By Faisal Khan

Have you noticed that, they – the consumers – are no longer paying attention and neither are they interested in what we – marketers – are talking about? It seems as if they feel that we are not speaking their language; as if no one seems to understand their needs and nor is there any understanding of where their time is spent. It seems that the traditional route of reaching out to them via dialogue is not effective for brands and agencies anymore.

In 2007, Microsoft launched a campaign called, “Bring the Love Back.” It emphasized on the faltering relationship between advertisers and consumers; where the story of love went wrong, blaming the advertiser for not paying much attention to the consumer.

Unfortunately, this faltering relationship reflects the marketing scene of Pakistan, where consumers have learnt various ways of ignoring such communication to which they can’t relate. The advertising agencies here have to play in this love scene performing crucial role as match makers. However, it seems that they’re not keeping up with the new trends in match making. Here are a few insights for a modern communication agency to deal with the current challenges brands are facing.

L>C Rule

L = Learning and C = Change where L>C means learnings have to be greater than change in order to adapt to the upcoming changes. With the continuously evolving consumer landscape, it is imperative for agency experts to stay ahead of the curve and foresee upcoming changes in consumers’ lives, and pass on the information to advertisers simultaneously. The information helps in understanding the impact of new and emerging changes in the cultural sphere including the way of living, choices of fashion, food etc. and allows the agency to stay ahead of consumers’ changing trends. For instance, if Al-Karam is aware of the colors and patterns their customers will like this summer they will have the option of introducing the same. Likewise, if Nokia knows what utility would actually add value via their handsets, they will try and form communities accordingly.

Open Innovation

Agencies have been relying on their resources from the very start, which produces work in similar formats carrying the same flow of perspective that starts showing signs of monotony after a while. Open innovation is an idea of goal-directed inflow and outflow of knowledge by people from external sources that may give agency-folk an opportunity to learn from different industry experts. It opens new horizons and dismisses the repetition that creeps into any agency’s work by introducing collaborative thinking.
Imagine a doctor designing an asset for a pharma product, with his insights for specific patients. Kraft is using the open innovation platform very well through its Collaboration Kitchen initiative by getting ideas on recipes, developing them in-house and providing more flavorful products to their consumers.
Open innovation community can turn into a large crowd of resourceful problem solvers for agencies too, who may benefit from this for their different assignments.

Learn to Co-Create

As agencies we do focus on behavioral change of consumers when we are thinking of campaigns, but what if we take this behavioral change to the next level? This can be done by taking people along and giving them the tools to change behavior of their peers by co-creating with them. Threadless, a T-Shirt brand allows designers to participate in designing T-shirts, earning from sales in the process. This strategy of co-creation benefits the brand, as well as those contributing towards it.

Think Parallel Assets

This level of thinking allows investing in the long term that collectively leads to building assets for the brand through collaborations with other brands rather than just through promoting themselves.
Nike with its Nike+ initiative created a parallel media platform for athletes and sport enthusiasts by collaborating with Apple and Android to introduce apps for its sports equipment to track fitness progress.

Hence, instead of pushing the limited utility that products start entailing after a while, creating further assets around your products that will compliment their usage goes a long way.

Thinking Media Neutral

It is important that agencies leave the predetermined media models aside and study the rapidly changing consumer lifestyles. This way, they should assess where consumers are spending most of their time, which is definitely not just TV anymore.

Agencies finally need to get out of their comfort zones and stop looking in the rear view by being moderately happy with what they’ve created so far. They have to ‘learn to unlearn’ and start from scratch, because touchpoints are now eloquent brushpoints. In An excellent example of thinking beyond television commercials: TEDx’s recent campaign, which was managed by Ogilvy, showed barbers as touchpoints to deliver stories to the masses.

With such implementations, any agency can surely be the best match makers between the brand and its consumers. Off course, charging a good fee in exchange for its ideas ‘cause that’s why we are in the business. No?


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