A change is as good as a rest
I was much interested to read last week that Special K is changing its creative approach, as you probably read in Campaign. The red dress/ swimming costume campaign has served them well for a number of years, in particular in generating strong brand link. So, will this work for them?
As a consumer, I really like the idea that they won’t just be using super-svelte women to advertise their brand. And I’m sure that I am not alone in this. This is a frequent theme, even complaint, which I’ve seen come up in all manner of different communications research projects that I’ve worked on at Ipsos ASI. When asked, many consumers say that they feel unable to live up to a slender standard that they say seems to be an expectation from society in general. Be more real, they say; be more like Dove.
This is the first concern that I have with this change. Because (perhaps unfortunately) the idea of ‘normal’ (whatever that means) or even plus-sized women in ads is so rare, Dove managed to stake out quite a large claim to this territory. This makes branding – even in an entirely different category – more challenging for Special K, which has historically been associated with slimming. That is not to say that it cannot be done, but rather that it is important to walk into it with eyes open to this particular challenge.
In addition, for any brand with a strong heritage in a particular creative style or tone, changing tactics is difficult. At Ipsos ASI, we’ve seen this time and again. Sometimes it works – when it’s built on a strong big idea that is well-executed creatively and well-supported – and sometimes it does not. After all, a strong history – negative or positive – can be difficult to overcome.
So, what can Special K do to ensure that its new direction works hard and pays into the brand?
First, execute flawlessly. It’s perhaps a bit late to say this: but the very first execution must be as strong as possible because of the history. This means simple and clear, with the brand at its heart. Special K should accept no compromise on creative quality.
Work it. If the campaign has to be executed flawlessly, the media plan needs to work hard. This means a true multi-touchpoint approach, with executions across platforms planned to build on one another. In some situations, we at Ipsos ASI would recommend to look at the media plan to extend reach. In this situation, it would be better to reinforce the message. The TV should be high-reach and all other paid media should pay into the idea. This can help to earn more but the brand also needs to ensure a visible shift in its owned assets to reinforce this at shelf and online.
Own it. This means keep the branding device. Even as the campaign evolves, the red dress / swimming costume does not have to be neglected. This is a great branding device for Special K and can help ensure continuity and help to overcome some of the concerns not only about branding but also about treading a new creative path.
Best of luck to Special K. I look forward eagerly to future developments.