Audience understanding and branding research to improve customer perceptions – Equans
Case study excerpt
Managing Partner, Jane Hales, recently took part in a PRCA Charity and Not for Profit event looking at how Artificial intelligence (AI) and insights can create marketing campaign success. Joined by Stu Youngs, of Studio Texture, the event and debate was a success. But why was it needed, and what were the concluding remarks?
The why – nearly a third of charities are not fully embracing the use of original market research for campaign creation or to inform strategy. This indicates that there is too much reliance on intuition and gut-feel alone.
The argument is that machines and technology can help to better inform the creative development process. AI has the ability to analyse millions of data points from campaigns and advise on how to improve new campaigns, telling us what will work and what might not. This should unquestionably be used to our advantage. To ignore it would be irrational.
Read that again: ‘what MIGHT not’. I’m sure you will be pleased to know that in this instance, it is not man vs. machine, but man + machine. One example given was the very memorable drumming gorilla advert. We probably don’t even need to mention the brand name for this one, given its success (but just in case you somehow missed out, search for Cadbury’s gorilla advert). However, when this advert was plugged into the AI machine, the computer said ‘no’. Apparently, this advert is not predicted to work. But we know that it did. So how has it got it wrong, and what does this mean?
Well, this advert is what you might call an ‘outlier’. It is a stroke of such creative genius and so different from what has come before (and in this case, what has come after) that the machine simply didn’t recognise it. You might even go so far as to say that true creative genius will always be an outlier. Thus, full dependence on machines is perhaps not advisable, and sometimes gut instinct wins out.
Yet this creative genius was not simply thought up overnight in isolation. Juan Baral still required consideration and knowledge of the situation and audience (through research and insight, whether deliberate or not) to create that perfect advert. A slimmed down version of the thought process cues and actions might look like this:
- Context – era of food scares and product recall
- =focus on emotion not product
- Experiences – the Cadbury business had become earnest and serious
- = become producers of happiness
- Absorbing information – new platforms such as YouTube available and on the rise
- = support TV launch on different mediums
- Messages that resonate – love of Dairy Milk, although still there, had become passive
- = make it inspiring
So, how did Juan Baral and the Fallon Agency use this insight?
- Included one of the greatest drum solos of all time (because music makes you feel good)
- Used a gorilla (the unexpected makes it memorable)
- Treated it differently (three times the length of a standard ad, posted on YouTube before TV, etc.)
- Moved away from the product (no mention of the product, a purple background and silver drums was all that was needed)
But back to machines. Machines must learn – they learn from the data and information they are fed. In the case of the gorilla, there was simply no prior knowledge of this type of creative. Equally, if they are fed rubbish, then rubbish is what they will feed you. Rubbish in, rubbish out. Ask a stupid question, expect a stupid answer. All the old sayings hold true.
Conclusion: Man PLUS machine. Machines can undoubtedly inform PR and campaigns for the better, but the creative genius must come from man (in all its genders). And man must retain a sense of risk and gut feel to know when to forge ahead with that stroke of genius, and when to trust the machine and make amends. This is a collaborative relationship, not a competitive one.
To avoid rubbish out, and help you on your way to producing a thing of pure creative genius, we have a checklist of things to think through and take inspiration from. Define your target audience and find out…:
- How they think
- What they want and need
- Who influences them
- What influences them
- What drives them
- The context in which they live
- The experiences they seek
- How they absorb information
- Messages that will resonate with them