A Literacy of the Imagination

a deeper look at innovation through the lenses of media, technology, venture investment and hyperculture

Campaigns: Serving the Needs of Marketers, Not Consumers

The rapid-fire shifts within the media landscape are forcing us to think differently. And while we have done a much better job of listening to consumer passions, desires and interests, we are, by and large, still trying to shoehorn our own ‘media solutions’ into their daily agendas. Quite frankly, this needs to change, and perhaps we can start by retooling our deployment methodology.

Let’s dive into theory for a moment.

A campaign construct is based on in-points and end-points which lend to a relatively short lifecycle. Sure, you can run a campaign for an extended period of time, but by default, we essentially ascribe a time crunch on what we hope is the development of conversations around a brand offering. But this seems entirely antithetical to engagement: how can we generate conversations on our timetable, not those of the consumers we hope to reach? Further, how can conversations be generated organically within fixed environments?

The concept of transmedia storytelling provides an interesting context – it represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience (via Henry Jenkins and his Confessions of an Aca-Fan blog).  Perhaps it is a context in which we can make more sense of how to turn messages into conversations, primarily because the timelines for engagement and adoption are indefinite.

There are two fundamental parts to transmedia: the marketing functions and the development functions of a rollout strategy. This requires a bit of reverse engineering, to say the least.

The marketing functions would serve to optimize a media plan or spend (in other words, reduce waste), or, from the ground level, would build out a framework that serves a market need – in effect, putting the consumer front and center. The idea behind this is that we would actually brand markets, not market brands per se, so that common interests would supersede age or economics. So, in this sense, we are talking about developing initiatives in a true psychographic and technographic capacity as opposed to a mere demographic one.

The development functions would serve to build a mythology around IP. Imagine taking your favorite CPG or electronics brand and building a storybook around its core DNA that is rich in lore, Platonic soft text, amazing iconography and a suite of virtually endless outcomes (think of video annotations without a set number of ‘second’ or ‘third’ acts). Now imagine taking tools that are already on offer within the semantic web (artificial intelligence) and building layers that extend these stories out into the world, free of dictation, compartmentalization or even language barriers... Subsequently creating a seamless, organic and collaborative experience.

We cannot expect brand advocacy to be furtive and ongoing if we continue to bastardize our relationships. For those on the brand side – marketing directors and CMOs – it may be daunting to present something that is quantitatively challenging to a board of skeptics, but by the same token, all the time that is spent pouring over numbers can be used to develop business plans (not marketing plans) predicated on market insights that are measurable and open to adaptation. In other words, if you treat the consumer relationship as your business, you can remove much of the guesswork that goes into predicting behavior – a central component of campaign development that seems to fail.

Food for thought. What do you think?