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The new brand strategy – ‘Hack me & mash up’
June 19, 08
Noor Fathima Warsia

The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2008 saw a few interesting points made during the seminars of the day. While engagement has been the overriding objective, and digital has been the overarching theme, global industry leaders spoke on various brand examples where brands have allowed consumers to ‘play’ with them and ‘hack’ them and how the combination of mediums could work wonders for brands.

One of the most popular seminars of the day was Leo Burnett and Contagious speaking on ‘Wildfire 2008 – Creativity, with a human touch’. The Wildfire series in the last few years have become quite an attraction for the delegates, and this year was no different. With the halls running full, delegates caught the seminar in the screening done in the corridors.

The seminar was presented by Paul Kemp-Robertson, Editor, Contagious, and Leo Burnett’s Reed Collins. The duo took the audience through various examples where the brands followed a simple strategy – ‘Tell me and I will forget, Show me and I may remember, Involve me and I will understand’. Kemp-Robertson spoke on branded utility becoming a part of the advertiser’s life and gave examples like Ikea, Guinness Hong Kong Sevens that had a human touch embedding themselves deeper into the lives of the consumers.

Some of the examples of connected products were Nike+ and its latest offering of the widget Miles. Brands like Sony and Electrolux combined platforms of the web and the outdoor to let consumers do “things to the brand” like painting the brand’s office buildings or doing something to the products. An advice that Collins had for the audience was to look at redirecting media budgets to avenues that would create more word of mouth, even if that meant erecting a 15 feet tall Coke bottle around the Olympics to break the clutter. Results showed that such initiatives worked.

Some brands like Bebo.com even sought permission from their users before allowing a branded entertainment activity on the site, and Kemp-Robertson was of the opinion that that helped in creating communities. Once the consumer was participating with an activity of the brand, it was no longer advertising for him. Advertising, however, continued to be the “noise that they heard in television and radio”.

Tribal DDB’s Jeroen Matser spoke on the various applications like QR, Wii and Open Source that brands could take advantage of for further involving the consumer with the brand. He spoke on the changes of the colliding worlds and how to do business in such an environment. He also took the audience through the Roomba example and how the product was designed in a manner that it could be hacked by consumers to be used in any way, with a combination of another product. Matser said that this allowed mash up in technologies and that had helped in getting the consumer in creating new utility devices.

Another mash up example that he sited was that of BBC, which took Google maps and invited its viewers to give information on what was happening at the time in that place. “Things from one channel can be relevant somewhere else,” stated Matser, urging the audience to take examples seen every day today and use them to the benefit of their brands.

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