The pace of technology presents a real challenge when it comes to connecting brands with business changing tech solutions. This was a key focus at the Diversification session that took place as part of the IPA’s Adaptathon series recently, where understanding the client’s perspective when it comes to the evolution of marketing was central.
Unilever’s global marketing strategy and new ventures director, Jeremy Basset, underlined his organisation’s commitment to innovation. Unilever places invention at the heart of its offering by operating an open door policy to tech companies. By committing this kind of support to the art of innovation, Unilever is making a statement on the need to diversify, to keep pace with the constantly evolving habits of the consumer.
While there are of course other examples of forward-thinking businesses, there remains a natural and fundamental tension between businesses and the practice of innovation. The sense of excitement sparked by the opportunity can be outweighed by the natural anxiety clients feel when it comes to committing valuable time or hard-earned money to unchartered territory.
This is where agencies have a critical role to play in bridging the gap to innovation and opening up revenue streams for their clients by finding commercially viable ways to utilise the latest innovations. At Vizeum we believe that innovation is the translation of ideas into value. Otherwise we’re just having a go at something ‘quite interesting’.
The first step to achieving this is to improve the ties between all stakeholders by committing to consistently engaging with the tech community. Events like Adaptathon provide a valuable opportunity in building these relationships and understanding the technological opportunities out there.
Once these initial relationships have been established, agencies need to assume the role of translator, helping both parties to speak the same ‘language’ and cultivating an understanding in the way that technology can help brands achieve business objectives.
Our role, as a media agency is not to create or develop new technology but it is to connect our clients to tech solutions that can add value to their business.
Personally, it was heartening to see what Vizeum had achieved through our involvement with The Bakery, as all four brands we entered into the programme were taken to execution. This included PlayCaptcha that turned CAPTCHAs into an interactive experience for Heinz, AB InBev’s social gifting app for Stella Artois, and the use of AI short code technology by BMW and Heinz.
All these examples brought a significant learning experience and valuable lessons. Successfully implementing innovation is reliant on all key stakeholders defining clear objectives that focus on the role that technology has to play. Outlining the type and level of innovation required alongside a time frame for delivery allows all parties to set achievable goals that make measuring progress a reality.
Once these objectives have been agreed then the focus turns to project management to make sure that the technology is fully integrated and ready to go when the brand needs it. Part of this includes managing the relationship between all elements of the supply chain whether it is an in-house creative or production team, or an external PR agency.
Every stakeholder has to be committed to the process to ensure consistent and successful delivery that matches the brand identity but also realises the full potential of the technology itself.
What’s more, an agency also has a role to play in developing a legal framework that protects the interests of all parties. This can range from reaching an agreement for a sustained commitment to implementing and rolling-out the technology through to exclusivity and, potentially, intellectual property rights.
Diversification must not be only the preserve of the brave, and an agency with the right experience is a required partner on the journey. The right agency will project manage the process drawing in the right skillsets at the right time and ultimately become critical to delivering the vision of turning ideas into value.
Piers Taylor is Managing Partner – Planning for Vizeum UK