In Arabic: 2018 Media and Marketing Trends across Content, Technology and Data. PART 3: DATA

Data is the flavor of the month

توجهات الإعلام والتسويق على صعيد المحتوى والبيانات والتكنولوجيا في عام 2018. الموضوع الثالث: البيانات

 لقد بات مجال البيانات والإحصائيات أمراً في غاية الأهمية بما يتعلق بمجال التسويق والذي لطالما اتسّم بالتطور الدائم. إذ شهد مجالنا علاقة غير معروفة ومحددة مع علم البيانات خلال السنين القليلة الماضية، فقد كانت البيانات الحل الأمثل لتحديد وقياس الأشياء دون معرفة المعنى الحقيقي حولها. وبالتأكيد فإنّ مجال البيانات يشهد عدداً من التطورات التي تجعلنا نتنبّأ بالعديد من الابتكارات الفريدة التي سيعرّفنا عليها هذا العلم. وقبل الحديث المفصل عما يحمله مستقبل هذا المجال، دعونا نتعرّف على أبرز ما يلوح في أفق علم البيانات في عام 2018.

القياس في مجال غير معروف.

لطالما كان تعريف مسألة قياس نجاح المحتوى أمراً عُضال. إذ تُثبت البحوث الرقمية أهمية الفيديو كأهم عناصر المحتوى الحالي والمستقبلي، ولكن ما نزال نشهد صراعاً وجدلاً كبيراً من مختلف الرائدين في هذا المجال بالنسبة لتحديد معايير قياس ونجاح ذلك. وقد تمّ بالتأكيد اتخاذ عدداً من الإجراءات لتحسين هذا المجال كتشكيل المجالس المحلية والحصول على حلول متكاملة من شركات خارجية والقيام بإحصاءات خاصة مستقلة حول هذا القطاع. وعلى الرغم من كل تلك الجهود، إلا أنّها لم تتمكن من حل المشكلات التي تعاني منها العلامات التجارية. كما وحاولت العديد من الهيئات الخاصة بهذا المجال في نقاش وإيجاد حلول تلك المشاكل، ولكن يكفي الاطلاع على كتيب إرشادات قياس مرات الظهور للفيديو الرقمي، والذي سيُثبت بأنّنا لا نقوم بالتطوير والتسارع بالشكل الكافي. ولا بدّ من أخذ ذلك الموضوع بعين الاعتبار في ظل غياب أهم رواد هذا المجال كفيس بوك وأومنيكوم. وقد بات المجال مفتوحاً لبعض مؤثري ذلك المجال كنستله وإتش بي، ونتوقع بأنّ العلامات التجارية الأخرى ومختلف شركات الذكاء الإعلامي والرقمي سيلحقون بذلك الركب، عوضاً عن المنصات الرقمية بحد ذاتها. وذلك بغية تحديد معايير قياس تهم القطاعات المختلفة على حدى عوضاً عن المعايير القديمة والغير مجدية.

ارتفاع تأثير المعلومات المحددة والمقيدة.

لقد بات موضوع الحصول على البيانات بالمجان للعلامات التجارية أمراً في غاية الصعوبة مؤخراً، إذ أصبح مجال استحواذ البيانات أمراً في غاية الأهمية للناشرين. إذ يشدد قانون هيئة حماية البيانات الأوروبية على خصوصية معلومات المستهليكن. ويبدو الأمر في غاية الأهمية نتيجة لغفلة وتجاهل العلامات التجارية والمؤسسات والمطورين لهذا الموضوع والذي يمس بالسمعة، كما ويتعلق بمسائل قانونية ومالية. وحسب نصائح إحدى مستشاري الإعلام القانونيين في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا، فيونا روبيرتسون، لقد بدأ ظهور وتقييد المنصات الرقمية كنتيجة غير مباشرة لجهود قانون هيئة حماية البيانات. فعلى المنصات الرقمية مضاعفة جهودها لتقديم خدمات مجانية ومميزة للمستخدمين مقابل السماح باستخدام معلوماتهم وبياناتهم الشخصية من قبل تلك المنصات. إذ أصبح توفير بيانات ومعلومات مستخدمي تلك المنصات بالمجان أمراً أشبه بالمستحيل. إذ يسعى قانون هيئة حماية البيانات إلى حماية معلومات المستخدمين، مما يحفز العلامات التجارية لشراء تلك البيانات بشكل رسمي من المنصات الرقمية مباشرةً. كما ونتوقع بأنّ العلامات التجارية ستكون أكثر تميزاً في الإنفاق الإعلامي مع تزايد طلبها على نوعية بيانات مميزة، والتي يصعب الحصول عليها من قبل الناشرين المغمورين.

وفي حديث مع السيد بوجا بانوم، المدير التنفيذي للموقع التكنولوجي، بليس، أوضح بأنّه يمكن اعتبار فهم واستيعاب الجمهور ومعرفة كيفية الوصول إليهم كالأهمية الكبرى للمسوقين قبل البدء بالصرف الإعلامي. ويجب استهداف الجمهور بشكل عميق يعتمد على مؤشرات وبيانات دقيقة. ووضّح على الرغم من أهمية الحصول على بيانات المستخدمين، إلا أنه يجب التمتع بالشفافية والصراحة مع العلامات التجارية حول تلك البيانات والعائد على الاستثمار. ويجب على العلامات التجارية أن تزيد من مصداقيتها حول مصادر بيانات المسخدمين وأهمية ذلك في تحقيق العائد على الاستثمار، وهذا هو الأمر الذي يجب أن تعمل عليه العلامات التجارية والمسوقين في عام 2018. وسيكون لمشاركة تلك البيانات بين العلامات التجارية وشركائها أهمية كبرى في التسويق والحملات الرقمية في عام 2018، مما يساهم في معرفة وتحديد أهمية نوعية البيانات المختلفة.

الإنسان والآلة…ظهور لتوأم رقمي جديد.

يُعتبر التوأم الرقمي إحدى أهم النتائج المتوقعة لاندماج انترنت الأشياء وتطور الآلة. إذ يمكننا اعتبار التوأم الرقمي كنسخة افتراضية عن الأشياء الملموسة والعمليات والأنظمة التي تعتمد على البيانات للفهم والتعلم والمنطق والنتبؤ. ولعلّ مجالي الطيران والسيارات هما السباقين عند حديثنا حول هذا الموضوع، وهذا ما يتمثل في الحصول على الإحصائيات والمعلومات بشكل مباشر كضغط الإطارات والحرارة والسرعة وذلك بغية تحسين الكفاءة.

ومع الظهور الواضح لمفهوم التوأم الرقمي في مجال البيانات والمعلومات، فإنّنا سنرى قريباً ما يُدعى بالخيط أو السلك الرقمي. إذ سيسهم ذلك المفهوم في تعريفنا بسياق وترابط البيانات ببعضها البعض. كما وسيوضح تسلسل البيانات وتاريخها، مما سيساهم في توفير خطط ونقاط عملية للاستخدام الجاد والبناء لتلك البيانات. وحسب توقعات موقع غارتنر، فإنّ ما يقارب نصف الشركات الصناعية ستقوم باستخدام التوأم الرقمي مع حلول عام 2021.

كما ولا بدّ من الإشارة إلى تواجد تقنية التوأم الرقمي منذ عقود، وذلك من خلال بعثة أبولو 13. وقد أدى استخدام تقنية التوأم الرقمي إلى إنقاذ البعثة آنذاك.

 

 

نشكركم على قراءتكم لمقالاتنا حول توجهات الإعلام والتسويق في عام 2018، ونتطلع لآرائكم واقتراحاتكم حول هذا الموضوع في موقعنا .

Bravo Romeo: On a High at The Dubai Airshow!

Event of the year? For me it was the Dubai Airshow, hands down.

Having recently worked within a leading global airline’s corporate communications team I have been in the wings (pardon the pun) of organization of an airshow but this was my first experience as a delegate.

And it was nothing short of wonderous.

If I thought I was an #avgeek before, this experienced confirmed it. The big, beautiful draw of the open skies, the roar of an immensely powerful engine and the smell of jet fuel burning as each bird ascends from the runway up into the vast horizon. The romance, the thrill, the exhilaration. I can only wax lyrical! 

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As a former event manager however, I can’t help but wear my old hat and notice details, large and small. For example, the trap which companies fall into with their designated 3m x 3m white box. Sure, it “ticks the box” but from a delegate’s POV there is often nothing memorable about it; it makes me question the ROI measures that companies apply to their participation. Which is why I was absolutely delighted when we happened across the Boom Supersonic stand. Conceptualized by a Dublin-based company called Catapult, it completely disregarded everything typical about exhibition stand layout and created an experience that delegates were automatically drawn to. Minimalist yet compelling. Below is a snap of the finished product and not a rollup banner in sight!

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Image Credits: thisiscatapult.com 

Now I shall retire my events hat for the moment and swap it for my communications hat.

We went to the airshow with very little agenda, seeking instead to ensure we remained up to date with what’s going on in the industry. One thing that we were so pleasantly reminded of is that there really is nothing like a good old fashioned conversation. In fact, the conversations – and hospitality – that we enjoyed with various people  and companies across the two days was such a highlight. CAE, Boeing and Alsalam, we’re looking at you!

Now this may be quite un-millenial of me to admit; but I often feel that, in this hyper-connected world we live in, we forget the value of face-to-face interaction with people. In this age of screen-time overload, people are genuinely so refreshed by face-to-face conversations. And somewhere like the airshow, in an out-of-office setting, you don’t feel like you’re encroaching on people’s time or burdening them by just dropping by. It was really refreshing to meet new people (Meredith even got to meet her hero Sir Tim Clark!) and share stories. It should come as no surprise that at Bravo Romeo we love a good chat, we are after all storytellers by trade.

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Bravo Romeo’s CEO Meredith Carson (pictured on the right) and Communications Manager Katie Rose Cuthbert

Lastly, there’s a reason it’s on for a week. It is vast! If you’ve only blocked a day to go, believe me when I say it is not enough. The expo is absolutely huge and that’s before you even make it outside to the incredible static display. Organize meetings in the morning and make sure your 2pm is open so you can catch the magnificent air display. I considered trying to describe the full wonder of the display, but as I type I’m reminded of a quote from screenwriter Micheal Parfit who once said, “Can the magic of flight ever be carried by words? I think not”. So I’ll leave it to your imagination, and see you on the tarmac in 2019.

Data and Consent: 6 ways that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) impacts MENA businesses.

If you haven’t heard about the GDPR you will soon; it’s a set of regulations being brought in by the European Union in May 2018 to tackle data and, specifically, consent.

In this post, we paint a picture of its implications for businesses; from a legal, content, reputation management as well as business development perspective in the MENA region and globally, with valuable input from Fiona Robertson – Al Tamimi and Company’s Senior Legal Associate for Technology, Media & Telecommunications.

Read on guys, this is an important heads-up that’s not being discussed in the industry here as much as it needs to be. And when we say important – we mean important to the tune of 20 million euros. At least. So, let’s start at the beginning…

What is Consent?

In a nutshell, consent means offering users choice and control. With regards to data, the GDPR defines consent as “any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her.”

In the Middle East, as users we face real issues with consent – being relentlessly abused by marketers, who flog their wares flagrantly in the face of the law, using personal data they genuinely have no right to use. As marketers, we owe it to ourselves and the brands we represent to regulate how we use data and how we manage consent. Why? Because brand reputation matters.

Consent and Reputation Management

Placing legal ramifications aside – just for a moment because they’re the juicy bits – the benefits of getting consent right are significant both from a customer service and brand trust perspective.

By being compliant with global best practice, you are demonstrating to your customers that they are genuinely valued and respected. You’re elevating your brand above the competition. Getting it wrong means (at best) eroding brand trust, reputation damage and inhibiting the likelihood of customer engagement now and further down the line. So… what do you need to know?

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Image Credit: pixabay.com

In order to put together the following recommendations, we pored over the UK Information Commissioner’s Office Advice and joined forces with Fiona Robertson – the region’s leading light in Technology, Media and Telecommunications law. Please bear in mind, the legislation isn’t yet finalized – it’s released in May 2018 – however we hope it serves as a guide to help you prepare.

  1. The first thing that you need to know is that there’s a lot to know and attention to detail is critical. Read the ICO’s advice (linked above). There are specific new provisions on a range of areas, including requirements around children’s consent for online services and, as you can imagine, consent for scientific research. The regulation applies to the manner of collection of data, the way data is secured and processed and the way in which it is used.
  2. While the regulation applies to the European continent, when your audience is on the continent, you will be subject to the law. In addition, and really importantly, the regulation is drafted to apply to all EU citizens, no matter where they are resident. In reality, this means the law is to be treated as a global mandate, as finding out who and who isn’t an EU citizen is not at all a practical reality and would represent a feat of data management in and of itself.
  3. Furthermore, the laws will apply to any entity that is part of an EU corporate structure. From a practical perspective, MENA subsidiaries will be expected to comply, as their European offices could be held liable for their errors.
  4. When it comes to UX design and data capture, assume nothing and do your homework. The draft regulation indicates that it will require specific and granular action. A blanket check box will not cover you off, so be thorough. Put a team together to ensure organizational-level understanding if you’re an agency and (at least) departmental-level understanding within Marcomms & IT if you’re client-side and – in all cases – set internal protocols and working processes.
  5. Another important point Fiona urges us to remember is that EU “Data Controllers” (who are the office-holders responsible for data in a corporate entity) must carry out due diligence regarding their suppliers’ data management processes, where they will be collecting or managing data on their behalf. Failure to undertake this due diligence may also result in a fine to the EU entity, so expect them to be very diligent in their due diligence! UAE companies that do not pass this due diligence process can expect to be overlooked for EU contracts. So, there’s a new business aspect to this as well, agencies. The agreements that you will see coming in from the EU will now include this higher standard for data collection, management and use. These clauses will not be negotiable, being required by the new law. This means that a company could be held in breach of contract if it fails to comply with the data provisions and could well be expected to include an indemnity for failing to comply as directed.  Given the size of the fines involved, it will be important to take this contractual obligation seriously.
  6. If a complaint is made, then the EU will notify all people that it believes might have been subject to that breach. This could open your company up to wider findings of infringement and could well create a public relations crisis. This will also most certainly negatively affect your ability to secure future EU contracts.

As you can see, getting it wrong is costly – beyond reputation damage, businesses may face substantial fines. Infringements of the basic principles for processing personal data, including conditions for consent, are subject to the highest tier of administrative fines. It could mean a fine of up to 20 million euros or 4% of your total worldwide annual turnover, whichever is higher.

This is not just about obeying the law, it’s about best practice. In the near future, Fiona and I will be hosting a seminar on the GDPR and its implications. Drop us a message at hello@bravoromeobyaj.com and we’ll make sure you’re on our guestlist. Best of luck everyone!

 

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay.com

Why You Can’t Afford To Operate In A Marcomms Vacuum

Guys, we need to get it together.

Here is a truth; everyone in this industry, no matter whether they’re client side or agency side wants to do great work. Everyone. Whether on a grand or small scale, we all want to do work that moves the dial and inspires action.

Lately however, I’ve been reading posts, mostly on LinkedIn, with people from agency land emotionally wilting. Feeling lost, miserable, their work feeling futile. I was quite taken aback by some of the discussions; they were coming from heavy hitters – some very well-established international industry types and they were utterly lamenting. Why? Budgets are being cut. They can’t get their work through. Struggling to find meaning, that sort of thing.

Client side, it’s same-same-but-different. I recently had a senior regional brand owner,  sit at my kitchen table on a sunny Saturday morning to discuss how she just felt like she was spinning her wheels. Internal alignment was a nightmare, managing her many agencies felt like herding cats, budgets had been slashed and she just didn’t feel that she could move the dial. And how on earth could she keep herself and her people up-to-date with everything that’s going on in the digital world?

This gig is tough at the moment, on a number of levels. We all know that. There is a little silver lining however: challenging times can be a strangely inspiring and produce quite incredible work. It forces people to spring into action and get it together; to think sharply and make the best of the resources they have.

In this environment, collaboration is key to success. In this crazy, hectic, sometimes bonkers world of acronyms, algorithms, and addressability, you simply can’t go it alone. There’s too much to know and too many opportunities to miss out on. In this feature in Campaign Magazine, we talk a little more about our thoughts on this and the role that we play in helping agencies and brand owners work in a more cohesive manner. Have a read and we invite you to share your views: http://campaignme.com/2017/09/10/112856/bravo-romeo-story/ 

We don’t do blame in this family.

“The disastrous impacts of a blame culture work environment.

When I was growing up, “we don’t do blame in this family” was a mantra within our family unit. The motto of our parents that was rolled out whatever the situation; be it a way to diffuse a sibling squabble, a joke that was cracked when an exit off the M8 was missed, or simply when making a comparison to the approach of other families around us.

I remember as a child being so frustrated by this phrase. We don’t do blame in this family but it’s all HER fault I would proclaim, casting daggers at my younger sister. I didn’t get it. Understandable at the age of 8. However, as I have grown up it has stayed with me as a constant throughout both my personal and professional lives, and become the phrase that has shaped my outlook.

In recent years I have spent time at both ends of the spectrum; from a relaxed, friendly work place, to an authoritarian blame culture where the premise upon arrival was “trust no-one”. Having lived-through (read: survived) both, I can safely say the former is a much more enjoyable and productive environment to be part of.

If your employees are too scared to speak up out of fear, imagine how many ideas/suggestions/brainwaves that you’re missing out on because it becomes easier (safer!) just to stay quiet, keep your head down and do the bare minimum. If employees see others around them get blamed for things going wrong when their intentions were nothing but good, what message does this spread to the rest of the workforce?

How does a blame culture thrive, and what can be done to stop it?

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1) It stems from the top.

In order to facilitate a no-blame environment, it has to be endorsed right from the top and will not work with a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. As a leader, it is their role to take the most arrows, even if it means taking some for the team from time to time.

2) No blame does not mean no accountability.

The concept of blame, I believe, stems from a lack of taking responsibility for one’s own actions, and therefore the easiest thing to do is to point the finger at someone else. A work-place blame culture greatly reduces the effectiveness of a team as employees fight to carve out their niche, rather than work together towards a common goal.

However, this does not mean that people will not be held accountable for their actions. A simple way to implement this is to put in place KPIs and metrics for every project. If expectations are clearly defined throughout the process, it’s more difficult to shift blame.

3) It’s not an excuse.

Having a no-blame policy in the workplace does not mean that employees are allowed to get away with out-of-order behavior. The difference is in the response to dealing with such behavior. Instead of wasting time and effort appointing blame, issues are examined, and a clear strategy for improvement is derived.

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Image Credit: Sonya Teclai

 

It is not an easy feat. And ultimately, it begins with trust – from both sides.

Looking to the market, Netflix is a great example of how a large corporation is approaching this. Their Culture Deck  has become an industry benchmark for how to set the tone of a workplace. They believe that trust is a two-way entity and empower their employees through this outlook. Employees are encouraged to take control of their own approach to the company, managing their own deadlines, holidays and workload.

As one of the earliest employees to join Bravo Romeo by AJ, I find myself in the fairly unique position of being able to help shape the culture of our workplace. Add to this the fact that we are a startup, it means we have carte blanche to set the tone of the company and not be tied to existing workplace policies that other more established companies are often faced with. I am determined to ensure that the company grows up with the right values, and stays true to them as we expand. 

With this in mind, I believe blame to ultimately be a completely redundant emotion, both in leading a business and in life in general. It erodes collaboration and breeds toxicity. The time you spend blaming someone for something can be much better spent solving the problem, or working out how to improve in future. Here’s hoping I can learn from the stellar example that my parents set, and always practice what I preach. 

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Brand Own Goal or Brand-as-Troll?

The fallout for a brand can be huge when its intentions are unclear, according to Bravo Romeo’s Communications Manager, Katie Rose. 

As I’m sure most of you have seen by now, the Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek stirred controversy last week with the release of their (rather excruciating) new marketing campaign #LaraIs30.

Where to start? The awkward script that doesn’t flow? The stilted way the actors read their lines? The awkward tone of voice and forced Radisson Blu mentions? It’s like they were playing a game of “how many people can we offend and how fast?”. Let’s take a look at a few of the most cringe-worthy moments:

“You’re well fit and you’re Lebanese, which means you can cook.”

Would you like a dash of misogyny with your xenophobic starter, sir? A slice of objectification on the side? Certainly, we will arrange that here for you, at the Radisson Blu.

The  idea that women should be married by 30.

This nurtures this unhealthy idea that women who are not married have somehow failed. Believe it or not guys, we’re not all waiting around for our Prince Charming so we can stop what we’re doing and focus on becoming “wifey”.

The male actor’s verbal violence.

If a man acted that verbally aggressively toward me in a restaurant, I would leave immediately – wouldn’t you, ladies? I would also hope that the staff might step in and check on what’s up at our table. That the Radisson scripts the girl sitting there just taking that abuse hardly sets a positive example.

“Let’s close this deal” and “jog on”.

Do people actually speak like this in real life?! OK maybe some “geezers” do… But nevertheless the script is forced and jarring.

“Have you ever had Emirati food before”, “yeah, I’ve had a donner kebab”. 

The stereotype that the English don’t speak any other languages, and are generally quite ignorant of other cultures when they travel is already alive and well. Again, it’s just another iteration of a xenophobic stereotype.

I could go on. And on. And on.

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Image Credit: Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek Facebook Page

 

It got me thinking though. How can a brand get it so spectacularly wrong in 2017? Is this an outstanding example of content marketing gone wrong…

….Or, is this an example of “brand-as-troll”?

Are we playing directly into the Radisson’s hands? This content is so bad, it surely cannot be sincere. Is the Radisson trolling us all and have we given them the exact reaction they were looking for? We at Bravo Romeo think so, however there are some important lessons here:

  1. If you’re going to troll your audience; go hard or go home. You need to come out of the traps hard and not leave your audience in any doubt over your intentions. Radisson’s intentions remain opaque.
  2. See it through and strike while the iron is hot. Radisson promised us the next installment two days ago. We are still waiting. Therefore the Radisson looks like it buckled under pressure, admitted defeat. It makes us think that the other episodes must have unfit to be shared publicly. I would love some insight into the creative process here. Did the creative team back down? If so, here’s that message again – stand behind your work, see it through, be brave, be prepared to cause a stir and run with it. (For a refresher, see point two in our post on how to create and destroy a masterpiece.
  3. From a scripting and direction POV it should have either been “so bad it’s funny”; or a humorous in-joke which the audience gets; or something so absurdly ridiculous, the audience is shocked, then gets it. Radisson, however, failed to coherently execute across any of these approaches.
  4. What may have started out as a decent concept, drowned in the execution. The narrative falls to bits by trying to do too much. Are we focussing on the fact she’s 30, are we focusing on the stereotypes? Are we focusing on the aggressive male loser? Are we focusing on the dishes being awkwardly presented? Are we focussing on the fact that it’s a trusted hotel for young ladies? The narrative is all over the place, there are too many messages and at times mixed messages at that.

 

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Image Credit: Quickmeme

 

So, should brands troll?

With all these potential pitfalls, brands have to ask themselves “is it worth the risk?” This is explored further in this great piece by Campaign that weighs up the benefits to the cost of such initiatives. As with all disruptive marketing – our answer is yes but only if it’s genius both in terms of concept and execution.

As wonderful as it is that brands have the bravery to try out alternative marketing communications, ultimately this is a rather unfortunate example of a) how important it is to have your intention and narrative straight from the beginning and b) to stick to your guns. I would be fascinated to know what the initial concept and treatment was, to see whether this was a face palm from the get-go, or whether it was a case of creative compromise gone wrong.

Featured Image Credit: Alex Proimos

How to create and destroy a masterpiece. A case study of Twin Peaks’ content marketing and creative compromise.

“I don’t think it has a chance of succeeding. It is not commercial, it is radically different from what we as viewers are accustomed to seeing, there’s no one in the show to root for.” – Paul Schulman, Senior Media Analyst

This radically different show was Mark Frost and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks; a series that would go on to be listed as one of the greatest ever made; described by Time magazine as “the most hauntingly original work ever done for American TV.” Without giving too much away, its success lay in taking a typical TV drama format and turning that format inside out in the most strange and oftentimes hilarious way. Creative insight in the form of relate-ability was also a critical factor: Lynch held a mirror up to society… and then completely messed with everyones’ heads.

Now, after 25 years, Twin Peaks is coming back for one last season. And there’s a reason for this, which we’ll get to later.

But first, Twin Peaks is a compelling case study in excellence as well as pitiful failure. And on the eve of its return on May 21, 2017, I’d like to share a number of lessons I’ve taken from it, as it’s influenced my approach to content marketing strategy over the years.

Lesson 1: Don’t be afraid to do things differently… so long as it’s impactful and relevant

From the get-go, Twin Peaks refused to give the game away; and the launch marketing campaign reflected that. Rather than tell the public what was coming, the campaign teased and aroused curiosity, in order to drive WOM. It did so using unconventional marketing mediums for TV, such as pole posters. It gave people a personal motivation to watch, rather than simply saying “watch this”. With a curious audience psychologically primed ahead of its very first broadcast, Twin Peaks scored ABC’s highest ratings in four years for the time slot. 

Twin Peaks credit Twin Peaks Archive
Tactics include poles posters with hotline numbers. Credit@TwinPeaksArchive 

This time around it’s no different – only digital and social media are here. There are hotline numbers with bizarre recorded messages, podcast readings of Laura Palmer’s diary, clues and challenges in snippets of video. The show’s marketing tactics alone are generating media attention. 

Their strategy is interesting and effective. Twin Peaks takes a very grassroots, granular approach to its marketing, rather than applying a blanket, mass media approach. On one hand, it’s less expensive from a media buy perspective; on the other, it takes more resources to apply. The show’s marketers respect the intelligence of its audience, by providing content that gets fans to think, work and discuss together. It was a brilliant strategy in 1991 and it remains so in its digitally updated form, today. 

Lesson 2. BE BRAVE.

There’s no doubt that the second series of Twin Peaks was a massive failure. Despite international critical and public acclaim, despite the ratings, television executives remained determined that they knew better than the show’s creators. They forced Frost and Lynch to reveal the biggest plot mystery. And Frost and Lynch agreed to. 

Big mistake.

Twin Peaks’ ratings plummeted, the plot unravelled and the public – other than the die-hard super-fans – walked away. As did David Lynch. The entire production disintegrated until the last few episodes where Lynch returned to try and salvage what was left.

You see it all too often – clients or senior stakeholders watering down a big idea or brave strategy and creators allowing it to happen. I have a plea for both parties on this point:

Senior stakeholders – we are all in this together. Our success is fundamentally tethered to yours. So stick your neck out a little. Stop trying to be so controlling. Trust your experts and be brave.

Content strategists and creatives – hold your nerve. Draw on insights and be prepared to defend your case with a proper rationale – with relevant supporting data/info where possible. Don’t back down unless you really have to. Be prepared to walk away. Be brave.

This time around, Frost and Lynch took no prisoners. When Lynch didn’t get the funding he needed from Showtime, he simply cancelled the deal, walked away and apologized to fans. A few weeks later, the deal was back on, Showtime found the additional budget to meet Lynch’s creative requirements. Clearly everyone had learned the lessons from 25 years ago. Brave move on both parts.

Lesson 3. Persevere in the face of failure and play the long game

Who on earth would have thought that when Laura Palmer creepily told Special Agent Dale Cooper, “I will see you again in 25 years,”  that it would actually happen! That it has, is a masterstroke in storytelling, coupled with a strong audience relationship.

In our previous post on the United Airlines’ crisis (mis)management scenario we talk about how brands can develop authentic relationships with their audiences that endure, how to create advocacy and how it sees brands through good times and bad. In the case of Twin Peaks, the hard work that was put into developing authentic relationships with viewers has endured a disastrous second season and a 25 year hiatus.

Through the years, a slow but fascinating stream of content continued, trickling down through books, music, art, film and even a Festival of Disruption. Influential appearances were made by unusual and high-profile people, such as Trent Reznor and David Bowie in unusual but high profile settings, such as NY Fashion Week, with Julee Cruise. It’s a very interesting long play, when you look at it through a content marketing lens. 

Bowie, McLachlan and Lynch in the prequel film, Fire Walk With Me.

Ultimately, in playing the long game, the creators of Twin Peaks are looking to win the war, rather than the battle. For marketers this means thinking in terms of a long term marketing calendar/ program rather than on a campaign-only basis, by being brave and giving deep thought to the content distribution strategy.