Be more interesting

At a recent strategy event, Leo Burnett's Jason Oke described a different kind of energy crisis. Presenting results of the agency's engagement research at the curiously dubbed Hungry Dogs and Chocolate Wrappers, Oke says that testing ads in a real environment (within new primetime series), revealed folks were more annoyed at the commercial interruptions than feedback from within the rarified confines of a focus group typically indicates. Digging a little deeper, they determined that 'most brand communications do not leave people with a good feeling.' On the flip side, ads that did pass engagement muster uniformly left people with positive energy. Thus, the energy crisis warning for ads. Generally, Oke advises marketers to 'Be More Interesting' in their messaging. He also asked the assembled: 'Are you leaving enough out?', encouraging marketers to make sure their brand leaves room for consumers to insert themselves into the picture - providing space to somehow relate or co-create.

At a recent strategy event, Leo Burnett’s Jason Oke described a different kind of energy crisis. Presenting results of the agency’s engagement research at the curiously dubbed Hungry Dogs and Chocolate Wrappers, Oke says that testing ads in a real environment (within new primetime series), revealed folks were more annoyed at the commercial interruptions than feedback from within the rarified confines of a focus group typically indicates. Digging a little deeper, they determined that ‘most brand communications do not leave people with a good feeling.’ On the flip side, ads that did pass engagement muster uniformly left people with positive energy. Thus, the energy crisis warning for ads. Generally, Oke advises marketers to ‘Be More Interesting’ in their messaging. He also asked the assembled: ‘Are you leaving enough out?’, encouraging marketers to make sure their brand leaves room for consumers to insert themselves into the picture – providing space to somehow relate or co-create.

For anyone who wants to craft a more effective engagement strategy, Oke says first consider what could genuinely interest your consumer. Start with: ‘what’s in it for them,’ then work your brand goals into that scenario. As per mom, guests first. It sounds like common sense, but it’s not all that commonly deployed. First of all, being original and stepping away from a concentrated brand sell is risky. Dove’s Real Beauty wasn’t a sure thing. But now it seems everyone in the category wants a piece of that mindspace. The risk paid off, as brand authenticity on the subject of beauty image crusader goes to Dove. Plus, finding a useful and universally ‘interesting’ angle is hard. (This is why there’s so much humour in advertising.)

Sitting here writing this on Earth Day, after poring over endless green mag issues and TV coverage on planet saving, I will bravely go out on a rotting limb and say sustainable development and related corporate social responsibility interest everyone now. And recent studies have consistently found that people are increasingly looking to business to step up and play a role in problem solving, citing it as a key factor in brand loyalty.

Therefore, strategy has been devoting more attention to companies’ social strategies, ranging from sustainable development to cause marketing efforts. This focus is now culminating in our green issue (replete with FSC stock), featuring the people and programs making sustainable strides, plus the winners of:

strategy magazine’s cause + action awards.

honouring CSR brand plans that are changing minds. and matter.

Whether our cause + action heroes took on a global battle against YouthAIDS, helped local kids or took wholescale steps to reduce, reuse and save energy, there’s a correlated impact on that other energy crisis. These brands are Being More Interesting, and definitely leaving room for the consumer to be part of the picture and pitch in. And that’s why we like Home Depot so much as our first overall cause + action winner. Its DIY approach to providing Eco Options for consumers is the ultimate manifestation of ‘You can do it, we can help.’ All of the winning brands took a partnership approach with their consumers, their employees, suppliers and even other brands in some cases, and they made a big impact.

This issue, as we recognize brands that have gone out on a limb and successfully grown CSR programs that are changing their industries (and the planet), strategy congratulates everyone who entered the c+a awards. It’s really inspiring to see the breadth and scale of the work being done. And for their time and their grey cell power, we thank our judges, and all the CSR experts who participated in our roundtable this issue, and/or acted as advisors for content development. To everyone else, read on, and hopefully next year your case study will make the cut!

Cheers, mm Mary Maddever, exec editor, strategy/MIC