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Good Guys Can Finish First: Lessons on Standing Out In a Loud Media Landscape

3 minute read | June 2013

It’s tempting to be bad—but is it worth it to your reputation?

“I see enough of it—it must be working,” Susan Credle, Leo Burnett’s chief creative officer, said about the attention-grabbing “bad advertising” trend.

“I think it works in the moment. This is short-term thinking, versus having the patience of having a longer term goal,” Credle said Wednesday at Nielsen’s Consumer 360 conference in Phoenix.

While it’s understandable that some marketers might try almost anything to get the attention of an increasingly fragmented, complex marketplace, Credle said that’s not a smart approach.

So, what’s a marketer to do?

During a panel discussion on how brands can stand out in a chaotic media environment, Credle hashed out solutions with Susan Lyne, CEO of AOL Brand Group; Deanie Elsner, chief marketing officer, Kraft Foods Group; and Pat Mitchell, CEO of the Paley Center for Media.

The group of marketing and content luminaries offered a few hard-won lessons:

Bring Your Personal Experiences to the Job

With the majority of spending globally controlled by women, Elsner knows the time is now to capitalize on solving the needs of busy women everywhere.

And she brings her experience as a working mom to the job: When asked what content she reads in the morning, Elsner joked that sometimes it’s only the cafeteria calendar—to see if it was her day to make lunch for her daughter.

In the advertising world, Credle said working in what was considered Madison Avenue’s “boys’ club” became an advantage for her.

“I think the reason I did well there is because I was different,” she said. “So I wasn’t redundant. And the lack of redundancy there made me stand out.”

Let Your Brand Become a Curator

“There’s no one in this room who doesn’t sometimes feel overwhelmed with the cacophony of content out there,” Lyne said. “But brands can help identify the things you’re genuinely interested in.”

Credle cited Red Bull as an example of a brand that has been successful with curating and publishing content.

“Brands are going to have to step in and be vibrant in this new space, and I think that’s going to be the win,” she said.

Diverse Teams Create Constructive Tension

Teamwork is critical to success and the speakers on the panel had some interesting insights into how to grow great ideas.

“Some of the best ideas have come from junior team members and cross-functional colleagues,” Kraft’s Elsner said. “A diverse team will lead to constructive tension. The key is to find the right question and you will get the right answer.”

It’s important to define diversity as well, Credle said: ““I think with diversity we have to look at not just women, but age, socioeconomic factors, where you went to school, geography and so on.”

Remember the Emotional Bonds People Have With Brands

“The product is a wedding band of a relationship with a brand. Pieces of creative have to add up to something bigger—so don’t focus on one piece of a campaign and the metrics around it. Treat research correctly,” Credle said.

“A lot of times we want to get rational about what a product does for us, versus what it can do for us in an emotional way.”

Young Consumers Expect to Participate in the Brand

“This new generation wants to participate in the brand positioning and messaging,” Lyne said. “They don’t want marketing messages to come at them.”

Elsner added, “If a marketer knows their brand really well, it can let consumers play with it a little, make it theirs. You will make mistakes, but you have to keep refreshing the brand.”

But all the panelists agreed that, in this changing media landscape, the sky’s the limit for companies that can cut through the noise to connect strongly with an audience.

For more insights into the consumer, click here.

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