Sometime ago I read a pretty informative blog article by Azam Khan of Digitz about the ways marketers can develop effective content strategies.
He made some valid points and his statement about context attracted my attention in particular. He wrote “Define where your audience is going to consume your content. Identify the right platforms (social media, SEO, mobile, activation) where your audience can best interact with your content. The context is as important as the content.”
I am glad he mentioned context but in my view context is more important than content or more important than marketers believe it is.
In my years of marketing experience, I have mourned the fact that in Pakistan most advertising is devoid of context. Globally marketers have learned to harness the power of context, be it by leveraging popular events, or creating a paradigm shift in the minds of the audience. It’s high time that in our market we learn to use context to create more impactful and differentiated campaigns.
Currently the way advertising is carried out in Pakistan is heavily exposure driven; the ad placement is designed to catch eyeballs, to interrupt the consumer. So even if our marketers are not looking for interaction, they should at least aim to create context. The presence of context drastically increases the potential of an ad to be noticed and creates a higher probability of being remembered and perhaps even shared. In Positioning, Ries and Trout wrote about the importance differentiating brands in order to make them stand out in the clutter of ads, non-ad content and stimuli – and just as differentiation helps a brand stand out in the mind, context helps a brand to stand out in the medium or placement vehicle.
Sometime ago, while waiting for a friend at a restaurant, I started leafing through a magazine in a rather disinterested way; then suddenly I was almost laughing out loud. Why? Context, I found an ad that spoke to me in my present situation and also highlighted the product effortlessly.
At present the only place where advertisers and brands seem to be consistently trying to create context is in social media. Many brands make efforts to leverage a hot topic or fad. If it is accepted among marketers that in social media they need to do this, why not in other media?
Think of Nando’s, a brand that spends comparatively less than the big FMCG brands but is able to stand out. Their formula is simple, have a humorous but brand centric take on a popular event. They have, for the past 15 years, been doing effectively what the social media brigade is attempting now.
I am not sure if the WD40 ad is a global idea, but if it is a local idea then well done. Fortunately there are other examples of context being used in Pakistan.
Tetley World Cup Ad 2006:
Italy won the 2006 World Cup, although the favourites were the defending champions – Brazil. Tetley’s agency Headlion cleverly played on the fact that their competitor Lipton is associated with yellow, like the Brazilian team, while Tetley has similar brand colours to the Italian team.
Dawn Wet Newspapers:
This idea is world class and is similar to the UNICEF campaign asking for donations on behalf of freezing in the Middle East and placing these ads in the frozen foods sections of supermarkets. A simple idea from Saatchi & Saatchi and very impactful too. I would have loved to see the expressions of the people receiving this paper!
DHL Ease in Imports:
Another amazing use of context by Headlion. Instead of trying to just expose the audience to the message, a context was created. Neil Christy explained in a comment on a KAMN post that the brief was about showing how easy it is to import stuff by using DHL. This was a B2B campaign and in my view, a very brave one. This campaign was the result of a brainstorming session between the client and agency, proof that creative ideas can be conceived and executed in Pakistan.
For marketers around the world, using the power of context is second nature, for us in Pakistan it is a skill we need to develop. The advantages of including context are manifold, less media spend is required and more impact can be created. If the ad is done right there is a high chance that earned media mileage will be created and most importantly your brand message has a better opportunity to stick in the mind of the consumer over a longer period of time.