Just Tell A Really Simple Story: Lessons from the Festival of Media

By Adam Gerhart, CEO, U.S., Mindshare North America

Recently, I had the honor of serving as a judge for the Festival of Media Global Awards. It’s always tremendously inspiring to look at some of the top case studies coming from other companies, and even more so when there’s a global lens. Ultimately in media, if you’re never looking outside your own market, then you’re thinking too small. This is my take on what resonated.

1) What did you learn from the judging experience? Any key insights / trends?

I saw some incredible work which put forward provocative ideas, grew market share for brands, and most notably of all, drove real social good in the marketplace. In looking at these amazing programs and beyond, there were two key insights that I took away from the judging experience:

1) Above all, just tell a really simple story. Make it human, make it easy to understand. And tone down the hyperbolic language while you’re at it. Your campaign probably isn’t the first in the world. If it is, it’s likely because you made it niche, as the “first truly experiential customer activation leveraging AR and chatbots.” What’s a first for your category or region may not be a first in the landscape overall – and first doesn’t make it the best either. Understand the backdrop of where you’re being judged; before you claim something as a “first,” do the research to see what else is out there.

2) The strategy and the results need a clear connection to the campaign objective. There were a number of submissions which showcased interesting work, but in the end, what they achieved didn’t tie back to their goals. They either didn’t measure the right things, or they just didn’t get the results in the areas they wanted. You can’t make up for that with the marketer’s equivalent of a bait-and-switch. Show that you’ve accomplished what you set out to do in the first place. Making it tangible is critical, but only in support of the right metrics – so if the objective was a conversion to a sale, don’t brag about the countless ‘free’ PR impressions you generated to raise awareness.

2) What surprised you?

Just how many of the best submissions weren’t omnichannel programs, but executions that focused on one or two specific channels, or innovative uses of a channel, instead. While it may sound pedestrian, the lesson here is not to force a 360 campaign; just because it’s integrated doesn’t make it good. Yes, there are plenty of great omnichannel campaigns but if you have a smart idea that works on mobile, do it justice by giving it the execution it deserves on that channel, instead of trying to force it across platforms.

3) What was your favorite entry and why?

During the first round of judging, two of my favorite entries were:

1) Pocket Dentist. This Colgate campaign solved for a real, human need – the lack of dental care and information available to rural populations in India. Knowing that 80% of these households had access to a basic cellphone but without data, the campaign set up free phone consults. After getting a missed call on your phone, you could call back to either get commonly asked dental questions answered via a voice recognition system in real-time, or get connected with a live dentist to address more complicated questions. It was smart, thorough, and well-executed via a mobile solution.

2) The Right Search. This campaign from French newspaper Libération sought to combat fake news during the 2017 French presidential election. The insight was simple: that we’ve come to value speed over rigor and depth, when it comes to news, a behavior which is beginning to lend itself to fake news – especially when we just search for a given topic. So, they launched CheckNews.fr, a search engine wherein consumers could type in questions, and then Libération journalists would come back to them within a few hours with answers backed up by real facts. They replaced algorithms with real human beings, showing the depth and accountability of the paper – another great example of a clear idea brilliantly executed through a media channel that they created.

And then during the last round of judging, I found Cerveza Victoria’s Lady Prieta campaignfrom Mexico to be phenomenal. The data showed that 80% of Mexicans have brown skin – yet 90% of advertising in Mexico doesn’t feature them, marginalizing the native people of the country. The campaign tackled this taboo topic with the goal of shocking the country into demanding change. It was a very bold move for a beer brand, which was so ingrained in (and part of defining) the cultural fabric of that market, to take a stand on that inequality. For a company with a huge market share, it could have gone either way – but taking a stand and using content to spark the debate was a great way to make a difference and grow share in a challenged category.

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