Understandably there are plenty of challenges facing retail and live events this upcoming festive season, but Santa has a few new high-powered helpers. Here’s how you can use them too…
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We’re heading into one of my favourite times of the year: the annual launch of the big-budget festive-season TV ads and retail campaigns. Along with these beautifully crafted commercials and campaigns by brands like John Lewis, Waitrose and Myer, we’re treated to merry sampling campaigns and innovative brand activations. This is where many brands spend the lion’s share of their annual budget to compete in the most critical time of the year commercially. However, this year is going to be very different for marketers and brands, given the restrictions that the world is currently facing. Simply put, the holiday season will be different in 2020, and brands will need to think differently too.
The good news: the Because team is going to be helping several brands this festive season with some smart marketing and advertising strategies, underpinned with innovative, creative technology and Covid-safe solutions. Even Santa is doing some pandemic upskilling this year at the Ministry of Fun (yes, it’s a real thing) to make sure he’s ready for the season. The reality this year is most budgets are smaller, and brands need more bang for their rapidly endangered buck. This year big and small brands alike have been emboldened to try new things, and bravery, and ‘test, learn & apply’ marketing strategies are being rewarded in an uncertain market.
Our rules for the festive season: you need to be agile, resourceful, budget-conscious, and ready to move fast on aggressive timelines. This is the playground of lean, independent agencies, as they’re less restricted by red tape, live by the entrepreneurial creed, and have an appetite for experimentation. They can turn things ‘on’ and ‘off’ at a moment’s notice, and they can tweak and overturn strategies on the fly. There will be new contact-free, Covid-safe tech-powered opportunities; and we’re not just talking about relying on adding more Zoom sessions to customers’ calendars. You’ll need to partner with an agency that has the digital tools and proven tech-based IP to harness virtual, digital and physical solutions to deliver truly Multidimensional Marketing. To help you crack Christmas commercially, here are five smart strategies you can use.
1. Harness virtual atoms to target your audience anywhere, anytime.
If you haven’t heard of them, they’re a cutting-edge platform that allows the distribution of infinite digital tokens virtually. They enable brands to virtually engage customers on a one-to-one basis, and without any physical contact, and incredibly they can be changed in a moment’s notice, making them unbelievably versatile. You can even digitally drop Virtual Atoms into people’s homes! So, the question is: how do you want to use them? Here are some ideas: you can create a branded journey or hunt where your customers are rewarded for collecting digital tokens in real life. Or you could revolutionise your sampling by dropping a Virtual Atom token into your TV ad (or directly down customer’s chimneys on Christmas Eve!). You could even start a whole new festive-season currency – the opportunities are endless. The best part of this: if yours is a lean budget, they can be a cost-effective mass engagement solution.
2. Use COVID-safe sampling and smarter social media.
While there are plenty of smart digital and virtual opportunities for the holidays, you can’t ignore the value of physical, in-person sampling; think brand to hand. Sanitisation and social distancing tactics go without saying, but the real marketing magic happens when you create clever Covid-safe distribution techniques and attention-grabbers, and then bolster it with social media. Case in point: our recent Haribo Childlike Happiness campaign. We created a bespoke helter-skelter and tricked-out trike to spark wonder among both the young and young at heart, and the mini-packs of sweet happiness were delivered through tubes via a perfect socially-distanced mechanism in the helter-skelter. These sweet activations were smartly promoted through location-specific social media promotion. The result: the best of safe sampling supplemented by smart, targeted content online.
3. Create virtual and augmented experiences.
While these technologies aren’t new these days, their evolution has meant they are more cost-effective and easier to roll out and adapt in a short time frame. Not only can they elevate the physical side of a campaign, but they can work as standalone techniques, and the potential is almost limitless. You can create augmented Santas and reindeer to drop in on celebrations, or host virtual gatherings that you can share with friends and family, and where brands can own digital real estate in a smart, authentic way.
4. Give the gift of gaming.
We’re big fans of brand gamification as an engagement technique here at Because, and we’ve used it in several of our most stand-out campaigns. We’ve created everything from bespoke racing games and gesture-controlled trampoline games through to customised Minecraft worlds. You can bring in some cheer with custom-built or repurposed games that target your customers and remove all physical obstacles. It’s also the perfect marketing tool to use right now; gaming is one of the few industries that has skyrocketed in 2020.
5. Harness influencers and shopstreaming.
In the last year, there have been excellent partnerships between brands and influencers, ranging from home-shot model campaigns through to creative adverts, and the selling power of the authentic influencer, both macro and micro, has been affirmed over and over again. With the rise of Shopstreaming as a new way to combine the best of social media exposure with influencer strategy, brands have another way to sell products to their customers, and one which targets them at home or wherever they happen to be – not just at physical locations like malls, high streets or during prime-time television time.
Bottom line: the marketing industry will need to work harder to create the festive-season spirit this year. Yes, most of us are financially challenged, and we will need to follow the forever-changing Covid rules, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate in a new way. At Because, we’re going to help Santa this year with our tech toys and creative campaigns; give us a shout, and we can help your brand too.