Andy Greenaway
Sep 12, 2014

Spikes Asia 2014: Break free of uniformity

Integration must mean more than simply putting matching pieces together.

Andy Greenway
Andy Greenway

Integrated used to be about “matching luggage”. But the world has changed. It’s not about taking a “key visual” and placing it everywhere. Those days are gone (although I know a fair few clients that still live by this outmoded approach). 

If part of your integrated campaign is social, for example, you should be taking the sentiment of your idea and creating connection, involvement and participation. 

That means your idea will mutate based on how you’re asking people to interact with it. Sure, there may be consistent elements within the campaign: typography, tone of voice and graphic elements. But if you’re taking a print ad and simply placing it on your social pages, then you’re missing the point of that medium.

So if integration is not simply matching luggage, what is it?

The big idea is still key. But today it needs to be a big idea that is media agnostic. Some agencies, such as my own, use a thing called the “organising idea”.

This is something that lives at the heart of a campaign. It becomes the guiding North Star for brands as they navigate through a complex communications ecosystem.

I remember when Nike launched the ‘Just do it’ campaign (I’m showing my age now). They featured famous athletes with a ‘Never give up’ attitude.

Fast forward 30 years on and you have Nike + and Nike Fuel Band. They’re still about ‘Just do it’. But they’re about you doing it, not Michael Jordan. It’s the same campaign. But it’s definitely not matching luggage.

‘The beauty inside’ from Intel is another example of a campaign that leverages off their brand platform without laboriously following an advertising format. Instead of interrupting the content with annoying pre-rolls, the brand became the content. It was a multi-episode film where the main character woke up as a different person every morning. The whole idea was that he’s the same on the inside (a metaphor for Intel chips), but on the outside he’s different (a metaphor for the multitude of PCs that Intel inhabits). It is absolutely true to the ‘Intel inside’ idea, but absolutely not matching luggage.

One Asian campaign that impressed me at Cannes this year was ‘Return of the ashes’ from Thailand, a campaign developed by the Thai Forestry department in partnership with Caran D’Ache. The campaign took trees burnt by forest fires to create a multi-channel fundraising campaign. The logotype for the project was beautifully crafted, reminding me of the good old days of Len Cheeseman. Various elements were stunning. I particularly loved an installation made up of charred pieces of wood from a tree and hung from the ceiling.

As a judge, I’m looking for campaigns that work across multiple channels, but stay true to a central thought. I’m looking for big ideas that are moulded, mutated and customised for those channels. I’m looking for big ideas that break the shackles of senseless uniformity.

Some agencies get it. But most agencies in Asia still fall into the trap of orchestrating Above the Line Advertising and ramming it into digital and social channels. That’s the challenge with Asia — both local and multinational clients. We quite often follow instead of lead the way. Clients are quite conservative and an awful lot of them have been slow to embrace the digital world.

If work entered into the integrated category is heavily biased towards one particular medium, we’ll be recommending it be moved to the appropriate category. We’ll also be looking out for truly integrated campaigns that skillfully weave an organising idea through a myriad of channels. One thing we’ll be reminding everybody of is this: leave your matching luggage at the door.

Andy Greenway is ECD for Asia-Pacific at SapientNitro and president of the Integrated jury at Spikes Asia 2014.

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