MAD//Fest simplified - lessons from the UK’s hottest marketing festival (part 1 )

July 2022
Lucy Montague
Read time:
4 minutes
MAD//Fest simplified - lessons from the UK’s hottest marketing festival (part 1 )

10th Man was a proud sponsor of the UK’s boldest, most distinctive, and sold-out marketing festival this year. If you didn’t get there or couldn’t attend every talk, we’ve pulled together the best bits for you.

Think – and invest – for the long term

Innovation and risk-taking

Bees. 20% don’t follow the waggle dance. That was an important insight from Rory Sutherland. We all know that bees do a little dance when they return to the hive. It indicates where there’s nectar to be found and how much. The other bees then follow the waggle dance to a reliable source of plentiful food.

Except that 20% don’t. That’s a bit expensive. It means 20% less honey. And nature’s not renowned for providing a safety margin of one-fifth. Ever.

The point is that those one in five pioneer bees are the hive’s R&D department. They’re the risk-takers that go off in a different direction and, therefore, help the hive to grow and survive. So what looks expensive and wasteful is actually vital exploration. It looks like a cost, but it’s really an investment.

How’s your marketing budget? Is it all following the waggle dance? Because we know what worked before, it’s easy and seems safe to optimise on the past. But now, more than ever, as budgets tighten and pressure grows, we need to think beyond short-term campaigns built on historic data.

Across the sessions, we heard from brands taking the long the long-term view.

For Jack Daniels, it was the need to connect with a younger, pink gin, post-rock generation and build future loyalty for the bourbon. That meant taking a risk and evolving away from its traditional brand heritage creative for more engaging product visuals and diversifying its channel mixes accordingly. Jack Daniels’ marketing needed to penetrate through and cover every base: TV, events, and cinema, but social media, too, to ensure the brand got its share of attention across the wider segment.

For Specsavers and Dominos Pizza, it was necessary to accommodate changing consumer behaviour in a post-Covid and possibly, recessionary world.

But it’s not enough to just throw money at the future. You need to measure the success of each short step as you begin to lay down your long-term path.

For Jack Daniels, that meant calculating the investment required to grow sentiment, reach and, ultimately, sales. And then tracking the return on each channel investment. Amongst other results, the campaign won a 17% increase in consideration and helped Jack Daniels be the 8th biggest spirits brand in the UK.

It’s a necessary, long-term investment. As Caroline Lesur, Jack Daniels’ Head of Marketing, said:

“To be a true brand builder, you might not see the benefits. It might take two or three years. You may move on, but plant the seed, be bold, then look back and be proud of what you helped to build.”

You need genuine customer connection

Everything is (always) changing. Recently it’s been Covid, the cost of living and even the Prime Minister.

But even the Ancients knew about change. You cannot step in the same river twice.

What does that mean for marketers? It means you need to stay deeply connected with your customer. You need to spend time with your customer, and you need to listen closely.

Test the real-life brand experience

Deliveroo was founded by an investment banker who couldn’t get good food when working late. So he solved his own problem. Nine years later, and now CEO of a £2 billion business, he still takes a bike out on deliveries to observe the brand experience and marketplace directly, and stay abreast of their challenges.

As Tina Koehler, Global VP of Marketing, said, that kind of primary research “gives you texture.”

As a platform business, Deliveroo recognises it has three critical marketplaces to consider: restaurants, customers, and riders. It needs to stay aligned to all three, and the business requires that any newly proposed ideas need to serve at least two sides of its market, or they won’t be discussed.

Use data to help you take creative risks

According to CMO Sarah Barron, being close to the customer meant that Dominos could anticipate changes in its market. During the pandemic, it did well “making moments” for everyone locked down at home. The pandemic proved good for business, but the brand didn’t wish to be associated with “lockdown food” as the world re-emerged.

Dominos understood that customers wanted to get their mates together in a post-Covid world. People want to catch up and show off their new kitchen and other lockdown projects. And they don’t want to cook.

The brand took a risk with their hugely successful, yet divisive, yodel campaign to link Dominos to reunion moments. Borne of insight and carefully measured, the campaign split its audience with 95% loving it and 5% hating it. Yodeling ads regularly appeared in “ads you hate” listings.

But it cut through the noise. The campaign yielded a 16% increase in orders, 39% increase in franchisee spend, a reach of 10 million on TikTok, and an ROI off 8%. It even led to a spin-off Christmas campaign, a season that the brand had never approached before.

Beauty brand No7 drove fundamental transformation when it acted to listen closely to its customers and deliver diversity in its product range. Munnawar Chishty, Global Vice President and Marketing Director of No 7, outlined this meant broadening its 50,000-strong testing panel to ensure it fully represented different ethnic backgrounds. The result was the introduction of 118 new or improved shades to its foundation range, ensuring that products were effective for every ethnicity and skin tone.

It also meant repeatedly testing both products and associated campaigns to ensure they were genuinely inclusive rather than smacking of tokenism with “real people” used on campaigns rather than models.

Read part 2 of our MAD//Fest Simplified to learn about the power of authenticity and measurement from marketing leaders at Diageo, Cadburys, and what3words.