Digital is not the death of anything, it’s the awakening of everything else

Earlier this year, Miles Young, the global CEO of Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide said: “The great mistake of today’s business environment is to believe that digital can fulfil the role of marketing. It will not”.

Judging by the barrage of resultant comments, both for and against this profound (albeit somewhat naive) statement, it’s very evident that there are strong opinions both for and against this school of thought.

In reality, it’s not about the “replacement” of anything. Nor is it about finding the right “channel”. Rather, it’s about identifying the merits of each, and assessing how they can work in unison.

We are all too aware of how a brand’s message can be diluted across different mediums. Only too often do we see a TV ad (which cost millions to produce, and which may well reach the masses and sometimes leave an emotive effect), have little synergy with any messaging which may be produced for other mediums.

Agencies and brands think they’ve done a great job of integration by including a web site URL at the end of the TV ad. But how often do they consider that for those who are sitting in front of their televisions, the closest piece of technology they have available to go view the website, is usually their cellphone, and not their PC? Too often, however, mobile hasn’t been taken into account, and the website simply doesn’t display correctly on mobile.

Or how often are you tearing down the freeway listening to the radio, only to hear a radio ad with the now all too common,”visit for more”. We may really be interested, but do we actually remember the URL by the time we reach a place where we can check it out? If you can, then you’re a better person than me. And let’s not forget the ads that actually have to spell out the URL lest the pronunciation lead to incorrect entering of the URL. And once again, the exclusion of mobile – probably the most-likely place someone will enter the URL should they really wish to check it out.

Over and over again, it is evident that digital was simply an afterthought, or even worse – thought about, but incorrectly implemented.

Ten years plus down the line, and few have actually realised the value in focussing on the BIG IDEA first, and then connecting this idea through different mediums.

As a specialist digital agency, we have seen this only too often. And sadly, all too often digital is seen as just a creative add-on to drive the message, rather than pegging it into the overall big idea, and acknowledging it for the different outcomes it can achieve, either in isolation, or in support of other channels. By the same token, there are often instances where digital shouldn’t be included at all, as it offers no value to the overall objective.

Each medium, or channel, has pros and cons. If you want mass reach, go TV. If you want interaction, or a long-lasting relationship that extends beyond the campaign, include digital. If you really understand consumers today, focus on the big idea first, and consider how digital is incorporated into the overall message and how it can support (or even BE) the big idea, not how it contributes in isolation.

Consider the following …

  • The consumer is now a creator and distributor.
  • Social networking environments enable consumers to be creators and sharers (within seconds).
  • Word-of-mouth is once again reigning supreme.
  • Millions of brand conversations are taking place every day, in public, and in real time.
  • Consumers trust consumers more than they trust brands.
  • How often have you investigated what people are saying about your brand?
  • Do you know what they think of that awesome R2-million TV ad they saw on TV last night?
  • Whether you like it or not, they’re talking about it – openly, publicly, and online…right now.

Utilise the services of a specialist digital agency (yes, it really is a specialist field), but work with them to find out how digital can add value to a brand.

I can assure you, they’d much rather be involved from the conceptual idea, and provide the pros and cons of how digital can fit into the overall picture, rather than be handed a two-line brief to run a banner campaign that links to a corporate website.

Become the consumer, and go through the motions you expect them to follow. Spend a day following the touch points you expect your consumers to interact with.

Does it work for you? If not, it won’t work for your consumers either.



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