Joining the dots for awesome activation

In the good / bad old days (delete according to your outlook) Activation was a much simpler affair. It always started with a great idea and if you could convince your Sales Team to convince your Retail Customers of its merits, a multi-channel experience with TV, Outdoor, PR and obligatory special pack could be yours for the asking. As consumer touchpoints and shopping channels have proliferated, co-ordinating a successful activation has become a Herculean task requiring internal and external teams to work much harder and more collaboratively to knit together an immersive customer experience. Let’s take a look at someone who does it really well and some practical ways Brand Learning help our clients do it better.

Activation matters because it allows brand owners to influence customers’ experience of their brands, hopefully building positive associations and converting them to purchase and advocacy along the way. Everyone will have their own favourite example of brilliant activation. The MasterCard ‘Priceless Cities’ is a beauty. MasterCard know over half their customers live in cities. This is projected to rise to 70% by 2020. They identified 8 fields of engagement for target urban families including Shopping, Dining & Sports. The key insight however is that no two cities are alike in what makes something priceless. This allowed them to work from a global idea but tailor activations for each of its urban markets. The New York activation leveraged New Yorkers passion for the Yankees baseball team turning 20 free seats into 55 million impressions in 4 days.


Note the subtle evolution from Mastercard observing priceless moments to enabling priceless moments. Former CMO Alfredo Gangotena comented: “The essence of the 'Priceless Cities' campaign is relevance…It is very personal. What is priceless for you is not priceless for someone else.”

So from this example we can see what makes an awesome activation:

  1. Start with a strong idea – be credible / be relevant / be contagious
  2. Amplify the overall customer experience of brand
  3. Provide value for consumers, shoppers, customers & the brand
  4. Develop by cross functional teams working together
  5. Be consistent and synergistic across all chosen channels
  6. Execute with excellence and optimise in real time

Obvious right? So if Activation is so important and we know what to do, what’s getting in the way? Our clients commonly point to a number of barriers that prevent them delivering it in practice:

  • Strategy and planning are developed in splendid isolation. Often brand, customer, category and shopper plans compete for resource and support rather than being different expressions of the same intent
  • Stakeholder support is not invited or actioned early enough. This is critical given our retail customers are often the gatekeeper to the consumer and shopper
  • Sales & Marketing teams are struggling to keep up with skills, ways of working and collective ownership required to design, execute and optimise a consistent activation in an Omni channel environment

At Brand Learning, we are helping many leading companies like Kellogg’s and Unilever overcome these obstacles by building Activation capabilities within and across Commercial teams. We build programmes leveraging all the core drivers of capability – organisation, people, process and culture, not just skills.

The Brand Learning WheelWhen this model is applied to Activation, a critical first step is helping organisations embed an integrated activation planning process. One that delivers value for consumers, shoppers, customers and brand owners alike. That value is derived from insights gained across the purchase journey. This in turn guides strategy and channel choice.

But great process alone does not equal great results. That’s why we build learning programmes where Sales & Marketing teams do collaborative action planning together on live brand projects, building skills and applying them in real time.


Brand Learning: Lifting capabilities to drive customer-centred growth
We work with companies across the world to lift the performance of their teams to drive growth by delivering better value for their customers.

For more information about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s Activation capabilities, or just to share your favourite Activation examples please get in touch or contact me directly on LinkedIn.