By Tom Shepansky
The best creative ideas are grounded in truths about consumers, brands and categories. These “truths” (a better word than insights) become the foundation for stories that we can tell about our clients’ brands. This has and will continue to be a basic formula for crafting communication that is relevant, engaging and meaningful for the intended audience.
We believe it’s valuable to tap into truths that can make a deep connection with the target audience, while still being relevant or meaningful to other audiences who may be potential or future customers.
A great example is our work for A&W, which, over the past ten years, has been directly targeted at baby boomers. This audience grew up with the brand and have pretty much been ignored by the balance of the quick-service burger category. In our work, we’ve created truths and storylines for our communication that, at the core, make a deep connection with boomers. We also understand the importance of ensuring that these messages connect with other, younger audiences so they don’t reject the brand. One of our original brand spots— “Drive”— is a good example of creating that deep connection, while our more recent advertising has introduced Ryan the trainee (shown below, right)— another character with appeal beyond our boomer audience.
So how do you uncover truths? We believe the most important thing is to be an excellent listener. We often conduct qualitative research to really listen to what consumers are saying. But we’re also big believers in using common sense, combined with a dose of curiosity, to land on something that’s truthful.
Our communication and positioning work for Coast Capital Savings may seem pretty obvious, as it’s all about owning “help.”
But we did extensive research to understand our customers’ relationship with the category before landing where we did. And everything we do is measured by how it delivers on this positioning. Like our "No Stress" spot, pictured below.
Coast Capital Savings "No Stress," 2008. To see the spot, click here.
The moment of truth for all of our clients is when a customer engages with the brand and can compare our promise with the delivery. If we don’t get it right, we’ll definitely hear about it. And with the social media tools available today, chances are that experience will be broadcast to the world. More and more, consumers are relying on these online tools for both referrals and feedback on companies and brands. So it’s one thing for us to think something is true, but in the end the strength of our communication depends on whether or not it resonates with the end user. We need to craft messages that customers can buy into and truly believe.
Of course, that’s in our experience. What do you think? Is advertising about truthiness? Or simply about creating appeal? How do you ground your work? Leave us a note— we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Posted on September 8, 2010 by Tom Shepansky, partner and national managing director of Rethink in Toronto and Vancouver.