Flat brand communications, flat sales

This past week I had the pleasure of attending a Q&A session with famous ad man, Rich Silverstein. An Art Directors’ Club Hall of Famer, Silverstein has launched successful campaigns for brands including HP, Doritos, Sprint and Comcast, as well as landed some of the industries most coveted awards. Silverstein spoke to how his agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, helps their clients connect to consumers in the digital space and shed light on the challenges involved in making an effective online campaign.

During the session, we discussed Doritos ‘Snack Strong Productions’ campaign. Doritos had been experiencing flat sales for the past five years. When they dug into the underlying reasons, they discovered that they were failing to connect with their once-loyal core audience. To complicate the issue, their audience’s media habits were rapidly changing (Doritos Case Study). Silverstein was charged with finding an innovative way to reconnect consumers with the brand, as well as draw in younger demographics accustomed to diverse and interactive entertainment options.

To address this challenge, Silverstein created ‘Snack Strong Productions’, a collaborative brand-consumer experience that allowed consumers to name flavors, vote on what varieties were released and which were shelved and even compete to create an advertisement that would air during the SuperBowl.

What’s interesting about the campaign is that although it was born online, it wasn’t confined to one medium. It’s something Silverstein believes is key to successful brand communications. He further illustrated this concept by explaining Hotel626.com, a horror-themed website that incorporated users’ computers, cameras and cell phones to help them navigate through a haunted hotel.

“The website was successful because we focused on immersing the consumer using a myriad of tools. Think about how consumers use and touch things. It’s important to be cross-platform,” Silverstein said, adding, “Approach everything as telling a story – we approached Sprint and Doritos the same way. How do you find the truth in the brand? It’s not about the industry. Don’t close your mind off into a sector – think about how people use things. How do you personalize your communications?”

Although consumers may spend a great deal of time online, their interactions aren’t confined to the digital world. Brands have to be dynamic. For online campaigns to result in actual increases in sales or brand equity, brands must learn how to translate online interactions to real life action. Think about how a consumer progresses through their day, and find out how you can touch them at a relevant moment.

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