This was in Saturday’s Canvas. I love it. Laughed out loud, smiled all day and visited mini.co.nz.
I can’t imagine there are many brands (of the non-confectionery variety) that could credibly align with Halloween. But when your brand represents childlike fun, it just makes perfect sense.
It also raises an interesting point about ‘brand guidelines’. Every Mini print ad I’ve ever seen fits the same basic template. I know a lot of agencies fight against such strict guidelines, believing they limit creative opportunity and signal the advertiser too clearly (the argument being that this just makes the advertising easier for people to avoid). Clients tend to like them because their research tells them every execution is building total brand presence. They also have much neater guardbooks.
I remember having quite a heated discussion with a bank on this subject. It was launching a new product into a category in which its reputation was, shall we say, tarnished. So we presented a campaign that looked nothing like the rest of the bank’s work. The Marketing Director took me aside afterwards to express his disappointment at our complete disregard for the established brand guidelines. I explained our belief that, given the bank’s poor reputation in the category, it was best to focus people on the offer (one that would set a new benchmark) before highlighting the brand (one that completely lacked credibility).
I suggested it was as simple as being realistic about your brand’s ‘welcomeness’.
There are brands people welcome (Mini is one of them). If you’re one of those brands, make it as obvious as possible who you are. Because people want you around, they want to hear what you have to say. They look forward to your arrival.
Then there are brands that are unwelcome (banks are many of them). If you’re one of those brands, try to be a little more circumspect. People don’t really want you around, so you need to be interesting before people have a chance to ignore you. And signaling who you are before you have a chance to say anything interesting seems counter-productive.
Needless to say, the Marketing Director wasn’t swayed by my argument. We re-worked the campaign within the brand guidelines. The audience was scarcely able to contain its indifference and a potentially great product was deemed a failure.
All of which simply reinforces that if you’re not welcome somewhere, it pays to make it difficult for people to remember who you are. The challenge lies in having enough humility to accept when you’re not welcome.
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