The chances are, perhaps quite a lot.
Ad agencies can be mines of good ideas, if you let them be.
Because of the focus on creativity in every agency worth its salt, they’re invaluable resources to bounce ideas off in terms of new ways to reach people, service delivery, customer relations, even product development and manufacturing. And because agencies work across many different industry segments, they can often suggest ideas that might not occur to your own people who have grown up and learned what they know in your own industry.
The other thing great agencies can do for you is think outside the box to create ideas that will guarantee people talk about your brand in a positive and enthusiastic way … even without you running any ads.
One such idea was for Lacoste, whose 85-year-old crocodile is one of the 10 most famous logos in the world.
Lacoste agency BETC suggested they make a limited edition series of shirts with a series of threatened animals on them. While only relatively few shirts were made, the awareness of the project was enormous. “Save Our Species” was one of several campaigns in 2018 that involved new manufacturing … as the Clio Awards noted, a welcome sign of creatively expansive thinking.
Another brilliant fashion brand promotion from the same year came from Diesel, which created its own counterfeit brand, Deisel, and sold it from their very own knock-off store during New York Fashion Week. Facing up to — and thus disempowering — the business of counterfeit products was a brave idea that fitted Diesel's risk-taking DNA perfectly. Conceptually brilliant, the campaign was many things — a PR idea, a commerce idea, an experiential idea, a video idea—but it all gelled into one of the year's cleverest campaigns.
Advertising heads can also think of clever ideas that don’t use traditional mediums but which make a huge impact.
How brilliant is this ad for a pasta company?
Ads like this are called “environmental”, because they leverage the environment around them. And the boat owners will have appreciated the small contribution to their harbour fees.
You’ll never get this idea suggested to you by a media buying agency, that’s for sure.
Another hugely growing area is so called “Experiential” marketing, where you encourage people to physically interact with your brand in an unusual way. Again, it’s way different from a standard ad.
Globally, hundreds of billions of non-cash transactions are made each year. And knowing how often we whip out our cards, German charity Misereor decided to put our bad habit to good use with its charitable giving billboard with what they called SocialSwipe.
Set up in airports, these digital posters would display images of some problems that Misereor works to resolve - hunger was depicted with a loaf of bread, for example.
But the screen was equipped with a card reader, and when someone went to swipe a card - for a small fee of 2€ - the image moved to make it look like the card was cutting a slice of bread.
Or the card might sever the bonds of someone’s tied wrists.
You can see the idea in action here:
Needless to say, this experience required a lot of effort and co-ordination with banks, airports, and a mobile payment platform. So to make it worthwhile, the experience couldn't just be a one off. The people who interacted with it were later reminded of it when they got a bank statement. On the statement, a thank you note from Misereor would turn up, with a link to turn their one-time 2€ donation into a monthly one if they so wished.
So encourage your agency to think outside the dots, and come up with ideas that you don’t expect. It might be the best thing they – and you – ever did.
Written by Stephen Yolland - Partner/Creative Strategist