How to remain creative on shoestring budgets.
Communicate covers The Marketing Society’s “Global Conversations” monthly webinars, featuring senior marketing leaders from around the world to discuss critical issues for the industry.
This month, creativity at low cost is in the spotlight.
Sophie Devonshire, Chief Executive at The Marketing Society
Alison Payne, Vice President Marketing Mexican Beer Portfolio - The Heineken Company (US)
Cherry Gore, SVP, Head of Brand Strategy & Communications (Group), First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) (MENA)
Matthias Blume, Group Marketing Director Frontline ASEAN and South Pacific Operating Unit - The Coca-Cola Company (APAC)
Jason Leavy, Senior Vice President, International Growth at VICE Media (UK)
How to adapt and think creatively with fewer resources
Matthias Blume. Pivoting and getting faster. With so much change, speed and focus have been at the core. More in-house projects drove creativity at a lower cost and higher speed [as well].
Cherry Gore. Working for a big bank, we’re used to having our marketing budgets cut; so, we’re used to bringing creativity to the forefront. Rather than us being a sales engine that supports the project, we became more focused on the brand as a team. This extended across the leadership team and our purpose, building community, took a front seat. We leaned on our resources to allow small businesses to advertise and we’re investing in things that took a backseat previously, focusing on a human understanding.
Alison Payne. We became more creative and agile to completely adapt to the new reality. Now, we’re thinking ahead to when the majority of the population will be vaccinated. How do our marketing plans respond to that?
Jason Leavy. This has been an amazing period to stimulate great creative work. The marketing fundamentals don’t change: what is a value proposition? What are consumer behaviors? Brands must put purpose first and create meaningful, cost-effective experiences.
A shift in consumers’ expectations
C.G. Banks are looked at as an ‘evil necessity’ most of the time; so, people weren’t expecting some of the measures we put in place last year. Our challenge is to differentiate ourselves from all the other banks; we need to cut through the noise and, laterally, across the business, speak in a much more human way. There’s a culture piece that needs to be at the heart of everything we do. Consumers don’t want to be sold to; they want to be told the truth in very simple ways.
A.P. When consumers couldn’t socialize in person, they found new ways to socialize. So, we began to use consumer-generated content, going on Pinterest for example. Consumers became more creative and we were able to spark ideas from their content.
M.B. There is a pandemic fatigue and consumers almost want to see a pre-pandemic world. They don’t want to be reminded. Things that would’ve been tone-deaf last summer are acceptable now.
How to get the most out of your teams
J.L. You must have the right culture; we recognized the need to put mechanisms in place for this to flourish further. One of our creators created a ‘chit chat’ channel on Slack for water cooler moments. Our global footprint is a vital tool and creating informal bonds with teams across the world, getting their insights, hearing what’s going on in their regions is inspiring. We’ve seen the lines of business blurred too: we worked with our production teams to create films and 70% ad swaps. We’ve produced over 1,000 hours of content with brands, and a huge part of that has been collaborating on social-first formats, graphic pieces, and publishing groups passing learnings onto other parts of the business. We shouldn’t be too introverted about collaboration. Brands need to be willing to collaborate together.
Empathy is crucial and must drive the way we work. Clients can be a force of one in a highly pressurized business environment, and it’s about walking a mile in their shoes. How can we best support them? The spirit of being together has never been more true.
M.B. We broke down the traditional silos to work collectively and see how we had to change the brand architecture – the way we were activating, communicating – and redeployed our resources. Now we work as one, coherent team and everyone knows the one thing that matters most and the role they have to play.
C.G. We can’t afford to be tone-deaf with our customers, and with our people. Morale was negatively affected. We needed to nurture empathy. With my team, ‘How do we turn this surviving into thriving’ was a rallying cry that helped us gain momentum. We then focused on working to people’s strengths. We would have continued to stay in our lanes to deliver our KPIs but this gave us the opportunity to work cross-functionally with risk teams and getting our marketing expertise into their minds. This allowed us to have conversations in a much more agile way.
How to be more cost-effectively creative
A.P. I always say marketers get tired of their own content before consumers do. We were able to repurpose our assets working with our in-house agency, also using user-generated content and collaboration from other countries within our global umbrella. As the pandemic took different forms across different countries, we borrowed some fantastic ideas – more open-armed sharing of ideas across the Heineken ecosystem.
We had to tear up our plans and it forced us to look closely at everything we create. What is necessary? We can be incredibly creative and reach more people with a clever idea that was born out of the pandemic.
J.L. A great example was working with IKEA . It was like building a plane whilst flying, trying to work out how we could be effective in the role. Marketers need to be predictors of culture and visualize the river of life. The beats of people’s days had a certain beauty and we worked with IKEA to create a sense of wellbeing with their products. Our solution was grounded in changing behavior and engaged in a meaningful way with a sense of brand purpose.
One key learning to carry forward
M.B. Act fast together. Speed and collaboration.
J.L. Collaborate and abandon your ego. Creativity can come from everywhere and many people want to be part of solutions.
C.G. Continue connectivity between brand purpose and business results. Nurture value and make sure the business understands that.
A.P. Act like an entrepreneur. Be flexible, pivot after setbacks.
To learn more, watch the full webinar: