an insight that may have
inspired this work, Volvo has always built their brand on their
industry-leading safety standards. As technology, engineering, crash
simulations and overall intelligence has matured within the automotive industry
over the years, safety in modern cars is almost aligned across every major
manufacturer. With such a reality, how does a brand like Volvo maintain its
leadership for safety?
The E.V.A. Initiative responds to this
perfectly. It’s an outstanding move to democratise over 40 years of crash
knowledge with the automotive industry. Whereas for many brands such data is
heavily protected, Volvo’s response sends out a message that passenger safety
comes above brand advocacy and profits. This simple move not only cements
Volvo’s integrity for safety but shows maturity for a company with a broader
In our business, client outcomes always
have to be king. Understanding a client’s business is the only way to deliver
category-changing results. It sounds like an obvious thing to say but the
reason clients pay us, is to find the insights that allows us to speak to the
right people, one to one. Anything short of that, is noise.
Aetopoulos: Account Director, Sydney NSW
The Volvo E.V.A Initiative campaign stood
out the most to me, as it used insights-led research to assist in achieving the
ultimate aim of saving people’s lives across a whole industry. Volvo sharing
insights and research for the benefit of the entire global community across the
industry can be seen as quite selfless and is following on from other similar
examples in other sectors where technology is being shared for the benefit of
many. While selfless, this is also quite clever however in that it strengthens
Volvo’s reputation for safety. If you are the one sharing the knowledge it
shows integrity and a belief in your place in the industry and can
significantly enhance your own brand positioning.
Curran: Business Director Employment Marketing, Canberra ACT
There was a lot to like about this campaign
– it was great PR and got a lot of positive feedback in the media and local
communities. I can see people thinking if they want takeaway, they would consider
Dominos as they are helping them out, they would give back. This was a smart
way for a multinational company to reach and relate to local communities. There
are a lot of negative stories in the news, so they also bought something
positive into the market and related it in a really creative way.
Carney: Media Manager and Strategist, Brisbane QLD
Ikea – ThisAbles. (Agency – McCann, Tel Aviv)
This campaign really engaged with me. It’s
great to see brands coming up with solutions that can have a tangible impact in
making people’s lives better. I found
the process they went through really relatable; research was carried out by
charities and Ikea, which looked at what some particular customers needed in
their homes. These insights were then
applied into simple solutions and by utilising some new technologies and
innovative design, they created a really clever campaign, opened up a whole new
market that is making a positive difference to people’s lives.
Key learnings for me included do your
research, know your audience(s), uncover insights, engage effectively and you
will have a winning formula.
Vincenzi: Group Account Director, Brisbane, QLD
For 1 in 10 people, regular furniture is a
regular and everyday problem. And special needs furniture is often much more expensive.
The solution for IKEA was to create simple
adaptations of their furniture, available in-store and to 3D print, to meet the
needs of their disabled customers. As
part of their vision to ‘create a better everyday life for as many people as
possible’, they joined forces with non-profit organisations that specialised in
creating special solutions for people with special needs and disabilities. They
developed a new and revolutionary line of products that bridged some of the
gaps between existing IKEA products and those with special needs and the
program saw a 37% increase in sales.
I thought this was a wonderful campaign by
IKEA – tackling a problem for so many families with disabilities and special
needs. As marketers, we need to embrace this new ‘people-first’ paradigm and
the opportunities it presents. When brands combine a relentless focus on
creating value for people with creativity and innovation, magic can truly