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Project Reconnect


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WFA launched Project Reconnect to provide guidance to marketers so that brand communications more closely reflect what people expect from brands online. We want to build trust by bringing people and …

WFA launched Project Reconnect to provide guidance to marketers so that brand communications more closely reflect what people expect from brands online. We want to build trust by bringing people and brands closer together around an agreed set of ground rules. We asked parents and kids what they thought. Here's what some of the kids told us. More here:

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  • 1. Project Reconnect:Establishing how consumers thinkmarketers should behave
  • 2. Background
  • 3. “Advertisers just shouttheir message to selltheir product.”Female 16, Belgium
  • 4. Consumer scepticism62% UK & 54% USconsumers say corporations"only interested" in sellingproducts.Source Alterian, May 2010 (sample 1,000 adults in the US and UK)
  • 5. Marketers toblame?Marketing is perceived to be contribute to an environment in which:- Children are overweight and obese- Alcohol-related harm is on the increase- People’s online privacy is at risk- Environmental concerns are trivialised through « greenwashing »- Marketing turns children into little materialists at too young an age
  • 6. Consumers controlwhat’s said aboutour brandsAnd we now market products and services without full control over themessaging that surrounds our brands, yet we are still accountable forevery message, both good and bad.
  • 7. The new normal 1 2 3 4People think we They are sceptical of They blame us for problems They control much of what is don’t listen our motives and want to regulate us said about our brands
  • 8. Re-setting the relationshipAs an industry, we need to rebuild trust. But how? 1 2 3 4 Listen Dialogue Engage Change
  • 9. Project reconnect:To demonstrate to consumers thatmarketers are listening to concerns andwill change when necessary
  • 10. Process
  • 11. Project Reconnect 1 3 Focus groups of parents of children 12-18 years: What’s acceptable and Amongst industry: unacceptable to them as assess learnings, consumers and parents next steps Listen (focus on online Engage marketing)? 2 4 !deablogs (social media tool) with Open discussion with children aged 15-17: general public: what What’s acceptable and is acceptable versus unacceptable (focus on unacceptable brand Dialogue online marketing)? Change behaviour?
  • 12. Talking with parents:Focus groups in Shanghai and London We wanted to talk to people face-to-face in their capacity as both consumers and parents: How do they relate to brands, how do they form their opinions and what media they use to engage with brands? In this way, we could begin to understand what forms of marketing are more acceptable than others, especially in the digital environment and aimed at their children. *All were parents with kids aged 12-18 at home and all used the Internet and were aware of social networking sites
  • 13. Talking with children:We also wanted to ask the same question to We interviewed kids aged 15-17 viachildren of the same age as the kids of the IdeaBlog, an online platform that allowsparents we had spoken to before. Instead of researchers to engage with consumers inusing focus groups though, we used a tool an environment that is intuitivelymore befitting of their generation. comfortable for them, since it emulates social media platforms (such as Facebook). Discussions last a whole week and can go into a lot of detail. With time to explore and reflect, consumers can provide more contemplative responses. This provides us with richer insight
  • 14. Our IdeaBlog Respondents:A mixture of males and females aged15-17 across four countries, US, UK, Brazil and China.They are at school or college, are web savvy, are users of digital social networking sites and are non-rejectors of advertising.
  • 15. Brands and marketing inconsumers livesBefore talking about online advertising, we asked our focus groups and Ideablogcommunities what was important in their lives. We then opened up thediscussion more broadly about companies, brands and advertising.
  • 16. Brands are not top ofmind for kids or parents < Money < Jobs Music, my interests, family < Education and school Female, 15 (UK) < Safety < Family Friends > [Parents] think aboutSchool/Studies > the bills, about how to increase the income. Hobbies > Female, 16 (Brazil) Family >Studies (China) >
  • 19. Knowing a branddoesn’t meanliking a brandBoth children and adults spontaneouslymentioned brands that they claimed were nottheir favourites.Asked why their favourite brands were theirfavourites, they mentioned product experience,what the brand ‘stands for’ and what theyknow of the company behind the brand.They rarely mention the marketing
  • 20. Age colours consumerperceptions of online world < Less comfortable You can be exposed to things < I’ve lost control: that are inappropriate, but my Kids spend too parents trust the way they much time online raised me Male, 16 (Brazil) (except in China where going online is a treat) < Tendency to trust Comfortable online > teens (less so for I’m in control > under 12s) Teens sense parental trust > < Parents appreciateAwareness of inappropriate > regulatory controls subjects (alcohol, drugs, sexual content…)
  • 21. Negative predisposition to online marketing I hate pop-ups. They are annoying, < What online interrupt what I am doing, put me marketing? in a bad mood and need me to < Pop-ups and spam? close them Male, 15 (China) < Passive avoidance < Less inclined to accept advertising for free content What online marketing? > < Find it harder to Pop-ups and spam? > ignore ads Passive avoidance >I understand it pays for content / social networking > “Banner blind” can ignore ads >
  • 22. Ambivalent views on targeting < Targeting less understood < Parents slightly more sceptical but I like the idea of customized generally welcomed design so I don’t have to < Concerns about watch things that I’m not length of data interested in Male, 17 (China) storage < Companies need to be transparent Targeting is easily understood > Most kids see value > Generally welcomed >Concerns about length of data storage> Companies need to be transparent >
  • 23. Brand interaction online restricted to websites, except…. Consumers who have everything from a brand, massively Brand interested in it and will make an effort to seek things out ‘superfans’ (e.g. Apple) Trendy Becoming a friend / fan reflects well on you – you are brands keeping up with the latest (celebrity) trend Tech Tech brands (such as Xbox) using SNS to deliver something brands that is not found elsewhere (such as tips, extra games etc) Brands who provide you with a tangible reward for signing Rewarding up and showing loyalty (such as free products, gifts, brands promotions)
  • 24. Games:An appropriateforum for brandsAlthough a numberof rules apply…• If it is a free game then advertising during game play is valid (revenue generation to allow the game to be played for free)• If it has been bought or subscribed to then any advertising / marketing message must ALWAYS be in the form of placement or integral (such as an ad on a billboard in GTA)• And the brand / product must feel relevant to the context in which it is seen.
  • 25. Discussion forums, asource of brandinformationIn China, Internet Word of Mouth is especially important as a source of credibleinformation about brands
  • 26. Here is what the kidshad to say (click here)
  • 27. Insights
  • 28. Insights for DigitalMarketers
  • 29. 1. It’s not what you saybut what you doEverything a company does is a form of advertising. The brand image will bedetermined by more then just marketing. Thanks to digital, everyone knowswhat your brand is doing, not just what the brand is saying. Increasingly,consumers don’t distinguish between the brand and the company behind thebrand. The chief marketing officer needs to be strategically linked in toeverything a company does.
  • 30. 2. Don’t call me, I’ll call youAdvertisers must be invited to be part of each consumer’s digital world. In orderto be acceptable, all contact from brands needs to have been specifically agreed.The consumer needs to feel in control of the conversation.
  • 31. 3. What’s in it for me?Brand contact needs to offer a tangible benefit to the consumer.Communications must be different, fun, engaging and/or offer something extra.
  • 32. 4. What are you doing with their data?People, and children in particular, are broadly positively disposed to trackingif it makes as more relevant. But they’re nervous about how long you keeptheir data for. A day is OK, a month is often seen as too much. Brands need tobe transparent about data storage.
  • 33. 5. Consumers think there is a timeand place for commercial messagesEmail contact is OK (if agreed), but SMS marketing is often rejected (inBrazil, UK and US but less so in China). Younger respondents universallypreferred being contacted during school holidays rather then duringschool time. Don’t pester; brands need to be willing to be ignored if it’snot convenient as it shows more respect.
  • 34. 6. Don’t fake it!Be open, transparent and treat people with respect. Many consumers areturned off when they sense “commercial contrivance.” Celebrityendorsement can backfire if the consumer instinctively thinks: “I knowthey don’t use that product!”
  • 35. 7. What digital advertising?When asked about advertising, most people mention outdoor and TV. Whenpushed, they instinctively think of online advertising as pop-ups, banners andspam and are therefore negatively predisposed to the concept of onlinemarketing. Children claim to be “banner blind” and prefer advertising theycan simply ignore (such as in the margins of Facebook).
  • 36. 8. Age colours consumer perceptionsof online advertisingChildren (“digital natives”) instinctively feel that they have control over theirexposure to advertising online. But parents find it harder to engage as manydo not yet regard the online space as a channel of communication. Bothgroups find it difficult to be specific about what is acceptable and what isunacceptable, because collectively they aren’t familiar enough yet with onlineadvertising. But they are all quick to denounce pop-ups, spam and anythingthat slows down or gets in the way of their online experience.
  • 37. 9. What’s unacceptable offline is alsounacceptable onlineParents apply the same principals online as they do offline when it comes toissues such as safety and permissibility. They use the same filters to decidewhat is acceptable and what is not. Marketers need to use a good dose ofcommon sense and apply the same advertising standards everywhere.
  • 38. 10. There is a triangle of trustbetween parent, teen and regulatorParents appreciate the controls set by regulatory bodies. It is reassuring forthem to know that there are certain guidelines in place and as a result, theyworry less. They also understand they can’t control what their kids look atonline, but they say they largely trust teens. Indeed, our teens corroboratedthat their parents trust them online and that they shouldn’t abuse that trust.
  • 39. 11. Consumers understand theadvertising trade offConsumers, and children in particular, understand that they get free contentbecause advertising pays for its production. Conversely, this means that ifthey have paid for their content then they don’t expect brand messages,unless they are properly integrated and add to the experience, for example,real-life billboards on Gran Turismo.
  • 40. 12. Keep perspective:Brands aren’t that importantBrands help people identify themselves and feel comfortable.They are a means to an end, rarely an end in themselves. Marketers need toask themselves: does your brand serve, enhance, empower...does it helppeople live their lives better?
  • 41. 13. It’s good to talkPeople enjoy talking about brands and advertising and they want theopportunity to be heard. Too often, however, they feel marketers talk at themand not with them. People express the need to engage with listening brands.
  • 42. Next Steps
  • 43. It’s good to talk: “It is really nice to be asked to give an opinion, especiallyIt’s good to talk: when you are asking for the opinion of teenagers. It will be interesting to see if the advertising companies take note.” Female, 17 (USA)
  • 44. So, Let’s talk...WFA will partner with Ethical Corporation• To facilitate open dialogue between people and brands• To help guide marketers so that marketing more closely reflects what people really want and expect
  • 45. Project Reconnect was conducted by Alice Moss and CarolineBright at Firefly Millward Brown for the World Federation ofAdvertisers (WFA).For more information and more detail from Project Reconnectphases 1 & 2, please contact Will Gilroy at: