Sanjeev Kotnala: Are you adding to the creative noise with unwanted, uninteresting, uninspiring crap?

14 Sep,2016

By Sanjeev Kotnala


It is not new that the monolithic marketing departments are crumbling, ever held tenderly by the omnipresent but not so omnipotent all-knowing marketing director. Fragmented media channels along with the emergence of multiple touch points have created a need for expert zones and pockets of specialisation. The ever-exploitable unsatisfied lust of an overtly voyeuristic customer has been pushing them to work at a feverish pace, like an assembly line producing template output. We know how the memory, association, attention span and engagement patience has been dropping through the generations.


The digital era is placing immense pressure on real-time interaction; it demands that the content is refreshed faster than it is consumed. In the process, creativity is taking a backseat. The brand guidelines are suffocating. The ‘Crap-trap’ is now a reality. The marketing department has no alternative but to be aggressive.


In this chaos, the experience being delivered has very tenuous links to strategy, insights, creative directions or brand ethos. The pressure to keep producing innovative content across multiple engagement points is making marketers, and associates shoot from the hip.


‘The idea can come from anywhere’ is not just a motivating statement. It is feverishly being practised. The smallest of buoyancy in an observation is known to be amplified as an experiment. The net result: the world is being littered with Crap-trapped-creative.


It will need a very inward focused deep look for the brands to evaluate what they have been producing and serving to the market. Hopefully, it will lead to some awakening, maybe the cycle could be reversed.


The multiple associates and their subfragmented niches have really smothered the idea of brand custodians. There is BTL custodian, ATL Custodian, Digital Custodian, Social Media Custodian, Media Custodians and the new tangents are created every year. Each of them is never fully clued to the brand history, ethos, strategic intent and future path. Moreover, they are incestuous and rigid in their development processes and implementation paths. Not surprising that we get non-synchronised ill-aligned impressions of brand intent.


Maybe it is time to bring it all together. Creating a single entity may not be possible or advisable, but they need to be highly coordinated to help make the marketing drive more efficient and smooth. A new process path needs to be determined that will rein them together at the client or the associates level.


It’s time that the real regionalisation of creative nuances and efforts is speeded up. The need to stand apart and preserve the regional identities, culture and nuance is strengthening among communities faster than the rate at which the global village is shrinking.


The almost static media plans with cut-pasted star media cast need to be a lot more dynamic. This calls for continuous education and experimentation. Unfortunately, retainership constrained associates with thing margin to breath are at their wits end to find funds for it. The bigger associates have a bit of headway leveraging their scale. Nevertheless, they need to see the emerging market with new lens.


The ‘do not fix until it is broken’ altitude to manage, and leverage insights will no longer work. The market and consumers are moving at a differential pace. The thinly PowerPoint defined boundaries of the core-primary-secondary target group, and constituencies are merging and getting redefined at a fast pace.


In such a situation, the answers are tough to find.


The need to experiment and the willingness to learn from failures and move on will play an important role. It will need multiple centres of excellences across touchpoints. Alternatively, our efforts to reach across them may not help brand building.


Moreover, there is enough pressure on the thinly sliced and fragmented marketing budget. The fund available for development and creative engagement across media is being compromised. In the process, many deserving and sometimes really critical research initiatives are getting buried or delayed.


Ultimately, the brand is responsible for its own crap tower. The long-term brand perceptions are being sacrificed in a world where perception is stronger than reality, and the reality is adulterated with perceptions.


I like this quote from Pritchard, P&G’s brand chief (in a Warc newsletter), which is also the foundation of this piece. He shares that when P&G internally analysed their work, ‘they concluded that as the world was getting louder and more complex, we were simply just adding to the noise’. He adds: ‘The people we serve are voting with their fingertips; they are saying that too much of our advertising is unwanted, uninteresting, uninspiring, therefore: ineffective,’


I truly am able to sympathise with the current breed of marketers and their inbuilt inefficiencies.


Trust me. The way to fight this ongoing battle is not too complicated.


It is a question of exercising self-discipline, a promise not to accept mediocrity in creativity. It is far, far better for your TG to be exposed for shorter time to the right creative experience than to be exposed multiple times across c touch points with a crap-trapped content.


Here is a humble request: take a pause, a deep breath, analyse your work, take that research call, build on insights and local understanding and say no to mediocrity. Your aim is not only to continue engaging your current and potential TG across multiple touch points, but to help all the horses (touch points) of the chariot ( Marketing initiative) run in a synchronised fashion.


It is not just the best horse, but may the best charioteer wins. And if you are on the agency side, stop blaming the client for your weakness.


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