Recently, a group of us from Mohawk went to the IPA for the launch of Advertising Works 22.
The evening introduced us to the Ad Works book – a showcase of nine gold-winning 2014 IPA Effectiveness Awards papers and accompanying essays from the Awards judges.
We also met Toby Harrison, planning partner at adam&eveDDB (and really lovely chap), who delivered an inspiring presentation around the revival of the Foster's brand, which won the 2014 IPA Effectiveness Grand Prix.
One of the many aspects of the talk that stood out was how the agency gained grassroots insights into its target consumer - namely, twenty-something blokes enjoying a pint of Foster’s down the local.
In various UK locations, bar staff were paid to listen in on the conversations of male punters and report back to the agency with the most stand out, poignant exchanges they overheard.
From the results the agency was able to gain an understanding of the types of issues its consumers were going through in their personal lives - “Should I move in with my girlfriend?”, “Should I move out of my parent’s house?” – and perceive that it was lager that provided men with the confidence to discuss these issues with their closest, most trusted mates.
Armed with a catalogue of raw and somewhat emotional insights, adam&eveDDB was able to create a campaign that not only truly understood Foster’s consumers, but also spoke to them on a very personal level.
Following Toby’s talk, we were able to relate to a number of the points discussed, particularly when it came to the value of utilising qualitative research techniques.
At Mohawk we have developed our own set of digital customer engagement tools to help brands really know their audience, thus driving insights that creatively manifest themselves in unexpected ways. These include plastering images of a naked man across London for a sports nutrition brand, Bulk Powders or opening a coffee shop for the Guardian. Let me explain how we arrived at these creative solutions.
In a similar way to the Foster’s strategy, for Bulk Powders we hit our playground, the gym. We spoke to many gym-goers who professed to stealing admiring glances toward those who sported the ‘lean & fit’ cover model look championed by magazines such as Men's Health. Ultimately, this look provided body inspiration for our target gym users.
This partly led to our creative platform, ‘The Bulk State of Mind’. Our creative team could work with the notion that to achieve the 'fitness model look' the product was only part of the 'mix' - the most important ingredient being the mindset of the beholder. The client internalises this now as the 'Kung Fu Panda' moment, a reference to that film’s notion that self belief makes things possible.
The challenger nature of the Bulk Powders brand freed up our thinking and we got to a place where being naked was the hyper-real manifestation of having total body confidence.
In the end, our campaign’s #RevealYourself hashtag/call to action alluded to the fact that to get your goal ‘look’ will take effort and you could be open about your journey but feel supported by the community along the way.
A blend of insights and timing amplified the campaign at a time of year (post- Christmas) when the generic cultural mindset was more responsive to changes in habits, particularly around fitness and wellbeing. In addition, the writer Mark Simpson had described the rise of the spornosexual, an evolution of the metrosexual archetype with hybrid athlete/porn star qualities - the new male glamour model, one might say.
This evidence that we had captured the zeitgeist persuaded us that our core insight rung true. Banking on the idea that our target audience would respond to male imagery became an ever more valid decision. Our creative approach was well received by audiences with different gender and sexual preference characteristics.
In a related vein, we are also often asked about the insights which percolated into the creative and strategic solution of opening a branded coffee shop for the Guardian in Shoreditch, east London.
Like Bulk Powders, this was an example of an exciting experiment with driving insights at its heart.
#GuardianCoffee was born out of a conceptual idea for a pitch to drive customer growth of the Guardian’s digital products. We strove to create an environment for the Guardian’s audience, so we made a thematic 'coffee shop' – a nod to the origins of newspapers and their distribution in coffee houses – part of our strategy.
If we wanted to learn about Guardian users, then the experience needed to feel like a place to gather, share and discuss ideas, ultimately driving customer engagement and knowledge.
By creating a physical manifestation of a newsbrand, we would provide Guardian readers and writers alike with a platform to learn about different audiences, developing bespoke tools to aid the process.
The shop was named #guardiancoffee as an invitation for it to be validated within the public, open realm of social media.
Within the shop, our interactive screens and features had 'Playful Engagement' at their heart. We enabled surveys and polls that were tactile and fun - the polar opposite of the default Survey Monkey type experience.
We knew that if we wanted to reap genuinely new insights, a visit to the café had to match the user experience that the Guardian is lauded for, especially in a part of London where socially active millennial tech-bods congregate.
The insights we drove also had to be valuable to the audience, namely, the digital natives who were keen to chime in with attitudes toward trends in media and news consumption. All live data collected was therefore openly replayed back to the audience via media surfaces in the café and through more conventional channels such as email.
Mohawk’s point of view is that if you want to drive such nuggets, especially in real-world scenarios - environment and customer experience are key.
Much effort went into the customer experience design and this early foray into a physical manifestation of the Guardian brand soon spawned a sister store deployed by Mohawk stateside, to garner insights from cultural tastemakers in New York. This time, we placed the brand within another brand, the influential Rough Trade record store.
Next year, the Guardian will launch a new space in King’s Cross, a massive public area for events, community gatherings and free speech for its readers –with great coffee, of course! This real world brand space will further strengthen the Guardian’s open principles and two-way dialogue with a beloved audience who, via a membership scheme, can effectively now ‘join’ the Guardian.
At Mohawk, we aim to generate effective creative strategies for our clients around the core principle of ‘I’m Possible’ - a belief that with insight, creative vision and collaboration the remarkable can be achieved.
This philosophy is always strengthened by hearing inspiring stories from others.
Learning about Ad Works 22, for instance, and the tremendous inventory of case studies contained within the book was energizing to those of us who attended the launch event as young industry professionals, eager to create work that both stands out and is effective.
Rosie Denton is an Account Executive at Mohawk. Strategy Partner Mark Doyle also contributed.
Check out Tony Regan's Ad Works 22 blog "The box set binge approach to effectiveness"
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Last updated 22/04/2015