Thursday 07 December, 2017

Other than all being brilliant, what do the following eurobest winners have in common?

An epic precision clock made using trucks; an app that helps people overcome their stuttering; an almost-empty supermarket that makes a statement about diversity; scannable “magic” wallpaper that tells hundreds of bedtime stories; a new metal made from destructed illegal firearms.

Not one of them is constrained to a traditional media channel. There’s no TV ad here. There’s no standalone billboard. There’s certainly no press release or PR study.

The winners of eurobest remind us all, once again, that Ideas come in many shapes. And very rarely do these shapes resemble a traditional media channel.

These are ideas that infiltrate the world we live in. As such, they’re ideas that earn attention in any media. Ideas you can advertise and PR in themselves.

As the media landscape fragments more and more, the focus towards properly “media neutral” ideas is set to continue.

The trend towards better targeted work that’s tailored to its audience will do too. One talk by Ash Atalia from RoughCut TV helped shed some light on this. Ash described what’s happening in the TV entertainment industry, and I wonder if the same is happening in our own.

In the past, you had the big TV show. A show funded by advertising. The higher the viewing figures, the more could be charged for the ads around it. And so to drive those ratings, this show would need to appeal to granny, mum, dad and even the kids, all at the same time. Inevitably these shows get watered down to appeal to such a wide audience.

So you end up with content that many people like, but don’t love.

Netflix works to a different model. You only need one member of a household to want to see one show on Netflix for a subscription for the entire household to be bought. So shows are now written to appeal to very specific tastes, instead of trying to appeal to everyone.

This changes everything.

It means lots of shows get produced, for lots of niche audiences. Lots of independent production companies are set up to service this need. Better, more tailored content for everyone. More creativity.

Is our industry heading down the same path?

With consumers spread across more media channels than ever, reaching everyone isn’t necessary or even possible with one ad. So we see fewer big budget, global TV advertising extravaganzas conceived to appeal to all; and more targeted campaigns or branded content crafted for very specific audiences.

And just as the Netflix model means better shows, I hope our industry, the agencies within in it and the work we create will be all the better for it.

The other big industry trend I should mention is social impact. Or should I say, “countertrend”.

Because this year, eurobest showed the start of a swing away from “social good” campaigning. Yes, there were still plenty of winning ideas intended to help the world, but previously it’s been mostly that. This year, we saw many more campaigns directly orientated around the brand or service.

Based on conversations I had with jurors, it seems that after several years of every brand campaigning for every social cause under the sun, the bar has become unattainably high for social good campaigns. Awards juries and the wider public have become increasingly cynical towards campaigns that don’t make a meaningful difference, and wise to companies that don’t really live their social cause.

So when we’re creating social good for our clients, increasing awareness of an issue is always welcome. But what can we do to really make a difference? If our social good campaign is not changing the world in some way – and unless it’s as spine-tinglingly simple as the examples at the top – it’s not going to scratch the sides at eurobest 2018.

By James Nester, Executive Creative Director, Weber Shandwick, UK & EMEA

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