Things we've learned by uniting a new agency model with clients who can't afford to do business as usual.

When Is An Old Idea Better Than a New One?

Did you see the video Nike put out last month? It features split screen images of athletes ingeniously edited together to convey the idea of togetherness through sport. It’s not just an incredibly striking visual story, it’s a testament to Nike’s longevity at the epicenter of marketing and culture, from the iconic “Bo Knows” commercial to their support of Colin Kaepernick (see here.) Ironically, as the brand has stayed on the cutting edge for decades, they’ve been using the same tagline, as well as the same typeface, which you could argue is about as outdated as typefaces get (it was created in 1965).

Creative thinkers always want to be creating. But how do you know when it’s time to make a change? If you’re a marketer, or responsible for marketing your company or just yourself, when do you create something new vs innovating within what you have? 

A lot of times when I’m interviewed about marketing, people ask, “What’s one brand or piece of marketing that you really love these days?” I like to use the example of Subaru, “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru.” These days is a relative answer because, like Nike, Subaru is using an old campaign, with the same years-old tagline.

I love the Subaru campaign, and not just because I love when a mushy concept like “love” is featured in a major advertising campaign spending. I also love it for its consistency over time and the fact that they haven’t walked away from what’s worked, and more important, what’s true for their optimal target audience.  

I can’t tell you how many times great, efficient, hard-working, proven marketing gets put on the shelf, or in the trash. Sometimes new leadership comes onto a brand, wanting to put their own stamp on the work. Sometimes new creatives who get put on the business get bored by the “old  stuff” and force the issue by trying to sell something new. 

You know who doesn’t get bored with the campaign? The people who those brands are talking to! They’re almost never the ones who get tired of a campaign. When a brand’s message resonates with its optimal audience, and the words and sounds and images they use to convey those messages bring that message to life, you’ve got marketing magic. 

When you think about you and your brand, and/or brands you help market, think about what resonates with the people you need to talk to and persuade, not what you yourself are bored or excited by. 

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be innovative thinking. Nike has created countless iterations of Just Do It in amazing new ways. Subaru innovates under their “Love” idea all the time, like their Subaru Loves Pets month, which has led to the adoption of more than 57,000 animals. It’s on point and true to the overall campaign message, and it’s lovely.  See it here.

If you have an idea that’s working, stay true to your message but get crazy with how you convey it. Think creatively about how you bring it to the world. New idea are awesome as long as you have a firm understanding of what your core is and stay true to it.

Wouldn’t it be nice to still be using the same ridiculously creative and amazingly effective marketing 5 or 10 years from now?

Written by Danny Schuman, Creative Lead / Copy at BTP Unite - In addition to plying his award winning writing and creative direction, Danny is an author, mentor, and speaker.

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