Jacob Steinfield, Assistant Account Executive May 7, 2020 An acronym soup for breakfast: COVID, WCS, and KPIs It does not look like our distancing days are going to go anywhere soon, but even when mobility comes back – and we rise dramatically from the couch – consumer relationships with brands will have been transformed. There's some debate over habit-forming timelines. Conventionally, 21 days was the magic number needed for permanent changes to occur (based on research published in Maxwell Maltz's 1960 bestseller Psycho-Cybernetics), but more contemporary researchers have found the length closer to 66 days. Either way, our COVID journey will certainly surpass both, and we have undoubtedly developed new attitudes and conditions that will remain as the world slides back into normalcy. This is especially true in consumer expectations for brands as embedded community leaders, given the instantaneous pivot to solemn commitments to employees & customers in response to this emergency. There is a new standard for purpose from these entities: The uncountable statements of “togetherness” and ventures for collective healing will not be allowed to merely dissipate in the post-COVID era (which will not be such a binary distinction either). Learning from those who have delivered effectively and creatively in these conditions (see Light, Coors) will be imperative as consumers are more inclined than ever to use their buying power on companies whose actions and values align with their own – and uncommitted to companies who merely shouted for everyone to remember they existed. As Adweek reports from social psychologist Hillary Haley, “[People] don’t just want to be helped, they want to provide help themselves, and they’ll reward brands that act as facilitators.” Take Spotify for example. This week, they launched their Music Relief project, with a new Artist Fundraising feature that gives listeners the option to donate to their favorite artist directly or a relief initiative of their choice. Donations will be matched by Spotify up to $10M, and users are given immense freedom to provide much-needed support. During this time, our client Eastern Bank has also successfully delivered on the values of their long-standing Join Us For Good brand campaign. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, they have pledged $10 million in aid to those most affected, became founding donors and administrators for the $25 million Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, and provided pathways for people to join them in giving efforts along the way. The brand has deep roots in local volunteering and service, with this additional leadership making it clear that commitment to their communities is not new or temporary, but endemic to their brand’s DNA. Brands & marketers must consequently re-calibrate the levers they use to turn communication and brand identity into desired outcomes. This brings us to an important consonant jumble: WCS – What Constitutes Success? Achieving a quantifiable level of success is not a new challenge in the advertising space. The rise of digital marketing made the wide world of impact measurement a much more complicated game. Near infinite opportunities for companies to connect with people, ever-consuming throughout their day, creates a dizzying array of data points to synthesize. No longer is a sales lift or focus group – both limited by bias – the only ways to measure effects. We can see the resonance in real-time with brand recall and changes in buyer habits, and instantly tinker, AB test, and iterate. This can, however, restrict the horizon of our improvement targets in the endless pursuit of immediate incremental benefit. It is important to take a step back from your anchored campaign norms to identify larger potential opportunities, especially as messaging expectations change. Customers are less motivated than ever by undiluted sales pitches or vague statements of pandemic camaraderie, growingly conditioned against them, and capable of tuning out through ad blockers and nearby alternative devices. Attention needs to be truly earned, and people react positively and strongly to premises that are relevant, important, and authentic to them – especially when those messages are tied to action beyond the advertising or purely-commercial realm. As The Atlantic’s Amanda Mull reports, “[Leadership] vacuums have often been filled by brands that see social issues as an opportunity to connect with customers — especially younger ones, who want to believe that there’s a right way to spend their money.” While it may be challenging in our current circumstances to rationalize, brands are on the right track trying to compel outcomes that benefit society. In fact, consumers have growingly defined brands themselves by their social practices and philanthropic priorities. Cooperation opportunities are key for marketers to validate brands as forces of communal good, but there is a huge opportunity and need for brands to give more direction in achieving such results. While hope and community belonging are fabulous intentions, the onslaught of purpose-based messaging inundating our timelines and networks with solemn background music often do not give specific, convincing instruction to achieve these goals. This is where marrying commonly-shared desired outcomes to internal metrics of improvement can create business objectives that are sincerely important to the customer – like the aforementioned Coors activation. Coors raised spirits with a unifying metric of donating 500,000 beers, while also focusing on definitive financial impressions by contributing all merchandise profits to COVID relief efforts. Cause-based marketing may pose difficult questions for ROI, but we can use our skills in translating data-driven insights to make cause-related messages as productive as our commerce-related ones. To do so, marketers must re-define their KPIs – Key Performance Indicators Good marketers understand that true ROI is based on the lifetime value of your relationship with the customer, and the positive externalities that being in their network entails. To achieve such fruitful relationships, marketing initiatives must find a compelling way to demonstrate not just shared values, but a common purpose, all while facilitating ways to connect the two. Consumers understand that advertising is aimed to drive action, and when that action is one they consider worthy, it creates an association of aligned incentives. Considering the enormous challenges in global health, environmental protection, and human rights, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t be compelled to think favorably of a campaign intentionally designed to improve these worthy outcomes. Converting favorable perception into action can be a difficult task, but brands can ignite such behavior by communicating KPIs that are meaningful to both the company and consumer. Conveying a measurable definition of success for your civic engagement program helps alleviate public concern about motives. Non-monetary KPIs can also be constructive, such as donated cans of non-perishables, volunteer hours, or shelters built. These not only create attainable goals, but valuable bonds for the company and consumers to work together toward. To build this new type of relationship with customers, brands often partner with philanthropic organizations that have endemic popular trust. It’s a form of assuaging concerns about the integrity of their efforts. However, with hundreds of brands flooding the market with cookie-cutter COVID-19 responses, such partnerships alone cannot galvanize when consumer individuality is not recognized. Advertising is often powerful because it speaks directly to a specific need, but when a sea-of-sameness permeates throughout, that influence dissipates. To break this mold, AMP helped its client GIANT Food Stores launch the national #MoreForAll campaign, aimed to mitigate panic shopping by spreading direct, actionable instructions and driving awareness through digital conversations. Across media platforms, and with influencer help, local individuals instructed followers on ways to extend the life of their produce and urged them to be considerate of their peers. AMP was able to measure overwhelmingly positive sentiment and engagement, the topic clearly resonating with followers, and GIANT was able to see definitive reductions in over-buying. Even when the COVID-19 era subsides, there is a heightened expectation and opportunity for companies to continue to support communities. Large organizations can use their scale and connections to create value beyond their immediate spheres of influence, and engrain themselves positively into the public consciousness. When normalcy returns, brands should look at the successes of these charitable causes moving forward, and see that ROI can be earned and sustained with marketing that optimizes its positive impact on consumers’ daily lives. Key Takeaways Brands are increasingly defined by their conduct as community leaders and responses to social needs Leading firms are developing stronger relationships with consumers by empowering buyers to make a philanthropic difference with their spending Cause-marketing is most effective when campaign KPIs are also pertinent to consumer ideals, and messaging clearly illustrates how specific actions by both parties can catalyze an outcome that is mutually rewarding.
The holiday season means something different to everybody. For some, it’s about snowball fights with friends and baking cookies with grandma. For others, it’s all about celebrating traditions and spending time with family. And for us at AMP, the holidays are when we as an agency get to show appreciation for our wonderful clients with a gift of our very own creation. It really has become quite the tradition – using our agency’s creative capabilities to craft something our clients can truly enjoy. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at what we made for our clients in 2018. We feel these custom-made gifts are a great way for us to connect with clients during the holidays in a way that reflects who we are at AMP. But with any good tradition, there comes a time when things need to be shaken up. That’s why instead of crafting a creatively thoughtful gift this year, we decided to do something different; something a smidge outside the box; something a bit, well, naughty. This past holiday, AMP rebranded coal as the hottest gift of the season and sent it to some of our clients on the East Coast. WHEN THINGS WENT “BAD” It all began in the heat of summer. It was mid-July, temperatures were high, and our Boston creative team thought “hey – let’s talk winter.” Because in an agency setting, timing is everything, especially when it comes to the creative process. As a team, we needed to give ourselves enough opportunity to ideate on something people would not only enjoy, but that would stick out to them amongst other gifts they’d receive. That’s why in order to get things right, the first of many brainstorming sessions started five months ahead of the holiday season. During that first brainstorming session, COAL was one of the very first concepts we came up with – although we didn’t envision the luxury branding, bold copy and seamless UX design that came out of this project right from the get-go. We simply liked the idea of elevating something from bad to badass, and we felt that a lump of coal could be a cool place to start. Since we didn’t just want to go with our first thought, so we continued to think up as many festive ideas as we could for our holiday gift. There was talk of Mrs. Claus taking over the season, mention of making a festive video game, and some serious consideration for custom-branded hot sauce. Yet after compiling our ideas into a list as long as Santa’s, COAL still remained at the very top. So we rolled with it. CHISELING AWAY With our concept in place, we knew we needed to capture the essence of COAL in a shareable format. So after lengthy discussions about what COAL truly means and days spent deciphering exactly how we wanted to bring this experience to life, we were ready to begin crafting a brand that would encourage people to “Embody Naughty” at every possible touchpoint. Building out the COAL brand began with pinning first, second and third drafts of logo exploration on a wall for full-scale critiques. From there, we sourced artists in France to craft our COAL resin cubes, tracked down decadent chocolates our clients could devour, built an eCommerce web experience from scratch, captured the look of COAL in black and white photography, and designed the perfect packaging to tie everything together. As everything came to life, we also shot an anthem video that could live on our eCommerce site and across social. Written, directed, filmed and produced entirely in-house, our COAL video took a total of four days to film, but those days were scattered throughout many late nights and lunch breaks. Once final video edits were made and the last caption for the @coal_by_amp Instagram was written, everything was ready to be sent to clients and shared with the world. THE OUTCOME By mid-December, our website was launched, our Instagram was live, and our clients were given the hottest gift of the holiday season as a token of our appreciation. Our full list of deliverables included an anthem video, an “eComm” microsite, a faux Instagram page, and a mailed COAL branded package containing a designed COAL card, a resin coal paperweight, high-end chocolates with an AMP-branded ribbon, and a nice bottle of wine with a black label. All in all, we’re quite proud of this project. Not only was COAL a unique way for us to express our appreciation for our clients, but it illustrates that when you work in a creative environment, sometimes, it’s good to be defiant. Want to score yourself a spot on the naughty list? Check out all COAL has to offer here.
Jen Herbert, Senior Strategist at AMP I haven’t been to Disney World since I was eight, but this year I was fortunate enough to go to South by Southwest (SXSW), which I have now dubbed “Disneyland for Adults.” When I wasn’t busy presenting with the rest of the fierce AMP team for our participation in YouTube’s SXSW Creative Agency Challenge, or being distracted by the puppies at the Amazon Prime activation and the endless CBD-related samples at the wellness expo, I promise I was putting on my Brand Strategist hat and attending a wealth of panels and keynotes with my colleague and SXSW partner-in-crime, Andie, AMP’s Director of Business Development. The best part was listening to speakers with such diversity in perspective, and realizing that all of these accomplished individuals offered a unique method for building and strengthening a brand tribe: through social impact, play, internal creativity, and centering the customer experience around a singular emotional benefit. While we’ve been hearing about “brand community” for some time, “brand tribe” is a relatively new term in Marketing, yet it’s important because it denotes a much deeper relationship between brand and customer. While a member of a brand community need only participate on occasion, perhaps via a purchase or a ‘like’ on Instagram, a member of a brand tribe wholly believes in that brand. Connection with that brand becomes an outward expression of one’s identity to the rest of the world. Brand tribe members wear merchandise, create user-generated Social content, join loyalty programs, go on auto-pay plans, and, perhaps most importantly, recruit others to join the tribe too. _________ Building A Brand Tribe Through Social Impact Study after study has proven that in 2019, consumers want to back brands that share their values and create a positive change in the world. That being said, brands can’t talk at customers about the good they’re doing; they need to work with their customers to spread good together. As panelists during How Brands Can Engage the Social Impact Generation outlined, social impact must be participatory. One panelist, Viveka Hulyalkar, Co-Founder and CEO of Beam, has developed a customer engagement platform that partners with a given company, say, a fast-casual salad stand. The salad company decides how much they’re willing to donate per purchase and a cause they would like to support, such as third world female education. Customers can then log into the app to track how each salad purchased gets them closer to buying a textbook for a young girl. Another panelist, Helena Hounsel, Social Media Manager at Brandless, offered an example of how a brand tribe of activists can be built on Social: “Rather than spending International Women’s Day showing how your company volunteered at a women’s nonprofit, why don’t you instead ask your audience which women are inspiring them this holiday?” By rallying around causes that your brand and your customers share a passion for, and then providing a platform for your customers to become ambassadors for the cause, your social impact becomes experiential and your brand tribe becomes united around a higher purpose. _________ Building A Brand Tribe Through Play All work and no play makes a brand’s tribe very dull. IBM’s Dr. John Cohn reminded us of that in his session, Prioritizing Play in an Automated Age, where he outlined how making room to play can smooth the bumps during life’s tough disruptions. During the talk, Dr. Cohn told us about play projects of his, like an 18-foot tall animatronic pumpkin man as well as an art car built for Burning Man. He recounted how droves of people, some of whom then became his fellow creators, were drawn to his projects while they were being built and shown off to the world. In other words, play can help you find your brand tribe, in a very “if you build it, they will come” kind of way. Through your bravery to look silly and/or fail, and your willingness to surrender to wonder for no reason other through indulging curiosity, your brand will show its authenticity and customers who identity a similar raison d’être in themselves will be drawn to you naturally. Sure, you might be saying, A wacky scientist from IBM can have a little fun, but how can brands? Let’s not forget this Southwest flight attendant who transformed the safety demonstration into a burlesque performance, or KFC apologizing for running out of chicken with an on-the-nose newspaper ad featuring its carton respelt as FCK. _________ Building A Brand Tribe Through Internal Creativity It is often hard for brands to prioritize looking inward, to their own company culture and values, when there are always so many externally-focused tasks to complete. The beloved bakery Milk Bar, however, is proof that the spirit of brands that cultivate internal creativity will always shine through and be felt externally by customers. During Innovation in Pursuit of the Unexpected, Christina Tosi, cookie-baker extraordinaire and company founder, along with her agency partner, Michael Greenblatt of REDSCOUT, reflected on how the Milk Bar brand toolkit is a toolkit in the truest sense of the word. Through the codified system of the color palette, off-kilter logo placement, branded pastry box tape, and decorative stamps, Milk Bar employees at locations around the country are encouraged to leverage their creativity to use the tools as they’d wish. For example, the Milk Bar team suggested designing the delivery truck to look like it was covered in the Milk Bar tape; others use the logo and colors to bedazzle denim jackets and beanies that they wear to work. This DIY spirit has created a tribe of Milk Bar devotees. Because employees are welcome to live and breathe the brand uniquely, customers also view the brand as a living and breathing thing to interact with–for example by holding up a cup of “cereal milk” soft serve to a pretty background for the perfect Instagram, or by decorating their laptop in Milk Bar stickers. _________ Building A Brand Tribe Through Creation of “Brand Feeling” Lastly, it’s easy to get bogged down in lifting brand metrics. Yet during Following the Feeling: Creating Brand Value, Columbia University lecturer Kai Wright argues that the most important brand metric is how you make others feel. After all, Wright noted, humans make 95% of our daily decisions on “auto-pilot,” rather than weighing pros and cons in order to choose the best and most rational choice, with emotions influencing nearly 70% of our decision-making. He cited brands who have expertly structured their brand “LAVEC”– lexicon, audio cues, visual stimuli, experience, and culture– around a singular brand feeling. Take Disney, whose feeling of “happiness” is supported by audio cues like fireworks and visual stimuli like wearing the iconic mouse ears, or Gatorade, whose feeling of “endurance” is brought to life through the lexicon of calling its products “fuel.” If a customer can rely on your brand not just for great products or services, but for a guaranteed emotional experience, your brand tribe is then powered by the strength of shared human connection.
What do you do if you’re the original men’s grooming brand and want to encourage men everywhere to be – and look – a little better? You step in front of the mirror and give yourself a makeover. That’s what AMP Agency and Just For Men accomplished together with this week’s launch of the Be The Better Man brand platform and campaign. For more than 30 years, Just For Men has been letting guys know it’s not only OK to care about their appearance, but to do something about it. And over the decades, Just For Men has been innovating and refining hair care solutions that make it easy for men to achieve the natural look that lets them feel their best. And as their portfolio has expanded to include beard care and hair regrowth (and more to come), it was time to reinforce the brand’s leadership role in the men’s grooming conversation it started in 1987. Be The Better Man stems from the idea that it takes a good man to know he can always be a little better. The notion applies to both their daily grooming routine and the way they go about their lives. We are calling on guys everywhere to take the small steps needed to look their best—and do the little things that make the lives of those around them, well, better. The campaign launched on CBS NFL Game Day this past Sunday. With the broadcast buy comes a fully integrated brand push. It started with a re-imagined website, email and social channels and will continue with an omni-channel paid media campaign within outdoor and digital. We’ll be on TV screens and in locker rooms at the hottest gyms in our key markets. Digital will focus on partnering with the web’s leading experts on grooming (GQ), dating (Match), business travel (Conde Nast Traveller), and parenting (Fatherly) through custom content and ambassador/influencer programs to reinforce the message of being better in all aspects of life. We’ll ultimately push product via direct-to-consumer tactics within programmatic and social channels through efficient reach and continuous frequency in the Better Man messaging against our male audience. Check out the following coverage to learn more about the campaign: Ad Age MarketWatch Marketing Dive Marketing Communications News
If you want to see how much media factors into the lives of millennials, look no further than the latest Brand Intimacy Report. This year, 93-year-old Disney tops the list and rounding out the top five were media brands Amazon, Netflix, Apple and Nintendo. Disney resonates with this age group because they grew up with the brand and it has kept up with their changing interests - it now includes popular franchises like Star Wars and Marvel. Ariana Grande isn’t the only millennial with a crush on Mickey.
Companies often under-value the power of a brand name. While they look at some brand names and say “Wow,” they don’t necessarily understand or appreciate the investment of time, strategic thinking, and creativity necessary to create these brand names. Every year hundreds of brand name projects are delegated to junior employees. But, when naming is driven by leadership, the results are exponentially higher because the CEO has the necessary oversight to see how and where to direct the product, service, or company. Don’t pass the buck.
Sephora isn’t the first retailer to recognize the value in identifying its larger purpose and become more involved in the community it caters to as a force for good. Activism has infiltrated brand campaigns from Dove, Cheerios, Pantene and Patagonia have attached their names to messages of body positivity, LGBT acceptance, female empowerment in the workplace and sustainability, respectively. Countering brand apathy
Despite efforts to turn their businesses around, J.Crew, Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch have yet to dig out of quarter after quarter of negative sales slumps because too many factors — declining mall foot traffic, the threat of Amazon, lengthy supply chains and price-conscious shoppers — have converged, rendering the situation untenable. And time is running out. A lack of compelling brand identity
Leaders from three of the most dynamic emerging cult brands—spin-class exercise chain SoulCycle, salon startup Drybar, and mattress-business disrupter Casper —discuss how they think about their customers, their businesses, their competition, and their culture. Inspiring passion
Brands have enthusiastically embraced live streaming — but not every brand comes camera-ready. Those looking to get started find themselves needing to beg, borrow or hire on-screen talent first. While some companies have tapped TV personalities to host their broadcasts, others are asking their employees to do it themselves – because audiences want to see real faces and build a connection with the people at a brand. Lights, Camera, Action!