Integration: When Pieces of the Marketing Puzzle Look Better As a Whole
by Pauline Tingas
Synergy. Total engagement. Holistic marketing. Call it what you like. But the explosion of marketing options brought about by new media, and the subsequent decline of the once-sacred TV spot, have created a greater need for marketers to deploy more integrated, consistent messaging across many channels and campaigns.
It used to be that you only had to run some choice TV ads to deliver reach and return. As recently as 1994, 90 percent of P&G’s global ad spending was on television advertising.
But the company has taken a new tact and is leading an industry push for change. In 2004, Jim Stengel, the company’s global marketing officer, stood before attendees of the AAAA conference to proclaim that traditional marketing is obsolete.
Instead, he told the group, holistic marketing is now driving the consumer products business. “As an industry, we’re recognizing the value of well-rounded marketing programs that are not dependent on TV,” he said.
Indeed, there are more ways to connect with consumers now. And while marketing has never been simple, the sheer diversity of tools that are currently available has made it more complicated than ever for campaigns to be deployed.
Whole is more than sum of parts
Today, marketers know that each contact point with a customer is not only essential, but more impactful when it is synchronized with every other point and with strategy overall. The idea is that, if it’s done right, the “whole” of an effort can engage consumers better than any one element could ever hope to do alone.
“We’re seeing it with both retail and packaging. There’s a huge groundswell,” says Jim King, co-chief creative officer of Perennial Inc., a Canadian design firm focused on packaging, POP and retail store design. “P&G, who’s integrating a holistic look into how they think about their products, is providing a strong impetus and a model for other companies.”
Take Tide Coldwater. P&G launched the product with a multi-pronged campaign that touted the product’s ability to clean in lower temperatures and to reduce consumers’ energy bills as a result. The brand wanted to communicate a message of $63 annual savings across national advertising, direct-to-consumer pieces, a web component, in-store marketing, packaging and in alliances with energy organizations.
“Anytime you’re marketing a product and you have an understandable concept like saving money, you’re in a much better position,” says Richard Westendorf, executive creative director in the Cincinnati office of Landor, one of P&G’s agency partners on the Tide Coldwater launch.
He says the campaign was purposeful to integrate the message across traditional touchpoints, with a viral online initiative and on direct-to-consumer initiatives like energy bill stuffers and cards at the gas pump, which are newer territory for P&G.
Packaging also played a unique role: the launch marked the first time in brand history that Tide packaging shifted from iconic orange to blue (to enhance the “cold water” proposition). And though the “$63 savings” concept failed to make it on package graphics (long lead times were cited), the message was cleverly incorporated onto the packaging with a shrink band fitted on the cap. “We looked at every opportunity to reinforce the message,” says Westendorf.
Indeed, in the way it engaged consumers from every direction, in every instance where they came in contact with the brand, Tide Coldwater represents the new ‘holistic’ mindset that P&G has been touting for some time.
Barriers to holistic thinking
It would seem most brands would be falling over themselves to follow P&G’s integration lead. But experts say many consumer product companies are too poorly structured to execute truly coordinated campaigns.
Tom Duncan, director of the Integrated Marketing Communications program in the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, says the functional ‘silos’ that dominate CPGs make it difficult to build synchronized programs. “They’re never going to be integrated externally if they’re not integrated internally,” he says.
Consider that it took years for the iconic Energizer Bunny to find its way onto packaging for Energizer batteries, and that the bonneted Sun-Maid girl depicted on boxes of raisins is just now making it into TV ad spots—and she’s been on the package since 1916.
The solution, according to Duncan, lies in planning and monitoring across every marketing function and to other disciplines within the organization. Integration must go beyond a “marketing message,” he says, to the relationship between the customer and the brand.
“It goes beyond the thought of ‘one voice/one look’, which is very important and difficult to do,” he says. “But that’s just executional stuff.”
To that end, a brand must integrate strategy with and across sales, purchasing, production, research and even finance. “True integration crosses the marketing function,” Duncan says. “When you use the brand as a focus and as the main conduit to the customer, you get internal integration.”
He adds that some brand managers are less willing to invest time in developing strategy. “Churn in brand management is so much quicker today. Sometimes they are more concerned with making their numbers,” he says, explaining that ‘activity’ or ‘tactics’ frequently displace big picture planning.
Friends make better integration
So what’s the dedicated and holistic-minded brand marketer to do? Duncan’s advice is to build relationships within the organization. “You should know the production guy, know the finance guy and build relationships internally,” he says. “When it comes time to push and shove, you have friends.”
There are, however, some CPGs taking more of a top-level approach to the problem. Unilever demonstrated a stronger emphasis on holistic marketing (TV now accounts for just 65 percent of the company’s global ad budget) when it created an internal team to help devise integrated initiatives for its brands, which include Dove, Pond’s and Vaseline.
The company’s global media director Alan Rutherford recently indicated that the appointments were the result of disappointment with some of the integration advice coming in from outside agencies. Internal integration, he said, is “one way in which we can take ownership and drive the new way of thinking and working.”
P&G has launched similar efforts, developing internal processes for integration and even restructuring the way agency partners are compensated for their work: rather than pay a commission, the company pays on a performance-based scale linked to predetermined goals like sales or brand awareness. The idea is that, under a performance-based system, agencies are motivated to think differently, use a broader range of marketing tools and, ultimately, deliver more effective holistic plans. (Are package design and brand identity firms ready for that kind of system?)
Jamal Muashsher, an assistant brand manager at P&G, says the company’s holistic approach worked well when Crest Whitestrips extended its brand recently to introduce Crest Whitestrips Renewal.
He says his brand team proactively worked across internal disciplines, with functions like interactive, and followed a P&G process to manage partner agencies and help them all work more cohesively on the campaign.
Saatchi and Saatchi developed the umbrella “keep them guessing” launch message, which Muashsher’s team deployed to all P&G partner agencies on the account. Those agencies then translated that tagline across TV, print and online advertising, in-store displays, consumer promotions, public relations and interactive elements to communicate the brand’s anti-aging platform.
The hexagonal-shaped box did not feature or convey the “keep them guessing” message—the packaging was developed prior to the creation of the tagline. The brand did, however, make sure elements of the package design were reflected back and integrated into other elements in the campaign. The shape, for example, came through in PR delivery and was mimicked by in-store displays.
“Packaging can inspire a lot of different marketing elements,” says Muashsher. “We focused on developing a beauty look and feel for the packaging to communicate the anti-aging properties of the brand. That also influenced the colors and theme we put through.”
According to Muashsher, the campaign has delivered a new group of users for the brand. And, he says, it has been a successful example of the holistic marketing P&G now expects from all of its brands. “You see it across corporate,” he explains. “We’re striving to have a holistic plan when we reach consumers across all touchpoints.”
Smaller brands more nimble?
If development timelines are cited so frequently as barriers to proper integration (both Tide Coldwater and Crest Whitestrips Renewal saw, and worked around, some packaging speedbumps), then it could make sense to say smaller brands can have a simpler experience with a holistic approach.
Consider Aero, maker of inflatable beds. The company was tiring of its direct-to-consumer approach (i.e., TV infomercials) and realized the need for a more serious approach to reinvent the brand.
Jason Press, president of G2 New York, says his firm was in the unusual position (an enviable one, if you ask around) of being the sole agency on the project. “We were given an unusual amount of freedom to look at the logo, packaging, the online environment and advertising,” he says.
Though that kind of across-the-board change is rare, Press says that it can translate into cost savings for the brand.
“We were able to share artwork across different marketing pieces. We shot print ads while shooting broadcast ads. And we used the same models and set ups on the packaging, all trade show pieces and in-store materials,” he says. “Packaging spearheaded the process, but all communications flowed out from that. It made the budget go further.”
The idea of integration was not limited to Aero’s marketing. It was something the organization embraced in a much deeper way. “We wanted the organization to begin to live and breathe the brand, so we changed our environment to be in tune with our new brand essence,” says Lori Glass, the company’s senior vice president of marketing. “Over the weekend that our new TV [ads] hit the airwaves, we replaced all signage in our offices and distribution centers; we wallpapered the hallways with our new tagline; we replaced all stationery throughout the offices and even switched out all of the computer mouse pads.”
Glass reports double digit increases on a gross sales and consumer purchase basis, and says the integrated effort helped the organization grow its top six accounts by 24 percent in 2005.
Integration uncovers opportunities
Other brands find that the fruits of integration are cumulative. Welch’s had touted the health and nutrition aspects of its 100% Concord Grape Juice product before, but the brand saw greater value could be had by integrating specially designed packaging into multiple aspects of a recent multi-pronged ‘Heart Healthy’ campaign.
“We had communicated [the heart healthy message] in the past, but we saw a bigger opportunity to communicate across channels like FSI, radio, packaging, TV—any place we could get in front of the consumer,” says Anne Hart, senior product manager of bottled juices at Welch’s.
The company’s marketing services manager, Erin O’Malley, says prior integrated initiatives had taught the brand and marketing teams how to maximize their internal work process, how to best manage a team of five agencies and, in one instance, how to extend the reach of the program and ensure the biggest return.
“We communicated our messages to the sales force, who worked to see how we could enhance [the campaign] at the store level,” O’Malley explains. She says a direct result of that outreach was a significant in-store effort, where Welch’s participated in “Heart Healthy” events at Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart that were supported with displays of the brand’s grape juice, in-store sampling and ads in the stores’ consumer source books.
“Historical data told us that it was important to reach consumers in the in-store environment,” Hart says. Of course, packaging was also carefully considered for that role. Labels of 100% Concord Grape Juice sported the campaign’s heart graphic, and neckers on the bottle also highlighted the message. The packaging itself was also featured prominently in materials across the campaign.
“We wanted to make sure the product was prominent and at the forefront of the campaign,” says Hart. “We used our packaging to tie back to the equity of the brand.”
Both Hart and O’Malley say ‘focus’ is key to the success of any integrated initiative. “We were able to integrate because the focus was on the communication goal,” says Hart. “When you’re working across the board on other things, you need to step back and ask yourself what it is that you want to communicate.”
That’s a sentiment that is also strongly echoed by marketing guru Brian Collins, executive creative director of the Brand Integration Group at Ogilvy & Mather. Collins says it is the ‘big idea’ that ultimately builds the relationship with consumers.
“Brands that are occupied with communicating sameness are missing the point,” he says. “What consumers are looking for are brands that are more engaging or brands that make their lives easier, more delightful.”
According to Collins, integration isn’t really an issue when the brand story is compelling. “If you think big and come with an entirely new perspective, integration happens naturally,” he says. BP
The author, Pauline Tingas, is the Senior Editor of BRANDPACKAGING magazine.
Where to go for more information...
Integrated marketing communications.
At the Daniels College of Business, contact Tom Duncan at 303.871.2413 or email@example.com
Brand development and design.
At G2 New York, contact Jason Press at 212.616.9000 or www.g2.com
A HOLISTIC VIEW
There are many benefits to integration, but the process can seem intimidating initially. Read on for advice to help you blast through any roadblock your company or colleagues throw your way:
It starts with an idea. The ability to integrate depends more on the quality of the idea than the capacity to execute a complicated campaign. Before you link internal teams, synchronize your agencies, or pepper the same graphic across touchpoints, make sure your idea is relevant, differentiating and right for your brand.
Express it. G2 developed a brand position for Aero, expressed as ‘virtual guestroom’, which served as the foundation for integration. Make sure your own position is expressed in a clear statement. And don’t forget to define it with visuals. What if G2 had deployed the “virtual guestroom” concept to multiple agencies for execution across an integrated campaign? They’d likely have gotten back very different visual translations.
Develop deeper contact. You need to do more than host conferences calls to discuss progress with your partners. As the lead marketer, you should encourage more frequent and deeper contact between those under your care.
Set up different goals. Consider that P&G revamped its entire approach to agency payment. Marketing professor Tom Duncan says you won’t get far unless you make that kind of change. “It helps motivate people to think differently.” Setting internal relationship goals like customer value, churn rates or referral rates, rather than (or in addition to) traditional sales goals, can work internally to do the same.