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Marketers 'are playing it too safe'


The fear of making a faux pas or getting embroiled in some kind of controversy is stopping marketers from taking a risk and adopting a creative approach to the branding process, according to an industry expert.

Tim Lindsay, chief executive officer at creative association D&AD and former agency head at TBWA and Publicis, told Marketing Week that the internet has given consumer groups a great deal of power to derail a campaign that falls foul of their standards.

"Things have changed and, because of Mumsnet and countless other internet empowered groups, marketers are desperately scared of putting a foot wrong now. It doesn't have to be their consumers, it can be anyone who happens to take umbrage and we have seen examples of it," he explained.

While a degree of caution is understandable and even commendable given the problems being faced currently by under-fire brands like American Apparel, marketers need to be careful that they do not go too far in the wrong direction and produce bland campaigns with no character.

Diet Coke, Galaxy, Old Spice and KitKat are rekindling old advertising and slogans - the most memorable of these perhaps being Coke's classic 'hunk' ad showing a shirtless man enjoying the drink in view of several impressed female onlookers.

Does the backlash experienced by brands like Mountain Dew recently mean that marketers are afraid to take any risks?

Zoe Howorth, marketing director at Coca-Cola Great Britain, put a more positive slant on the company's campaign.

"It's about appreciating what consumers want and understanding where you have something that is well loved and stands the test of time," she declared.

Fundamentally, the biggest change brought about by digital marketing is that people in the industry can no longer put out an ad and consider their work done. A strategy involving social media engagement, online campaigning and more is necessary to make any idea work - whether it's referencing a classic or not.

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