As a strategist it can sometimes be an awful experience to see ideas and insights turn into something average – or just awful... That hard working strategic planners have to see their initial thinking develop into a boring campaign is a risk, especially as a freelance, and especially here in Australia when the process is linear – the planner starts, hand over to the creatives and then it goes to the suits – instead of circular – when everyone is closely involved from start to finish, adding their special flavour to the mix. In a linear process the planner has very little to say about the execution.
I just witnessed a disaster and I am sure the planner behind was doing all things right, but the result was still far from ok.
During lunch I went down to Bondi Beach to have a look at an event that LG had promoted on Facebook.
“Today Hayden Quinn from Masterchef will be hosting our Life's Good moment winner, Linda Hayward's BBQ outing at Bondi Beach Pavilion, Bondi Beach. If you're in the area, please come and check it out.”
The event time was 12-14 so I walked down at 1 pm, thinking I could learn something about creating experiential campaigns. When googling I found that the event had gotten lots of media coverage, so I expected it to be successful and inspiring.
It was not. I arrived at 1 pm and there is a handful of people sitting around the chefs, so I tried to walk into the little tent to see what was going on. I got stopped immediately by a couple of promotional staff who wondered if I was from the client? I said no. They then told me the event started at 1.30 and I was welcome back then.
HUH??? Why would you advertise an event 12-14 if I´m not allowed to enter until 1.30? There was no one there, and seriously... on a Wednesday around lunch time all you find down Bondi is Chinese tourists and students – everyone who can afford LG are at work!
I thought I was saving the event from the embarrassment of being a complete failure with nobody in the audience, but I instead I was the one who got humiliated when accused of trying to crash the party.
I´ve many times laid out complex strategies and built up ideas with digital components, all sorts of clever marketing details and strict guidelines on how it´s supposed to be executed to fit the brand DNA, just to find the client or the agency have cut the budget, and turned the holistic thinking into nothing. It´s frustrating! When you freelance you can´t be in complete control and inspire all the way. But seeing promotional staff lazing around handing out freebies without being properly trained in brand values, teasing with “free” instead of emotional values, makes me sometimes want to cry or change jobs.
I went back home after being rejected, and I really hope there was more people coming on the appropriate time. I still want them to succeed.It is really important that the key influencer and creators of a brand are present all the way. Don´t expect those at the far end of the chain to get the brand strategy, the deep values, the emotional message we are trying to send. Don´t let all the work get wasted by not controlling the process from start to finish. It´s easily turned into a chinese whisper, so be firm. Hold tight. And think in circles or spirals. Don´t plan a campaign as if it was a factory from the industrial era.