Are brands too quick to switch strategy?

They say that every dog has its day. But has that day come and gone for the canine stars - and the feline ones - of O2's much-lauded "Be more dog" campaign?

Are brands too quick to switch strategy?

Reports that the animals are being dropped from the advertising seem as surprising as they are curious.

Although the "Be more" concept is not being axed, the fact is "Be more dog" has given the brand a personality that connects with all kinds of consumers while providing a powerful antidote to the Kevin Bacon-fronted EE work and the cheaper tariffs promoted by Three.

What’s more, it was only in 2013 that "Be more dog" was Campaign’s Campaign of the Year, a testament to the tenacity of VCCP, O2’s lead creative agency, which had to overcome considerable client misgivings when it first presented the idea.

Now, having stuck with a campaign it might easily have strangled at birth, is O2 acting precipitously in seeking to evolve something that has been highly successful and ignoring the adage that there’s life in the old dog yet?

It certainly raises the question of whether or not brand owners are too quick to fix what ain’t broke and, in doing so, putting at risk the benefits of advertising that is not only powerful but consistent.



Client

Keith Moor
Chief marketing officer, Santander

"It’s possible to be a little hasty in changing a campaign. That’s mainly because internal people get bored with it more quickly than people on the outside do. Evolution rather than revolution is key. That’s certainly been the case with our Jenson Button and Jessica Ennis-Hill campaign, which is now less about humour and more about stories.

"Of course, data is important when making a decision about a campaign’s future. But so too is the knowledge you accumulate as a marketer. Change is expensive and you can’t afford to be led too much by your agency because its revenue stream is reliant on change."


Planner

Craig Mawdsley
Joint chief strategy officer, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

"Not only are clients guilty of changing strategies and executions too quickly – the same is true of agencies. That’s because we’re in a creative business and we all like doing new things.

"The fact is that we get bored by stuff before customers have even begun taking notice and we forget that the effects of what we do are not often felt for some time.

"The ‘Be more dog’ campaign is one that customers talk about a lot but the weight of media means having to produce huge amounts of creative work in any year and burning through a lot of ideas very quickly."


Brand Expert

Mhairi McEwan
Group chief executive, Brand Learning

"No brand owner makes a decision to switch strategies lightly and, in O2’s case, there will have been sound reason for it to believe that the campaign was losing relevance or its ability to engage.

"Markets are evolving so quickly that companies have to be faster and more flexible so it’s likely that this kind of thing is going to be more frequent in the future.

"At the same time, campaigns need to be agile enough to be relevant across all customer touchpoints and communication channels. Advertising that’s just created for TV isn’t necessarily going to work any more."


Creative

Caitlin Ryan
Executive creative director, Cheil London

"O2’s ‘Be more dog’ is a fabulous campaign that feels as if it’s got a lot more life in it. And it’s also worth pointing out that O2 has kept its highly familiar bubbles.

"Of course, clients will know from the data when a campaign is losing its effectiveness. But there’s also a danger that marketing directors get so close to campaigns that they get bored with them long before consumers do.

"That said, clients are generally wary of change. For one thing, it tends to be expensive. For another,
change was much easier in the days when the media landscape was far less complicated."

Topics