This morning, we named Jackie Cooper to the newly created post of global chair, creative strategy. She will also join the Edelman Executive Committee which is our top management team.
This announcement is significant in that we are now aiming to be the lead creative resource for our clients. We acknowledge the historic role of the advertising agency as the custodian of the brand. But we observe that digital firms, such as AKQA, are providing different solutions based on technology (one example would be tracking fuel consumption relative to your friends through a jump drive in the car). Media buyers are partnering with publishers on paid content that becomes a big idea (creating an online series sponsored by a shampoo and telecommunications provider that gets turned into a TV series).
Public relations firms can offer distinctive creative products that can become the basis for the brand proposition. Here are several reasons:
- Editorial Integrity—There is a surfeit of information that inundates readers. There is tremendous value in objective editorial endorsements. There is also power in the voice of the consumer who has specific experience with the product, sharing views in social media.
- Appeals to Stakeholders, Not Just Consumers—Our world includes NGOs, employees, communities, regulators and of course consumers. The Unilever Every Child has the Right to Play campaign for Persil and Omo, helping communities to build play parks for kids who go outside and get dirty, is a perfect example of a program that sells product and attracts support from all stakeholders.
- Part of the Conversation—We insert ourselves into the on-going dialogue by providing useful information. We are not interrupting the normal flow, rather we are enhancing discussions by pointing to useful additional content.
- Catalyst for Action—We are connecting brands with genuine societal needs. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty addressed the serious problem of female self-image and made a serious contribution to remedying the problem.
- Strong Foundation for Claims—Today’s skeptical person must see, hear or read a fact three to five times before believing it. The consistency between paid and earned material is key to the credibility of the message.
- Every Company is a Media Company—We can create a content hub that is a reliable source on specific topics. It can also serve as an aggregator of consumer generated content on the subject.
- Understanding the balance between promotion and protection – The socializing of content means we have to respect new consumer behaviors and tailor our creative strategy accordingly.
- Create events that prompt participation—We organized the recent takeover of the Principality of Liechtenstein for Microsoft’s Halo 4 (right) involving 70 bloggers and keen expert users. The program helped to generate $220 million in the first 24 hours of sales for the brand, eclipsing the opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
We have demonstrated our ability to be a good partner with ad agencies, helping to bring strong creative to life through earned media of all types (mainstream, blogs, social). We intend to continue to do that. But there will be times when our skills will be best suited to the creative challenge. Let the games begin.
Watch Jackie discuss her new role.
Richard Edelman is president and CEO.