The Reality of Integrated Campaigns

27th May, 2014
by Todd Wackrow

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If you associate at all with agency or marketing folk, you have probably heard references to ‘through the line’ or ‘integrated’ campaigns. It’s nice that these are not acronyms which seem to be every 3rd word spoken these days, but regardless I thought I would give my view on what they are alluding to in the case you’re suffering from a bit of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Up until the last year or so, digital was often left as a bolt-on at the last minute, when the Marketing Manager or Ad Agency people had a “shit, we better put something on the website” moment. As digital has become more important in consumers’ lives this attitude has changed, but just throwing more budget towards your website, digital media, or social media isn’t the answer (although we certainly promote this attitude amongst our  clients, don’t get me wrong).

shit, we better put something on the website

Where we have been seeing clients achieve improved results and return on investment has been in taking a truly ‘integrated’ view towards their campaigns and Marketing plans, and not letting the cart get ahead of the horse by pre-determining how budget is split amongst channels (of which, digital is one). This often involves getting all key stakeholders in a room early, in our case generally the client/creative agency/media agency, and spending some solid planning time looking at the client brief, consumer needs, etc. and collaboratively working towards the best solution.

This means all parties are working from the same brief/plan, and should result in a campaign where all moving parts are working in harmony, instead of being fragmented and working in silos which can often happen. When this happens, you can often get cross-pollination between different partners and channels which result in a 1 + 1 = 3 scenario, which is an equation that despite not making any true mathematical sense is a good thing.

1+1=3 scenario, which is an equation that despite not making any true mathematical sense is a good thing.

This planning stage allows the early strategic focus to be spent on consumer insights, and what the brand is really trying to achieve, as opposed to getting too caught up on media channel plans or budgets which really only come into play once the core strategy is in play. This often means we walk into a project without a clearly defined budget, which can be unsettling to some degree, but ultimately we feel until some initial thinking has been done we can’t make a call of whether we need $5,000 or $50,000, so to set a budget of $25,000 up front is going to have you either overinvesting or underinvesting.

So next time you are planning a campaign that may have a digital component, try and break the habit of thinking you will “deal with Facebook and the website later” and get your digital partner in the room early. Even a single meeting with all key stakeholders discussing the brief together will probably bubble up some great insights and at least get all parties on the same page, which will have a great impact on campaign performance.