Why marketing budgets are moving where the action is

It’s an exciting time for the brand activation end of the marketing services’ spectrum. Having suffered for years from the snobbery of above the line agencies, who believed that all other disciplines were not only ‘below the line’ but also ‘below the salt’, the tables are turning.

Jane Asscher

According to the Bellwether Report, action-oriented media has over half the market at 54.9%. That still leaves Main Media as the second largest category at 27.1% , but an increasing proportion of these include a call to action. For example the launch commercial for the new Mercedes A Class allowed viewers to determine the ending by Tweeting either #evade or #hide (they chose #evade).

So the money’s moving to where the action is. Clients are realising that the long-standing, proven tools and techniques of sales promotion and direct marketing can be integrated with new media delivery channels, and that some of the most effective creativity is at the interface between online and offline.

Nike, one of the stand-out brands in this arena, and on the right mission ever since adopting ‘Just Do It’ as its platform in 1988, puts all these elements together with products such as Nike FuelBand, sponsored brand experiences like ‘Run London’, and the #MakeItCount social media campaign. M&S are getting into the game with Shwopping and what about ‘Drinka Pinta Milka Day’ making a comeback?

Another reason for the reappraisal is online media which is enabling people to interact with brands so quickly and easily. Media metrics’ experts are still getting to grips with the value of a ‘like’ or a ‘follower’, but anyone who has read Professor Richard Wiseman’s book ‘Rip It Up’ will have been impressed by the wealth of experiments proving the relationship between behaviour and brain. These show that behaviour can lead attitude change, as opposed to merely being a sequel to it. Hence I’m convinced of the value of a like or a re-Tweet, and why 23red’s mantra is “Do.Feel.Think.”

A focus on activation has been crucial to the success of the Department of Health’s ‘Change4Life’ campaign, with the ‘The Great Swapathon’ being a great example. This promotion provided people with small, manageable 'swaps' to help them eat more healthily, and move more. To deliver these ‘swaps’ the partnership marketing support of blue chip brands including Asda, Kellogg’s, Unilever, Nestlé, and WeightWatchers was vital. Not only did they fund the production of 5 million voucher booklets, but supplied a range of money off next purchase vouchers to the value of £250 million. The ‘Swapathon’ created lots of positive action, increased Change4Life’s awareness among both families and adults to 84% and 65% respectively, and did some good to the partner brands too.

So the emphasis now is on ‘doing’, not ‘feeling’ or ‘thinking’, and it’s good to be at the top table in marketing communications.

Jane Asscher is managing partner and chairman at 23red

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