Hosted at the Cavendish Conference Centre, the event started with Contagious’ Head of Trends, Katrina Dodd, presenting four campaigns that grabbed her attention (Aeromexico, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Ruavieja, and Greggs).
These campaigns were the starting point for Dave Trott’s interview with Alex Jenkins from Contagious. The ad guru reflected that the pieces of work showcased have killer ideas and were great as a result, despite not being ads in the traditional way. This kind of effectiveness should be always the aim, but too often function takes a backseat to form, and campaigns are made beautiful without those involved thinking (or seeming to care) how effective they’ll be. It’s an issue, Trott said, that also affects advertising awards. They’re great for recognising work that works, but they shouldn’t be an end in themselves.
Trott also had some advice for young professionals. Creative isn’t a noun. It’s an adjective. Everyone can be creative, and yet many aren’t. Stop worrying about what people think of you. People don’t think of you at all. The more you worry, the more invisible you’ll be. Position yourself by repositioning others. Like when the Mac appeared, and all the others became ‘PC’. Barack Obama won the elections, and all the other USA Presidents became ‘the white ones’. And so on.
Finally, the topic of market growth and market share, and how important it is to know the difference. Most of the time our objective isn’t to make people want more of a product. It’s to make them want our product instead of another. This is fighting for market share, and you can’t use general insights for that. If you talk about why people want coffee, you help Nespresso, not your coffee brand. Say why they should want you. It’s common sense. “We all used to have common sense, before working in advertising,” commented Trott.
Here at AML we got thinking further about underdogs using the latest human truth to get their hands on market share. And about market leaders making the most of their powerful, established narrative (or subverting it) to maintain their dominance. Here are three positioning stories that we like, each for a different reason:
A fresh approach.
As we said, the fight for market share is usually an exciting challenge for small brands. But it’s also incredibly fascinating when you see a market leader abandon its established and prosperous positioning for a new one. Like Lynx/Axe, who in 2016 dropped The Lynx Effect that they had used for decades, in favour of Find Your Magic (see also Is it ok for guys?). If the brand hadn’t claimed this fresher, more realistic idea of masculinity, a competitor would have done so, making Lynx look like the old uncle who tells dirty jokes at Christmas parties.
A close shave.
Speaking of masculinity, here is a recent story from the razor industry. In January Gillette launched a controversial ad, adapting their long-running tagline to ask if men are really being ‘the best a man can be’. Despite the good intentions, the execution was generally considered preachy, confusing, and simply forced. Harry’s, the affordable-but-quality razor start-up, jumped on the same trend some weeks later. Their ad lets every man connect with his own, personal view of non-stereotypical masculinity, and focusses on the positive rather than the negative. An example of a battle fought over the same territory and won through the quality of the execution.
A taste of home.
A new war has broken out across the breakfast tables of my homeland. Pan di Stelle (the most-loved biscuit brand in Italy) has launched its first spreadable cream, challenging Nutella. Until now the two brands weren’t really rivals, being both the leaders of their own markets. But now ‘the new kid on the spread’ is building its positioning on the ‘stardust’ ingredient (crumbs of the starred Pan di Stelle biscuits) and the lack of palm oil (Nutella’s biggest flaw). Clearly the brand knows the difference between market share and growth. It’s definitely looking to eat into Nutella’s sales. In the meantime, the social media debate is on fire (one viral FB post compared the two brands to a wife and a young mistress), but there isn’t a proper campaign yet. In the meantime, we’ll keep testing both spreads – for the sake of primary research, of course!