Curiosity, collaboration and communications: day one highlights of IPA Campaign Planning Sydney

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Curiosity, collaboration and communications: highlights of IPA Campaign Planning Sydney, day one

Thursday, 28 March 2017

Day One of IPA Campaign Planning Sydney taught delegates to be curious when uncovering insights and defining purpose; to embrace and never underestimate the power of collaboration; and to communicate in a strategic way that is bigger than a product - and truly matters.

Not only should today’s planners ensure their work is relevant, consistent and purposeful in all connections to ensure consumers experience the brand’s purpose 100% of the time, UM Australia chief digital officer Maria Grivas stated, but they should leverage data to make a message really resonate.

“Planners should look to data to understand consumers so well that you speak to them when they want, with the exact product or service they need, in a way that’s persuasive to them,” Grivas (pictured below centre) explained in the day’s first session, ‘The Impact of Technology on Modern Communications Planning’.

But this should not be done in isolation, she advised: “Allow for collaboration with consumers, other brands and agencies to create new products, experiences and communications that deliver greater results than could be achieved in isolation.”


Purpose and provocative thinking

But pushing products persuasively is not the endgame, warned David Hartmann, Special Group planning partner in his session, ‘The Power of Purpose”: “If you want to influence more than ads, purpose is your friend.”

Yet despite a growing desire from consumers to gravitate more towards things with meaning in them - with 73% willing to recommend a brand that stands for something - purpose cannot simply be invented.

So Hartmann (pictured above right) advised planners to consider building purpose via open source means to ensure the end result matters to both the business and the audience: “Don’t look at it as a marketing thing. Look at it as a people thing. People are driven by purpose and passion.”

But what about provocative thinking? The Monkeys executive planning director Fabio Buresti declared that provocative thinking is the driving force behind everything the agency does, to point that they even issue their own KPIs on it. Because, as he said in his ‘Campaign Planning Fundamentals’ session, unless you have a clear brand yourself, you can’t lead clients.

However, there is a need for brand strategy and communications strategy to be separated: without establishing the strategic fundamentals, you’re just being tactical, Buresti (pictured above left) noted.

“I find myself often having to retrain people to think about brand strategy, not campaign strategy,” he said. “A client will not want to have a relationship with an account person who is not strategic, as you won’t speak the same language.”

Always start with the brand, he advised delegates, building a communications platform and a long-term narrative from the brand strategy.


Strategy and entrepreneurialism

Ogilvy Australia chief strategy officer Toby Harrison (pictured above left) further emphasised the importance of strategy in his session, ‘Defining Problems, Identifying Audiences, Unearthing Truths’.

“The role of the strategic planning has to be far more entrepreneurial in terms of identifying opportunities,” he declared. His top tips for planners? Ask binary questions around the issues, influence the influential and actively hunt the invaluable insight. If it doesn’t surprise you, it’s not valuable.

But research should not validate a strategy on its own, Harrison warned: a statement that was further underpinned by J. Walter Thompson Australia  executive planning director Angela Morris in her session, ‘The Role of Research in Modern Campaign Planning’.

As she clarified: “Research offers input to thinking and insight - it is not a replacement.” She also suggested that while planners should embrace uncertainty and approach research with an open mind and clear purpose, they shouldn’t take it at face value, and always question it.

Morris (pictured above centre) also detailed how a lack of ownership of research could be a planner’s downfall. To overcome this, planners should be proactive, interested and have an opinion to prove they are a partner that is valuable, not obstructive, to become more likely to gain ‘consultant’ status.

Planners would also do well to know the brand and category better than the client, Morris suggested, to be armed to put any new piece of research in context of other learnings, as well as encouraging the client to think wider than a single piece of research to fully inform a decision.

Overcoming digital transformation challenges 

All of these insights will move planners towards ‘Building Brands in the Digital Age’ - also the day’s final topic, led by BWM Dentsu founding partner and chief strategy officer Jamie Mackay (pictured above right).

While brands have never been more important to business transformation than in the digital age, Mackay told delegates over dinner, there may be obstacles such as siloed internal departments (eg digital vs HR vs marketing vs sales), CEO engagement and true media transparency.

How can planners overcome this? Have a clear and collaborative strategic process that all decision makers buy into, Mackay offered. Use the process to align business, brand, marketing and communications objectives and KPis, he added, and bring creativity and ideation upstream into the strategic process.

That’s all from Day One of IPA Campaign Planning Sydney, chaired by UM Australia chief strategy officer Sophie Price and former Optus YES director, brand & communications, Michelle Katz. Click here to find out more about IPA professional development offered by The Communications Council.