Something I wrote for work - Ideas First Thinking - Snicker and Colenso BBDO NZ digital marketing campaign

I wanted to share a campaign that I thought was pretty clever. I might be a bit biased because I’m half Kiwi. However, I’ve found that the Kiwis are pretty good at making something out of nothing. Probably because their budgets are so small!

Mandatory ramble

I recently read a New York Times article on the two schools of thinking that informed Western philosophy from the very beginning: The Academy – groups of philosphers working in unison to rationally categorise all things they saw and learned of, deriving systems of classification and putting order on the chaos. Then there were The Skeptics - fringe thinkers whose legacy is not a distinct body of thought but anecdotes of them poking intellectual holes in the carefully arranged systems of The Academy with torches by daylight, plucked chickens and once even public masturbation.

The point made in the article is that one could not exist without the other. I’d say this approach to a brief is closer to that of the cynics.

Snickers Campaign

It could be said that there are two ways to land a successful digital campaign. One approach relies on a strong understanding of format, medium and conventions to deliver an expected but strong communications piece.

The second approach is that of subversion – looking at the current method that things are done and then swimming against the stream to stand out.

While the former will deliver guaranteed results, the latter has the potential to break through in ways that defies conventions.

The snickers proposition is that you don’t think clearly when you are hungry and that a Snickers is the quickest fix.

So the brand created three ludicrous apps that only someone who wasn’t thinking clearly could be interested in.

Once downloaded the apps turned out to be Snickers vouchers.

The trick is not in rewarding those few users silly enough to download these apps with earnest expectations, it’s about the interest that is created once people cotton on and begin downloading the apps for free snickers.

Idea first or channel first?

It might seem simple but I’d argue it’s way easier to sell a client a really useless app than a campaign that makes fun of useless apps.

In his book Space Race, Jim Taylor talks about Communications Planning (which I’d say is analogous to what we’re calling Communications Marketing) and how there’s two prevelant approaches to it in agencies: Looking at the channels and their uses first and then populating them vs. coming up with an idea first and then having that inform channel usage.

I don’t believe that one is naturally better than the other – I would say the latter is more likely to create this sort of snickers campaign, where as I think the former is more likely to be useful in a big preplanned longterm campaign that has multiple moving parts.

Communications independents like Nota Bene and Naked have made a name with idea first where as media buying agencies are known for channel first. Our Story First model can actually accommodate both styles. 

I’d encourage you to think about what school of thinking your clients prescribe to and to observe your colleagues and investigate under which model they are operating. Because if it’s in the open then collaboration will be a lot smoother.