Can marketers successfully create targeted campaigns with real social impact while driving business results? That’s the question Country posed to a group of leading UK marketers during a lunchtime session at the recent Media360 conference.
Charlotte Crook, managing partner, strategy and planning at Merkle, the agency specializing in customer experience management, started with the environment: the climate crisis is both a significant issue to which the advertising industry contributes and a opportunity for industry to take meaningful action, while balancing consumer needs in times of cost of living crisis:
“[Our recent research suggests that] 86% of consumers want to see a change in environment and purpose, compared to just 76% concerned about the cost of living crisis. Consumers clearly need to see brands change their approach to environmental issues. It often feels like consumers choose price and product over purpose, but in reality it shouldn’t be a choice between one or the other. We need to encourage behavioral change around existing products and find relevant territory where a brand can drive meaningful change.
However, Crook stressed the importance of making it easier for consumers. Dentsu research found that only 39% of consumers will support the fight against climate change when it suits them, so it’s essential to tie your campaigns to something achievable and highlight the benefits of behavior change.
Rob Ellison is Head of Brand and Publicity at Smart Energy GB – a not-for-profit campaign that raises awareness of smart meters and the benefits of using smart meters for customers and the environment. He said: “Our campaign is at an interesting stage. More than half of homes are now equipped with smart meters. So we are now in a phase of targeting people who are less inclined to change.”
Convincing people to do something they are against is difficult. But linking economic issues and environmental benefits creates a powerful message. He added: “The cost of living crisis is showing up in consumer data. If you can tie a social good campaign to how people really feel, you can achieve your goals.
Rebecca Shears, CMO of credit app TotallyMoney, said looking at the big picture has an impact: “It’s about convincing people to focus on this long-term sustainability. In finance, people are desperate for help with the cost of living.”
But the short versus the long term is a common dilemma for marketers, not to mention a concern for consumers. Shears added: “I have the tension of wanting to get our brand message across when the sales team just wants to sell more credit cards. [There’s a] long-term brand strategy and there’s a tension between how much money I can spend on brand messaging and getting the sales message across. And this tension has an impact on purpose advertising.
Losing consumer trust
Crook asked guests how the industry can get ahead of consumers by tackling its carbon footprint before it threatens the sector’s relationship with the public.
“If you use the IPA Media Carbon Calculator you’ll find that a £10,000 campaign emits less carbon than a return flight to Chicago, which is crazy,” said Toby Benjamin, Managing Director of Merkle Media. “But sustainability issues at the pitch stage are often seen as token issues. The company that publishes the call for tenders does not question its agencies in the same way as for the other parts of the file.
“We need to raise the profile of environmental issues. And there are meaningful ways to drive change. There are some really interesting companies, like [third-sector online ad agency] Good-Loop, which prioritizes these issues while delivering results to customers. »
Finding Authentic Purpose
Pamela Brown, CMO at Vodafone Smart Tech, and Vicky Handley, Head of Retail Marketing Communications and Media at Lloyds Banking, both spoke about the importance of diversity and inclusion in marketing, speaking away from the environment.
“Many British families are black,” Handley said, “but too often production teams use putting a black family in their advertising as a tick-box exercise. Asians and South East Asians “, on the other hand, remain underrepresented. It shouldn’t be like that. We need consistent diversity at every touchpoint.”
“That’s such an important point,” Brown replied. “It’s not just about putting the right people in front of the camera. It’s also about having the right people behind it. We have been on a great mission. All the teams that work in my department and Vodafone more broadly need to be really diverse. »