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It's easy to get distracted by new trends and tech, but a good story well told is the best way to engage the ad-blocking generation. And where better for brands to bring their narrative to life than the big screen?

Stacey…‘it’s more important than ever to focus our attentions on core brand-building principles’
Stacey…‘it’s more important than ever to focus our attentions on core brand-building principles’

Never before have brands had to work so hard to grab an audience’s attention. Apparently, only 6 per cent of the population care about brands – and even if you care immensely, you’ve only got time to focus on a brand for eight seconds, as you’re part of the 87 per cent of us who consume media simultaneously. 

Fast-changing media habits have led to more content, more screens and seemingly more ways than ever for brands to connect with their audiences. But because of this barrage of daily messages, cutting through the clutter is becoming nearly impossible and ad-blocking is the hot topic. The Internet Advertising Bureau reveals that 22 per cent of British adults online are currently using ad-blocking software – a rise from 18 per cent in October 2015. 

So where does creativity come in? Why is it more important than ever? There has been too much emphasis on shouting louder to increase share of voice, with a lot of communication focusing too much on promotion rather than persuasion. Such over-targeted and invasive forms of advertising alongside high levels of frequency in very short periods of time is turning people off and tuning people out.

However, we will always be receptive to great creative content and, for our industry to thrive, we need to improve the advertising experience. Our strategy for success should be to treat customers with respect and delight them by delivering interesting content in a compelling way. 

This requires an investment and commitment to fostering creativity. Speaking to The Guardian last month, Sir John Hegarty stated that there was only one certainty he was prepared to stake his reputation on: that "tomorrow will be more creative than today". He explained that it is important to understand that technology creates opportunity, but it’s creativity that creates value.

Hegarty has also noted that it has been repeated endlessly that broadcast channels are dead and that online is the future. However, he explained that greater creativity from broadcast channels has created programmes and experiences fuelled by the power of storytelling to become both commercially and culturally important.  

So, in reality, people have been engaging with the broadcast world, "spreading its fame and influence". Audiovisual content is also growing in influence online, where video is driving ever deeper engagement on Facebook and Twitter, as well as YouTube and Vimeo. 

A good story well told can also be used as an effective creative tool for brands. At a time when people are less interested in brands, creative AV content can help them engage and captivate audiences. 

And while TV viewing is still the big reach-driver that most campaigns are planned around, we know cinema has a role to play as part of any AV strategy. Building Box Office Brands, our research with Millward Brown, published at the end of last year, aimed to truly understand cinema’s role in the media mix and the impact it delivers. 

The study found that while the cinema experience – a darkened room, immersive sound and an awe-inspiring screen – hasn’t changed in the past 100 years, the impact that it drives has magnified intensely. In fact, according to Millward Brown, on total KPI measures for the five key brand value drivers (salience, love, difference, consideration and recommendation), cinema delivers the highest media contribution per person reached and the highest media contribution per £1 million spend of all media.

Cinema’s performance was unbeatable on the most important metrics of brand love and difference, both of which are essential for striking a deeper emotional connection with audiences and standing out with a clear proposition and purpose. It’s perhaps unsurprising that cinema is the perfect place for those brands to bring their narrative to life – a shared media experience with the wow factor, an uncluttered media environment where people have paid to pay attention. 

So this brings me back to attention. It has become the holy grail of modern marketing and is becoming the most valued commodity in our industry. Take it from Dave Trott: "What gets action is what gets attention. What gets attention is what gets seen. So being visible, being impactful, is the most important part of any communication designed to change behaviour." 

Despite a never-ending stream of new technologies, trends and behavioural changes, it’s more important than ever to focus our attentions on core brand-building principles and channelling compelling, creative AV content to ensure audiences are always engaged and captivated. 

Future Focus

What emerging trend is here to stay?
50/50 men and women in the boardrooms, to create more value for companies.
What was the last thing that blew you away?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It broke endless records, including making its first billion in just 12 days, and cemented Disney as one of the world’s most powerful companies.
How will your 2017 work be different to your 2016 work?
It won’t! I’ll be continuing to champion and celebrate the power of the big screen by ensuring cinema is on every AV media plan.
What is your favourite trend of the past ten years?
The increasing power of AV content to engage and entertain us.
What would you put in a time capsule for your future self to find? 
A rah-rah skirt, to remind myself that they weren’t a fashion trend in the 80s and should never be again!

Karen Stacey is the chief executive of Digital Cinema Media

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