Is The Campaign Dead?

by Brian Haven
@ 4:16 PM

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» Engagement
» Marketing



Marketing is too short term. People demand more control over their interactions (with each other, with brands, and with media), and for the most part they get what they ask for. But to effectively engage people, especially in an environment socially charged by technology, the only way companies can realistically communicate with individuals is to do so over a longer time frame. But that significantly changes how agencies and marketers use their staff and keep the creative juices flowing. Everything is geared to the campaign — a set of marketing activities created to achieve a goal within a specified (often short) period of time, and then the activities cease.

With attention spans short, brief campaigns are relegated to appearing as noise. To effectively communicate the merits of a brand, product, or service, communication efforts need to transcend many short term experiences. This is yet another example of the philosophical shift required by companies. It also is he crux of the problem companies have with social media. Most of todays instantiations of collaborative media (blogs, social networks, etc.) don't just exist for short periods of time, they live on as people come and go. But marketers don't think this way.

One interesting approach is the Alternative Reality Games (ARG). Wired Magazine (16.01) has a great article titled, Secret Websites, Coded Messages: The New World of Immersive Games, about all about ARGs. For those of you Lost fans, you may remember The Lost Experience from a couple of seasons ago. I have a detailed review of it on the Forrester Marketing blog, but essentially a tangental story line to the plot of Lost was used in a creative manner, providing an online puzzle/scavenger hunt. The Wired article does a great job explaining other examples including the Nine Inch Nails Year Zero game (created by 42 Entertainment).

While an ARG may not work for every brand, it does expose an entirely new way of thinking about how people and brands interact. The trick now is luring marketers away from the demographic segmentations and click-through metrics of their boring campaigns and start getting creative. Or better yet, let the design strategists take over, can the marketing, and starting thinking of it as communication — and let the designers integrate the communication in with the development of the product or services (I'll save this discussion for another day).


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19 Mar 2008
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