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How Skive uses 'active disruption' to engage consumers

How Skive uses 'active disruption' to engage consumers

By Caroline Parry for UTalkMarketing.

“Tell me, I forget; show me, I may remember; involve me and I will understand.” It may be an ancient Chinese proverb but for Sean Singleton, managing director and co-founder of digital agency Skive, it has as much resonance in today’s rapidly evolving digital world as it ever has.

Interactivity or “active distraction” is at the very heart of Skive’s concept and the way it works with it clients, which include Nestle, the British Army, Hasbro, Aviva, Vodafone, Lotus and Allied British Foods.

The concept is based on the idea that internet access means people are now easily distracted, and this has become more relevant as media consumption has changed rapidly – with devices now increasingly interactive and mobile.

“Ten years ago, digital was an after thought but it is now at the heart of advertising and media at the start of a campaign. Even if a client is developing a TV campaign, it will still use the power of online to give it an interactive edge.”

The recent Old Spice campaign, created by Wieden & Kennedy, which was focused on a TV campaign starring former NFL star Isaiah Mustafa, whose “character” was later used to lead an innovative live social media campaign, is, for Singleton, a perfect example of how this can work. “It got people involved so they felt part of it and recommended it to their friends. Like the rules of real live, if someone else praises someone, you believe it. We trust strangers online more than we trust advertisers now.”

Which is why, adds Singleton, social media is an ideal tool for customer service and recommendations. “Twitter is where people to go to vent. It is really powerful, but not yet fully realised.

“Companies with out-sourced customers services will have to restructure to use social media effectively. You have to be responsive because it is very transparent. If you say you are all about customer services; it will show in the way you use social media.”

The feedback, good and bad, can be used to a brand’s advantage. Dell was heavily criticised in the early days of blogging but, over several years of engaging with these critics and gauging feedback to its changing, it has turned that around. Singleton also points to Domino’s Pizza, which actually used a video showing consumers criticising its product, to make positive company-wide changes.

“It showed that the company wasn’t afraid, too many brands are terrified of making mistakes. Social media is a good learning opportunity for brands but it has to start with brands listening and working out the best way for them to join the conversation. Just like in a real conversation, consumers want to be engaged with useful or entertaining content; no one wants a brand that behaves like a shouty salesman.”

Skive worked with Nestle-owned chocolate brand KitKat to create a social media campaign based around having breaks, long part of the brand’s heritage, and music. An augmented reality marker on packs allowed consumer to view the new single from Scouting For Girls being played in four “virtual” breaks. It is the first AR on-pack promotion by an FMCG brand.

Meanwhile, its created an arcade-style game for the British Army’s Start Thinking Solider, featuring real-time graphics combined with real-world graphics it aimed to engage the younger demographic as part of a recruitment drive. It is received half a million visits in a month. “It was highly interactive,” he explains. “It was a very rich and deep experience for visitors.”

But while Singleton acknowledges that new capabilities such as AR and mobile gaming can add an exciting new dimension, it has to offer something tangible to consumers. “You have to try and find a story that fits with brand. It must be useful or entertaining, or exclusive content. Just because you build it, it doesn’t mean they will come.”

Getting people involved in the message through online engagement is a powerful tool, says Singleton, but he says it needs time and money, and to be properly planned, to be effectively delivered. “The biggest issue is that things aren’t planned early enough. The user experience must be at the heart of any campaign and if it is rushed or the budget is too tight, it won’t befully optimised or won’t work properly. Digital has to be included upfront so people can actually find what you have made and the user experience is properly delivered.”

Sean Singleton will be speaking at the UTalkMarketing Digital Brand Strategy Summit on November 25, 2010 in London. Click here to hear more from Sean and get your ticket.

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