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Communication Summit 2018 presented brands with purpose and wiped a border between marketing and public relations

Can a triangle "brand – good – business" really work? Or is it just a pose? How to communicate successfully in order to generate profit in addition to social impact? It was the main subject discussed at the Slovanský dům in Prague at the gathering of 400 visitors, both from companies and creative or communication agencies, Communication Summit 2018 at the of May.

Forget about the classic media mix and don’t even try to build your campaign on a 30-second TV spot with adding a few banners. Tomáš Varga, CEO of Publicis One for Central Europe introduced his speech with these simple rules. He supported his claim with illicit numbers: today paid media have just a 40% share in the final decision making of users, whether they buy a product or a service, in case of millennials it's only 20%. At the beginning there has to be a main idea related to a product or a service, and then it must be implemented in all communication channels. And, of course, take advantage of all the data you have at your disposal. "In order to make a change of thinking across companies, it is necessary that the pressure comes from the management, otherwise it is not possible," Varga commented his own experience. And then here comes datamining and technology. Publicis itself, through Saatchi & Saatchi London, is now attempting to cut shootages by artificial intelligence, creating a series of customized Škoda spots for different target groups.

Growing investment in non-media spending also proofs the need to consider marketing communication being much more complex. David Čermák (Coomunication Agencies Association) and Lucie Vlčková (Nielsen Admosphere) presented results of the recent research on this subject. The non-media forms of advertising include investments in on-line tools, mobile phone advertisements, events, production costs of media spots and print advertisements, consumer competitions, loyalty programs, sponsorship etc. This year, 55.8 billion crowns which is by 5.3 % more than last year will be invested in this field. The largest growth is reported by the costs of organizing events and loyalty programs.

You ruin our creativity!

David Vejtruba, director of marketing at Solvent CR, which includes Teta drugstore chain, and Ondřej Svatoň from Skanska, was also commenting on the results of the study in following discussion. Vejtruba shared his experience of working with agencies. "We are talking about consistent communication and for me it means that our brand has to be visible in everything we do. However, I often encounter misunderstandings about what this long-term prosess is about. Marketers complain that I'm spoiling their creativity with this claim. They should realize that the value of the brand exceeds the value of the agency they work in."

The fact that communication should work as one consistent whole is also presented in the way various divisions work across Google. "We support so-called extreme communication, that is very close cooperation between marketing, product development, relations with state administration and sales departments. And we do not even distinguish what PR is and what a marketing campaign is. Although it is not easy sometimes, we make campaigns in order to satisfy demands of all these divisions," Alžběta Houzarová, Google's communications manager, said. Technology focused media are easy to earn, the real target is mainsetram media channels. Human stories that journalists love are what always works. Houzarová mentioned a story of Swedish scientist who helped people with Alzheimer's disease with Google Street View, when she tried to bring them back nice memories connected with familiar places.

One of the world's best contemporary marketers and a jury president of PIAF for this year, Björn Ståhl, confirmed that they did not distinguish between PR and advertising campaigns at INGO group. Each year they focus on creating one truly exceptional campaign, which then wins prizes around the world and attracts so many clients that the agency has to reject them. At Communication Summit 2018, Ståhl also shared a very personal story. Two years ago, he collapsed and fought for life due to being over-worked. Whatever this experence gave him, the growth of the agency business followed in terms of staff, clients, and profits. Ståhl introduced the best of his campaigns from recent years, including the Swedish number, a campaign in which people from all over the world telephoned to Sweden and were randomly assigned to various residents including the Prime Minister. Campaign, by the way, is one of the most successful ads in the world, both in terms of creativity and efficiency. His latest ideas include the promotion of the opera and free tickets for all who found the courage to upload and send a sound record of their orgasm. "I often do not know if the campaign will succeed. But the fear is just what I consider to be an important ingredient without which a really good idea cannot be done," the key note speaker summed up.

Purpose is new digital

Well, so it means all marketers now save the world or what? The ad should sell, should’t it! Martin Woska from Triad, who created O2's popular campaign and restored virtual iron curtain on November 17, outlined in his introduction. The trend of so-called goodvertising, the advertising that spreads the good, is already reflected on the Czech scene, but not every example is worth it. In fact, we can find some fails even on a global scale. "When there is no drinking water there is no beer. That's why Stella Artois built its campaign with Matt Damon as an ambassador to make drinking water more accessible. It makes sense. But when Heineken promotes its brand through the idea of tolerance and the wiping of differences by the message that when we talk having a beer or two we find that we are all alike, it is rather limp. In addition, it is completely interchangeable," Woska said. Many campaigns are riding the "girl power" wave like those of Always, Nike or Under Armour. For the latter two, it is also losing power when it comes to fact they are competitors.

Triad has teamed up with O2, which has decided to promote the idea of fairness in Slovakia in relation to the services provided (no contracts, penalties for resignation, footnotes, etc.). Isn’t it a bit of discovering America? asked one of the audience's questions. "In general, we are not the only one. But in the telecom segment in Slovakia it was not common at the time I joined O2," Markéta Plichtová, social network manager in O2 commented on changing the strategy. Fairness and support for democracy is now present in everything O2 is involved in, which means, among other things, that the company has no banners on conspiracy sites or it ended the cooperation with untrustworthy third parties. "Money is running away, but it's just part of our struggle," Plichtová added. The operator, with its campaign on the Fight for Freedom and Democracy Day, generated six million people reach in Slovakia and the Czech Republic last year, with 82 % of them being organic.

Democratic fast food

Even an ordinary hamburger can stand for democratic principles. Iwo Zakowski, CEO of Burger King in Sweden, presented various ways of how to work with his message, which responds to the social engagement typical of the millennial. Indeed, this target group accounts for half of its business. The fast-food chain keeps spreading the message that it is here for everyone without a difference. For example Burger King wanted to celebrate the World Peace Day, and it didn’t matter McDonald's refused to co-operate in McWhopper, the merger of the best-selling sandwiches of the two competitors. The mere gesture itself worked perfectly as a PR. In other case Whopper sandwich wore rainbow packaging to support the LGBT community, "because although the packaging differs, we are all the same inside." The most impressive is the bullying-accenting campaign. Hidden camera shot a simulated bullying scene between teenagers in a BK restaurant to examine how people react on such mistreating. Only about 12 % of the people who saw the bullying tried to intervene or took care for a victim. But 95% of the customers complained when they were served a damaged sandwich as a parallel to bullied teenager. "It is proven that brands that have a clearly defined purpose are growing twice as fast. But if you do not have a meaningful idea that you can stand for in everything you do, then quit straight away," Zakowski told the audience.

Mistrust in post-truth era

Jana Šmejcová from Kantar CZ also proved the fact that strong brands which build their differences on meaningful purposes within their category generate higher profits. She presented in several case studies that many brands are mistakenly focused on short-term profits in their campaigns, and those who can generate profit in the short and long term are not so many. "Even a small brand can have a message that it can stands for in all areas of its activities. Rather, however, I find that the message ends with the definition only, " Šmejcová said, adding that this is one of the reasons why the local marketers caused the generally low marketing sensitivity that prevails among Czech consumers.

This marketing resistance in fake-news era creates extremely unfavourable atmosphere that is not only reflected in opinion-divided society and growing extremism, but also in the impact on brand trust. The head of the non-profit organization People in Need, Šimon Pánek, mentioned it when speaking about general need to support media literacy. "Whether we want it or not, the internet and social networks contribute, for example, to declining trust in the public service media. The narrative of our social bubbles and the controlled content they deliver us is fundamentally different from the narrative presented by the public media. That's why we say, it's not true, I know better’."

The morning program was followed by four parallel sections focused on rating of communication efficiency, advertising, public relations and government organisations communication. The evening was dedicated to Best of PIAF, an international advertising contest, organised by Communication Agencies Association. Communication Summit 2018 was organised by Blue Events with support of City of Prague. Among main partners there were Mastercard, trnd, PRIA etc. Creative partners of Best of PIAF were Bang, Brainz and Eallin agencies. The conference supports financially the Media education project made by People in Need.


More info:
Barbora Krásná, Blue Events: barbora.krasna@blueevents.eu
Marek Hlavica, PIAF: marek.hlavica@piafawards.com 

Contact for media: Jan Patera, Blue Events: Jan.patera@blueevents.eu 

Partnership: Jiří Beneš, Blue Events: jiri.benes@blueevents.eu

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