Tracy Abraham, marketing director of The AA, has warned marketers to be wary of the “blink and you’ll miss it” mentality of the next generation of young people.
Discussing creativity at scale in a fragmented media landscape at Campaign 360, Abraham warned that targeting the generation growing up now will be “enormously challenging”.
“I've got a 10-year-old who's on TikTok, and the future of gaining attention is terrifying,” she said.
“The generation growing up now are incredibly creative as a cohort – everybody's got a channel running from their bedroom, every kid with a mobile phone is a content creator.”
Though Abraham said that The AA typically launches campaigns in two-year cycles, she noted that the pandemic had encouraged the brand to create work that “better tapped into the mood of the nation”.
“We could already sense that it had been a really hard time for a lot of people,” Abraham told Campaign.
With uncertainty surrounding lockdown and social distancing guidelines, Abraham aimed to steer clear of the “clichéd” tropes of Covid-19 work (such as rainbows and desolate London streets) in favour of something more “upbeat and joyous” that “skewed younger” than the brand’s previous works.
The end result was “That feeling” – a spot that showed a housebound dog as it reorganised the living room to replicate the freedom of sticking its head out of a moving car, in a nod to classic Maxell ad "Get blown away".
Abraham said fragmentation across digital platforms had been a central consideration when deciding on the creative idea for the campaign.
“If you're creating an ad with a dog in it, you know it's going to fly on social," she said. "You get some TikTok influencers and do some Facebook activity, but joking aside, fragmentation is at the forefront of our thinking."
Abraham was speaking alongside Moneysupermarket marketing director Lloyd Page and Jerry Daykin, head of media EMEA at GSK, in a panel chaired by Campaign’s UK editor-in-chief, Gideon Spanier.
Page told the event that the key to strong creative marketing was “creating differentiation”.
With an eye on longevity across its advertising work, Moneysupermarket’s “Money calm bull” was set to launch in March before the pandemic left the world “changing in the most volatile way”.
Narrated by Matt Berry, the ad shows a strangely serene bull as it saunters through a series of anxiety-sparking situations, including a children’s birthday party, an army boot camp and a deep-sea attack from mythical beast Cthulhu.
Moneysupermarket instead launched the campaign in June, and in July, the brand signed a one-year multimillion-pound deal to sponsor Channel 4’s film package.
“We're competing for attention, and creativity across a fragmented media landscape is critical to draw this attention," Page said.
He noted that Berry’s soothing “Moneysupermaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhket” tagline (yes, that is how it is officially spelt) has become a “distinctive brand asset” for the company, with the campaign spanning digital platforms.
However, he acknowledged that the “Money calm bull” doesn’t always appear across all platforms, in a bid to better personalise the customer journey as “it doesn't have to be matching luggage in every moment of the customer journey”.
While Page maintained that while there is a role for personalisation “where it can be done efficiently”, big ideas are still the cornerstone of effective marketing.
Daykin, meanwhile, discussed how GSK brand Corsodyl had opted for some unconventional marketing through game-streaming service Twitch, in a bid to connect with a younger audience.
In December last year, Corsodyl – a toothpaste and mouthwash brand that helps bleeding gums, which typically focuses on the expertise of dentists in its marketing – partnered Twitch to create work that a younger demographic (who may not worry as much about bleeding gums) wouldn’t skip in the midst of their gaming experience.
Corsodyl's ad was a “deliberately basic animation meant to look like a retro video game”, which Daykin claimed performed well and hailed good click-through rates for the brand, proving the power of thinking outside the box when connecting with different audiences.
Daykin said: “I probably wouldn't recommend creating a different ad in a completely different universe for every channel, but sometimes if you're trying to cut through to a really select audience or appear in a really different place, it can make sense to pursue something unique.”
The answer to gaining the attention of specific audiences is to avoid “putting all your eggs in any one basket”, he said, and to continue to invest in traditional channels such as television, which he insisted “isn’t dead by a long shot”.
“We have a slightly worrying narrative that the future of marketing is all hyper targeted, hyper personalised, data driven marketing," he said.
"That's part of the future of marketing, but that won't be everything.”