Beware the Siren Call of ‘Binarisation’
- February 22, 2017
- Roger Darashah
Adfactors for me is my second family, where I feel valued and get freedom to explore new possibilities without any fear.
Hardik Desai Vice President
In-house environments have become so intense that they are becoming increasingly dependent on agencies to decrypt and interpret the world for them
Nearly twenty years ago, I spent a couple of years managing UK communications for Cable & Wireless in London. The experience gave me a taste of the peculiar environment that in-house PR professionals inhabit. This was a world (relatively) pre-mobile, pre-social media, when online media was considered the exception rather than the norm; the world moved at a considerably slower pace than today.
However, my experience provided an insight that no amount of agency life (even operating ‘on-site’ at clients’ premises) could ever replicate. In-house life was ‘particular’ and, even, ‘peculiar’. Let me give you some examples.
This environment is hardly conducive to ‘outside in’ thinking, putting the Word first and assessing its potential impact on the brand. The potential threat or opportunity of a new consumer trend is always going to be subordinate to an incorrect Pantone colour or an oversized logo (real corporate concerns, for many in-house teams, I assure you) when it comes to people’s attention.
This is why agencies are (or should be) so crucial to corporates; what does the Fidget Spinner craze reveal about people’s desire for physical experiences? Is the current celebrity obsession with ripped jeans a retro reference to the ‘80s, or an ironic take on modernity? What is it with velvet? Is there a type of Game-of-Thrones effect, or are we really searching for Camelot in the high street? And the B2B world is no exception; first, it was ‘Software-as-Service’, then ‘On-demand’, and now ‘Cloud’. What do these corporate catchphrases mean, particularly those which have become mainstream? Do they signify threats or opportunities, to brand? How should they react? Should they associate with the same?
The above are accepted trends, but potentially any world event could impact the best-laid corporate plans. Adverse weather spells, surprise cultural hits, collective sporting events, can all cast planned activities in a new light. Scottish independence gained an unexpected boost with Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory last year, sales of so-called ‘unusual’ ingredients featured in MasterChef Australia reportedly rose 1,400% after they were featured in the competition , New Zealand tourism recorded a 50% increase in visitor arrivals following the launch of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, generating in excess of $37 million for the country . Given the pressures and corporate priorities they face on a daily basis, are in-house professionals really best placed to spot and react to such trends?
Agencies can and should provide a vital role in observing the world so that they can help clients interpret it on a daily basis. And this means actually living in the aforementioned world; reading books, watching movies, visiting restaurants, experiencing new trends, absorbing the media (yes, beyond clippings reports!), participating in social media.
This role is one of the most vital an agency can play for a client; but all too often it is neglected and services are limited to responding client requests or briefs. As my own in-house experience confirms, the latter should be just a starting point.
Published by Roger Darashah
Roger Darashah brings close to 23 years of international communications experience with stints in the UK, France, Spain, India and Brazil. He is part of the senior management team at Adfactors PR, working in the capacity of Chief Operating Officer.