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Changing times call for 'Brand Humility', says Euro RSCG London chief

Changing times call for 'Brand Humility', says Euro RSCG London chief

By UTalkMarketing Editor, Clark Turner.

Brands need to have a strategic rethink and embrace the concept of ‘Brand Humility, the CEO of Euro RSCG London has said.

According to Russ Lidstone, more brands should be following the example set by Tesco and be more honest and true in marketing the products and services they offer.

“Humility is often seen as a weakness, but it’s actually confidence of one’s worth and something many brands have lost sight of in their marketing,” he told UTalkMarketing in an exclusive interview.

“Where brands get it wrong is when they are hyperbolic and start exaggerating what they are. By contrast Tesco is simply saying, ‘We’re a shop’ and let’s not forget that.”

Lidstone went on to say that Brand Humility allowed the likes of EDF Energy to not only recognise they were part of the problem, but to be part of the solution too.

So hence the recent ‘It not that easy being green’ campaign strategy for EDF from Euro RSCG encompassing recycled clips in TV adverts and the ‘Green Britain Day’ initiative.

“It’s more important that ever to exercise humility, especially as brands are being held more accountable,” he added. “Consumers are asking more and more, ‘What can you do for me’.”

For the agency boss, it’s simply about brands getting ‘back to basics’ as they ‘lie naked’ in front of consumers, with social media now playing a major role in the brand-consumer relationship.

“Social media is magnifying conversations and making public those that might previously have been held in private,” he explained. “The balance of power has shifted and the channel demonstrates how brands live in consumers’ heads.

“Brands can best manage in this space by being honest. They need to realise that the conversation will extend beyond their control, so they should have a strong point of view and good, engaging content.”

He points to the agency’s current campaign for Dulux by means of example. Considered a UK brand by UK consumers, it’s also thought of as a French, Brazilian and Indian brand by nationals in those territories. The new work elevates it to a global player that can make real impact on people’s lives.

The ‘Let’s Colour Project’ is a global activation idea centred on a series of painting events that happened over the last four months in the UK, France, Brazil and India. Each local community was engaged to transfer dull and grey spaces into something more interesting using Dulux colour paint.

Each event was filmed for the TV execution and further events are scheduled to take place around the world in the near future as part of Dulux’s ambition to ‘add colour to people’s lives’.

The campaign is being hailed as the first of its kind backed by a blog, website, social media on Twitter and social networking sites including Facebook and Orkut.

“We wanted to demonstrate thought leadership and how Dulux can add to people’s lives,” explained Lidstone. “Colour can add to the spiritual and community aspect of  people’s lives so we are showing Dulux as a brand in action, regenerating communities.

“This campaign is just the beginning, with grass roots and community event activity to follow.”

The rules of Brand Humility don’t simply apply to the FMCG and Energy sectors. The CEO believes there are lessons for financial services companies to learn too.

“The zeitgeist of now is pessimism. Where matters of the social and economic dimension are out of control the role of the individual seems insignificant,” he explained.

“For marketers in financial services the Holy Grail is consumer trust, but the sector is struggling more than most.”

Lidstone believes that for too many years banks have been focused on messaging ‘here’s what we do’, losing sight of what drives consumer loyalty. Instead, he is of the opinion that they need to be focusing on demonstrating their shared values.

“There is still an opportunity to focus on areas of excellence, but no one has yet tapped into affective trust,” he added.

Lidstone himself comes from a planner background rising through the ranks at HHCL, Lowe then JWT to eventually become Chief Strategy Officer for Euro RSCG London, before taking on the role of CEO.

As the recession appears to lift, albeit cautiously, he is optimistic for future, believing Euro RSCG and might of the Havas network is best placed to deliver for clients on multiple levels, including the ever evolving giant that is digital.

“This agency is unusual in the respect that it is led by a strategist, with strategic planning being the backbone of the company,” he said. “Brands come to us for an integrated approach, rather than simply seeing digital as a separate channel.

“As brands reassess their budgets and examine their agency rosters they are looking more towards one-stop shops. It’s a tough time to be a purely digital agency.”

Lidstone admitted, “It’s been tough for everyone operating in London over the past 18 months, but now there’s no one we fear. The playing field has levelled out and the bigger agencies now have the capabilities to deliver through their scale and ability.”

“We’re young, entrepreneurial and hungry; a business trying to do things differently. But our vision is to get to the future first , even if taking chances means ‘failing forwards’.”

He concluded, “Some agencies are scared of the challenges posed by changing landscape, but we can’t wait. Agencies should be optimistic.”

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