Let’s re-define ‘integrated marketing’ as ‘common sense’

Most gatherings within the communications industry tend to either be nauseatingly unctuous or one long tedious sales pitch.

#PRFest 2016

I am, however, excited to attend my first #PRFest. I’ve met a number of #PRFest veterans and all seem to sing the same hymn, that this event is one where you genuinely learn something that can be put into practice the following day.

I’m eager to learn from the line-up of speakers, but equally nervous about being one of them. Most talks I do tend to offer opinion and argument, my contribution to #PRFest must leave the attendees with practical actions rather than a glimpse into my rants and dislikes.

The topic I’ve chosen for #PRFest is integrated marketing. In particular, wading through the thick sludge of nonsense, buzzwords and rhetoric that integrated marketing (a buzz term in itself) drags along with it.

As with all good workshops, I need case studies of integrated marketing executed well and not so well. Thankfully, Pepsi and Nivea have, just recently provided me with a wealth of material.

One of the areas we’ll be exploring in greater depth in June will be around the importance of listening to your audience. What’s clear is that neither Pepsi nor Nivea can be accused of not listening. They both did.

I can almost hear the rush of adrenaline that coursed through the veins of the creative director at Pepsi, as they made the perverse link between a can of pop that is apologetically given to customers instead of Coca-Cola, Kendall Jenner and political activism. On that day, somewhere in the neighbourhood of Purchase, New York, there was a vegan restaurant hosting a marauding bunch of creative types celebrating in their insight led campaign being signed off.

We all know what happened next.

On the other side of the Atlantic a Hamburg based moisturising cream discovered that their audience love sharing arty images alongside short, snappy and sickly quotes on Instagram and Facebook.

You know the ones. A young, affable, middle class young lady in downward dog position with ‘be beautiful’ scrawled in script.

Nivea thought, ‘we’ll have a piece of that’ and promptly posted a picture of another sun drenched young lady with the words ‘white is purity’ slapped on top. An own goal of BNP-esque proportions.

What’s the common theme here?

Fred Vincx, talking about PESO at #PRFest 2016
Fred Vincx, talking about PESO at #PRFest 2016

Listening to your audience? Absolutely. I am sure both brands had done the necessary research to identify trends and patterns that could have informed strategic thinking. At #PRFest we’ll be exploring the need for constant, agile, audience intelligence.

But the other key theme that brings these two scenarios together is a complete absence of common sense. Any thinking individual would have balked at the idea of capitalising on the current political tensions in order to sell more Pepsi.

A brief pause in the content marketing machine would have allowed someone to review the desperately poor choice of words of the Nivea Facebook post.

So, what will be the practical takeaway from my session at #PRFest? That with common sense, we could all do a better job than Pepsi.

Blog post by John Brown, Group Head of Engagement, Hotwire PR. Please share this post so colleagues and connections have the opportunity to see what John will be talking about.

You can catch John’s session at #PRFest on Friday, 16 June. View the full programe here and don’t delay, book your tickets here.