Special Events Are Not So Special Anymore

“To the customer or guests, a special event is an opportunity for a leisure, social and cultural experience outside the normal range of choices or beyond everyday experiences” – Donald Getz

The term “special events” is too commonly used and without fully encompassing the “special” portion.

Today, many companies are designing and producing events that are not “special”. As any type of event can rack up a hefty budget, so it is crucial in ensuring that it goes above and beyond. Therefore, events could be seen as a very expensive cost with poor ROI when not special.

Events are indeed a great marketing tool to engage different audiences in order to achieve a variety of different business objectives.

The traditional combination of good food, a good venue and good guest list is not good enough anymore in today’s competitive landscape.

Our special recipe includes only two ingredients: meaningful and memorable.

  1. Meaningful comes in two parts, the first being meaningful for the brand. We must fully understand and embrace the purpose and brand DNA and portray them in a very unique way during the event and in a way no other brand would be able to do.

    The second part is being meaningful for the audience. We must ask ourselves, “Why would the guests come to the event or even care?” and “What is our adding value to them?”.

  1. The second ingredient is being memorable. The event can’t only be people gathering, drinking, listening to a speech, having a good time and going home. The assignment here is to engage emotionally with your audience in order to make the special event memorable. Surprise them. Make them feel emotionally connected to you and your brand. Goosebumps are welcome. Creating an emotional connection could be anything from a beautiful storytelling video, musical performance, sophisticated art installation, unique choreography – it just needs to be fully relevant to the brand.

    An example of this is the product launch event we put on for Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Lebron James Limited Edition Watch. We used a technique called cine-theatre. Lebron placed his hand in a box on stage and the video screen behind him showed the watches being built on his wrist. The beauty of this “magic” was building the watch live on his wrist. This was a unique way to showcase the craftsmanship of the watch. The combination of these two ingredients will result in a “special event” not only for the brand, but the audience as well.

You want your guests to leave an event and brag to their peers by word of mouth as well as through social media about their experience. This creates an efficient tool for your client’s marketing objectives.

Hopefully by including our two secret ingredients, you will be able to create an event that truly encompasses the definition of a “special event”.

 

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How to Pick The Perfect Event Venue

Planning any event, whether it is small or large, can be stressful…but not for us Havas Luxe. Our reputation is not something we take lightly! In today’s post, we are about to reveal our secrets. Read on:

As you know, when working with luxury brands – we take painstaking measures to ensure to come up with a strategy, a theme, to hire entertainment for each fete – and to delight and inspire with the greatest libations on the planet. But the real secret is our starting point – finding that perfect venue. That place, that once you have entered it, just makes you go: “ahhhhhh….”

To find that perfect venue for any event requires a lot of thought, and plenty of research. From ensuring a space that fits a client’s needs, to ensuring the venue fits the theme/tone of the evening, venue selection WILL determine the success of the evening. Below are our top 4 tips to help you narrow down that search:

  1. Do your research:

We scout CONSTANTLY. We follow any lead, any instagram sensation, and the news from our clients partners to make sure we always hit the venue that is new or next.

 It is also worth noting that we scout venues months in advance. With any event it is crucial to leave a lot of planning time, as it is very rare for an event to be a success if has been rushed and left to the last minute.

The venue is the first thing your guests will see when they arrive at the event; therefore, it needs to set the mood and create the perfect atmosphere. Have an arsenal of event spaces in mind, and know how each one of these looks and feels. Yes, this means scouting constantly, taking notes, filing venues. This practice will come in handy when you assign a spot to a special night you have in mind.

An important note is to also always be on the look out for empty commercial spaces – because shorter lead/ pop up opportunities do come up, too. Keep at it, and file away the good ones.

And here are a few extra tips under “do your research”:

  • Mind “Event Seasons” in each city. After all, you may not want your client’s Miami luxury launch event to coincide with Miami’s music festival.
  • Go beyond hotels, museums and restaurants, and such other known commercial spaces. Warehouse buildings, aircraft hangers, piers…these are the venues that set people’s hearts aflame. To do this – go big: scour real estate listings, check in with film scouting teams, and watch the local convention bureau; you will stay way ahead of the game.
  • Ask your network to connect you. Leveraging relationships and word of mouth is many times how you hear of the Next Big Thing.

Our bottom line recommendation here is to keep a live list of special venues, and always be adding to it. And,when you come across anything new—do a site visit. In – person is always very different from online.

  1. Stay on theme:

Before booking a venue, you will know what you want to celebrate at this event. A fragrance launch? A fashion show? A corporate get together? This, and the campaign theme, should be the focus in making a decision. To this end, take mainly into consideration any décor. After all, to your guests – surroundings are everything.

Additionally, consider your event format. A cocktail reception is not dinner, and a luncheon is not the same as a costume party.

For accuracy – also check the calendar – is there a holiday, fair, occasion to celebrate? Doing this you will then be able to decide what you can do at this event- and ensure that you select just the right setting.

  1. Mind the Logistics:

This means being aware of whether or where the nearest parking may be found, what sound system the venue has, if the venue has projection capabilities, if it is the right size for an Augmented Reality or installation scope, and whether or not there is kitchen and bar on site.

During any type of event, some type of food or beverage is expected – so always find out if the venue provides food or drink facilities. If the venues do not, then be sure to ask them if they know of any catering companies you could use (unless you have a preference).

And here is an extra: note how many people are going to attend your event. Logistics also mean gauging venue size and capacity.

  1. Go for the WOW Factor:

When selecting your venue, keep this in mind – above all, you are seeking ambience.

Setting the tone properly can go a long way and set the mood for the rest of the evening. Any luxury brand will naturally be aligned only with the most beautiful venues. Any luxury fan will only be dazzled by the new, the next, the bold, or the timeless.

  1. Negotiate: 

Here’s the thing: if it were just about finding the best venue—many could enter the events realm. But a team that is truly professional minds the details, and makes the project work with any scope. This means three things:

  1. watching event timing, and setting the date in the best possible window
  2. collecting multiple bids and truly evaluating each offer
  3. considering and working longer term partnerships with any venue for better rates and greater possibilities

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Overall, while it can be challenging to find your perfect venue for events, by using these simple guidelines – your planning will ensure a hit. And if you are still in doubt – call us. We are happy to help, and hope you have a fabulous event!

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How to Host An Excellent Marketing Conference

Steve Jobs once said that to drive innovation, one must “think different”. At Havas Luxe, that is exactly what we attempt to do – especially when it comes to hosting our bi-annual Marketing Conference, NEXT. This conference is part of a series produced by Havas Luxe. Our purpose is to inform and educate luxury marketers….which does not mean it should be “safe”, or “boring”.

Innovative conferences work for Apple, and they work for us. Could doing things differently at your next event work for you? In today’s post, we will share our tips on how to make your next conference your best yet.

  1. Theme:

In our upcoming installment of Havas Luxe’s NEXT conference, we will be inviting you to join renowned experts from the publishing, marketing, fashion and luxury industries for their inspiring take on the hottest trend in experiential marketing – Virtual Reality, and on how to get it right.

By capitalizing on an of the moment topic, and seeking to take it farther beyond that which even C-suite executives in our industry have experienced, we are giving our audience something compelling, remarkable and relevant. So, when seeking to build your next conference, first ask yourself this:

  • Is the topic compelling?
  • Is the topic remarkable?
  • Is the topic relevant, or applicable, for my audience?
  1. Speakers:

Each speaker you select for your event can make a big difference to its attractiveness to attendees. That does not mean you have to go out and book (and pay for) a celebrity. Instead, it means finding out the person, or persons, who really connect with your theme and your audience.

Examples: bloggers, authors, entrepreneurs, community leaders, industry leaders, and motivational speakers. Top tips for finding exactly the right speakers:

  • Research books and media articles/ search for the right talent associated with your topic

In particular, authors with books pending publication or recently published will be eager for promotional opportunities so they make good candidates to approach. You also get a clear idea of their areas of expertise and topics they could potentially speak on from the theme and content of their new book.

Many authors have their own websites, so a quick Google search can offer a direct link to approach them by. If they don’t have a website, you can also search for them on Twitter or Facebook and reach out to them there. We don’t mind telling you, this is exactly how we found one of our speakers for the next NEXT conference.

  • Use industry gatherings associated with your topic

For the topic of virtual reality, we had to look no further than the very recent CES conference. There, as with any conference, we were certain to run into those who position themselves as spokespeople for their industry. These superstars are likely to be receptive to invitations to speak, and that’s a great way to find them.

  • Use your Linkedin contacts and personal/ professional network

Your network, and Linkedin – are a goldmine of professional information. Post an update to your network looking for recommendations for speakers, experts or bloggers and you might be surprised by the response – people love to help, especially if you’re asking for their opinion.

At the upcoming Havas Luxe NEXT conference, we believe we have hit the jackpot with our speakers. Tackling such talking subjects as the future of advertising, and the ramifications of VR for humanity, we have invited Sebastian Tomich, founder T Brand Studio (creator of T Brand, and winner of two 2016 grand prix Cannes Lions) and Marc Lavallee – leading the future innovation in the newsroom and Story X ( VR/ AR/ Mobile) at the New York Times, and Ken Perlin, a renowned professor in the Department of Computer Science at New York University, founding director of the Media Research Lab at NYU, and the Director of the Games for Learning Institute. Nailed it.

But wait, there’s more…

  1. Details:

If you want to run a corporate event that gets people talking, you’ll need to throw in a few quirky features (alongside great content, of course).

For example – set up above and beyond a PowerPoint presentation, or a panel (snore). Run debates, small table discussion groups, and non-conventional settings. Or, add an experience.

This is our approach at Havas Luxe. We’re a creative company, so we want our meetings to be as creative as possible. Our approach is designed to ensure all guests engage with, rather than passively consume, the content offered. That’s why the next NEXT conference will include a 360-degree environment where all guests will be invited to experience Virtual Reality. It is our hope that engulfing everyone in a multi-sensory experience will fuel the senses and get people thinking in fresh ways.

And now, if you don’t mind – what do YOU want to see at our next NEXT conference? Tell us which topics and speakers speak directly to you, and we will do our best to accommodate that.

If you would like to RSVP to our NEXT conference on 3.31.17, please register here.

 

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The Top Five Luxury Marketing Books Of All Time

This is your bible: we have rounded up the five best marketing books of all time, that we personally believe should be in every business library (you’re welcome).

Some of these books are focused on the strategies and more data-driven tactics of marketing. Others include the timeless observations about human nature and group behavior, which form the basis for the art of marketing.

  1. The Luxury Strategy – by Jean-Noël Kapferer and Vincent Bastien

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consider this your bible. Written by two world experts on luxury branding, this book (now in its second edition) provides the most thorough blueprint for the effective management of luxury brands at the highest level. We at Havas Luxe reference it all the time. In fact, we referenced it tirelessly when penning our recent blockbuster blog post: Make Luxury Great Again (link to post).

By defining the differences between premium and luxury brands and products, analyzing the nature of true luxury brands and turning established marketing ‘rules’ upside down, The Luxury Strategy has established itself as the definitive work on the essence of a luxury brand strategy. It’s a must-read.

  1. Deluxe – How Luxury Lost its Luster – by Dana Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have obsessed over this book for years – and it is perhaps even more relevant today, ten years after it saw light for the first time. This is a hard-hitting behind-the-scenes look at the luxury fashion industry that dares to ask the question: Is luxury still the best that money can buy?

There was a time when luxury was available only to the rarefied and aristocratic world of old money and royalty. Luxury wasn’t simply a product, it was a lifestyle, one that denoted a history of tradition, superior quality and offered a pampered buying experience. Today’s luxury marketplace would be virtually unrecognizable to its founders. Dana Thomas, a journalist who has covered style and the luxury business for The Washington Post, Newsweek and The New York Times Magazine from Paris for the past fifteen years, digs deep into the dark side of the luxury industry to uncover all the secrets that the maisons have avoided revealing. In so doing, she cuts to the core of what luxury, and luxury marketing, truly entail.

  1. Small is the New Big – by Seth Godin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are not already subscribed to Seth Godin’s newsletter, do it right now. He’s as major as marketing gurus come, and as one of today’s most influential business thinkers, Seth Godin helps his army of fans stay focused, stay connected, and stay dissatisfied with the status quo. His books, blog posts, magazine articles, and speeches have inspired countless entrepreneurs, marketing people, innovators, and managers around the world. We could easily recommend all his books, but of them – this one in particular applies to Luxury Marketing, particularly because of the focus on “smallness” – a tailored, customizable, personal approach. You’ll enjoy all his other riffs, too.

  1. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds – by Charles Mackay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimately, marketing means understanding groups of people and how they think. While technology has changed over the decades, people haven’t, so it shouldn’t be all THAT surprising that in 1841, Charles Mackay captured the essence of group-think (see also “1984”, by George Orwell).  Read this, and you’ll never be surprised by events like the Great Recession or the popularity of the Kardashians (yes, we have once again referenced the Kardashians in a post).

Best quote: “We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.”

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People – by Dale Carnegie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most successful leaders all have one thing in common: They’ve read How to Win Friends and Influence People. As a salesman at one point in his life, author Dale Carnegie made his sales territory the national leader for the firm he worked for. Carnegie eventually ended his sales career and taught public speaking, earning up to $500 every week — the equivalent of $11,800 today. Even Warren Buffet, one of the most successful investors of the 20th century, took Carnegie’s course at age 20.

Simply put, this is a must read for any marketer who wants to succeed not only in marketing and sales, but also in life.

Extra Credit – Email or comment below your own book selection by February 17th!  The most interesting book suggestion will receive all five of the books mentioned in the post.

Enjoy.

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How To TECH UP Your Next Event

It’s just after CES, and we here at Havas Luxe have somehow found ourselves increasingly surrounded by tech trends and techies. So we took advantage of it, and asked industry experts what tech secrets are that they think are absolute MUSTS for events/ experiential marketing success. Here’s what they had to say:

#1 Know that your audience is BEYOND the room

First and foremost, integrating tech experiences and digital campaigns in your events bring digital audiences even closer to the actual event experience than those lucky enough to attend, making it more important for organizers to think beyond the event walls.

Forward-thinking Events and Experiential Marketing agencies (ehem…like Havas Luxe) have been using Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and other social platforms for some time now to drive online engagement and UGC during their live events. Live streaming in particular is now so accessible, that it has and will have continued major impact on event success.

#2 Stay obsessed with VR and AR

We have said this in recent months on this very blog, and it’s continuing to prove true: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are becoming more and more mainstream. VR provides an even richer event experience to those tuning in remotely, while AR lets organizers layer digital enhancements onto the immediate event environment.

If you would like to see just HOW mainstream these are, and what amazing things are being created via VR and AR for the events industry- changing our commercial paths forever – please plan on attending our next HAVAS LUXE Conference on 3.31.2017. Stay tuned.

#3: Focus on driving the audience to action

Technology integrations at events – such as interactive displays and even digital photo booths – are there to do only two things:

Make the visitor do something (e.g. create UGC)

And

Collect data

Think this is very “big brother”? We think not. Ultimately, this will result in better event experiences for attendees. Event Management is sophisticated enough at this point to deliver not only better events, but customer-centric, personalized, unique experiences. In fact, this will be driven by participants – who are increasingly dictating through technology what their event experience is.

#4: Multi task

Specialties are becoming increasingly diverse, and it’s more important than ever for organizers to develop a broad range of skills paired with a deep knowledge of one particular area.

Today, to be a successful event and experiential agency, you need expertise in all aspects of experiential marketing. This means: strategy and ideation, staging and production, catering, promotion — and digital amplification. In other words – we no longer create an experience that is just physical. It must include the ability to assemble the right setup to engage digital audiences.

With the rapid proliferation of technology across the industry, those who do the above will thrive and rise to the top.

#5: Measure success more often, and with greater ease

The ability to track and prove the results of events will continue to improve this year, with brands and entrepreneurs running more and more events that are digitally connected. It’s a win-win, non?

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MAKE LUXURY GREAT AGAIN

MAKE LUXURY GREAT AGAIN

Havas Luxe’s top 10 pointers to regain luxury’s luster

Admit it. Luxury sure isn’t what it used to be. We blame the Kardashians.

How did this happen? Well, the truth is – it has been a process, and this has been going on for a long time. Let’s flash back for a second to 2006 and 2007. Three major cultural moments come to mind:

 

  1. The Devil Wears Prada, the movie (based on Lauren Weisberger’s tell-all book about working at Vogue for Anna Wintour) – is released, starring Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt. It was epic, and though the ending is decidedly un-materialistic, back-to-basics and all about the return – from luxury- to love, the movie has since become a classic, in huge part due to the glitz and glam of all that high fashion.
  2. A year later, the book “DELUXE: How Luxury Lost it’s Luster” – by Dana Thomas, was released. It was a book that radically rippled through the industry. In it, Thomas — who had at the time been the cultural and fashion writer for Newsweek in Paris for 12 years – wrote a solid social memoir of fashion, which was as entertaining as it was poignant. It was a call to arms: a declaration of the demise of TRUE luxury. In a nutshell – Thomas showed what was happening to the luxury industry, calling out “the shift from small family businesses of beautifully handcrafted goods to global corporations selling to the middle market”.
  3. In October of that same year, 2007 – E! thrusts “Keeping up with the Kardashians” upon the world. Nothing is ever quite the same.

Turns out, Dana Thomas was totally right then, and she is completely right today. Her book – written a decade ago – was about how a business that once catered to the wealthy elite went mass-market. Mind you, this was written pre-influencers, pre Facebook, pre-Instagram. It could not be more relevant TODAY.

Although “Deluxe” quoted Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, saying such changes mean that “more people are going to get better fashion” and “the more people who can have fashion, the better,” back then, Thomas reached a more jaded conclusion. She wrote: “The luxury industry has changed the way people dress. It has realigned our economic class system. It has changed the way we interact with others. It has become part of our social fabric. To achieve this, it has sacrificed its integrity, undermined its products, tarnished its history and hoodwinked its consumers. In order to make luxury ‘accessible,’ tycoons have stripped away all that has made it special.”

“Luxury has lost its luster,” indeed. We quite agree. In fact, in recent months – both Luxury Daily and Luxury Society lamented in op-eds and reports that luxury brand advertising itself has gone “too corporate”, and “too mass”—in an attempt to hit ever-higher global sales goals in spite of a challenging market. What the articles referred to was the massification of the luxury message – using sports, influencers and cars to sell watches, jewelry, spirits and fashion. We can understand a house’s heritage in sailing, in equestrian sports, even in the occasional car race. But basketball? Scott Disick? Car-chase movies? What do any of these have to do with luxury?

This is our battle cry to change this. We believe it’s time for luxury to make a very serious statement, by stepping back into that which MAKES luxury brands LUXURIOUS. That’s right –we want to Make Luxury Great Again. It’s not too late for luxury brands to recover their elite status, but it will not be easy.

Here are our Top Five Tips for Making Luxury Great Again:

  1. Be OLD:

High-profile luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Cartier were founded in the 18th or 19th centuries by artisans dedicated to creating beautiful, finely made wares for the royal court in France.

It is impossible to replicate legacy, origin, and tradition. That, above all, is your story. Here’s where we also strongly endorse manufacturing at home. Asian consumers are not the only one who care about origin. We do, too.

  1. Be CRAFTY:

Traditionally, the notion of craftsmanship is associated with the luxury industry due to the image of quality and sophistication conveyed by that which is « made by hand ». In recent years though, this image has been overused and even diluted by many brands, to a point where there is now the need for a new vision of French luxury. More luxury companies have the means to pave the way and lead by example, starting with the relocation of their production, which is a crucial step in that direction.

To compensate for the additional costs of a non-outsourced, non-industrialized labor force, luxury brands need to increase the intangible value created by the multiple facets of fabrication – linked to a territory, the people who are part of it, their culture and heritage.

  1. Be ELITIST:

When the grand maisons were founded, they catered to European aristocrats and prominent American families. As a result, luxury remained – per Ms. Thomas: “a domain of the wealthy and the famous” until “the Youthquake of the 1960s” pulled down social barriers and overthrew elitism. It would remain out of style “until a new and financially powerful demographic — the unmarried female executive — emerged in the 1980s.”

We wish to reclaim the domain of the wealthy in the world of luxury. Otherwise, read our lips – it is not luxury. How do you do this? It’s simple. Pair the right messaging (see below) with HIGH PRICES.

Premium is NOT luxury, so first and foremost: reposition your brand. If a brand is truly luxury and wants to differentiate itself, it should target upper-class audiences across the board — those people who value the brand most and will pay a premium for it.

Luxury can be a tricky thing to define, and many consumers equate higher prices with more value. Post recession, by lowering prices, designer brands like Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren were able to keep sales strong. Since then, we have seen the consequences of this strategy. For example – in 2015, shares for Michael Kors dropped more than 50%. Above all, brand perception was diluted – perhaps irreparably.

  1. Be RARE:

We know this; the cult objects are the desired objects. Create the cult again. You do this by cultivating rarity – limited access, limited editions, exclusivity. This applies not only to product, but to retail, events, PR, and to social media.

Luxury brands that embraced social media are able to inform, engage, address criticism, answer questions, and so on. And they can still do so. The key is to maintain very strict voice guidelines – be authoritative, be formal, be LUXURY, and so on.

And here’s another key: social platforms have offered luxury brands a huge opportunity to define their images and aesthetics on their own terms, and to convey their personalities via….you guessed it, influencers. We are here to argue that luxury requires no stars. The celebrities wear and covet you, anyway. Let them be your UGC – they will! What’s our point? It’s this: Hermes does not need the endorsement of a Taylor Swift. It is HERMES.

  1. Be UNIQUE:

Luxury is not comparative. It’s time to be an individual again. Follow your own brand, your own vision, your own path. The competition does not matter.

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Luxury – we want you back.

We believe that luxury elevates the soul. It is the stuff of dreams. It is the symbol of success.

With a solid strategy and an effort to understand and reconnect with their core audience, we know that luxury will rise again to its rightful place in all our hearts.

 

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2016 Marketing Minutes

2016 Marketing Minutes, Summarized: The Best Is Yet To Come

Havas Luxe’s take on what the biggest take-aways from 2016 have been for our industry

If you did not spend the majority of 2016 thinking about PURPOSE, STORY and CONTEXT, we bet you spent it pretty frustrated. Because this was the year in which businesses – and even the election – proved to us again and again that nothing supersedes the need to keep a clear focus on the needs and expectations of customers, and to answer those needs consistently, remarkably, and on-target.

Here’s a look at the top FIVE marketing trends we saw throughout the year, followed by our humble takeaway and recommendation on how to apply this to kick start 2017.

  1. Marketing was about Sales. You know how when you’re designing a website, user experience (UX) is secondary to the definition of brand and messaging? Well, it’s the other way around now. In our meetings all through the year we have understood that the formerly silo-d departments for marketing and sales within fashion, luxury and prestige consumer goods companies are now not only regularly communicating – but actually becoming an extension of each other. Makes sense, as that’s pretty much the whole point of digital marketing; marketers, using integrated tools, can engage with customers online, track the buyer’s journey, measure sentiment and loyalty, and match behavior with outreach tailored to meet their audience’s needs and interests.

Incidentally, this is what gave rise to the next massive trend.

In a nutshell: this was the year that Omnichannel became Retail’s BFF.

Tweet for Pizza! Snap a pic and Hashtag for a discount at Zara! We now have so many turnkey ways in which to bring events and physical location to online, that everything just…flows.

  1. Marketing was about Influencers. The year 2016 has clearly seen “brand ambassadors” given a higher priority, more effective customer engagement, and tighter collaboration with sales and support to directly affect conversion rates. We could go on and on about this, but you can just flip back here to check out our summit on the subject.
  1. Marketing went 3D.Virtual reality literally drops people’s jaws when we bring it around for presentation. It is amazing, and here’s why else you should get on board: it’s because, as we have noted in point #1: customer experience is the top priority. Secondly, it’s because, as have said here, it is becoming more common, and more affordable. 3D technology is poised to move from novelty to mainstream. As the technology to create and consume virtually has become more accessible, smart marketers started to find more ways to bring their products to virtual life, and we are sure they/you will continue to do so.
  1. Marketers (Finally) Realized that Social Media IS A CHANNEL, Not a Strategy. It is one of our personal crusades to eliminate the bizarre title “social media manager” from the stratosphere. Social media isn’t marketing, and it doesn’t work as a “strategy” on its own—something that (based on our many meetings) – seems to have finally sunk into the collective marketing consciousness. Social media is one platform of many, a tactic that does a great job of supporting broad campaigns but flounders by itself. This distinction will shape marketing strategies and budgetary considerations in the coming year. Don’t say we didn’t tell you so.
  1. Marketing got back to being about PURPOSE, STORY and CONTEXT. Here’s the thing we have been saying all year. We want you to really internalize this, so here goes, one more time: the millennial demo, and strata above and below it, are totally onto us. They know when they are being “sold”. We, you, me…. we are all MARKETING TO MARKETERS. The conclusion is this: the purposeful will survive. Authenticity is the key; it is the key to getting through to audiences, it is the key to forming a compelling, consisted and remarkable story which bears repetition, and when you consider the context: the audience being the star, you get better results.

It’s a bit hard to wrap one’s head around that last one, perhaps (though the election’s messaging certainly comes to mind….), so here’s a great example for you:

Let’s say that the Swiss haute horologie industry wanted to get with the program and up the ante in 2017. Let’s say they all wanted to beat the i-Watch, if we are presuming (just for this exercise) that the product is a veritable threat. For this exercise, based on the above we would propose a return to overwhelming emphasis on Swiss-made, perfectly crafted, painstaking engineering and elegance. To the story of authentic, hand-made luxury. Forget the teams you sponsor, the regatas, the basketball games, the cars and planes. These stories are derivatives ; they are not YOUR story. Focus on relating everything back to the message that superior is superior because of craft, heritage, experience, scarcity, and so on – and luxury will continue to prevail.

Substitute the above for anything: champagne, diamonds, couture. The point is this; your brand’s story and fundamental purpose are now more important than ever. This is the time to bring them back into the limelight.

Wishing you an excellent 2017!

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The Importance of Storytelling

Why brand storytelling should be at the core of your Marketing strategy

Since the dawn of time – humans have told stories, and societies have responded. All powerful brands know that injecting the magic of storytelling into their marketing taps into people’s emotions. While we always say that great product is 50% of marketing success – story is what will bring your values to life and connect with the consumer.

And that is the ultimate goal. So far, nothing is new.

However, as we have discussed over the course of this blog – the way in which brands can tell their stories has evolved profoundly over the past years. Today, a brand’s narrative can be told through so many channels, that the story runs a massive risk of being fragmented. But it’s still the past, present and future. So here’s what you should keep in mind:

  1. Be AUTHENTIC. Your brand story must be based in reality, even if it is embellished. Narratives that veer towards generalities, explanations and abstractions, or which insist on telling their moral or meaning – are advocacies, not stories. They lose their extraordinary ability to stimulate both the feelings and imagination of the teller and the audience.
  2. Note the DISTINCTION.

A brand’s narrative can set a company apart in a competitive sector. It can be the smallest things. For example – famed maker of Timepieces, IWC – a Richemont company, includes great heritage surrounding its American founder. This small notable fact sets it apart from many Swiss made competitors – injecting the American spirit into a European tradition.

  1. Make the message UNIVERSAL:

A good story makes you feel something and is universal. People want to buy a car from a company they relate to and they understand. They want to see their values in your values and in your commitment to excellence; be inspired and intrigued. Storytelling is the most powerful way to convey these ideas.

Ford, for example, uses storytelling to emphasize its passion for its products. For the launch of the Focus RS in January the company developed an eight-part documentary on the making of the Focus RS sports car.  By releasing this weekly on their YouTube channel, Ford showed how a team of engineers worked under great pressure to meet tight deadlines and to deliver ultimate success. Showing that passion that goes into creating a car – that’s storytelling.

  1. Be CONSISTENT:

We know we are beginning to sound like a broken record here, but that’s rather the point: in order to avoid having your message fragmented because of today’s need to create multiple pieces of content across so many channels – you must CONTROL the message. Your hook must exist across all channels, no matter the execution. For example, let’s take IWC’s old tagline: “Engineered for men”: bearing this in mind, all content for all channels will be created to enforce this one basic message. Yes, even when employing women to deliver the message. A great example of this has been their Globetrotter campaign – an influencer-driven content series “for men who seek out the most unique attractions around the world.”

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Above all, remember to create a full universe for your client. You are building the full picture around your brand. Marketers who can paint the pictures and create such personal relationships are well on the way to establishing long-term brand loyalty. In the end, we believe that story telling is not going anywhere:

 

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What is UGC?

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Are you tired of writing every single piece of content for your brand, to fill thousands of streams to meet customers always “on” demand? Well, today is your lucky day: This blog post is about UGC: USER GENERATED CONTENT – and it will set you free.

UGC is a marketing tactic that allows modern businesses to delegate some of the heavy lifting of marketing content creation to their customers and fans. The best part? In so doing, brands honor the customers even more than ever before, by turning the lens right onto them, and making them – the audience – the real star.

As we have already explored in recent posts and our conference on Influencer marketing (link to post: http://futureevents.us/influencer-marketing/), consumers are more interested in hearing the views of their peers than reading cleverly written sales messages. And before you utter the word “Millennials” – stop yourself. According to Bazaar Voice’s study last year, it’s not just 64% of millennials – but also 53% of baby boomers who demand to share their opinions about brands.

So let’s do a deep-dive. According to Wikipedia User-generated content (UGC) is defined as “any form of content (think: digital images, video, tweets) – that was created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites“. The term entered mainstream usage during 2005, having arisen in web publishing and new media content production circles. Today, it is a force – a true example of the democratization of content production. Back in the day, traditional “gatekeepers” such as magazine and TV ads by brands were all created and approved in-house before anything was published. Today, new technologies and social media have changed the game. As we all know, the general public, regular, large numbers of amateur individuals are able to post text, digital photos and digital videos online, with little or no “gatekeepers” or filters.

Additionally, user-generated content is also the direct result of increasingly savvy audiences. As we say often here at Havas, we are marketing to marketers – an audience of people so attuned to media messages, they can smell inauthenticity a mile away. The solution? Turn the lens on them. Make THEM the star. Let them produce the content with your marketing “hook”. To bring the point home, here are a few excellent examples of great UGC Campaigns.

Of course, we have to start with Burberry. In a first foray into UGC, the company launched The Art of the Trench website in 2009, where users could upload and comment on pictures of people wearing Burberry products. Burberry’s ecommerce sales surged 50% year-over-year following the launch of the site. Since then, Burberry has become famous for employing UGC – particularly with the launch and promotion of fragrance. But we still remember this awesome doorbuster particularly.

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Another great example of user generated content, Starbucks’ White Cup Contest launched in April 2014. Customers across the country were asked to doodle on their Starbucks cups and submit pictures as entries. The winning entry would be the template for a new limited edition Starbucks cup. Nearly 4,000 customers submitted entries in a 3-week span. The contest was a great way for Starbucks to get publicity and prove that it strongly valued customer feedback.

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But here’s the think – you don’t need to be a billion dollar love brand to launch into UGC. Luxury purveyors – naturally smaller, and commanding higher prices – are venturing just as much. For example, LVMH-owned footwear label Nicholas Kirkwood is putting the spotlight on its fans for its fall/winter 2016 campaign – as we speak.

The brand’s designer is doing this by looking through his own favorite posts tagged #MyKirkwoods, and asking the consumer photographers to shoot themselves in his latest collection. The brand is already tracking well over 1,000 posts featuring this hashtag. So far, so good.

As you can see, user-generated content is becoming more popularly tapped by brands looking to showcase an authentic, personal view of their products. At Havas, we pride ourselves into building a UGC component into any activation – and look forward to pitching you a custom example soon.

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