The future of effective communication has to be about ideas, as it has always been. The best advertising is clever, interesting and creates a new perspective on the human condition relevant to a brand or proposition in some way. In the good old days there were clever creative-types who by dint of sheer genius seemed to do it naturally. Later, planning teams created disciplined approaches to generating effective ideas and processes that mere mortals could use to generate really good ideas. As time went on, and the world got more complex and interconnected, this involved greater degrees of collaboration across disciplines and more focus on really understanding the proposition as well as the way that media were evolving and would affect communication. So far, so adaptive – advertising is chock-full of intelligent, adaptable, problem solving types after all.
Equally, innovation has never been more important to the success of advertising and marketing communications. We live in a modern world where the proliferation of content, channels and media means that most messages will drown in the cacophony of noise and competition that is the saturated, always-on media environment of today. Whilst innovation has been big news for some time in the business world and the wider economy, the human tendency, as always, to define, categorise and control means that for most people the term innovation is about devising new products and services. But in the growing space that is created by the expanding bubble of personalised digital communication, innovation must be as much about generating a rich seam of new, interesting and different ways to engage with the consumer. This engagement is key to creating the powerful social and cultural construct that is a brand and to effectively changing behaviour - whether for social, philanthropic or commercial purposes.
But now, the field of play, with networked communications and ubiquitous digital channels that reach in into every nook and cranny of the consumer psyche has got so vast and amorphous that agencies are faced with an ever-more intense challenge, perhaps, than ever before. How can they generate powerful, motivating and stand-out ideas that are so good that they can have a life of their own, provide space for consumers to play and pass on and become integrated into the cultural landscape of the day-to-day? Because in a world where brands become verbs, such as Google, Twitter and Facebook, the prize of effectiveness has to be integration into the consumers rich palette of daily repertoires and activities. It is worth noting that many social nouns are also becoming verbs - family and community are all about what we do, rather than what we are, which gives a further clue as to the paramount importance of the active consumer in creating social and consumer reality these days.
Ideas are born from many different sources - in fact what seems to distinguish the best and most original ideas nowadays is the ability to combine insights from a range of disciplines and perspectives into a single over-arching and powerful thought or proposition that will corral consumer attention.
From research we have undertaken published in The Future of Insight and from the workshops we have been running with our Insight Community over the past year, we have found that the nature and role of insight is rapidly transforming from being a research-process to an idea-formulation to transform the ordinary to the special. Great emphasis is now placed on the experience of getting an insight - the “Aha!” moment as many people call it.
More and more of our clients (both agency and client-side) recognise that such breakthroughs can only come from a genuinely broad-based, open and collaborative process. This requires the right mix of skills - increasingly bringing in people from different disciplines - as well as the willingness to constantly experiment and innovate with approaches, to turning research into inspirational material and working methods to maximise the quality and range of ideas. The most important facet is then being able to capture and communicate the insight in a way that transforms the mind-set of everyone involved and this remains one of the biggest challenges facing our clients. It is almost as if insight professionals have to become marketers of their own ideas to maximise their impact.
This year the Future Foundation is sponsoring the IPA Effectiveness Awards and as part of this year’s judging panel we look forward to witnessing many examples of clever insights, ideas and impressive displays of innovation, which in order to clinch one of these coveted awards will also have had to have been clearly identified, communicated and measured in terms of their effectiveness. In particular we are delighted to be sponsoring a Special Prize at the Awards which will reward the paper where insight was at the heart of thinking and significantly influenced the return on marketing investment. Entering these Awards are no mean feat and require enormous dedication, but for companies keen to prove the power of their marketing communications, winning an IPA Effectiveness Award is the industry equivalent of an Olympic Gold.”
For more information on the IPA Effectiveness Awards or to enter, please visit www.ipaeffectivenessawards.co.uk
f you would like a copy of ‘The Future of Insight’, please email Josiew@futurefoundation.net