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Marketing Agency Culture Brand Purpose

‘Another speck in the wall of noise’: should brands stop jumping on every trend?

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By Sam Anderson | Network Editor

September 27, 2022 | 8 min read

As news happens and content calendars reign, some brands try to be heard at every opportunity. But, learning from the more misguided responses to Queen Elizabeth II’s death, should they sometimes stay shtum? We asked five marketing and PR experts.

A line of people on camels in the desert

Is following the group always the smartest strategy in social and PR? Maybe not, 5 experts tell us / Chandler Chen via Unsplash

Julio Taylor, chief executive officer, Hallam

I see why brands feel the need to jump on topical trends. If it suits the brand or your values, sure, get involved – but there’s an assumption that being ‘on-topic’ is going to grow awareness or even that it’s ‘doing the right thing.’ This isn’t always the case. By merging into the great big crowd of others doing exactly the same, you end up achieving the opposite, becoming another speck in the wall of noise. I urge brands to think twice before getting involved for the sake of exposure alone; brand loyalty takes years to grow, but decays quickly.

The ability to stay true to the integrity of their brand vision is what separates Apple and Nike from the many competitors they left in their wake. These brands are bigger than transient trends; they transcend them. Although it’s understandable that certain global events like the death of Queen Elizabeth II will impact brand activity in certain countries or sectors, the single-minded pursuit of their own unique destiny is what sets apart the great brands from the rest. That trend will never change.

Sophie Owers, senior creative, Jellyfish

When you’re frantically trying to fill a content calendar or impress with topicality, it can be tempting to fall back on events with the hope that their supposed relevance will equal reach, but it’s important to filter them through the same lens as any other post you create. Ask yourself: which of our brand’s social strategy goals does this support? Is this occasion relevant to our target audience? Do we have something to add to this conversation (even just humor)?

Look at Netflix: it won’t comment on your National Sausage Sandwich Day* just because it’s there, but it will bring you recommendations for spooky watches in October because that’s a known audience behavior, and subscribers need help sifting through its catalog.

*This may or may not be a real day.

Steve Baker, head of PR, Propellernet

Before using a major or topical event, every brand should ask themselves: ‘Is it relevant to what we do or stand for?’ It should be a genuine, rather than tenuous, connection, and there should be far more events that you don’t try and tie in with than those that you do.

Only brands known for (or trying to be known for) being humorous or risky can use a wide range of broad topical events to their advantage. For others, it will be transparent that you’re merely jumping on the bandwagon.

A brand that does this particularly well is Paddy Power. It knows its audience inside out, has developed a wry sense of humor, and uses this to weave together relevant cultural references and sporting events to build a following and maximize engagement.

Polly Astill, senior marketing manager, Impression

I would advise brands against jumping at every opportunity. In doing so, your audience may begin to question your authenticity and whether you have a hidden agenda, despite good intentions.

To determine which events your business should respond to, know what you stand for. Consider whether reacting to a trend/event aligns with your mission, vision and values, and whether it ties into your marketing strategy. Does your input align with your positioning, or could your audience perceive you to be merely following in others’ footsteps?

When responding to sensitive matters, like the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II, consider and balance the risk of not saying something v saying the wrong thing. Sense-check your ideas with your wider team.

When you do react to a major event, have a clear reason why. Strategic decision-making consists not only of choosing what to do, but also what not to do.

Adam Smith, managing director, Rawnet

When we’ve been guilty of jumping on trends in the past, it was to do with having nothing else to say and a lazy approach to marketing. Pointless KPIs such as updates per week led to brands always looking to pivot their messaging into something topical. I now have a strong view on piggyback marketing: I don’t like it. At best you’ll find a pun; at worst it’s a forced tenuous link. Before thinking of something to say, think about what the best-case scenario is.

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Brands do it because it gives a sense of fast and responsive turnarounds, but do you want to be known as a company that can throw out a poorly executed piece of messaging within the hour, or for nailing your marketing through intelligent and thoughtful content?

The potential for damage far outweighs any benefit. You’ve only got to look at the backlash around how some brands handled Elizabeth II’s death, such as Playmobil’s tweet a few hours after the news.

If someone truly has nothing to say or is at a total loss about any marketing plan, they’re likely to create a content calendar around generic events and crowbar themselves into the spotlight. To what end? A strong brand with an opinion doesn’t need to rely on news or an event calendar to be relevant. And don’t even get me started on a brand’s unwavering willingness to virtual signal at every possible moment. It doesn’t fool anyone into thinking that they care.

Marketing Agency Culture Brand Purpose

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Hallam

We’re a multi-award winning full-service digital agency based in the UK, and a trusted partner to some of the world’s biggest national and international brands.

Putting digital at the heart of our clients’ future success, we create innovative strategies that deliver significant growth and exceptional results through our integrated web design and development, SEO, PPC, CRO, Social Media and PR services.

We strive to innovate and share expertise and for the second year have organised the Midlands’ biggest digital conference - Nottingham Digital Summit. This event brings together industry experts from the likes of Google, Virgin Media, Jaguar Land Rover and Experian to inspire over 700 local business people with the latest digital trends to grow their companies. What’s more, all proceeds go to support The Nottingham Samaritans.

Our services

As a full-service agency we’re able to use our combined expertise in a range of digital marketing specialisms to create multi-layered campaigns and strategies:

- Our high-impact technical SEO campaigns deliver results that improve client visibility in search engine results pages;

- We create award-winning websites – technically sound, visually stunning, with seamless user experiences;

- Taking paid advertising to the next level, our data-driven insights and highly crafted, bespoke in-house tools deliver business-changing results;

- Tailored PR campaigns have raised clients’ brand awareness and secured top coverage across the digital landscape;

- We have a proven strategy using testing tools and monitoring clients’ online visitors, establishing the greatest impact on CRO and delivering permanent performance improvements;

- Harnessing the true power of social media we build creative, innovative campaigns that truly create a digital buzz.

Bringing together industry-leading expertise, we employ 65 people across core delivery teams from our Nottingham base.

Our clients

We partner with international organisations such as Speedo, The United Nations, Esso, Saint Gobain and Suzuki as well trusted UK brands such as Raleigh, Travis Perkins, The BBC, Jägermeister, TTS Group and Castle Rock Brewery. We consistently deliver transformational results; on average our clients see a 69% rise in organic traffic, 54% increase in ecommerce revenue, and a 65% increase in lead generation.

- Raleigh Bikes’ new website delivered improved conversion rates with a 675% increase in ecommerce revenue year on year, and a 370% increase in their Black Friday sales attributed to our Digital PR campaign;

- We helped Speedo deliver brand consistency across national and international digital channels, streamlining their online user experience;

- Our social media strategy for the United Nations helped them reach more than 15 million users worldwide;

- A bespoke website for Virtual Runner increased their average spend per transaction by 80% with a 57% increase in subscriptions since it’s launch.

“Hallam have delivered above and beyond what we expected, and are an absolute joy to work with.” ~Rikke Hennum, Campaign Coordinator, United Nations Free & Equal Campaign

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Developing our staff, both personally and professionally, is one of our business objectives. We invest heavily in staff training and development, with wellbeing initiatives that include weekly yoga sessions, unlimited home working and mental health training.

We invest a combined 900 hours per month (2 days per employee) on a protected learning time initiative with everyone receiving an annual training budget of £2,000 to use on courses of their choice.

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We’re incredibly proud of our track record. Our work has been recognised across numerous industry-renowned awards with five trophies at The Drum Recommended Agency Awards, including the Grand Prix - award for overall best digital agency.

Our awards and nominations span all areas of our expertise. It’s just one of the things that pushes us to stay ahead of the curve for our clients and it’s a great feeling when that work gets noticed. Check out a selection of them:

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Jellyfish

Jellyfish is a marketing performance company for the platform world, where success demands a creative, multi-platform mindset. We help brands thrive, by navigating, connecting, and harnessing the platforms that drive growth.

We’re more than the same logo over every door. Our unique global structure combines platform understanding with tech, media, creativity, and data expertise. We make amazing things happen at the pace the platforms demand.

We’re proud to help shape the future of some of the world’s best brands - from ecommerce and CPG, to entertainment and gaming. Working with Uber, Netflix, Ebay, Amazon, Spotify, L’Oreal, Nestlé, Apple, ASOS, PlayStation and many more.

Our unique, decade-long, multi-region Google partnership delivers across GMP, Cloud, and Training. We’re a Salesforce Consulting Partner, and one of the industry’s most extensively certified teams across both Facebook and Amazon.

We know how important it is to find, develop, and deploy the best digital talent. So we’re equally passionate about giving our talent a platform to perform, which everyone can shape and make their own as they progress. From nurturing diverse new talent within our Jellyfish Academy, to investing in proprietary technology that can cast and connect the best teams, globally and seamlessly. If you want to find out more about our latest career opportunities - wherever you are in the world - do get in touch.

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Propellernet

Propellernet is a digital marketing agency that creates amazing commercial success for its clients. B-Corp certified, we put people and planet first in everything we do. We’re taking like-minded clients with us and pioneering a new path for our industry.

We are the digital marketing agency for brands with big ambitions.

We’re here to deliver the work of our lives. We’re an independent agency with a talented bunch of people determined to help our clients succeed through consultancy and hands-on marketing. If you want to work with a team that motivates you, challenges you and helps you smash your targets, then you’re in the right place.

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Impression

We are Digital Growth Specialists helping ambitious brands push boundaries and drive impact. We define and deliver integrated digital strategies that transform our clients from market players to market leaders, and keep them there.

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Rawnet

Rawnet is a digital agency that defines, designs, delivers and drives strategic products and services that create a long-term positive impact.

By combining customer engagement with business efficiencies, creating a justified return on investment for its clients. The agency’s fast-paced yet detailed immersion into its client’s business allows the team to understand key objectives.

Equipped with this knowledge, they can provide quality, scalable digital solutions to develop a customer-centric experience, whilst diving into internal systems to innovate and future proof client’s digital products.

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