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Software Developers Technology

How to solve the challenge of targeting a group that doesn’t want to be targeted

By Jody Friedericks, SVP, brand creative



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June 30, 2022 | 4 min read

Known’s senior vice-president of brand creative Jody Friedericks examines the puzzling paradox of how the most unlikely audience can inspire the wildest, most creative work.

Known on how unlikely audiences can accelerate creativity. Photo credit: Perry Merritty II/Unsplash

Known on how unlikely audiences can accelerate creativity / Perry Merritty II via Unsplash

We had our challenge set out for us: create a campaign to encourage software developers to join global B2B fintech company Rapyd’s developer network. See the announcement video here. The main hurdle was as vast as space, the final frontier – this was a group that truly has no interest in being targeted by advertising. And by ‘no interest,’ we’re not talking about those who find ads annoying in a ‘not another pre-roll’ way. It’s more ‘keep my demographic out of your media plan because your product might experience a backlash by even trying to reach me.’

Ideating on creative to appeal to an incredibly targeted audience required us to embrace one of Known’s core principles: art and science are the best of friends. The result is a textbook case of why integrated campaigns need to have right and left brains working together to make something out of this world.

It went sort of like this: “We need a big name to speak to the fantasy of going to space. Someone like a William Shatner.”

“How about William Shatner?”

The challenge of introducing an audience to a new product or service can provide your team with infinite creative possibilities. After all, you’re working with brands that don’t have the ‘baggage’ of cultural ubiquity, so you have more freedom to ideate. On the other hand, that much free rein can lead to paralysis. This is where our right-brained friends in strategy and data science can help spark our creativity.

You’ve probably heard the cliché that strategists provide the sandbox for creatives to play in. Sometimes, that sandbox ends up being a galaxy. Working hand in hand with our in-house insights team, we learned that developers globally had a few shared common interests... solving puzzles, space and good old hard cash. So what if we threw all those things together in an untraditional way?

Developers are innately problem-solvers. They’re wickedly smart, and therefore inherently competitive. Knowing they were the main focus of this campaign, it made sense for us to build a contest in which participants earn entries, as opposed to just your typical drawing for giving away a ticket to the edge of space.

We teamed with some of today’s greatest puzzle makers, David Kwong and Dave Shukan, to develop a three-month series of challenges. Kwang and Shukan have previously worked together on puzzles for The Enigmatist, an immersive experience of puzzles and cryptology. They have also created puzzles for film and TV, including the series After Party, and Kwong has written crosswords for The New York Times. One of the duo’s mandates was to guarantee every puzzle in the competition was something no one had ever seen before.

Putting together the campaign demonstrated the important interplay between art and science. We needed challenging, never-before-seen activities for the audience to tackle, which required creativity as well as scientific and mathematical prowess. We were able to harness the infinite possibilities of space to engage a niche community.

In the end, to solve a huge puzzle for our client, we created 36 smaller ones!

Software Developers Technology

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Known is a modern marketing company that pairs Ph.D. data scientists with award-winning creatives, expert research teams and strategists who leverage machine learning,...

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