Photo by Dakota Roos on Unsplash

A brand, a boardroom, multiple agencies and a room full of account managers – not always a natural team habitat.

“The insect’s amazing lifestyle has been a source of fascination since ancient times. Several cultures, such as the ancient Chinese, regarded these insects as powerful symbols of rebirth.” –National Geographic

Every agency undoubtedly has a story to tell about how tricky it can be to plan campaigns with our clients other agencies. We all eagerly look to impress and build out a slice of the campaign pie, albeit with the intention of remaining connected. It can be, at times, an awkward mating game. If you are an account team member working for a large multinational or global client, you will know exactly what I mean.

We work for a leading retailer in the UK, and our campaigns always aim to drive awareness, engagement and sales, as well as acquiring new members to a loyalty program that Bookmark manages on behalf of this client. We were recently engaged to support a critical trade-driving retail event. It is our peak time and investments are made in content to support the retailer’s strategic marketing plan. This leads to increase its market share by offering huge savings across the store. We are attuned to our audience and we also know these customers love a bargain! But as we all know, when it comes to retail it’s no longer solely about price.

I was reflecting on our first big retail event this year, where for the first time, our client’s key agencies were corralled together to plan a completely connected, digital-first, omni-channel campaign, and in record time.  These days, agencies need to be able to turn on a dime, as they say, and when time is against you it takes real skill to work as a connected ‘pack’.

One of the benefits of being a hyper-locally-focused agency (with the added advantage of being retained by our current client for more than 20 years) is that we have developed the ability to flex and adapt. We are also completely used to working as a team and – unfortunately at times – to neck-breaking deadlines.

This year’s big retail event needed to be better, more connected and, of course, more effective than ever at increasing market share/converting parents into customers. And this year, all agencies involved had to work together for the first time. 

What were the results?

As part of an integrated plan, and with an investment of less than £50k we outperformed our forecast:

*We connected with just shy of 1 million customers during a 3-week event window, through website activity, emails, social media and via an advice-led in-store booklet.

*We acquired 10,000 new members to the retailer’s loyalty programme within the same period – this alone has a multi-million pound incremental sales effect and LTV.

*We referred 8% of our site traffic to the retailer’s e-commerce platform, delivering intent to purchase and finally engaged in excess of 38,000 entries to our event competition – building a great vibe around the brand’s value-led proposition.

Where does the cicada come in?

I grew up in Australia, and every summer, millions of cicadas would rise up from under ground, sprout wings and then mate, and the noise during this outbreak and courtship culminated in a deafening, yet almost hypnotic ‘cicada song’. As a child I became very familiar with this ear-piercing chant – it was the summertime buzz and one that I strangely miss, even if it used to keep me awake at night.

Call me a little barmy (as I am sure many of my colleagues do), but what is also rather compelling about these little creatures is: 

“Cicadas provide a revealing example of the workings of evolution and natural selection. If a stray cicada appears outside the cycle of the brood (while most stay underground for 17 years, some do for 13 years), its chances for survival are basically nil.” – care2

At these critical planning times, there is something to be learned from observing the effect of a summertime cicada buzz – their rebirthing ritual, remarkable team connectedness and strength of pack. For me, it is also largely a reminder that we must be constantly prepared to adapt to shifting environments, and to appreciate the value of working together, rather than acting on an instinctive urge to go it alone. I’ve seen it pay dividends for clients, time and time again.