Text regular text here

2020 Late registrations are still open! Click here to Apply Online
Registrations for semester 2 close 31 July. Register Today!

Journal of Strategic Marketing Newsletter – June 2020

Journal of Strategic Marketing Newsletter – June 2020

A NOTE ON MARKETING THE FUTURE

Five months into the coronavirus pandemic, with the attendant fallout in business and society, and we’re no closer to establishing a ‘new normal’, the term de jure across the globe we use to try and describe where we’re heading post-COVID-19. Whenever that will be…

Nevertheless, certain realities and trends are emerging, giving marketers some indication of where the discipline is heading and what they should be taking into account. That’s the road we’re taking in this edition of the Journal of Strategic Marketing.

A recent Nielsen survey points to a growth spurt in the ecommerce sector. Thirty-seven percent of South Africans indicated they are shopping more online, particularly for groceries. Previously, it was fashion, travel and entertainment that were the online front-runners. Only one to two percent of South Africans regularly bought food and groceries online. Managing director of Nielsen Africa, Bryan Sun, in his piece for this edition, says the African consumer has shown “incredible behaviour changes” over the past few months “with major increases in the use of social networking, online reading, listening to music and video streaming”.

Nielsen South Africa retailer lead Gareth Paterson said the rapid evolution in online made it clear that adoption  in the current situation was paving the way for a sustained development of online shopping, in terms of infrastructure and consumer acceptance. Still, he warned retailers that communication with consumers was key, especially around issues such as being out of stock. The move from offline to online has to be seamless to keep the new consumers engaged.

Which is where supply chains come in, of course. IMM Graduate School lecturer in supply chain management, Marzia Storpioli, believes the ‘just in time’ model has been exposed during coronavirus as not being sustainable. She addresses this and more in her piece on reinventing supply chains.

The attitude of consumers too is changing. IMM Graduate School academic head, Angela Bruwer, writes in her look into where marketing is going as the pandemic continues, that consumers want to know the brands they’re supporting are ethical, that they’re authentic and that they’re not ripping them off. Actions, she warns, speak louder than words. The more compassionate and aware consumer also wants to know that packaging is sustainable and that brands are doing their bit in terms of corporate social investment, another biggie for marketers to note.

At the heart of managing businesses right now is creativity, as Brett Morris, CEO of Nahana Communications, points out. He emphasises that creativity is not just about producing a creative product, that it is a “process of critical thinking and problem solving”. The pandemic has forced all businesses to think creatively, about everything from how to manage staff working from home to how to restrategise around advertising, and he hopes that in future, they won’t take its power for granted. Hear hear.

With a bit of live sport back on SuperSport and news that Absa is no longer to sponsor the Premier Soccer League, sports marketing and sponsorship is top of mind. As it has been throughout the initial lockdown period. We’ve taken a global and a South African look at the sports arena, with WPP’s Misha Sher analysing the impact and opportunities globally, while BMi Sports Info’s David Sidenberg delves into the local  situation. He believes the silver lining is “incredible learnings around sports fans and their media consumption habits” and the opportunities this knowledge will present.

So, there’s no real clarity on this ‘new normal’ but there are certainly new insights and patterns to explore as we continue to ride out whatever this crazy new world is throwing at us. And a wild ride it is too.

Glenda Nevill

Editor

Creativity is a process of critical thinking and problem solving

Creativity is a process of critical thinking and problem solving

Creativity’s power in marketing and branding has been proven and documented over and over again for almost a century. When times are good, we’re more likely to take creativity for granted but now that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, we need to be more resourceful, writes BRETT MORRIS.

I’ve written many articles on creativity over the years. That’s probably because I’ve dedicated half my life to championing the cause of creativity as one of the most powerful tools any business has at its disposal. I’ve also been lucky enough to experience the power of creativity first-hand, working with brands and businesses that believe in the exponential advantage it offers.

Though I am more than happy to spend a good portion of my time and energy continually championing this cause, it has always amazed me that there is a need to do so. Creativity’s power in marketing and branding has been proven and documented over and over again for near almost a century.

Actions have spoken more loudly than words during the pandemic

Actions have spoken more loudly than words during the pandemic

Academic head of the IMM Graduate School, ANGELA BRUWER, discusses the impact, the fallout and the future of marketing in the wake of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.

I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t think any of us have got a crystal ball at this point. But I think we’re adapting because, with the many changes wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, we all have to become more agile, to think on our feet, to respond swiftly and authentically to the challenges the entire marketing sector is confronting right now.

At the IMM Graduate School, we’ve had to do just that. We’ve been the throes of exams and marking. To get to this point, in lockdown, we had to redo our whole learning platform, get the exams onto the system in time and for the first time, mark them online.

It’s been harrowing but is, perhaps, part of the ‘new normal’.

Sport’s blank page: COVID-19 crisis gives marketers and sponsors time to reflect, review and restructure

Sport’s blank page: COVID-19 crisis gives marketers and sponsors time to reflect, review and restructure

In a wide ranging interview with sports journalist, LUKE ALFRED, the CEO of BMi Sport and founding member and CEO of SS Network, David Sidenberg, talks about the impact of coronavirus on sport, rights holders, broadcasters and sponsorship. The silver lining, he says, is that sport has a blank page that could be filled with the ‘incredible learnings’ about sports fans and their media consumption habits.

The coronavirus pandemic has raised a variety of threats (and questions) in the sports industry. These relate to live sport, the broadcast of live sport and the relationship between rights holders and broadcasters. But they also relate to sponsorship, legal issues, public health issues and the role of government going forward.

How sponsors can navigate COVID-19

How sponsors can navigate COVID-19

In a wide ranging interview with sports journalist, LUKE ALFRED, the CEO of BMi Sport and founding member and CEO of SS Network, David Sidenberg, talks about the impact of coronavirus on sport, rights holders, broadcasters and sponsorship. The silver lining, he says, is that sport has a blank page that could be filled with the ‘incredible learnings’ about sports fans and their media consumption habits.

It’s safe to say that the sports marketing industry is living through unprecedented times. Never before has sport come to a complete halt across the world (with a few minor exceptions like Belarus), depriving billions of people of a much-loved emotional outlet and daily passion point.

Brands, which were predicted to spend £37.5 billion on sports sponsorship in 2020, are facing some tough choices. What do they do now that nearly every event has been postponed or suspended? How can they continue to engage passionate sports audiences?

A prime imperative: Reinventing supply chains

A prime imperative: Reinventing supply chains

Current disruptions have brought to light the fragility of our supply chains, says MARZIA STORPIOLI. And the volatility is set to continue for quite some time. What to do?

There’s not doubt volatility, turbulence and uncertainty will continue, and probably increase in the decades ahead, and the ‘business as usual mentality’ will need to be replaced with business seeking stability in the face of disruption.

Current disruptions have brought to light the fragility of our supply chains. For the past 20 years, the focus has been on cutting costs along each link in the chain. Unfortunately, this has also expunged any flexibility or resilience (the ability to withstand shocks to the system) in supply chains.

The question now is, how do we retain cost efficiency but reintroduce flexibility and elasticity into supply chains?

COVID-19 creates deep shifts in consumer behaviour across Africa

COVID-19 creates deep shifts in consumer behaviour across Africa

BRYAN SUN, managing director of Nielsen Africa, gives insights into the new African consumer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a new kind of African consumer who is already displaying fundamental shifts in consumption and purchase behaviour driven by factors such as heightened health awareness, a focus on quality and safety, a renewed desire to stay at home and a tight wallet squeeze.

A recent Nielsen industry webinar, Navigating the New Normal, discussed the realities and effects of this rapidly evolving outlook. Nielsen Africa outlined the consumer evolution since the onset of the pandemic and the fact that crisis-buying patterns have accelerated the adoption of permanent behaviour change.

Reebok and CrossFit no longer a couplet

Reebok has ended its association with CrossFit after the latter’s founder, Greg Glassman, tweeted a response to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s comment that racism was a public health issue. Glassman replied, “It’s FLOYD-19” in reference to the coronavirus pandemic and the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Reebok was unimpressed. “Recently, we have been in discussions regarding a new agreement, however, in light of recent events, we have made the decision to end our partnership with CrossFit HQ,” it said in a statement to The Morning Chalk Up.

Coca-Cola puts acquisitions on hold to invest in its business

Coca-Cola will be concentrating on ecommerce and innovation as part of its post-coronavirus response. The company’s chief financial officer, John Murphy, told the recent RBC Capital Markets global consumer and retail conference that emerging stronger and staying true to the company’s overall purpose were guiding some of its decisions. He said investing in the business was the number one priority, while the mergers and acquisitions side was now a “lower priority”. Coca-Cola, before the pandemic, was looking into diversifying its portfolio. Murphy said it was vital Coca-Cola’s brand “become as good in the online shelf as we are in the offline shelf”.

Time to look beyond the ‘cult of the CMO’

A new study from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has revealed the role of chief marketing officer is still necessary, but that it ought to come with major changes. It said there was a need to “look beyond the cult of the CMO as the person with ultimate wisdom in all the complex areas that now affect the role”. Team capabilities, and the softer skills needed to effectively lead a team, are increasingly critical for CMOs, the report says. The CMO’s responsibilities range across nine distinct areas from marketing strategy (79%) through to data ethics (34%), business growth (58%) through to sustainability (37%).

Many of these areas are expected to become increasingly important during the next five years, with 80% of respondents citing sustainability, 77% the need to manage digital martech and platforms, and 74% the role of data ethics.

Travel Tractions saves 18 youth jobs by launching affordable marketing agency

A small South African business, Travel Tractions, has turned the stress of the struggling travel industry into an opportunity by launching an online marketing business, saving the jobs of up to 18 young people under the age of 30. Founder Matt Davison launched The Marketing Mill in response to COVID-19, ensuring that his staff of 18 keep their jobs during a very difficult time. The agency will market the affordability of South African work and the high level of quality that is produced.

IMM Graduate School now accredited skills development provider to CGISA

The IMM Graduate School is now an accredited skills development provider for the Chartered Governance Institute of Southern Africa (CGISA). As the only provider of online instruction and learning support for CGISA programmes, the IMM Graduate School offers students 13 weeks of tutorial sessions, once a week for two hours, with tutors who are experts in their field and who have a wealth of industry experience to share. They also help students keep pace with the learning content, which can often be a problem when facing work, home, and study responsibilities. During these online sessions, students will be able to collaborate with other students; bounce their understanding of concepts off each other, see varied perspectives on the module content, and learn from each other. To register and find out more, click here.

Journal of Strategic Marketing Newsletter – April 2020

Journal of Strategic Marketing Newsletter – April 2020

A NOTE ON MARKETING THE FUTURE

Well, who knew when we started 2020 with such oomph and optimism, shedding the trials of 2019 like a snake’s skin, that just two and a half months into the new decade, we would be confronting a global monster that has changed lives and business forever.

Marketers, faced with the unprecedented crisis coronavirus has wrought across the globe, have had to throw out existing marketing plans and respond with agility and authenticity, on multiple fronts, to the wants and needs of consumers.

And those wants and needs have changed literally overnight with one third of the world’s population living in lockdown conditions. What, then is a brand’s purpose in these times? According to data from Global Web Index, “brand purpose is everyone’s concern”.

As Chris Beer, author of ‘Coronavirus: how brands should respond to the crisis’, says, “Right now, purpose isn’t about brand health – it’s about public health.” And marketers and brands that respond appropriately “will emerge as leaders after the crisis”. Luxury brand LVMH, for example, started making hand sanitiser, a massive move away from its usual exclusive messaging.

For all the big picture thinking, the nuts and bolts matter too. One of the first major impacts of the virus was on global supply chains. Everyone is aware of the ‘pandemic pantry’, of the panicked run on hand sanitisers and loo paper and tinned foods and even alcohol as South Africans followed global behaviour patterns ahead of lockdown.

Supply chain management and procurement professional, Marzia Storpioli (MCIPS), who is a Lecturer: Supply Chain Management and Programme manager: BCom International Supply Chain Management at the IMM Graduate School, has taken a hard look at the impact in her piece, underpinned by Nielsen’s global research, ‘Supply chains have been changed, possibly forever’. Supply chains, once a concept, are now a “life-saving essential service”.

The global hunt for a vaccine or cure for the coronavirus is dependent on the collaboration or the concept of ‘open innovation’ betwen scientists and doctors around the world. The father of open innovation, Henry Chesbrough, has written a follow up to his 2003 book that looks at the challenges and successes of open innovation over the past 17 years. Our story ‘Don’t be distracted by the ‘shiny new objects’ arising from the advance of technology’ takes a look at this.

Twenty four million South Africans belong to loyalty card or rewards schemes. Justin Brown has explored loyalty marketing in his piece ‘The ins and outs of a successful rewards and loyalty programme’.

We’ve unpacked a case study on how Ads24’s groundbreaking and award-winning Food for Thought series was conceptualised and rolled out. ‘Food for thought on how to create a provocative experiential activation’ details the plan from concept and the AI-inspired invitation to implementation and drones delivering desserts. Truly amazing.

Finally, we’ve rounded up a few Strategic Snippets making waves at home and abroad.

Stay home and #staysafe.

Glenda Nevill

Editor

1 - SupplyChain-01 web

Supply chains have been changed, possibly forever

The competition is no longer between brands or even between companies; it is between supply chains (networks). Supply chains in the time of coronavirus have changed, possibly forever. MARZIA STORPIOLI reports.

Supply chain management has been likened to a philosophy, a concept rather than an essential service.

Historically, companies relied on strong brands and good products to win over the consumer. Competitive advantage was gained by the organisation based on the strength of its brands and its reputation for quality products.

But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its inexorable march across the globe, supply chain management is no longer being considered merely a concept, but rather a life-saving essential service used for the cohesion of all supply chains so that they may work in concert with one another in order to satiate the needs and wants of people and businesses at all times, including times of crises.

4 - Assegai CaseStudy-01 web

Robots vs Humans: A compelling story of a powerful and impactful experience

Ads24 won a bronze in the 2019 Assegai Integrated Marketing Awards for its Food for Thought experiential media campaign. In its third year, the 2019 event was themed Robots vs Humans. This is the case study on how the award-winning activation was conceptualised and rolled out.

To cut through the plethora of activations and events aimed at media agencies and advertisers, Ads24 required a single-minded reason for its existence. It was out of this that Food for Thought was conceptualised, packaged and promoted to inspire and inform targeted individuals about cutting edge developments impacting on their careers and their lives.

In Food for Thought, Ads24 created a brand and a vehicle for giving back in an impactful and memorable way, with a healthy return on effort and investment.

2 - OpenInnovation -01 web

Don’t be distracted by the ‘shiny new objects’ arising from the advance of technology

The ‘father of open innovation’, Henry Chesbrough, has just published a follow-up to his ground-breaking first book. He believes business must extend beyond the creation of new technologies, to also include their broad dissemination and deep absorption, in order to prosper from new technologies. GLENDA NEVILL reports.

‘Open innovation is a term used to promote an information age mind-set toward innovation that runs counter to the secrecy and silo mentality of traditional corporate research labs.’ ~ Wikipedia

Right now, think tanks and scientists and researchers across the globe are collaborating in the search for a coronavirus vaccine (or cure).

This is a timeous reminder, says Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Research Affiliate at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Fellow of the Initiative on the Digital Economy and of the MIT Connection Science initiative, that the open innovation model is “the perfect vehicle for today’s fast-moving environment, which includes the current race for a coronavirus vaccine”.

3 - Loyalty Marketing-01 web

The ins and outs of successful rewards and loyalty programmes

Research has shown middle-income South Africans are members of at least nine loyalty plans, while membership is set to grow as smartphones penetrate more of the market. JUSTIN BROWN finds out more about what makes a rewards programme successful, and where opportunities lie.

Over 24 million South Africans are members of rewards and loyalty programmes, of which there are more than 100 in existence.

The most popular schemes are those offered by grocery, health and beauty retailers.

Steve Burnstone, CEO of Eighty20, a Cape Town-based consultancy, says his company’s research found that middle-income South Africans were members of, on average, nine loyalty plans.

Burnstone believes rewards plan memberships will rise significantly as smartphone penetration increases in South Africa.

A key consideration in South Africa is how to provide loyalty offerings to low-income consumers, he says. If a customer does not spend much, then it is hard to reward them, but Burnstone believes it is possible to reward all types of customers.

Instagram’s shoppable posts

One third of the most viewed Stories on Instagram are from businesses, and 130 million Instagram users tap on its shoppable posts. So it’s not surprising that 72% of Instagram users have bought a product off the app and that it is a popular platform for luxury shoppers. Scrolling through Instagram’s vast feed, one often sees a sponsored post with a highlighted offer to ‘learn more’ or ‘shop now’. Popular company Zaful uses this tool, as does Get Smarter in its efforts to sell online courses and modules. Then there’s the data retailers source to help them refine their social commerce strategies, so it’s no wonder shoppable posts are set to become the norm in 2020.

A fashionable response to COVID-19

Fitness brand UnderArmour is making 100 000 masks a week, nicknamed the ‘origami mask’ in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It has created an innovative surgical mask out of a single piece of fabric, turning its innovation lab in Baltimore into a factory. Gucci is making masks and medical overalls, which French luxury house LVMH is producing hydroalcoholic gel, which it will distribute free of charge to health authorities in France, from it perfume factory. Bulgari is making hand sanitiser containers rather than its beautiful perfume bottles. Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC, the two automotive brands are deploying more than 160 vehicles to organisations helping curtail the spread of coronavirus. They include the British Red Cross and the Red Cross Societies in Australia, Spain, South Africa and France.

Brands had best spurn quick bucks

Brands that raised their prices significantly during the panic-buying stage of the coronavirus pandemic will be punished by consumers later. That’s the word from Richard Shotton & Will Hanmer-Lloyd writing in Marketing Week. “Many brands are in a position to capitalise on public panic but doing so would be foolhardy. People are acutely sensitive to unfair behaviour and they’ll punish perpetrators.” Their advice? “Spurn the opportunity for a quick buck and take a long-term view.”

All about content marketing

There’s so much more to content marketing than, well, just content marketing. The AddThis Academy has listed key trends marketers should keep top of mind in 2020:

Visual Content Marketing tells provocative stories, vital in graphics or infographics. Colours are important, with 2020 having a more muted palette; design wise,2019 was more ‘Van Gogh’ while 2020 is ‘Picasso’. Bring on the abstract.

Interactive Content Marketing will embrace augmented reality and virtual reality. But it has to go beyond the social sphere, as consumers expect interactive experience in website design as well as live content and advertising.

Live Content videos have become far more popular in content marketing circles than produced video content. Plus they are cheaper and easier to produce.

Marijuana dispensaries an ‘essential service’

Ten years ago marjuana growers and sellers would be prosecuted and thrown into jail. Now they are vital members of society. Multiple states in the US, including California, Illinois, Oregon, and Washington State have declared that cannabis dispensaries are essential and must stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cannabis sales have tripled over the past few months as people stocked up on the holy herb ahead of the new reality of lockdowns and quarantines. While dispensaries will stay open, home delivery is advised.

Creative digital interns given a Front Row seat

South Africa’s Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB SA) has launched a new initiative to create opportunities for young creative digital interns and students. Front Row will give black students, entrepreneurs and agency interns between the ages of 18 – 28 the opportunity to attend IAB events and workshops, as well as access to South Africa’s brilliant digital media and marketing minds. “Front Row aims to further increase our engagement with the future leaders of our industry while bringing in a fresh, and different, perspective to the IAB SA as a whole,” said CEO, Paula Hulley. She said the initiative aimed create valuable collaborative spaces and the opportunity to “sit at the table” with “seasoned industry leaders at the highest level”.

Supply chains have been changed, possibly forever

1 - SupplyChain-01

The competition is no longer between brands or even between companies; it is between supply chains (networks). Supply chains in the time of coronavirus have changed, possibly forever. MARZIA STORPIOLI reports.

Supply chain management has been likened to a philosophy, a concept rather than an essential service.

Historically, companies relied on strong brands and good products to win over the consumer. Competitive advantage was gained by the organisation based on the strength of its brands and its reputation for quality products.

But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its inexorable march across the globe, supply chain management is no longer being considered merely a concept, but rather a life-saving essential service used for the cohesion of all supply chains so that they may work in concert with one another in order to satiate the needs and wants of people and businesses at all times, including times of crises.

It’s useful to remember wars have been won and lost by the implementation and control of either effective and efficient supply chain management, or the lack of using it to its full potential, as was experienced during the Napoleonic Wars and World War ll. There is little doubt that the post-COVID-19 world will be decidedly different to life as we knew it prior to this scourge befalling us.

There’s no doubt most nations were caught unprepared by its rapid advance. In South Africa, consumers – like those across the globe – adapted their buying behaviour to “cope with this rapidly evolving situation”, as Nielsen researchers put it.

Retail outlets – supermarkets, pharmacies and wholesalers – were unable to satisfy consumer demand for sanitiser products, demonstrating the inability of supply chains within South Africa, and globally, to respond to a meteoric increase in demand for hand washes and sanitiser products, household and industrial bleaches and surface cleaning solutions driven by the global crisis.

Just-in-time (JIT) and lean manufacturing, once seen as the pinnacle of achievement in supply chain performance, may no longer be effective. They were implemented across most global supply chains in the face of mounting pressure to reduce supply chain costs – the aim being to continually strive for increasing levels of efficiency while reducing costs overall.

Efficient, but not robust

These supply chains are operating on razor-thin margins, so much so that they are no longer robust and unable to respond to ‘shocks’ in the system, and have limited capacity to respond to disruption in their supply chains. They are efficient, but they are not robust.

If the disruption continues, eventually these supply chains will stall – manufacturing will stop due to a lack of raw materials or spare parts.

Today, companies that achieve a sustained competitive advantage (Zara, 3M and Dell) are those who have invested significantly in developing responsive logistics capabilities. They are demand-driven and designed from the customer backwards (rather than from operational capability forward – forecast driven). Their supply chains are agile and responsive to changes in consumer behaviour.

Talking of consumer behaviour, self-preservation reigned ahead of South Africa’s national lockdown as the ‘haves’ stockpiled goods at the expense of the poor, the needy, the aged and the sick.

Imagine if the world did not have an effective and efficiently run supply chain to constantly channel food, fuel and other essentials to replace those that have been exhausted because of this ‘feeding frenzy’. There would be further chaos, indescribable misery, an uncontrolled mortality rate and above all, a world economic recession that would surpass the 1929 financial crash!

With the pandemic spreading to South Africa a few months after the initial outbreak in China, Nielsen was able to research global markets, delivering insights into how retailers are dealing with challenges brought about by coronavirus.

Turning a crisis into an opportunity

The research shows that retailers are facing three primary challenges: insufficient inventory of some categories, difficulty in logistics and distribution, and inadequate staff to deliver orders.

Those able to organise resources and respond actively to the epidemic and launch measures to “help turn crisis into opportunity” will thrive. These, Nielsen reported, included “flexible co-ordination of participants in the supply chain, ensuring the efficiency of product supply, showing care and concern for employees, rationally deploying staff, adjusting the store’s operating hours, expanding businesses through online channels and in community and strengthening corporate brand marketing to enhance consumers’ trust and creating a favourable impression”.

Nielsen has identified six key consumer behaviour threshold levels that tie directly to “concerns around the novel coronavirus outbreak. These thresholds offer signals of spending patterns, particularly for emergency pantry items and health supplies with these patterns being mirrored across multiple markets”.

SupplyChain 2

As African countries such as South Africa and Kenya announced their country-specific responses to the outbreak, Nielsen found that global consumers were adapting their purchase behaviour to cope with the rapidly evolving situation.

“As patterns begin to emerge in response to news events of this nature, it will be imperative for companies to learn from these scenarios so they can sustain growth even in times where COVID-19 is deeply impacting people’s lives. These patterns will help provide leading and trailing indicators to those trying to understand how people will respond as developments continue to play out at different times in different countries,” said Scott McKenzie, Nielsen’s global intelligence leader, adding that this would be critical to understand as stores worked to maintain supply levels of in-demand items.

South Africans entered threshold #5 ‘Restricted Living’ on Friday 27 March 2020. Consumer behaviour at this stage was characterised by severely restricted shopping and constraints due to supply shortages, delivery fulfilment challenges and caps on product quantities, Nielsen reported.

SupplyChain 3

The lessons learned

Of the retailers surveyed by Nielsen on their attitudes towards business for the rest of the year, 67% said they would make efforts to expand online channels and accelerate home-based business / retail warehouse layout.

“Fifty-three [percent] said they would change their product mix according to the shopping habits of consumers and increase the inventory and on-shelf number of health, disinfectant and protection products,” Nielsen reported. “Forty-three percent of the retailers say that they would work on their supply chains, especially those for fresh food, strengthen the ties with various brands and enhance communication efficiency.”

Robots vs Humans: A compelling story of a powerful and impactful experience

4 - Assegai CaseStudy-01

Ads24 won a bronze in the 2019 Assegai Integrated Marketing Awards for its Food for Thought experiential media campaign. In its third year, the 2019 event was themed Robots vs Humans. This is the case study on how the award-winning activation was conceptualised and rolled out.

To cut through the plethora of activations and events aimed at media agencies and advertisers, Ads24 required a single-minded reason for its existence. It was out of this that Food for Thought was conceptualised, packaged and promoted to inspire and inform targeted individuals about cutting edge developments impacting on their careers and their lives.

In Food for Thought, Ads24 created a brand and a vehicle for giving back in an impactful and memorable way, with a healthy return on effort and investment.

 

Campaign context

In an industry consistently exposed to trends, strategies and knowledge about its field of expertise i.e. media and advertising, Ads24 wanted to create a campaign in which it could influence business and leadership thinking as well as refocus attention to the critical role media owners, brand owners and advertisers play in bridging the gap in the minds of consumers between the now and the future.

The objective of the campaign was to position Ads24 as tribe leaders and critical business influencers within the communication space. It should strengthen business relationships and encourage collaboration through a powerful and impactful experience while reminding key industry advertising leaders about the influential nature of media. Ultimately, the company wanted to grow high-level involvement with top decision makers at media agencies and direct advertiser clients.

The strategy was to ensure Food for Thought stood out from industry clutter via a media industry event that encouraged progressive learning as well as debate around the economic, political, environmental and technological forces shaping the future of business in South Africa. Ads24 had to ensure that the event challenged everyone’s thinking and drove curiosity in an impactful way.

Enormous attention was paid to creating details that provided a full sensory experience. Tactics used to achieve this was through a hyper-personalised and carefully planned invitation process; creating a thought-provoking experience and journey on the day for all attendees; developing an integrated PR plan during and post-event, and maximising social media during and post-event

 

The big idea and its implementation

The world and its economies are experiencing unprecedented times. In every aspect of life, humans face a complex array of sensitive challenges that call for extraordinary responses and creative leadership. There is a massive shift in consumer mentality and media organisations need to proactively adapt to lead this dynamic environment.

Ads24 created an event positioned between a world dominated by artificial intelligence and technology, and one desperate for human connection.

The invitation was issued in the form of a book written by one of the speakers called We Are Still Human, by Brad Shorkend and Andy Golding. The book led to a hidden message in one of its pages, creating engagement and appealing to the natural human inquisitiveness. It also led to another very important feature: the RSVP

For this, Ads24 used hyper-personalisation by using real time data and leveraging of artificial intelligence to deliver a more relevant and surprising experience for the audience. This was done through creating an algorithm as part of the RSVP which predicted a personal surprise for guests to take home, further illustrating the impact of personal consumer centered communication.

 

The event

This event was designed from start to finish to engage every sense and challenge thinking. Every aspect was created to juxtapose the human touch with robotic interpretations. The starting point was a taste bud hack. Each person was invited to take a pill made from the ‘miracle berry’, synsepalum dulcificum. A glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice was then offered. The pill had the ability to mask taste and instead of eye-watering, tart lemon, each person experienced a sweet orange juice flavour.

This served as a metaphor on how we consume news and how easily we are fooled to digest fake news – the very opposite of what we pride ourselves in – the facts, the news and the search for truth.

Each food experience contrasted artisanal, handmade delights with a robotic version of the same. Fresh flapjacks topped with creamy mascarpone cheese and rich berry jam was paired with 3D-printed mascarpone cheese on spirulina-infused flapjacks with pipettes of berry compote. The delicious aroma of fresh-pressed coffee was served side-by-side with coffee cubes.

Each table setting was also designed to represent robots or humans and each attendee was assigned one or the other version of the main meal. Although the outcome of the meal was the same, each component was created by hand or by machine. This created an exciting atmosphere of curiousity and experimentation, culminating in desserts delivered by drones.

 

Content and speakers

Ads24 focused on different aspects of the future by looking at the incredible pace of AI and technology and how it’s reshaping our existence in an increasingly automated economy. With so many areas in which the media and communication is changing, from how we consume news to social media, fake news, hyper-personalisation and programmatic buying, if we don’t keep pace and remain agile to these changes, we face professional extinction.

The line-up included public speaker, entrepreneur and author of the best-selling business book, Legacide, Richard Mulholland, Brad Shorkend, one of the authors of We Are Still Human, and computer scientist, Rapelang Rabana.

Each shared their views on how to stay ahead of the game in a world where the word, ‘phigital’ (physical and digital), is the new normal. Comedian, author and speaker, Don Packett, refereed the debate by posing the questions: Where are we today in the fight between humans and robots? Where will our businesses be by 2030? And, how do we prepare for the journey? We explored the dangers of legacy thinking, how AI can be a tool to advance civilisation and how to be a good human in a technologically shifting world. They raised a few eyebrows, challenged the way we see our industry and our world, and opened the door to a spirited conversation around the future of media in 2030.

 

PR and social media

A series of thought leadership pieces were created based on each of the topics discussed at the event. Every week, for four weeks, a piece was circulated to media. Included in the pieces was a short 30-second video taken at the event relating back to the specific speaker/topic. This insured that when the article was published, readers would have full context to what was discussed/debated at the event.

Key messages were taken and posted on social media with either images or short 30-second videos from the event.

 

Return on investment

Ads24 Food for Thought 2019 provided insight into a world where human connection and artificial intelligence create new opportunities and challenges for the media industry and our world. The event solidified Ads24 as a thought leader among influential media partners and as a competitive media owner in a dynamic and constantly evolving industry.

  • 73 % of those invited attended the event
    • 80% gave us a perfect score for relevant content
  • Organic Social media engagement on the day of the event increased to 6.2% compared to the average rate for May of 1.8%.
  • Content series allowed for further organic reach:
    • Post reach increased by 107%
    • Post engagement increased by 300%
  • Page likes increased by 23%
  • Page views increased by 78%
  • Page followers increased by 14%
  • Average time spent on integrated content: 3 minutes

We achieved an overall PR value average of R6.8 million