Brian Fetherstonhaugh, chairman and CEO of OgilvyOne Worldwide, revealed to audience members at the iMedia Brand Summit in Coronado, Calif., that he recently came to a daunting conclusion: "Unless digital marketers do things differently, we're going to take this magnificent digital future somewhere we don't want to go, somewhere very hot and unpleasant." Finishing his sentence, Fetherstonhaugh cued up AC/DC's 1979 hit, "Highway to Hell" over the loudspeaker.
After making his dire proclamation, Fetherstonhaugh explained himself, citing the marketing confidence gap that shows that consumers, not marketers, are leading the digital revolution. While marketers are spending less than 15 percent of their time in digital media, consumers are spending well over 30 percent. The problem lies in what he calls "pervasive behavior that's in our control." The way marketers think about digital is flawed, racked with a "disease of immediate gratification" one-off mentality and a perpetual start-up mode. Or, in Fetherstonhaugh's words, "constantly chasing the next shiny object."
Using one of his company's award-winning campaigns to illustrate his point, Fetherstonhaugh walked the audience through the creation of the Coca-Cola-owned Fanta campaign that employed a super-high frequency -- that only people under age 25 can hear -- to create a stealth radio. Although the Fanta Stealth Soundsystem campaign won numerous awards and was seeded to more than 4 million teenagers across Europe, "Nothing really happened…the shiny object, the instant gratification, the shock of the new -- these ended up being quite damaging to the marketplace."
Fortunately, Fetherstonhaugh has found a better way, based on three necessities: mindset, pathway, and discipline. With an "experience" mindset (as opposed to a "product" mindset), marketers must create a pathway with a written-down strategy describing how they want digital marketing to add to their business. They must focus on the customer journey, which begins with the process the customer goes through before acquisition and ends with the next purchase. Platform choices also make a tremendous impact -- linking yourself to the wrong platform can prove disastrous for a campaign.
Campaigns like IBM's "Let's build a smarter planet" and Canadian company Shreddies' "New Diamond Shreddies" were then employed to demonstrate how digital should be used in the future.
"The only reason we do digital marketing is to propel the customers," Fetherstonhaugh explained, showing the audience how digital marketing integration in these two vastly different campaigns made them both long-lasting and effective. "Let's build a smarter planet" was born out of IBM's desire to move "beyond campaigns," while Shreddies simply couldn't afford to use traditional marketing channels.
Fetherstonhaugh also brought up campaigns from Nestle, Louis Vuitton, and Ameritrade to show how engaging and understanding consumers can be the key to digital marketing success. Concluding his speech by asking where marketers were going to put their energies -- into a stairway to heaven instead of a highway to hell -- Fetherstonhaugh intoned that the future did not necessarily have to be grim: If marketers can steer away from the allure of shiny objects and instant gratification, and instead work on things like using behavioral information, product testing, optimization, and sustainable platform-building, there might just be light at the end of the tunnel.
Lucia Davis is associate editor for iMediaConnection.com.
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