Integrated vs. Orchestrated

Oh, the good ol’ days of integrated marketing - when the marketing community could forge a plan to reach an audience. We could work our way from awareness all the way down to purchase and then advocacy, using a reasonably small set of arrows in the quiver. It was a command and control approach to marketing - if you had the budget you could do almost anything.

For the traditional marketing mind educated in the 70s, 80s and 90s, today’s marketing must feel like an effort to catch a butterfly with chopsticks. Theoretically it is possible, but it seems insane to try. Yet, it really isn’t that different today than it was years ago. We’re just able to see more.

We are able to see the results when Audi runs a gritty, gorgeous ad on gender equality in pay and the social universe calls them out for not having a woman on their board. The result is a love for the ad and a hatred and distrust of the brand. Certainly, a brand should have a point of view and it’s hard to argue against this one. But if you’re going to have one, live it, don’t just advertise it. This Audi ad was a huge spend to run a great ad and it created a huge PR problem. Hopefully, the “integrated” agency has a great pr/social team billing at $500/hr for crisis work.

Sorry, that was below the belt.

What we see here is an increase in speed due to the scale-free degree distribution environment of the internet. Everything can be known by everyone (online) at a pace beyond human comprehension. Brands look for things to “go viral” but when they do it’s impossible to reverse. This new digital environment has made life easier and harder at the same time. It has brought profound opportunity for small brands and plagued large brands like a decade-old foot fungus. There are three things we’ve noticed in our decade-long study of brands in our modern economy.

One: The facade of advertising and creating an image that is different from the actual brand and company is dying. The former CMO of Patagonia once said, “Patagonia the brand and Patagonia the company are the same thing.” The fact that this is a statement worth saying, says something. The fact that this is not true for many companies, is worth considering. Audi was attempting to further their facade as a luxury, thoughtful and human brand, but the company isn’t really there yet.

Two: Community is the new ad campaign. In our recent past, it was thought you could run an ad campaign and create believers, advocates and loyalists. In actuality, these human beings were checking with their community, not in a rational look at the Amazon rating way, but in a human conversational way. Community is built by community, but spared by an integrated campaign. Today, the community makes something “a thing.” An ad campaign might help, but it can just as easily hurt because the default position of the community is distrust. When the Audi ad ran, someone (or a group) had to go look at the Audi board and tweet about it. They started from a position of distrust, regardless of how beautiful the ad was.

Three: Experience is where truth can be found. The experience you have with a brand is what drives the value of the brand. What it is like to buy a Pepsi, consume a bottle, dispose of it, and all the surrounding experiences are attached to the brand. We can’t trust advertising, but we can trust an experience - either one we’ve had or our influential community members have. These experiences can be designed or, as better described by James Damian, orchestrated. Building a community through shared experiences is a driving force behind successful brands. Audi was under the impression that they could put up a facade and create warm, fuzzy feelings about their brand without living up to their point of view. Their behaviors need to match their words, and as we saw, they did not.

What can you do?

Find and immerse yourself in the world of experience design. Visit a design firm and talk with them about experience mapping. Find a team outside to hold up a mirror so you can see your brand truthfully. Conduct an experience audit to identify your pain points, critical moments and memory makers. Stop using words like consumer and start talking about human beings. You’ll see more when you open your eyes to the whole person.

Consider the fact that everything is visible, integrated is being disintegrated and design can help you orchestrate a memorable and engaging experience.

This story is inspired by a design thinker, James Damian.

About The Author

Aaron Keller

I am an author, strategist, researcher, cyclist, reader and consummate entrepreneur. When an interesting idea crosses my path, I find any way we can bring it to life. Earning an MBA from the Carlson School and numerous valuable credits at the school of hard knocks, I’ll sit at a boardroom conversation with anyone. Want to talk business strategy, consumer behavior and design? Oh, it’s on.


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