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The case for creative tension
Would you run a campaign where your brand is passed over, not once but multiple times in the space of a minute? It worked for Heineken, who’ve been encouraging consumers to curb their drinking behaviour for the past few years. Getting it past the sales team, however, is an entirely different beast…
Speaking at eurobest 2017, Global Director of Marketing Communications at Heineken, Anuraag Trikha, said uncomfortable tensions create stronger work. It’s a bold statement, but bold is what brands need to be to become and stay relevant.
Think about it: Have you watched an advert that made little sense, with the niggling feeling the original idea was probably good? Or been involved in a creative process where the end result was sanitised beyond recognition?
Trying to satisfy all parties is the best route to average work. But by harnessing disagreement, you can elevate your brand.
Trikha says that as a brand, Heineken always takes a stand, “Taking a stand is good for the brand, for consumers, and for the world.”
It ties nicely into the idea of purpose; a theme that flowed throughout this year’s event. But why is tension so important? Well, it’s the way our brains work best.
All great stories come from tension
The old marketing trope that people buy holes, not drills rings true. Everything in life is a decision between A and B and every good story is borne from conflict. If you can position your brand as the solution to a universal tension, you’ve hit the marketing sweet spot; much like ‘Just do it’ has done for Nike since 1988.
But to crack that magic formula Trikha says brands and agencies need to get comfortable with discomfort. Creative innovation doesn’t come from Don Draper having an ‘aha’ moment, or agencies nodding along to everything a client says; disagreement and discussion are where the best ideas break through.
It’s up to clients to appoint agencies that will challenge and extend them; and it’s up to agencies to show clients that they’re listening and genuinely understand the brand.
Make room for creativity
The last thing any client needs is to feel bullied into an idea; and rushing the execution of a bold campaign could be detrimental to the brand. Campaigns that stand out need time to build and breathe. As Trikha says, “We as clients often make the mistake of looking for a solution before we find a solution space.”
Campaigns like Heineken’s work to make responsible consumption aspirational aren’t going to fly through the sign-off process and sit comfortably with all departments. This needs to be factored into the creative timeline to ensure nothing is watered down.
In the case of Haribo’s Tangfastics advert, the creators actually filmed test versions in their office. This gave the team time to warm the client up to the concept before going ahead.
There’s often a drive to move quickly from brief to execution, but Trikha says the smartest route to results involves taking the time to select the right team, and cultivate, challenge and test the creative concept as a collaboration between agency and client.
“You have to create the space and time for creativity and then start,” he says.
Allowing your brand enough time to formulate and execute ideas with relevance and purpose is the best way to stand out. As a company that now invests more than 10% of their entire media spend on promoting moderation in a category that’s all about enjoying alcohol, Heineken has certainly shown its commitment to becoming one brand that does just that.