Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while…

The subject of this post is one of those (now) old, well used quotes from the film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Whatever context you want to take it, I don’t think it has ever resonated more than in today’s marketing climate, everything moves fast and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, then chances are you are going to miss (out).

Marketing strategies are prepared many months, if not years in advance but the question is, with the now fast moving times, do they have the flexibility to respond to the moment? In my opinion that takes great courage within brand teams, and is largely based on whether they are willing to take a risk and put themselves forward before competitors. Can brands be agile and still maintain their values? Can they be reactionary?

The goals of Agile Marketing are to improve the speed, predictability, transparency, and adaptability to change of the marketing function. Via agilemarketing.net

I wanted to write this post and illustrate how agile marketing and digital production can go hand-in-hand and to dispel some myths about how animation and motion graphics can take a long time time and by virtue are expensive, which is not always the case. There are many levels of that process, that can be worked in order for marketeers to ‘hit the moment’. Engaging content can be created quite quickly; games, apps, websites and banners can all be generate in days, not weeks if its needed. Frameworks can be built within which target messages and values can all be placed in an instant.

The most recent, noticeable example in the storm of agile marketing was during this year’s Superbowl, when, halfway through the game the power went out for about 45mins, during which Oreo Cookie’s tweeted: “Power out? No problem.” Then Oreo linked to an ad of an Oreo cookie, with the copy, “You can still dunk in the dark.” By the time the lights came back on, the tweet had already been shared more than 12,000 times.

The brand and its agency, 360i, were already huddled together and poised to produce a real-time ad. “We had a mission control set up at our office with the brand and 360i, and when the blackout happened, the team looked at it as an opportunity,” 360i president Sarah Hofstetter told BuzzFeed. “Because the brand team was there, it was easy to get approvals and get it up in minutes.” via Canadian Business

Back in 2005 we created an online series for SONY called Trona which assisted in promoting their online magazine My SONY. We produced one episode a week for 25 weeks and each episode was about 30-secs in length. The storyboard was approved on a Monday and the following Monday its was delivered complete. Since SONY is about (electronic) products, each week we agreed which product would feature, the stories themselves we pre-approved (in principle) on commission of the project. This project in my opinion is a primary example of how animation can work as an agile marketing asset. We laid down key foundations but we were able to move and change direction within any given week, we could roll with the moment. From our perspective this made the project even more enjoyable, it was challenging, innovative and got us recognised. From a SONY point of view it was risky and took courage from many stakeholders in order to make it happen. The project was a great success.

From an animation perspective we did this by laying down a skeleton framework, we considered the parameters in which an agile animation process would work, what tools did we need? And what parameters did we need to set? We created a library of assets, walk cycles, gestures, we created a lighting rig that could be dropped in at any point, we ensured the whole process was flexible. The only challenge was getting the (products) 3d build done in time, since we had the stories in place and knew the subject, we could use placeholders until we had the final one approved.

SONY said “Whereas we would normally arrive at a solution by talking to marketing agencies, Sliced Bread were able to deliver on both our objectives: create a ‘buzz’ around the My Sony membership program and acquire new members. We saw several very well executed creative ideas – and some did allude to ways in which an online animated series could elicit new members. However Sliced Bread went further. They seemed to get inside the Sony brand first to understand what makes people (our customers) tick. They then delivered a proposal that not only suggested excellent creative characterizations and plot lines, but was supported by interesting and forward thinking research.”

I guess the main challenge for a brand to work in an agile way is ensuring they upload their product values. There is so much focus on the brands that the wrong approach can cause a devastating result. Qantas Airlines hashtag fail is testament to that, and as discussed timing is everything.

Coca-Cola sayWe have really valuable brands. Our brands is what our business is all about so we don’t want to be slap dash or careless and that balance between agility and care is something that we have to work at.


Image from the Coca-Cola – The Neverending Dance of Happiness Facebook game

So in conclusion, marketeers should stop to look around once in a while, see what is going on in the world at that present moment and make careful but responsive actions to it via the right (social) media channels. Online noise makes it a very crowded place, getting seen and heard above that is vital in today’s digital space. An agile approach allows flexibility to meet that demand, it may be too risky to make agile marketing the primary one, but creatively considered content production can put you on the right track for a successful campaign.