Emily Tan
Nov 8, 2012

Digital Asia Festival 2012: New ways to think

BEIJING – A running theme throughout the first day of the Digital Asia Festival was the need to break with the past, give up the concept of Mad Men-style glory days and get busy creating a world where marketing and technology are fused, ubiquitous and always on.

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The internet of things, a consumer that's more in control than ever and a need for a constant flow of swifter ideas is driving “Convergence 4.0” argued Jean Lin, Isobar Asia-Pacific's CEO and chief strategy officer.

“Technology alone doesn't drive marketing communications, it's about the consumer and how the consumer wants to interact with the brand,” she said.

As a result, marketers need to rethink the meaning of content. Content is no longer confined to copy on a print ad or a TVC. It can be an event, an app, or even a fridge magnet, she said, as in the case of a small pizzeria in Dubai that made global headlines.

The Red Tomato Pizza delivery shop in Dubai solved its communication difficulties with Dubai's varied occupants by issuing bluetooth, RFID and GPS-enabled fridge magnets to their top clients, pre-loaded with the customer's favourite pizza settings. By just pressing a button on the magnet, clients were able to instantly order a pizza—without having to pick up the phone or say a word.

The initiative gained the little pizza shop worldwide coverage and drove sales up by 500 per cent.

“If you're an agency and you go to a client saying you'd like to produce a fridge magnet, your client could well think you're insane—but it could be brilliant,” said Lin. “We need to think about things very differently.”

Volkswagen rethought its marketing strategy in both India and China to relate to two very different audiences. Even though mobile penetration in India isn't one of Asia-Pacific's highest, and the infrastructure isn't perfect, the brand understood that its Indian audience loved cricket, and loved to be in the know about the nation's favourite game, explained Sudhir Nair, Grey Digital India's senior vice-president and head of digital.

Volkswagen created Tweementary, which sourced the best tweets around the IPL 2011. It also created a portal that provided up to date stats and information that surpassed those available via TV broadcasts. It further engaged Indian audiences with a digital one-armed bandit game offering a chance for IPL tickets.

“The initiative has become an annual property and helped associate the brand with India's most popular sport, plus building the brand's reputation as edgy and sophisticated,” Nair said.

In China, Volkwagen has been running 'The People's Car Project' since 2010. This crowdsourcing initiative swept last year's Digital Media Awards and also won awards at Spikes Asia and the AMEs.

“Consumers get a lot out of collaborating on product design and the brand may get a better product and definitely better engagement,” said Alex Csergo, managing director for Proximity Beijing.

The integrated campaign inspired Chinese consumers to dream of creating a better car, drawing interactions with 50 million people who eventually submitted more than 160,000 ideas which Volkswagen has used as part of market research.  

“It was important to let participants know that we treated their ideas very seriously,” said Csergo.

One of the ways the team at Volkswagen and Proximity did that was to make films featuring talented contributors and using those films as part of the brand's marketing campaign.

It's rewards like this, recognising advocates and fans of the brand that inspire engagement without stooping to deception and paying off bloggers to recommend the brand, said Paul John Pena, chief digital officer of Leo Burnett Manila. “Properly executed earned campaigns are never about disclosure. These advocates are not paid—they just really love the brand,” argued Pena, who rather oddly backed up his arguments by communing on stage with long-deceased agency founder Leo Burnett. 

In the case of McDonald's, sometimes the brand is loved, but no one's talking about it. “We found that people are ashamed to admit to liking McDonald's, but they're happy to eat our food,” commented Andrew Knott, vice-president of digital for McDonald's APMEA. “We found that our brand value was slipping while our sales were healthy.”

McDonald's adopted a two-pronged approach that appealed to both the rational and emotional sides of the business, Knott explained. Initiatives such as mobile ordering and loyalty programmes made it easy for consumers to eat at McDonald's while emotionally charged campaigns rewarded them for doing so and for sharing their love of the brand with the world.

In France, McDonald's teamed up with Tribal DDB to build the nation's most loved and engaged Facebook brand and in Korea, it revived the 'Big Mac song' from the 1970s. “We encouraged consumers to film their own versions of the song, and within a month's time it surpassed any video promotion in Korea, with 30,000 uploads and 5 million views,” said Patrick Rona, Tribal DDB's president.

Successful campaigns like this often stem from looking beyond the technology and focusing on that technology's purpose, said Patrick Leclerq, chief strategist of Bates Singapore during the day's closing talk. Going back to the age-old marketing analogy of the hammer, Leclerq pointed out that the real aim of marketing is to focus on the hammer's use, which is to bang nails into walls.

“It's the difference between what a thing is and what a thing does,” he said contrasting two uses for Twitter. The first, BakerTweet, launched three years ago, is a piece of hardware that bakers can install and use right in their kitchens. “It communicated and told customers what baked goods were fresh out of the oven, and they'd come and buy it,” Leclerq said.

The other was a dress which streamed Twitter posts across a certain unmentionable area of the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. “It's just frightening nonsense," Leclerq said. "What's the point? Can you even read the Tweets while she's performing in the dress?”

A good approach is to go back to simplicity, he said, like a song by McDonald's or a blue blob consumers can shape into a perfect car—a fresh approach that gives users a platform on which to play and dream.

“We talk a lot about technology but we have to remember that the business we're in is driven largely by emotive persuasion,” concluded Isobar's Lin in her earlier session. “I think the future of the creative department will have only two major functions, that of the storyteller and the technologist.”

Source:
Campaign Asia

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