Like a lot of marketers, our talented team spends time looking outside our sector to see what’s happening across a range of industries; we want to see which brands are battling, what’s happening with hashtags and what we can learn from advertisers.
When it comes to winning over customer allegiance and fuelling fires between brand fans, no-one puts up a better fight than the big brands; we’re talking about Coca Cola and Pepsi, McDonalds and Burger King, Apple and Samsung.
So why do such huge marketing machines go into battle and dual each other so often in the media? Well, public spats raise your profile, earn your brand a bunch of free publicity, create a talking point and raise your brand awareness.
Does it come with risk? Sure. But for the big brands, going toe-to-toe with a major competitor is a calculated risk. Done well, campaigns can be playful, show a brand’s fun side and generate a heap of user-generated content that is gold dust for any brand.
For anyone involved heavily in out of home (OOH) advertising, 2021 continued to be a challenge with severely reduced footfall in shopping centres, at sporting events, on commuter trains, in outdoor spaces and in leisure facilities. OOH teams had to evolve their campaigns, utilising technology and digital advertising to keep up.
Where you couldn’t go to the game, you were highly likely to be watching, streaming or downloading it at home instead. Meaning that instead of advertising in the stadium, audiences were targeted as they sat on their sofas. Everything from Super Bowl Sunday and Monday Night Football to limited series on YouTube and social media reels were taken over with sponsored content and ads.
Quite unexpectedly, the move towards in-home advertising actually increased gender equality when it came to audience targeting in both the USA and UK, with advertisers realising that female sports audiences were on the rise. Long gone were male dominated ads from vehicle manufacturers, financial services, food/drink and FMCG’s. Instead, advertisers favoured family brands, gender neutral products and non-specialised targeting, in recognition of the fact that the sports, leisure and entertainment industries were adopting a more progressive approach to equality, diversity and inclusivity. Not confined to sports, this approach is becoming commonplace across many sectors, with advertisers making conscious efforts to move away from gender stereotyping in favour of content that better reflects global communities.
In 2021, brands that delivered high volumes of user generated content (UGC) were able to hold their own in a very crowded marketplace. Brands fortunate enough to have cultivated loyal fans used UGC to outshine competitors, give their brand a feel of authenticity and demonstrate the effectiveness of their products.
Some brands were able to fill their feeds with fan content from dawn until dusk – an approach that requires only minor input to curate content and ensure campaigns remain on brand. Leaders in this field include brands like Starbucks, US yogurt brand Chobani, Wayfair and Coca Cola.
With much of the world continuing to work, school and socialise remotely, advertisers seemed eager to make campaigns a little less polished and a little more real.
We saw lower budget advertising and video content, and we were introduced to celebrities and sports personalities dressed down, speaking from their own homes. This down to Earth approach saw advertisers showcasing real people and maximising user generated content.
This realism has enabled brands to tell their story without spin, with more authenticity and at a much lower cost.
Global advertisers continue to keep their hashtag game high. Everyone is creating, using and sharing their own unique hashtags to boost campaign reach and better engage with audiences. Brands are monitoring hashtags and engagements to capitalize on trends and use competitor hashtags to initiate brand banter. Often igniting brand wars and inspiring other brands and fans to join in, creating channel-based campaigns and UGC for highly engaged followers.
Alongside hashtags, evergreen content rose in popularity with companies large and small repurposing and refreshing content to reach new audiences and encourage firm followers to reminisce.
Other sectors may have more artistic licence to explore opportunities, but there is definitely space for the life sciences industry to explore, too; we can absolutely shift towards being more authentic, lean into realism, soften our marketing to become more consumable, embrace hashtags, repurpose content, try out new engagement activities, move our approach to EDI in advertising forwards, and realise that it’s within our gift to be increasingly representative of our communities, clients, employees and suppliers.
With so many trends constantly emerging around us, it’s important for pharma marketers to continue to look out at the world in order to spot opportunities and move their own marketing forwards.
We can’t wait to see what 2022 brings…
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