As humans, we rarely agree to disagree. Especially when it comes to politics, identity or values – often taboo topics of dinner table conversations. It’s no wonder that in order to be successful in the always-on, borderless world, brands have to appeal to our humanity. Something that empowers and unites us. Something that lifts us up. And something we can all stand for and support.
Interestingly, any debate around the best brands in the world is sure to descend into the same calibre of argument you’ll see when sports fans discuss the greatest player of all time. A company’s quality is subjective. In an era of environmental and social hyper-awareness, factors such as social purpose, ethical sourcing and carbon emissions are talked about as new values alongside traditional financial data points. A creative fan base is vital – as it signifies brand loyalty well beyond financial or convenience considerations. Media is no exception. As business journalists set agendas and influence industry debate – increasingly seeking more engaging consumer-relevant angles – taking a corporate stance on a major issue and / or coming up with creative campaigns becomes more powerful.
Mature companies tend to play it safe when it comes to brand campaigning – choosing to earn customer loyalty through top-notch digital marketing and user experience on its digital platforms. But it’s miles away from winning. According to this year’s LEWIS Global Marketing Engagement Index, companies that do better financially sport a superior use of earned media, digital marketing and social media presence. To win big, it’s important to command the attention of global media. The way to do it is through bold brand campaigns. After all, fortune favours the brave. And media is an authentic, (hard)-earned way to create a meaningful connection with a target audience.
Let’s review a few examples of marketing engagement leaders of today and see how they have progressively been doing to capture the public – and general media – consciousness:
- IBM came top this year in the LEWIS Global Marketing Engagement Index, showing superior use of all customer engagement tools in its arsenal. Not only that – when it comes to the brand’s ability to resonate with global media and consumers audiences – it goes all the way back to the phenomenal IBM Watson Jeopardy campaign almost a decade ago that still captures imagination. Remember this? Three nights, two people, one machine and $1 million: the victory of IBM’s Watson over two human contestants on Jeopardy was the first, and possibly only, time the machine impressed itself on the general public’s consciousness – as IBM Watson defeated two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions. Authentic, captivating, incredible – creating myriads of headlines in the English language media for a number of years. This campaign is an example of a brand playing to our most human traits – boundless curiosity, desire to improve, and innate desire to test the boundaries.
- Nike was in this year’s top 10 in Americas, scoring 78%. When it comes to taking global media by the storm – Nike is on top of the game. It’s fairly recent 30 year anniversary celebration of its “Just Do It” was celebrated with an advert, featuring Colin Kaepernick. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who sparked controversy by kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. Controversial? Yes. Brave? Very. In line with Nike’s corporate daring ethos, celebrating human individuality and endless pursuit of greatness? Absolutely. Yes, it was a divisive campaign – setting media coverage fires globally. And guess what – Nike’s sales surged by 31% following the ad, generating over $6 billion (!) in sales for the brand.
- Unilever was in EMEA’s top 10 with a score of 76.7%. They get exactly how consumers feel, what they crave, and how to empower them. The Unilever brand today is synonymous with ‘unstereotyped’ advertising – across every brand and in every one of its markets. Sustainability is another topic it owns. Both are hugely popular and successful with the consumer and the media alike, creating a strong fan base. Consumers not only want to purposefully consume Unilever brands – they feel good about their choices through feeling more empowered and doing the right thing for the planet in the process.
These three examples go a long way to show that a brand that only delivers a fantastic experience through some and not all channels – and doesn’t work on creating a meaningful connection with its audiences – cannot truly be said to be a leader in marketing engagement. In this day and age of white noise, a brand singing in unison with its consumers through a purposeful campaign – amplified and endorsed by biggest global media brands – is really at the heart of long-term business success.