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Knowing When to Cut Your Campaign Loose
By: Tom Roarty
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I recently met with an old colleague who is currently at a major agency, and although we had promised not to discuss work beforehand, we eventually couldn’t help ourselves. Apparently, there is something in an advertising creative’s DNA that does not allow us to break away from our area of expertise when we get together, and by now, we should probably just accept that fact. I assume this is because, unlike most professions, ours is always around us with no chance for escape. So there we were, at a local establishment, when a new commercial for an old product came on. It was at this point that our conversation went from family to advertising.
The product that sparked our debate was one with a distinctive campaign in both print and television. Although the ads have been running for literally years, the agency that created the spots found ways to keep the content fresh, all while keeping the integrity of them. However, even with years of success being measured both by buzz and sales, this product is now looking to shift gears and reinvent its advertising approach. Coming from the mindset of "if it’s not broke don’t fix it," I couldn’t understand why.
Coming directly from the person who is spearheading the overhaul, the agency in question felt it was time to approach the product with a fresh vibe. Exciting as the new opportunity could be for the agency, I couldn’t help but think about the client’s perspective of the ratification of an already existing, highly effective campaign for an unproven one. The thought is to end the current campaign on a high note, which I can understand, but who’s to say that the peak of the campaign has yet to be reached in its current form? Up until now, the campaign in question has been very solid, and although the new approach is strong, it just doesn’t seem as if it would have the longevity of the existing spots.
In today’s markets, with all the media available for promotional usage, I do agree that risks need to be taken and that creatives need to push the boundaries for the betterment of their clients, but I do not agree that existing success should be sacrificed for just the sake of change. Branding is a concept that takes time, and although one of the attractions of the design world is change, the cultivation of a long-lasting, successful campaign is not easy to come by. This is a lesson usually overlooked when success comes early on, as was the case with this product.
Because this is a work currently in progress, I cannot give more details on what the campaign is for, but the lesson holds true for almost any product. If you have success, don’t mess with it. With the progression of an ad campaign, there may be rough patches, but even then a strong idea is worth investing in, especially when it has proven itself over time. Change for just the sake of change can be a dangerous thing. I am sure that no matter what the outcome is with this new approach, advertising professionals will have a lot to talk about in the coming months.

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