Why campaigns can’t simply be a brand ego-stroke.

Posted on Thursday 21st September, 2017

Author: Emma Hodgkinson

We’re all guilty of using so-called ‘marketing jargon’.
It’s never far from the latest article, ‘influencer’ or internal eye-roll. One of the favourites is ‘brand awareness’, and more specifically ‘raising brand awareness’. Such ‘jargon’ terms start to be used so often that they lose their true meaning and as such, become vacuous components of endless marketing waffle. A prime example...

There’s a school of thought that traditionally marketing and marketing outputs are hard to track, and even harder to understand the role this activity plays in the outcome of whatever your goals/objectives are as a brand. 81% of marketers would increase spending on digital, mobile, and social channels if they could better track ROI.

The paradoxical challenge

As an agency, it’s our job to produce measureable, and more importantly, successful strategies and creative campaigns which help brands evolve and lead the way in their respective sectors. We do, however, see the challenge for marketers in today’s world:

On the one hand, the customer asks for ads/campaigns to be tailored to their needs, engaging, eye-catching, relevant to them and most of all, try and tap on the door of their saturated attention spans. This requirement seeks a deep understanding of the customer, a brand which has a purpose, and creativity which can (for the brand) be sometimes uncomfortable.

At the other end of the spectrum, the business needs the campaign to deliver. And by deliver it needs to drive X sales, hit X budget, and tick the boxes of pre-determined KPIs, whilst aligning with the overall business strategy. For any agency/client relationship, finding the sweet spot between the business needs and the customer needs is the holy grail of a great advertising campaign.


In a world where tracking and measuring the success of marketing is fast-becoming one of the objectives of any marketing individual/function, we’re actually seeing a tendency for brands to lean towards one side of the spectrum more than the other.

Client Briefs for example asking to ‘raise brand awareness’ with no KPIs, metrics or tracking system in place to measure. The very mention of implementing brand-tracking is seen as a longer-term solution when a short-term campaign is needed. And therein lies the issue.

The very notion of what makes a campaign successful becomes hazy if there are no KPIs to hit, or specific incremental gains – whether that be website traffic increase or calls to a number. It can almost feel like a brand is doing the campaign because they have to, or even worse, because they know ‘doing what they’ve always done’ will get them certain results. In a saturated market combined with shortening attention spans (that’s if your activity even registers in the mind of the customer), complacency and ambiguity are the enemy.

Hitting targets

The issue for an agency is then, to turn a vague request into strategic thinking and a subsequent creative idea that ‘delivers’. In doing so, we create our own assessment criteria for each idea, and in terms of campaign implementation, seek to generate results based upon our own judgement of what a ‘successful’ campaign looks like – which might be different to our client’s judgement, or even worse...the target customer’s.

It's no secret that the key to unlocking an agency relationship is a deep understanding of the client's business, the marketplace, and their customers.

Every agency would in theory love the notion of having full creative control, but we need to know the goal we are trying to achieve, usually equating to a percentage increase or numeric value we need the campaign to hit. Without this, campaigns become vacuous, and more of an ego-stroke for the brand, than of direct benefit to the customer. It’s campaigns like this that leave brands open to a perceived lack of purpose or authenticity with customers thinking ‘that’s nice but, so what?’

At Über, we like to work with clients, rather than for clients. Creating a successful partnership together, we can drive businesses and brands forward. Ultimately to get the best creative output which is underpinned by strategic thinking, we like to work with brands who know where they want to be. Marrying a business strategy with a brand strategy sets clear parameters for growth, meaning campaigns become a stepping stone in hitting these often ambitious targets.