15/06/15

Brand ambassadors must keep pace with reality

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The growing demand for authenticity from millennials means promotional staffing will become increasingly sophisticated. But is the industry ready, asks Sense Staff Director Dominique Packham?

In our social-media heavy world, marketing is becoming increasingly based in reality – reality TV, viral YouTube videos and real-life experiences.

Brands that don’t come across as authentic and real will start to lose out more and more to those that do.

This is because millennials – now aged 15 to 24 – and late Generation X-ers are digital natives, having grown up with reality TV, YouTube and all that the web and mobile has to offer. As they have been bombarded by more marketing messages than any other demographic across their lifetime, they are also incredibly marketing savvy. Consequently they crave authenticity.

The next upcoming key demographic, Generation Z or the post-millennials, born around the turn of the millennium, will crave it even more.

This is the future of creative marketing and brands ignore it at their peril. Like any other area of marketing, it’s vital that promotional staff adjust accordingly.

Along with the traditional sampling roadshow activity there will be more varied executions, incorporating techniques such as hidden cameras capturing ‘real’ experiences and fully integrated online campaigns.

As well as promotional marketers being the all-important ‘face’ of a brand, they will increasingly become the experience makers, often behind the scenes ensuring all elements of a campaign run smoothly without actually being a touch point themselves. Ambient experiences will increase, requiring teams that never have public contact at all, but who ensure successful implementation, full time.

Advertising ideas are becoming more ‘serious’ (as in permanent, tangible, useful, meaningful) and complex. Staff will increasingly become extensions of agency teams rather than the ‘faces’ of brands. They will have to be far more flexible than they’ve ever been before.

Some promotional activity will also become more permanent, such as the staffing of footwear giant Vans’ flagship ‘skatepark store’ in London, which is essentially a permanent brand experience. People will have to be recruited for this work like full-time roles, as the responsibilities to the brand will be greater and more long term.

Creative marketing solutions will always need people on the ground making them happen, that will never change. But the traditional brand ambassador’s role of adeptly engaging with key audiences face-to-face will develop into a more sophisticated and potentially even more vital role overseeing real-world interactive campaigns.

Real-world marketing is the future and demands real people to represent brands in increasingly complex ways. Promotional marketing must meet this new challenge.

This article was published in Engage magazine.

15/06/15

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