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How to not dilute a bold idea?

Launches are all about creativity and being bold but we questioned our panel of Launch Legends how to ensure that a bold idea doesn’t get diluted. Our panel of Launch Legends are:

  • Mark Scott, Marketing Agency Director, The National Trust
  • Niall Cluely, Partner, Dragon Fish
  • Lee Jury, VP Marketing, Walt Disney Studios EMEA & UK

We have written a transcript below, in case you are not in an area where you can listen to audio. We wouldn’t want you to miss out!

James Roles: 72% of marketers sighted that being brave was critical when you were launching (extract taken from our Launch Marketing Report). Martin this is probably a question for you, how do you get to a point whereby the time a launch reaches the market, the idea has not been diluted?

Martin Flavin: A Creative Director once described executing a successful campaign is like a thousand hurdle race. Everyone high 5s when they’ve come up with a great idea but actually there are a thousand different decisions between coming up with the idea and executing the idea that can make it wonderful or can make it just mediocre. And if you get every single one of those decisions right, it’s brilliant. No one will ever get all of those decisions right so you aim for most of those decisions being right. A lot of the things that stop a bold, creative idea from happening..well there are two things really. One is it’s not fireproofed enough. There’s not enough rigour around it other than ‘We like it, it’s bold, let’s do it!’. Nobody is going to put their career on the line for that. So you have to really understand it from a strategic and insight perspective. You’ve got to keep going back to the people you are talking to – the consumers. Are they going to love it? What research backs up that they are going to love it? So you’ve got to really rigorously try and fireproof the idea. Creatives love ideas but you’ve got to make them tangible and make them buyable for the client.

The other thing is, if it’s really bold and creative then there is a level of fear. I think if people are going to do bold and creative ideas then they need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Years ago we did a launch campaign for a dental insurance company which is not exactly the most glamorous industry in the world. They wanted something bold and creative so we said ‘OK fine we’ll do something bold and creative’. We said to them upfront, the exact words being ‘if you’re not sh*tting yourself the night before this launch then we haven’t done our job’. Those were the exact words we used (laughter). Because if you want something bold and creative, you have to be uncomfortable with it. So we will do our best to fireproof it but there is a gap that you can’t guarantee. There is a certain level of trust and faith but you have to get comfortable with the idea that you’re a bit edgy and bit uncomfortable about it because if you’re not, it’s kind of where you are anyway.

James Roles: Any other observations from the panel in that respect?

Lee Jury: You do have to be brave when you have a bold idea. The Walt Disney Company spends most of its time making sure it’s not overly governing itself and thinking for the consumer. The brand is obviously very important, of utmost importance in fact but just making sure you are asking the right challenging questions, you can see the finishing line and you can see what getting to that finishing line looks like, is important. Here’s another funny little example (the first one was slightly bigger, Star Wars, in the question around whether you can harness social media communities to help launch a new product). We had another animated film called Wreck it Ralph. All set in the 8-bit world and we had this idea to turn the Old Truman Brewery Street into 8-bit lane for a few days and turn everything 8-bit. The organisation understood the concept but they didn’t understand that we would take the name Disney off it. They said ‘so if this is effectual, exploratory marketing surely the name needs to be on it?’ and we said ‘well it isn’t about that, it is about discovering it and being surprised by it.’ Trying to get that over the line and convince people that this was a significant investment that wasn’t easily translated into the movie, was hard work. But it brought people on board and it was an idea that got a great deal of coverage. The challenge was that it didn’t get diluted through the process. You walked into Truman Way, or whatever the street name was as I’ve forgotten, and to have Disney above the entrance would have been a disaster. Bottom line, it worked.

Martin Flavin: That’s fantastic.

Mark Scott: The way we are kind of approaching for an organisation that is not naturally marketing led, is showing by results. Putting some of those more bold and creative ideas out there but perhaps on a smaller scale so we can build that confidence. We’re not quite at sh*tting ourselves the night before level, we’re mildly concerned (laughter).

By George Roberts

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