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The big ideaL: Ogilvy's framework for giving brands a purpose
The big ideaL: Ogilvys framework for giving brands a purpose David Tiltman Warc Exclusive November 2010
Title: The big ideaL: Ogilvys framework for giving brands a purpose Author(s): David Tiltman Source: Warc Exclusive Issue: November 2010 The big ideaL: Ogilvys framework for giving brands a purpose David Tiltman WarcThe Spikes Asia Advertising Festival, held in Singapore in September, celebrates creativity. But the strategy behind thecreative work was the topic of Ogilvy & Mathers talk on a process it terms The big ideaL.The session, given by Ed Bell, the agencys Shanghai Group Planning Director, and Paul Heath, its Asia-Pacific CEO, lookedat the thinking behind the The big ideaL and how it had been applied to several brands in Asia.The basis of The big ideaL is consumers desire for authenticity. This, argued the speakers, has become one of the drivingforces of marketing in the 21st century. In the 1970s, a "commodity economy", the key was availability; in the 1980s, a "goodseconomy", the key was cost; in the 1990s, a "service economy", the key was quality. Now, in what the speakers termed an"experience economy", authenticity can make or break a brand, and consumers "will expose half-truths"."Consumers want something to believe in," said Heath. "An ideal is more important than an idea".The big ideaL, then, is a process to help brands find a platform they can speak from authentically. Bell referred to it as an"organising principle". He added that the goal was for brands to take the initiative and find a platform that suits them. "Whydont we focus on something we can create and do something about it?"The starting point is to look at the brands market and look for a "cultural tension". This can be a very narrow idea, and often isa cultural assumption that consumers may only subconsciously be aware of. Focus groups are often little use in this;uncovering a cultural tension could involve research with ethnographers, editors, creative people and others plugged intocultural change.An example of a brand that identified a cultural tension as part of this process is Louis Vuitton. After examining the travelmarket closely, it came to the conclusion that the act of travel had lost its special quality in an age of mass transport. Travelwas no longer a luxury activity; the thought of travel had become less exciting.The next step is to identify what the speakers referred to as "The brands best self". This sounds easy, but can often take themost time to work out (Bell said the whole experience takes about a month). The goal is to find what the brand looks like whenit is performing at its absolute best. "What is the one thing we love doing as a brand?" said Bell. "You need to find things noother brand can rival." Downloaded from warc.com2
In the example of Louis Vuitton, the brands best self was that it embodied the spirit of travel in beautifully crafted luxury goods.The crossover between the cultural tension and the brands best self is the basis of the ideal. A handy way to think about thisis to use the following sentence: "Brand X believes the world would be a better place if..."For Louis Vuitton, the answer became: "Louis Vuitton believes the world would be a better place if we lived life as anexceptional journey". The resulting print campaign used various celebrities and other high-profile figures, with a focus on theirlives as exceptional journeys.Other brands have used The big ideaL process to find platforms they can talk about with authenticity. High-end hotel chainShangri-La ads identified a cultural tension in the isolation that comes with business travel. The brands best self was to treatpeople like family. Downloaded from warc.com3
The resulting theme was: "Shangri-La believes the world would be a better place if we all treated each other as family". Thecampaign tapped into these themes: Downloaded from warc.com4
Both Louis Vuitton and Shangri-La are upmarket brands with strong heritage, making them good contenders for a position ofauthenticity. But The big ideaL has also been applied to more mainstream brands. An example is Nestlés chocolate drink Milo, a big brand for children in several Asia markets that had been connected with sport. It unearthed a cultural tension thatchildren were being discouraged from playing sport in markets such as Malaysia. In fast-growing economies, there wasincreasing pressure on children to focus on academic work. The brands best self was supplying the fuel for kids to succeed.The big ideaL became a belief that play is the essential work of childhood; that kids learn by playing. The eventual campaignused the strapline Play more, learn more (see video).Bell and Heath argued that having an authentic point of view was more than just a boost to CSR activity. It can affect long-termperformance and lift a brand above the competition. The duo used the global BrandZ research from WPP to show that therewas a correlation between brands with a high point of view score and brands that have high voltage. Downloaded from warc.com5