“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak,” said Rachel Zoe, an American fashion designer. Even though we’d would like to achieve the same with our brands, in reality we use various communication techniques to bring our brand stories to life. Interactive advertising, for example, aims to make people think, feel and act, thereby generating behaviour that supports our businesses. The three principles that define interactive advertising emphasise a user-first approach, a connected world and a result-oriented mind set.
From a commercial perspective the ultimate goal is to engender Brand Love within the target audiences, which takes time, creativity and consistent action to achieve, especially within in a highly competitive environment. The average person gets thousands of messages every day which they filter based on relevance, appeal, understanding and distinction. Therefore when running interactive advertising campaigns, David Ogilvy’s words come to mind. “When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it creative,” he said. “I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product. When Aeschines spoke, they said, ‘How well he speaks.’ But when Demosthenes spoke, they said ‘Let us march against Philip’.”
Anne McCreath understands interactive advertising and her knowledge of the international fashion scene has helped her to propel Kiko Romeo from a startup in a skeptical market into one of the most distinctive clothing brands in Kenya. McCreath begins by having a great product that is inspired by local art and popular culture combined with contemporary cuts and styles that are designed to suit a niche Kenyan market. These features make the brand unique, not only from a Kenyan stand point but also in the international arena, as they align to the sense of pride that both nationals and foreigners living here have for the country.
She couples this great product with unique customer experiences that position the brand as the premier fashion industry promoter and thought leader, focused on developing local talent and cottage industries. Through this McCreath supports a sustainable eco-system which pulls the heart strings of the target audience and gains their devotion. The Festival for African Fashion & Arts, or FAFA, is her brain child that brings a large part of the industry players together into a number of events. One of those events is a fashion and accessories market that runs over a number of days and provides an opportunity for customers to browse the latest items from the local fashion industry and buy products. It also generates a tremendous amount of content shared on social media as customers take photos and videos of tantalising creations, which they post on their time lines and reach a high number of interested shoppers.
FAFA comes to a grand finale with the gala fashion show that is one of the most coveted annual lifestyle events in Kenya. With a host of sponsors, national and international media support and an effective marketing effort, tickets to the event are easily sold out. It parades both established and upcoming designers with their latest lines, generating excitement among customers, who again share photos and videos in their social networks. The highlight is surprise appearances by celebrity models consisting of media, music and sports celebrities as well as admired business leaders. Needless to say the selfies and photos that fill social media thereafter are highly engaging and trend for days to come.
McCreath takes the user-first approach when she seeks to develop products and events that energise her target audiences. For example, the initiative to dress the Kenya Rugby Team shows a knack for implementing big ideas, standing out and leveraging on positive brand association. By staging state-of-the-art fashion shows with all the glitz and glamour she is able to leverage on a connected world that thrives on user-generated content, product endorsement and trading of social media influence. With a conscientious approach to developing people and promoting the industry she gives customers meaning and a deeper reason to be brand-loyal and she has earned many awards for her work in fashion and peace building, including being listed in the Top 100 Women Influencing Africa by Arise Magazine.
When you see interactive advertising at work you understand why it’s not digital, viral or intrusive but rather a process that uses creativity, time and consistency to make an impact. Magic moments are few and far in between and you can’t rely on these to run long term marketing communications strategies. Instead rely on media recency to build up your campaigns over time to fit within your budgets, and let each campaign build upon the last. As Rome wasn’t build in a day, neither can you expect to turn your brand into a household name overnight.