Big Brand Secrets to Creating Audacious, Killer Social Content
Tune in to our latest podcast ‘Big brand secrets to creating audacious, killer social content’ where Katy Howell chats to McDonald’s Director of Digital, Karl Boyce, and Auto Trader UK’s Head of Content & Social Media, Laura McNally about being bold, brave, and daring on social! Hear real stories of how an audacious approach to content creation can help your brand stand out on social! They’ll also offer advice on how to find inner-courage, squash anxiety about taking risks, and how to manage failure!
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– Well, hello everyone. I have to say we have had the most phenomenal response to this webinar with registrations, when I last looked about two minutes ago being 503 people I mean, wow. It seems that everybody wants to know the secrets behind being audacious and bold with content and frankly, I’m not surprised that even a small amount. Oh right. I should tell you, I’m Katy Howell, I run independent social media agency immediate future and we work with well-known brands but at the point that they’re truly serious about social media. In other words, they want business value from their Insta’s, TikTok’s and Tweets.
I’ve wanted to do this webinar for some time because our mantra at immediate future is to break the social boring and it’s all about impact. In other words, how to grab audience attention. But brands are really fighting at the moment for attention because over the last 12 months – I’m just not going to mention that word pandemic, I mentioned it – social media has increased by over 40% and the, even the boomers are Twittering and posting in their feeds. So, you need your content to sing loudly and be seen and it seems easy. Doesn’t it? When you see amazing content to assume that it was simple to create, that it only took some bravery but really big budgets and a bunch of digital natives because that is never the case. Anyone who’s ever actually created killer content knows the truth and it isn’t easy. It’s not straightforward. There is no magic formula, and you will fail as well as succeed because there is so much more to it than just having an idea.
So, I’m delighted to welcome two smart, creative and brave marketeers. Firstly, Autotrader’s UK Head of Content and Social Media, Laura McNally, hi Laura. And McDonald’s Director of Digital Karl Boyce who I’ve known for years. Hello Karl.
– Hi Katy, hi everyone.
– So, we’ve just, before we crack on with the questions, we’ve got about 45 minutes for a really proper chat and I’ve got some really gnarly questions to ask Karl and Laura but please do also add questions in on the Q&A or on the chat and we did a poll just before we started this, asking attendees what they were looking to find out and brilliantly you want to find out everything. You want the advice, you want examples. You want lessons learned. So, we’ll get cracking.
So, let’s start, Laura, let’s start with you and then Karl if you can answer, maybe you can tell us a little bit about yourselves and share what it means to you to be brave and bold with your content.
– Yep, absolutely. So, I’m Laura, as Katy said, I look after Content and Social Media for Autotrader. Before that I ran the global social channels for Red Bull and then before that I was agency side with the K group doing content strategy on social accounts there, that’s now part of the house media group and then I suppose I first cut my teeth socially, actually, with Red Bull again but on the Red Bull racing team, so, as part of their Formula One team. In terms of what I think it means to be bold, I think it’s taking risks outside of what your competitors are doing. I think it’s at some point making a decision to stand by the courage of your convictions because when you are being bold, you need to know that you’re never going to have a hundred percent buy-in and at some point, you need to make a call on that and taking risks, I guess, more than anything, it’s about taking risks and being, I guess, mindful that as long as your rewards can outweigh those risks as your bottom line, then you’re in a good place to forge ahead.
– You’re on mute Katy, that’s the first mention of the day. It won’t be the last
– Sorry. Do you want me up?
– Yeah, go ahead.
– Apologies. So, hi everyone. I’m Karl. So as Katy said, Director of Digital McDonald’s, I’ve actually been in the business a year, last week, which has been a pretty interesting year, a very different year to start a business but I feel very fortunate to be in a brand like ours and we’ve done an awful lot in that space. So basically, my team kind of look after all the customer facing digital channels you come to expect of McDonald’s, as well as CRM and all our performance channels as well. So yeah, and before that I was head of Digital and CRM at Domino’s always kind of been in food and pubs that’s what I love, I was at Morrison’s before that, the agency side before all that, et cetera. So that’s kind of me, so kind of big, bold creative content for me is stuff that I guess the mantra is to be as resilient and true to yourself as much as possible. So, it should excite you when you are about to post or your campaigns going live, you should be feeling a little bit anxious about it but it’s that kind of comfort zone and it should be testing you. So, I think that’s a good sign of something you want to do and as Laura said it has to stand out from the competition and it has to stand out, I think from your own feed as well. So, I’m kind of constantly looking back at some of our content and can see whether these campaigns actually have stand out compared to all the rest of the content that you tend to do as well, and the great side of things is if it’s got great share-ability, great talk-ability, that’s what it’s all about but share-ability is probably one of the big things that most of the briefs I’ve been involved in if it nails that then I think you’re into a good place. You’re on mute again Katy.
– I just won’t mute it. You’ll just hear me clicking away occasionally while I write a note or two. So, both of you have created really amazing campaigns that have grabbed audience attention. So, I think it’s worth kicking off with you sharing examples. I don’t know if you want to start Karl.
– Yeah. I’ve got a couple; I think I was kind of thinking about this and it was going well, there’s probably more bold campaign creative ideas on the cutting room floor, to be honest with you than there is that I’ve actually led the light of day and that’s for good reason, I might share one of two of those a bit later on, so as long as anybody doesn’t tell anybody that we were going to do that I’m sure I trust you all but yeah, a couple of things as I think back kind of to Domino’s one of the big things that we were really after it was thinking about how we could stand amongst new product launches and so on, and our kind of view was in the past that our product will have to really sing and a lot of the content we were doing before wasn’t particularly optimised for social firsts it was kind of black slate background. It wasn’t ownable necessarily compared to some of the other pizza operators. So, we took a really different approach when we launched our cheeseburger pizza. So it was the official food of WTF and I remember having some very interesting conversations with our American friends about whether that was appropriate or not for some of our campaigns, but we did a couple of things really differently in that we actually put the brief out to a load of food bloggers, do the photography for it instead of any kind of proper food photography agency. So we gave them basically a studio for a day and a half. We had five people come in and do a load of shots for that and we picked our best from the back of that. So it really basically delivered real social first content. We got animators behind it all and then obviously we have the kind of the WTF piece around it. So I was really proud of that particular campaign because it’s a very different way of launching product and that’s been carried through from Domino’s really ever since, but even small things like the Royal baby was being born at that time. So we announced it in advance and in a kind of official kind of letter in that sense and that got loads of engagement as well. So that’s certainly something I really like.
The work that we did McDonald’s when we reopened so return of the mac, you know really that ad was across multiple channels was a socially created ad in that sense, our customers in their tens of thousands were telling us we have to come back with Mark Morrison ‘Return of the Mac’ and so we did, and I think that’s great examples I think of listening to customers and then letting them curate the content in some way with the ideas and reflecting that. So those are two of my favourites, for sure.
– It’s something beautifully, both in the moment and pop culture about that. Isn’t there? It’s getting the really old-fashioned word, but get you see getting the zeitgeist right, catching that kind of wind of what’s going on. It definitely feels like that’s the spark that sits behind it.
– For sure. I think the big, the big thing for me is how contextually are. I think that’s probably going to be right up there. So, if you’ve got that kind of, that great mix of having a campaign or a product plan or whatever it may be that just engages a particular contextual moment. That is the Holy grail, isn’t it? And if you’re able to react to that quickly, then you’re on to a massive winner.
– Is it the same for you Laura?
– Yeah, so I would I guess use one example from Red Bull where there’s there 800 athletes within the Red Bull network which most people probably aren’t aware of that there’s that many and we were really keen to try and profile them and show more of their character in a human and relatable way because I think there was this kind of disconnect between the can, them and what they were achieving versus kind of someone that admires what they do and could still benefit from use of the can. So, we were keen to put them in a cooking scenario. So they would be at home in their kitchens and be cooking and they didn’t need to be fancy meals, it could be like they were doing a cheese and ham toastie if they want it just something that would allow people to engage with them and we invited people through a live stream to suggest alternative ingredients but it took a really long time to get that one across the line. I think internally there was a lot of nervousness around the idea that can is king, why on earth would we want to move into food? So kind of helping them to understand that cooking was very culturally relevant that it would have a character profiling impact and so we went to shoot the pilot with a BMX athlete called Matthias Dandois in his flat in Paris and it was very real, very authentic. You could see the amount of interactions that it invited and from there we were able to – from the length of time that can take in on the idea. So sometimes it feels, I guess even more like you’ve achieved something bold when you do manage to do that, the issue that we had with it was that because of the nature of athletes schedules and the fact that their training is so strict and things like that, we weren’t able to commit to like a regular posting frequency which was okay on a live level it was fine. We would do it when we had availability. Often they’d be in hotels or like rented apartments when you didn’t get the kind of true flavour of them being at home in there because then when something was cooking they could go and show some trophies or what have you, but then we would take a video asset off of the live version and house them all together on an area of redbull.com.
So that would, I would say was one just because it was the first time that we’d really ventured outside of the can territory in that way and then the work that we did with you guys last year. So during the pandemic we did a piece called This Is Not a Drag Race and we were really keen to do something bold and different and to reach a younger demographic. So to reach new audiences and younger audiences with a kind of revised way of looking at cars. So we did a piece that looked at how you would test a car but in very different context to what most people would be used to seeing. So we incorporated the drag queens as a play on words of the drag racing that you would traditionally expect within automotive versus bringing the drag queens into help and they had to apply their makeup in the back of the car while Rory was ragging it around a racetrack. And it was very true to who we were. I think we’ve got a very active LGBQT guild at Autotrader and we’re very values driven. We sponsor Manchester Pride every year. So it felt like a very natural connection in that regard but obviously it was very bold and we knew that these hardcore petrol heads not all of them are going to love that kind of integration. So I think that was a real, being bold and being prepared, as I said earlier, to stand by the courage of our convictions that it was the right thing to do.
– And it is about courage, isn’t it? It’s really interesting that the thing that comes across most is the kind of courage to put things on the cutting room floor but also to go out and stand out. And actually that brings me on to the next because before we get into the nitty gritty of how we make this happen, I have to ask you have you had your Weetabix today?
– No, definitely no beans on it.
– No, not with beans. Definitely not with beans. Well, because anyone on Twitter could not fail to have seen this. Yes. So this revolting Tweet showing baked beans on Weetabix and the subsequent sort of brand fan frenzy, sort of like brandter or whatever they call it and what appears to be a collaboration with Heinz, they put this post up with if you haven’t seen it with beans on Weetabix. So I guess my question is that, I mean, is it worth the revolting picture and collaboration just to get attention or do you both think, because you both joined in as brands, is this a smart long-term strategy to kind of drive volume or increase usage occasions? There’s a lot of criticism that this is all a little bit about making a bit of fluff and fast in social. I’d love to know what your thoughts are.
– Go for it Laura.
– Okay. I think it’s really interesting. It was funny yesterday because I’m still in a lot of WhatsApp groups with people that I used to work with in social media, in previous roles and stuff and it’s always just quite interesting to get the gauge of comments in that space. So one of them said something along the lines of can you imagine genuinely being excited to merk a breakfast cereal? Like, so that’s one end of the spectrum. Someone else said it brought back PTSD from when we used to be in the newsroom and being forced to try and come up with these conversations with other brands and I think when it doesn’t work it does look very desperate and that’s the thing, I guess you have no idea whether it’s going to work or not, obviously in the Weetabix scenario it’s paid off with Heinz, but the reason we got involved I think is that I think it comes back to that kind of risk versus reward thing again and I think the risks, which is basically that you get unfollowed is not that huge really and I think in today’s day and age with the speed at which things move it’s actually quite unlikely that would happen as well. So as a way to raise the profile of your brand in a conversation amongst people that they’ve never really been in front of before, I think is definitely worth it and that’s why we would do it. I do think there’s very much a case for being early. I think, we could have been earlier with ours and if you’ve got the time to be creative in your response that it’s not just text and you’ve got a bespoke piece of media to go with it all the better, but yeah, I’m kind of all for it when it works and I think it’s a bit that is being bold. Isn’t it? You wouldn’t want to do that every day then it’s not stand out, then it’s not bold, but look how excited everyone got about it.
– It brought that much needed joy, didn’t it?
– Yeah, Karl what did you think?
– Yeah, I mean, I totally agree. I think why not to be honest with you, I think end of the day, I think again, conceptually it felt quite right and stuff. We’re all at home, we’re all eating breakfast, we’re all kind of thinking of different ways in which we can kick and make this Monday and week a little bit different one day to another. I’m sure there are some oddballs out there who put more worse than baked beans on their Weetabix over the last couple of weeks. So why not? We all eat Weetabix. I’m sure it was for them to actually be part of a conversation at a key kind of time for them, I think was great. So why not? It’s obviously becoming more and more of a kind of a fact and a role that kind of brands have or a tactic’s brands have around Twitter, I’m not sure how tactical it is. I don’t think we would be sitting there planning in a couple of months time oh we’re going to go and do this and engage X brands to start a conversation about it. So it feels quite fluid and quite reactive. I’d be really sad if there’s actually marketeers thinking about that in a couple of months time. Well, who could I engage with? because that’s going to probably die on its backside pretty quickly but yeah, I thought it was good. A bit like Laura, we engaged on that. I think it went out at about half nine and thinking about that was we were all at like two o’clock in the afternoon. It was kind of right in the middle of when we were launching six new products yesterday on the menu. So we were a bit late to the party and in hindsight should we have gone in? Maybe not as a bit too late so you think you’ve got to be in the moment, you’ve got to have some really great concept thought Autotrader’s content was actually really good, I thought Specsavers actually won it, massively, with the kind of, with the taking off the glasses and putting blindfolds on, I think they did amazing. I think Specsavers are the best, them and Lidl, in terms of responding and these kind of Twitter conversations, they’re the ones to follow. So yeah, has it’s moment but not a planned piece of activity about why the hell not especially in this.
– Yeah exactly. As I said, bringing joy. So I love the part of somebody in chat has put ‘in heinz-sight’ I’m sorry, that’s just tickled me. Thank you, Kelly Syms. You’ve made me giggle. Now, I know there’s some questions coming through, I will ask them, but I’ve got to ask that because both of you have really suggested something quite interesting which is how planned can you be with this? It feels like it’s a natural thing in the moment. So the reality is what, can you have a strategic approach to make your content distinctive or bold? Do you have to kind of plan it?
– I think what’s really important, I don’t think being bold and creative should be centred around one single campaign. So I use the product example we had at Domino’s, we wanted something that was going consistently lift our content and be ownable amongst our competitors around pizza which is the same shape and a lot of the same ingredients at the end of the day, so we’ve got to make that stand out. But that’s a constant kind of approach and we decided to take a different approach for that and then run that all the way through our year and obviously part of our planning. Obviously when you come to a campaign brief, you’re going to consider things like this about, what’s going to be the stuff that’s going to be the kind of the finger stopping, kind of scroll stopping kind of content that you want to be able to do but I’d say, I think from a social perspective, well, what has really landed and I think it’s even more important than these times at the moment is stuff that’s got real purpose, stuff that is really relevant and I know that’s a very obvious thing to say, but I said earlier on, getting the kind of golden nugget of being able to combine a campaign or a product launch with something contextual is an absolute winning combination, but a lot of it is I think reacting to what was going on in the day, what conversations are happening and that’s also why I think, I might be a bit, provocative saying this is why I think comms orientated people and social specialists are the best at these kinds of things because they’re linked into conversations and that’s really important, I don’t think brand marketeers are brilliant at that because they consider kind of mid to long-term planning, they’re all about the ongoing credentials and so under a very obviously sales focused and so on. So, and I include myself in that and stuff. So yeah, I think that it’s a bit of a waffley answer probably.
– It’s exactly what I, because it’s a dual strand, isn’t it? It’s a combination of, yes, you need to plan, you need to know your purpose. You need to know your voice. You can’t, otherwise you’re just going to be all over the place like some sort of schizophrenia person jumping into this and that and the other, nobody knows what you stand for. So you need your brand but on the other side of it, you need people who are just looking at that data. I know that’s how our team jumped on that fast yesterday because they were looking at that through Brandwatch. What do you think, Laura? How do you plan for being bold?
– I would agree with Karl, I think in a way it’s probably not about setting time aside to come up with one brave, bold idea. It’s probably more, often the things that do the best for us certainly that go viral or anything like that, are the ones that didn’t have that much thought around them that were kind of very in the moment. I do think there’s certain elements, I guess that we would want to rationalise any kind of bold ideas against. So one would be an element of research. So I go back to the drag race idea but we’d identified that RuPaul’s drag race was very popular in that demographic. So that was a reason that we wanted to play in that territory if we could find a relevant way. I’d say be data informed rather than data-driven. So like, I guess that’s the trade off, if you’re data driven you kind of rule out innovation. Whereas if you’re data informed, you can use that to kind of act as a good filter for bold ideas and then I think instinct comes in as well, a lot and that’s sometimes that’s going to be right and sometimes it’s going to be wrong but I guess we wouldn’t underestimate that and then a real big one for Autotrader is and because they are very values driven as a brand so always filtering it against our core values to make sure that it fits with those.
– I so agree with you on instinct. I think it takes experience to be bold. I’ve got, so we’ve got raft of questions coming out just pulling them over here. So it was just fantastic. So Neil Heppelwhite says, can you identify any small brands with limited budgets, which have created standout campaigns which have cut through and enabled them to punch significantly above their weight? It’s a hard one that one, isn’t it? So I think there are some smaller brands that – we might have to go away and think about that because it’s challenging remembering off the top of your head – but there are some smaller brands that have done this, but, and although the budget is limited, they have invested in things that give them reach because if you haven’t got reach in the first place, kind of getting noticed and about how great your content is quite a tough thing to do but I think we might have to, Neil, I think we might have to think about that because we probably, the three of us don’t think about the small left of centres.
– I’ve got a couple, the reason I’m trying to remember is I’m trying to remember exactly the name. I follow an awful lot of kind of different brewery brands and I’ve seen some fantastic stuff particularly around this particular period of time when once we’ve been being in lockdown and I’m going to have to look through my phone in a second, it’s completely escaped me but I do think it’s possible. It’s obviously going to be hard. I’m not going to lie around that but one of the things actually is quite interesting around you know, what, how can you do kind of brave, safely, and everybody kind of talks to me about it kind of all, you must have paid reach behind it in order to kind of really understand what’s going on and obviously get the audience and stuff. But actually McDonald’s, we didn’t spend a penny on Facebook or any Facebook channels last year not one penny, all of our content was organic and then once we got a big Facebook follower profile but I think that from thinking about kind of being brave or opportunities to do that, why couldn’t you test some of this stuff, particularly if you’re dipping your toe into this kind of area with just organic orientated content and stuff that could go wrong if it gets shared but at least we’ll give you a bit of a view. You’ll need that much engagement to kind of understand what the themes are coming through on that one and stuff. So yeah, that might be an option in terms of how
– And a couple of people have suggested BrewDog, which was the one on the, when you say beer brands.
– Their budgets are all right. I think.
– Yeah, I think their budgets are quite high now. So it’s a little bit extraordinary, but yeah.
– There’s one fashion brand they’re called AVAVAV that aren’t huge and they, I think have just got an interesting approach where it’s just very striking imagery they do with like very kind of, and it looks like, I don’t imagine a lot of the shoots would have necessarily any budget at all but they’ve just got a very clear identity and how they model the clothes. Like just very quite obscure poses from the models and I mean, the clothes speak for themselves as well. They’re kind of quite out there but I guess they’ve just found a formula there that while they’re building themselves up, they’re going to stick to and I think it does work in grabbing people’s attention.
– Yeah and I think you’re right. I think the crux of this is the ones that I’ve always seen do very well are the ones that actually know who they are. So they have this kind of very clear purpose, voice or identity and that works well for them. Jay Harper has asked whether or not at the end of this we’ll see a partnership between Autotrader and McDonald’s, bit of collaboration. Trying to eat a big back while racing around.
– A big drive thru brand, there’s something in that so.
– We’ve done that actually, in a couple of our reviews we went through just to be really obscure like go through and like the most insane supercar to the McDonald’s drive thru and then try and pay with the money gun.
– That’s it.
– We’ll have to send that one to you. Steven Lepatech who, a super serious journalist that he is, has asked us brands having fun openly is that not something we should see more through social? If so, why don’t we?
– Yeah, I definitely think so. I mean, I think if anything has again, I hate using the word pandemic and stuff, I think whether you’re a person, you’re a brand I think being more open, transparent, and kind of being more in touch with your kind of purpose and so on is what it’s all about, so I think this kind of anti-falseness is kind of coming through more and more, so yeah, I mean our sentiment around McDonald’s over the last year has been really different, I think we’ve been, we’ve always had a sense of obviously were deeply values driven kind of orientated to the brands, but no more so than the last 12 months. So I think we’re on top of our crew, team, our staff, and our emails even to customers, we’ve been open and transparent about the things that are concerning us and about how we manage this and stuff and that’s what it’s about. So everything in that sense, also having fun and not taking yourself seriously, well that’s what it’s all about and stuff and as you saw yesterday with Weetabix, that’s the stuff that people are going to be sharing and engaging and stuff at the end of the day. So, yeah, totally agree.
– It’s also quite dependent on the brand because you can’t always be funny and I think there’s a, if you are the kind of brand who can be, if you’re the kind of brand who can have that voice or occasionally step out of it as we saw with the NHS, for instance, yesterday he did a brilliant post for the Weetabix thing but the NHS being funny constantly, might not be the right reaction. So I think it’s understanding your basic personality. What is your brand personality? And then being able to take that out. I think that’s not.
– That’s the other one I was thinking about as well in terms of, I, they have no budget whatsoever any of those police forces but they’ve, they’re doing some of the best content in terms of responding on and so on as well. So definitely check some of that might as well.
– Absolutely. So we’ve got loads more questions but I’ll come back to those because I want to ask a bigger question, which is the things that we never really talk about which are, how do you challenge the status quo internally? So you will have all worked with brands, I suspect where you have to help the senior stakeholders understand why you want to do something so stand out.
– Yeah, I think we are very fortunate at Autotrader in that senior stakeholders are very, they kind of empower us to do bold and creative things. I think sometimes the challenges can be more with the people that are closer to your day to day and I think it’s about bringing the right stakeholders together at the right point in time. I think showing that you’re listening to their concerns and acting on them. So as an example I keep going back the drag queens brief, for example, there we kind of came up, we listened to everyone’s concerns and then we came up with what we call was like a Bulletproof version of our deck which kind of just showed that we had, actively gone away and thought about the things that people were concerned about and I think as long as you are actively listening and you are acting on those concerns then you are setting yourself up for the best success possible. Of course, it doesn’t guarantee that the content is going to work or that it’s going to fly or that people won’t say I told you so at the end of it, if it doesn’t, but I think that’s one of the best things you can probably do to help in that regard. I think knowing your audience when pitching, so, your pitch to devs for their support for a space on site, for example would be very different to your pitch to the C-suite but just knowing what’s going to resonate and understanding what level of knowledge they have when it comes to social as well. It can sometimes be easy when you’re ingrained in that world every day to just assume that everyone gets you and is on the same page. So I think just being able to gauge your audience and then empathising with concerns as well. I think that can go a really long way but ultimately you kind of underpinned with the awareness as I mentioned earlier but when you’re doing something bold you’re never going to have as much support as you would for your BAU content and that’s you can’t shy away from it yet in because of that. So, yeah and keep trying, I think as well.
– Yeah, keep trying that’s exactly what I was going to say is often a kind of doing it in smaller steps all the way.
– I think it’s about the way we do it and you think I’ll see working in a big corporate business, like McDonald’s is that you give me through layers of governance and bureaucracy and it actually isn’t like that at all and the reason why we have is that we’ve got a pretty good idea of what the guard rails are that everybody’s pretty comfortable on. So we know we know the things but like Laura was saying earlier on, we know the stuff that we’ll go for the stuff we’re able, we’ll completely avoid and we’ve got to be really sensitive to that as assigned, McDonald’s got huge amount of social responsibility with our customers but what’s really important is having a really clear what we call a DAI Structure. So we know who’s got the end of decision, who has an advisory role and who has an informed role, and as everybody’s clear on that then you’re not going to have a cast of thousands in putting last minutes and changing directions. So, and so doesn’t matter what it may be whether it’s reviewing social content whether it’s by about a product plan, whether it’s a bite at restaurant reopening, whatever it is we have pretty clear viewpoints on all that. It is hard actually in a franchisee business, because end of the day, I’ve got one CEO who’s vey, very good but I’ve also got 200 other CEOs who are the franchisees across the McDonald’s business. They all have opinions, they’re all our businesses. So and there’s, I’ll be honest, there’s been, been times not so much in McDonald’s but certainly a Domino’s where we’ve pushed it a bit where I’ve had some choice emails from franchisees going, what the hell have you done here? Why you’ve done this? We are, as I said before, we took pizza as a photography and changed it a little bit. Not that classic, stage pools being a little bit more kind of how food is actually probably eaten by customers and a couple of times maybe we pushed it a bit too far and I can understand that but then you kind of explained to these people and the Laura said that you might not be as close to as to what are the things that are real success metrics are around this, looking at the engagement KPIs around not just things like CPR and others and educate them that that’s set some benchmarks and say that let’s us this is what we’re expecting to get or this is what was responded and take that feedback from another advice from it would be kind of my advice.
– Yeah, and I think it’s a challenge. It depends on every single organisation, but I’d say there are two things, one I’ve known CMOs who’ve gone, I’ll ask for forgiveness later, I’ll just make it happen. Otherwise it’ll just never happen. I mean, the other one is the washing and rinsing of a great idea as it goes through a hundred different folds of seniority to what you have that comes up at the end is so ghastly that you just hope that nobody actually sees it anyway. So I think that there is a big challenge and I also think there’s a challenge in judgments. My next question is really, how can you be provocative? Not everything is about humour but actually having provoke debate without being so dangerously controversial. I’d like to go to you first, Laura because you could have been seen as virtue signalling. I mean, the campaign you ran with the drag queens is a fine balance and so I’m interested to know how you approached that when you started thinking about it.
– Yeah, it’s a really good point and I think that was where I guess a lot of the concerns came from like we didn’t want the use of the drag queens to be a flash in the pan and for people that the work that we do around sponsoring Manchester pride, for example is probably much more widely known in Manchester and the content was going out everywhere, so trying to rationalise that. But I think we were we kind of made us an agreement with ourselves that if we lost followers, we were losing the types of followers that we didn’t care about having on our channels, quite frankly, like if they were bigots or whatever it might be like we were prepared to take that hit in the name of doing something that does show where our brand is and what we stand for. I think the kind of continuation is as important as the moment. So I think, we’ll definitely be looking ways to integrate, use of drag queens or the talent that we worked with before in throughout our content going forward, that it’s not just kind of something that happened in isolation and I think just finding ways to thread more of the activity that we’re doing, kind of behind the scenes if you like, so that people are more familiar and more aware that that’s what we’re about. I do think you can be provocative without being dangerously controversial. So like what often our most engaged posts are the ones that are kind of an either or so petrol or electric, BMW or Mercedes, these things like that, that we know are polarising. We know they’re divisive they generate a lot of conversation but they’re not dangerously controversial, they kind of play in the right territory. I think other brands could be more dangerously controversial on a daily basis. BrewDog, I think are probably a good example where they cut it quite close to the mark but yeah from an Autotrader perspective I think it’s like you say, just trying to bulletproof your ideas against all eventualities. So like the fact that, virtue signalling could have been something that we were accused of. That actually didn’t come through in the comments. We even had one comment from someone that said as a gay petrolhead, this is amazing, and I think even just for those isolated moments kind of really helped to justify why you’ve done what you’ve done. So yeah, that would be mine.
– And very occasionally make us poor old beleaguered marketeers feel quite good about what we do.
– It’s quite nice.
– I think you can be provocative and honestly if I’m being totally honest, I think I’ve worked in brands that we we’ve got to be really careful about that. So, end of the day we will avoid anything that looks socially or politically divisive in any way. We’re not going to touch stuff, so, talk about guard rails. There’s no way we are getting into that and then stop and to that and we have to be because we’re across our customer group but we’re all things to all people and that’s really important part of the like inclusive and really important value to us. I think the key thing for me is you can be provocative, but you’ve got to be able to back yourself up as Laura said, so authenticity is really important. So, if you’re going to go out there and do something that is, I wouldn’t recommend necessarily using social as the first vehicle for something that is a potentially a step outside of our new value or a new purpose or an equal in that sense I would be looking at other partnerships probably in particular first before I started potentially looking at how you magnified that on social channels, how your staff, your crew teams, your single occasions, are also living and breathing those values as well. If you’re not, you’re going to get found out pretty quickly and that’s going to turn against you.
– Yeah and it’s where we see the biggest holes kind of appear. Let’s start a couple more questions around. So they’re a little bit sort of scattered some of the topics we’ve talked but I think it’s quite interesting. Katie de la Cruz has said I loved the Weetabix social media madness and ASOS vs Boohoo, and one, I wondered if that’s just a trust the team and get involved or if behind the scenes there is an agenda between the brands to get going. What do you think?
– I’ve not seen it been when we I’ve done that before. It’s not been a conversation that has being pre-planned, the point we were making earlier on. I think people will see through that straight away. So say I get the Holy grail it all lines up your marketing calendar lines up with that contextual moment. That particular moment. Well, bloody hell well done to you, take it with both hands, but it doesn’t happen like that and there’s, I would be really surprised at that moment from Weetabix wasn’t an overly planned piece. I’d actually be gutted if it was, but then, but it worked out
– I think when they started when the Brandter started five, six, 10 years ago maybe when that thing became a thing I think they probably were a little planned a little more organised but I’m with you, I think in today’s day and age I can’t see why you would do that. It would come across as false and we are suffering from a real trust problem across the board. It’s not a social thing, particularly, although that often leads the way and we are sceptical. So as consumers, we look at what’s being put out there and think, what the hell is going on. So yeah, I think he’s got, I think he’s an interesting one. Doing bold and brave campaigns still gives me and you mentioned this earlier Karl, terrible butterflies and I’ve be doing marketing for 30 years and set up immediate future 17 years ago and yet every time we go out with a campaign I can feel my stomach tighten. So I wondered just on a really personal level how do you deal with that? It’s quite an acute amount of anxiety when you do go live with a campaign. I mean, it’s so bad that sometimes when I publish things, I will hold my breath. I mean, I’m literally holding my breath as I publish it because I’m so scared. How do you manage and while you do that I’m going to shut this blind because I’m just being blinded. So please carry on.
– It’s a really good question. I think it’s really hard when you know that not everyone is bought in. That’s just a hard thing. I think that’s probably a human thing that, you want to be liked if you want everyone to think that your idea is a great idea and just knowing that not everyone shares that vision is really hard and it does induce anxiety like you say. I think you can’t let that derail you. So you have to say, strong of mind that you started at that point. So that’s not happened along the way, that’s where you started. So you’ve got to stand strong to the reasons and keep going back to the brief and why you’re doing it. I think keeping an open and honest dialogue with your team throughout and still despite the anxiety is making sure that you create opportunities for them to learn throughout the processes is really important as well and I guess from like a personal perspective just the usual things like meditate, if it helps, drink loads of wine if that helps, whatever else it may be and weirdly for me, and this sounds like such a shameless plug for Autotrader but I do actually look at Autotrader at a lot and we looked into this once because a psychiatrist once said that he uses Autotrader. So a therapist is using for his therapy but there’s something around mapping yourself onto things that are potential. So whether it’s like a gorgeous car or I guess Zoopla and Rightmove have the same impact where you just kind of escape and I actually find things like that, quite calming. I’m a weirdo. I love looking at old cars. So, but whatever it wants.
– I absolutely love that, I’ve never tried that in my life. I’m going to go try that.
– I don’t know if the McDonald’s app would have quite the same.
– Yeah. I mean, I’m a total marketing geek, there’s nothing that excites me more in kind of new campaigns going live. So I’m kind of with you in that Katy, I think I’m total obsessive of what campaigns are going live. I’m looking at pretty much every comment as they come in. So my data usage is pretty awful when campaigns can go live I just really what most of the time, thankfully I’m just excited about what lands, I guess if you’re at that balance of being too anxious you’ve got to ask yourself, is what you’re doing the right thing, it shouldn’t cause you major anxiety, excitement anxiety is probably a fine balance on that one but I think that the thing, the mantra for me is when we’ve had this kind of situation before is if I can get in the lift and the CEO the next day and he tells me what a car crash that kind of was and I have a reason why we did it, which is pretty clear, then nobody can really have a go at you and stuff and that’s really important. So as long as you kind of got a bit of a defendable position as to why then that’s all right, I always do. I do it, but still sadly do a bit of a mates test quite a lot, I stick stuff, if I think it’s a wee bit dodgy, I stick in front of a couple of mates and get their opinion, they’ll be brutally honest with you. Not what your team or anybody else your agencies wants you to hear. So, that’s a pretty simple exercise for me. They’ll definitely tell me
– I’m with you. I do the same, whenever I’m a bit anxious, whenever we do anything for immediate future, I run it past my kids because they’re in their mid twenties. And I need someone to sense check that old eenie here has actually not completely become, the really embarrassing dancing dad somewhere, so it’s just, I’m with you, I think it’s a really, I think what really sums it up for me, Karl what you said at the beginning, if you don’t feel the anxiety then have you been bold enough? And then what Laura said, which is someone is in your head you have the rationale and the robustness that sits behind these and I think this is very crucial because for many brands now they are going to have to take this step into being more of themselves. They’re going to have to be more of their personality because that is what we want as consumers. We want that authenticity, we want real brands. We want you to be your inside outside self and that means that you’re going to have to take some very brave steps and that is going to build with it some anxiety for those that are in charge.
– I think Katy as well, just in a slightly serious point on it as well is if you’re in an environment that you can’t, that you feel as though you can’t go away and test and learn or you don’t feel as though you’ve got permission to play you’re probably not in the right place and I know that sounds a bit wishy washy but that’s really important, you’ve got to foster environments where that can happen and actually within kind of creative social spheres like this no more so than those types of places. So, yeah and if your organisation isn’t quite there then I think you basically have to kind of almost have to take them on a journey as a way by creating a few guard rails, simple things that actually take in having a look at some of the competitive position, you’ve got looking at some of their data and their gated figures to see what they’re doing more on and start to encourage, they say if there those kind of, C-suite others are struggling to get their head around that that might be a way of just bringing them on a journey, but you’ve got to have permission to play in this space, you know that more than anybody Katy, I think.
– And I would say somebody asked a question sorry they haven’t given a name but sometimes I feel it’s difficult to be bold and work in a B2B environment any advice on how you stand out but in a good way, but before I take your thoughts, I would just also add by the way, I see some of the bravest activity coming out of B2B brands and actually they’re damn good at test and learn and it is a journey because you mentioned that before Karl which is that you have to do in a way, sometimes we have more creative freedom in the markets you are both in, in the businesses we’re in, but sometimes you don’t have that creative freedom in the same way. It’s not natural. So what you do is you just play a slightly different game. You play a game of test and learn which is move two steps forward, get everybody’s buy-in then move it maybe move five steps forward and frighten the living daylights out of them and try it again but actually I think you can be very bold in B2B.
– I actually, so when I was agency side, right at the start of my career, I used to represent a window fabricating company called James Harcourt which isn’t around anymore I think it’s called something else, and we probably did more creative bold kind of oriented activity in that space than I’ve done in any of the major brands I’ve worked in and the reason behind that I think is because B2B businesses and marketers and that they probably knew their customer better than anybody else because they’ve got a far it’s, it’s a far clearer representation of who is who’s purchasing their brands whereas you’re working on that kind of B2C thing. You’ve got to be really careful about what different types of age profiles or cultures or whatever it is may respond to a particular piece of content. So, yeah, we had a lot of fun actually in that space and I’d love to do a bit more of that in some cases actually, in the future maybe I’ll go back to that, but yeah I would definitely be giving it a go and I think you’ve got really great way up to being bold and creative but with a clear understanding of your customer are going to resonate with that.
– When we were agency side we had standard life investments and again, it was like, how do you get people excited on social about ensuring their life? And YOLO was really big at the time. So we’d come up with YODO. You only die once, and they didn’t buy it but I was like, it was a lot of fun, just to even just start pushing their thinking into bolder territories and I think with the B2B thing it’s because it’s unexpected, I guess you kind of it gives you a bit more licence to, that you’re already kind of going to be bolder in that regard. I do think it’s a playful territory.
– Gosh, we are getting a lot of questions, so I’m going to, there’s quite a nice one from Jody here which is what are the most important measures of success for big social campaigns that you run and how do you track it?
– Can I be really honest on this actually? So I’ve gone through a massive journey around social kind of KPIs and what really matters. So, when I went into Domino’s, and ran our digital channels. So, things like CPA and others were the be-all and end-all and I think we lost a little bit of our way by moving from this really kind of thumb stopping kind of content that grabbed people to actually being very, very performance based and so we did an awful lot of DR kind of proportion for DR versus kind of storytelling became far too imbalanced. So we were getting bloody awesome CPAs better than I’ve ever seen and you were driving great sales and e-commerce, so a lot of people were ticking the box in that sense but I think we were losing that kind of, that real kind of customer engagement and what really the values of what kind of Domino’s is about, which sets above those other pizza operators as well and certainly I’ve learned that coming into McDonald’s and, of course we talk about our products but yeah, we certainly don’t position things like CPA anywhere near as highly as what I would have done and that was my fault, a couple of years ago going into Domino’s and that sense, so, I mean, we still look at high volume of engagements we get, we look at the sentiment a lot. That’s kind of probably our key KPI around that. So not any jaw breaking or anything different than most of you are probably all looking and there’s obviously tonnes of tools around that but don’t let people, like if you’re engaging with people like Facebook and others get you too sold on things like attribution modelling and all that kind of stuff, you know your brands better than anybody. You can see an awful lot of that content yourself and how that’s being engaged with and I think staying true to yourself in that sense is really important.
– I think Mark Ritson has this very, I love this idea that he puts the other, he calls it bothism which is just horrible to him for it personally but it’s the brand metrics running alongside the performance metrics and those are actually, the two are very interesting, because if you go down, as you said just performance, it’s the race to the bottom, if that’s all you’re paying attention to if you don’t build brand in today’s modern, weird and wonderful Zoom screened world that we live in is that we have got to build brand and build trust. Otherwise nobody’s going to click anyway, you just end up with this smaller and smaller pool to your right at the very bottom of your funnel. But it is quite a challenge to bring back some of the older metrics that we used to use, like brand equity say that to some people and they have no idea what I’m talking about and those kinds of things that we did before it was digital and it was all just TV and print, is it the same for you Laura?
– Yeah, I think it is. I was just going to say quickly on that point that there’s an IPA case study on the AA actually. That’s an interesting one of what can happen when you don’t pay attention to both and it does become a race to the bottom. They were lucky they managed to turn it around with the singing baby ad but I think that they kind of relied on the fact that they had these yellow vans on the road every day and that was enough of a brand marketing job for them when in actual fact it wasn’t and then lots of new competitors enter the market and you’re left, kind of in the middle of nowhere but yeah, I think success metrics. Similarly, we kind of switched like most people, I guess from looking at followers and very focused on interactions but I think in terms of being bold, it’s often different. So, the key objectives for the drag race were around reaching new and younger audiences. I think the important thing is not to sort of change the rules of the game as you’re playing it. So I think as long as you’re very clear from the beginning that this is what you’re looking to achieve and sentiment, I totally agree with that as well, it could be five comments that make it worthwhile but if they’re powerful then there’s a lot to be said for sentiment.
– How do you both manage failure? I mean, you touched a little bit on it, Karl, but with being bold comes the kind of bit where you just really screw it up or fall over your own feet. How do you deal with it and how do you deal with that with your teams who can often be maybe not as hard bitten, as us old people and they take it a little bit more personally
– Yeah. We’re all creatures that want to do our very best, and me more than anybody, I really take these things kind of personally you know me Katy, I’m quite an enthusiast in that sense, but yeah I think that’s been properly tested over the last year but creating a team of two really important values from a in terms of what the types teams are on this as resilience and curiosity and if you’ve got people who’ve got that in spades, then you’ll be alright because you’ll not say going back to that point of, I kind of on the culture of test and learn kind of, it feels really wishy-washy but I really mean it it’s if you’ve got resilient, curious characters within that team, you’re going to be delivering engaging content, you’re going to be learning new things with each one. You are going to, with a better word, fuck up the whole time, but you know, you’ll learn from that and you’ll do better the next time. And that I think that was having those two characters around that is fine. So we don’t really reflect too much on failure to be honest with you and the rules, I certainly have before, it’s all about kind of what did we learn from it and what do we do next and certainly the businesses around us, haven’t lingered at any of that at all. They’ve, they’ve backed us and supported us and stuff. So they’ve got the right environment around you.
– I would agree with that again actually curiosity is one of our brand values and I think that really comes through in the social team that they are curious bunch and that really helps in making sure that we stay bold. I think keep coming back to the why you’re doing something like that really helps to kind of make any potential onslaught more palatable. I think, always think what’s the worst that can happen as well. If the worst that can happen is that you get some people internally saying, I told you so, you get some people externally that unfollow you, like and they’re not the ones that you wanted to becoming on the journey with you anyway, then your kind of baseline is really quite okay to move forward with and I think one of the blessings as well, it’s a double-edged sword and it’s like a blessing and a curse with social but given it moves so quickly, of course that makes it more challenging to cut through when you want to be bold but it also means that when it doesn’t work out, it’s today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper and I think just, kind of cultivating a team as Karl said that, that recognises that it’s better to have, it’s like all these quotes that say things like, better to have tried 10 bold things than to try one or not try any at all. That’s probably the least succinct version of that.
– I love that. Yeah, absolutely. I love that. I also love that. It’s just going back because we’re going to have to, I have so many questions queued up. I do apologise to all those people listening. I cannot get through all of these because we’ve got three minutes before we finish this, and I’ve got like another 25 questions. Oh, no 31 questions, but I’m just going to before I call it to a close, I just could say the award for the quote of the webinar goes to Drum Roll, Drum Roll Laura McNally for meditate if it helps, drink lots of wine if it helps you. You know we’re going to go out with it on a quote card. Absolutely categorically. Listen, both of you, thank you so much. Are there is, so I have a heap of questions that I’ve not been able to ask you. I think we could probably spend the afternoon talking about this and people are clearly looking for some good advice. One of my colleagues has just said that they can pick up questions left over on the LinkedIn because there’s a lot of people asking very specific questions about whether or not they should be on Instagram and what key metrics they should do and what if they’ve only got three people in the team and how they integrate with PR, which I haven’t done because they’re quite detailed questions. Very specific, if you jump onto the LinkedIn chat my team is actually there and you can go and have a, they’ll help you with that’s our job. We pay it forward. We’ll help you out. So if you go on to LinkedIn immediate future and you’ll see the chat happening under the events page. So thank you both. You are utterly fantastic, we kind of got into some of the nitty gritty. I’m glad we mentioned the surface as well some of the ways in which we feel and the emotional side of it, but it’s so interesting because I’m delighted, of course, Laura I know that one of your brand values is curiosity because it’s one of ours, as also is courage because you have to be brave and collaboration and it feels like you have both spoken a lot about those things that force you to work together in a way that means that you can be greater than the sum of its parts, and from thinking about pop culture and being in the moment through to contexts that Karl mentioned through to having that voice and purpose that we need now. So a huge thanks to Laura and Karl for sharing and helping us do our content better or just making us feel better about our content and it’s clear if you want impact, then you kind of can’t cut the corners. It feels that even when it comes to something brave that is not cutting corners the bravery is in being bold with your content. We have another webinar coming up later in March, so keep an eye out for it. For those that want more detail on how to manage social media, we run a live session on all the social networks, every single Friday where myself and lots of my team get up and talk about things like paid media how to have a voice that’s different on each channel, all the questions that I saw coming up. I just wondered before we close down, Laura and Karl do you have one kind of final thing to say to people who are trying to be bold?
– I thought of the quote that I was meaning to say and it’s that we’re better to die knowing we’ve tried to be bold than to live maintaining the status quo. So that would be my Jerry Springer final thought.
– My piece of advice is when you’re asked a question like that, don’t follow in Laura McNally with a clip of something really profound. So I’ve not got a quote for you, apart from but just be curious and have the courage of your convictions, what could go wrong? Well, actually a lot can go wrong just mixture but not an awful lot. So, best of luck to you all with it, hope it goes well.
– Thank you both. Thank you, everybody, for tuning in hope we have fun this lunchtime and see you soon. Bye.
– Bye everyone.
– Thank you, bye.