Magazine article Marketing

SPEED BRANDING: Brands Need Faster, Smarter Marketing to Keep Up with an Accelerated Business World

Magazine article Marketing

SPEED BRANDING: Brands Need Faster, Smarter Marketing to Keep Up with an Accelerated Business World

Article excerpt

When the Marketing Society kicks off its annual conference today, delegates will be debating how they can keep pace with the constantly changing business landscape.

It may sound gimmicky, but accelerated marketing is a hot issue. Shareholders demanding faster returns, shorter product life cycles, the pressure for products and marketing to stand out and the effect of new technology on consumer behaviour all require marketing to make quicker, bigger hits.

New products can't afford the luxury of a 'slow burn' in the marketplace, and multinationals can't linger over rolling out successful products across the world. All these projects have to happen fast, and that places demands and stresses on the marketing function.

According to a survey of Marketing Society members, marketers face a difficult future. For example, 74% of the 300 respondents said the speed of change in business had made it harder to deliver, and nearly half said marketing's status had declined since 1998.

The survey also considered which marketing tools were best suited to cutting through in this accelerated business climate. The vast majority, 90%, said advertising's influence on the consumer had decreased in the past five years and 90% believed it would continue to fall in the next five. But over the same period, they believed that PR, e-mail marketing, guerrilla marketing, sponsorship, direct mail and events would all become more important than advertising.

Hugh Burkitt, chief executive of the Marketing Society, says: 'The lesson for agencies is clear: clients want new and creative ways of using media.'

Marketing Society members were also asked to name the most accelerated brands over the past five years. Despite what the survey suggests, advertising still played a prominent role in building the fame of brands that appear on the list, such as 118 118, Skoda and Tesco.com. But the list is also notable for how many quick successes were scored through PR, direct marketing and, in the case of Google and Friends Reunited, word of mouth.

Given their lukewarm view of advertising, it's interesting that the survey respondents reserved most admiration for 118 118, which owes its success primarily to the single creative idea of the 70s-style runners, devised by WCRS. While the campaign is superbly integrated, with oodles of PR and field marketing, it would be nothing without its hirsute heroes.

Will Collin, partner at Naked, which worked on the launch strategy, says: 'The advertising created the fame and the rest was achieved by making that come alive on the street. The reason it has been so successful is that we created a cultural phenomenon.

'Marketing is accelerating because cultural and social trends are propagated so quickly,' he adds. 'Catching hold of these trends is like getting an express elevator in a skyscraper. Miss it and other brands shoot past you.'

One brand launch strangely absent from the Marketing Society top ten is Freeview, which, with two million customers in its first year, has the accolade of being the consumer electronic product with the fastest-ever adoption by UK households.

BBC marketing director Andy Duncan - who oversaw a hair-raising period from April 2002, when ITV Digital collapsed, to the Freeview launch six months later - knows a thing or two about speed branding.

'There's a major challenge now in moving quickly in marketing,' he says. 'From the BBC's point of view, the other big points are the speed of technological change and the constantly changing habits of consumers. Marketing has to be done much faster now.'

What of the conclusion drawn from the Society's survey that advertising is a blunt tool? Although Duncan says the Freeview launch featured a lot of PR and heavy in-store promotion, he believes traditional advertising played an important role, because Freeview was incorporated into an above-the-line campaign for BBC digital services. …

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