Read our new manifesto

Now available on-demand

Get inspired. Find solutions. Harness the power of digital marketing.

Featuring Speakers from

Agencies 4 Growth Festival Logo
Agencies 4 Growth Festival Logo
Agencies 4 Growth Festival Logo

Why bravery might be a brand's best trait in 2016

Brands have to be brave to form meaningful connections.

It’s not uncommon to find panels about breaking through the proverbial noise at digital marketing events – and Advertising Week New York was no exception. But, to their credit perhaps, this also often includes at least one reference to goldfish, who reportedly have a longer attention span than humans now, and it was actually a different digital marketing event that was guilty of that offense last week.

And per Pete Favat, CCO of North America at Deutsch NA, the key to capturing the attention of consumers who can’t concentrate as long as a third-tier pet – in part because they are bombarded with messages, but also because they have more options than ever to tune out said messaging – is bravery.

“We have to break through and we need to make work people find relevant, so we either have to get brave or die,” Favat said. “Bravery is good business. Bravery in marketing has gone from a nice-to-have to a must-have. We’re not looking to rid the world of advertising – we just want to rid the world of crappy advertising.”

And fitness club Equinox is a great example of a brand that has done just this, pivoting from merely provocative to genuinely brave content.

“The reason why we have permission to make the ads we make is that brave ads mean nothing if they are not grounded in something real and meaningful,” said Elizabeth Nolan, ECD of Equinox. “To be able to push boundaries, it has to be built upon something meaningful.”

Further, Nolan said Equinox would not have survived for 25 years if it had stuck with its original provocative advertising – the brand had to redefine what provocative meant and embed that within a deep, rich story.

That includes Equinox’s involvement in the Heroes Project, in which it helped Marine Staff Sergeant Charlie Linville become the first combat-wounded veteran to reach the top of Mount Everest.

Equinox is a founding partner in The Heroes Project — sponsors also include Chrome Hearts, Eddie Bauer and NKSFB — and seeks to put injured veterans on some of the highest mountains in the world, “giving them the chance to renew faith in themselves and put their lives back together through the challenge and triumph of climbing.”

Tackling the world’s tallest mountain is clearly no small feat for any climber. What’s more, Linville’s first two attempts were thwarted by an avalanche and an earthquake, so he had to go through the training program a total of three times before finally summiting Everest.

But, in the end, Nolan called it “the greatest ad we’ve ever done,” noting again, “You don’t get to be brave without being good and founded on something meaningful.”

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis