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How Fragmentation Could Bring Us All Back Together



INFLUENCER: VCCP Kin's Peter Grenfell on the challenges and opportunities that are going to define the year ahead

How Fragmentation Could Bring Us All Back Together

As we lurch from one political crisis to another, at the time of writing, it feels somewhat trivial to talk about the challenges the marketing community faces in 2019. 

However, much like UK MPs, we approach 2019 staring at a fragmented landscape. Whether that’s in terms of media choices, challenged agency models, data and trust issues or high street retailer woes. 

Fragmentation is not new. Some of our most established mediums were once disrupters themselves. Embracing challenge should be in our DNA, helping brands and our clients to see choice as a positive thing, if harnessed in the right way. Our job is to help navigate the brands we create, manage and shape through yet another era of disruption. 

So what are the challenges and opportunities that are going to define the year ahead?

From mass market consumers to selective tribes

The world doesn’t need another Coca-Cola, Ford or P&G. And consumers don’t want one either. We’re entering an era of brands and businesses for whom personal appeal, relevance and brand behaviour is most important. 

Which is why Dyson are now a competitor to Ford and Fever Tree are to Coca-Cola. These brands don’t necessarily appeal across the board to everyone but they do appeal strongly to certain tribes of consumers rather than all consumers. With the realistic ambition of brand love rather than ambivalence. 

For these newer, more personal brands their choice of communications will differ. Consumer tribes are more selective in the type of advertising they choose to allow into their lives, either emotionally (by engaging with it) or functionally (the ongoing use of ad blockers). Which means we’ll continue to see a shift in the balance of power between saying and delivering, which brings us onto…

How consumers experience brands matters more than ever

If you subscribe to the theory that anything and everything has the potential to be a media channel, then real life experiences, objects and activations have a big role to play with our ever more selective audience.

But the role brand experience plays in the marketing mix may well change in 2019. From being a ‘nice to have’ once all the traditional parts of the campaign have been thought about, we will see brand experience become the new blockbuster hero moment for brands. Shifting its role from a ‘let’s do it if there’s enough money left over’ to the piece of hero content that may well define and headline a whole campaign. With this approach driven by comprehensive customer journeys that look at every touchpoint at every stage of the journey, not just a burst of awareness driving communications. 

For the new generation of brands and their audience, delivering on brand experience will be the expected medium. For more traditional brands, this might just be the new way to cut through with credibility.

More media choices than ever in social and video

Whilst the more established media channels have simplified their paid for choices into pre-defined slots and segments, social platforms are doing the opposite. At a time when linear TV is losing relevance with a younger audience (the younger the audience, the harder they will be to reach), marketers are faced with a myriad of options in social and digital. 

YouTube is the platform of choice as it emulates TV the most, but other channels have a plethora of newer and sometimes interesting formats, opening up opportunities to advertisers. Whether that’s Snapchat embedding AR, Instagram trialling active engagement on video or the long form launch of FB Watch and IGTV. 

The challenge of course is navigating our way around this. Which platforms and formats are right for the different and fragmented tribes a brand may need to talk to? 

Distribution is the key to bringing us all together

At the heart of things is a simple truth, which is that a creative idea in isolation may no longer be enough. However beautiful and powerful the film/ad/tweet/post might be, without joining the creative work up with the audience, their platforms and the ways of reaching them then we’ve only done half the job. 

That’s why in 2019 a communications idea for the modern age is as much about the medium as it is the message. Where the audience is as important as the art direction and the media platform as powerful as persuasive writing. 

Modern ideas succeed when we put the audience and their online spaces, attitudes and influences together to really inform the creative outcome. Where the platform, publisher or influencer could even become the creative idea. 

Go back to go forward

Ironically, to deliver thinking and results like this also means going back in time. What we’re really talking about is a return to a full service agency offering, something that was the norm up until the 1990s. But it also means thinking of the future, as this needs to be a full service model for the modern age. Where we bring creatives, media thinkers, technologists, analysts, artists and community managers together to deliver a new type of campaign that is no longer defined by traditional silos and ways of working, but instead focuses on original, effective and connected ideas that always have the audience reach and engagement at their core.

So whilst parliament grapples with the ever more complex political scene, 2019 presents our industry with an opportunity to simplify and provide clear direction in an every changing marketing landscape. Unlike our parliament (at present, at least) seems capable of; it’s going to require all of us to work in closer harmony than ever. 

Peter Grenfell is managing director at VCCP Kin

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VCCP, Fri, 14 Dec 2018 14:07:21 GMT