Sep 28

Building an effective integrated marketing campaign

A truly integrated marketing campaign is the holy grail of marketing. Brands crave this, thought leaders recommend it, and agencies claim to be able to offer it (but they don’t always manage to deliver).

Whilst the brands that do get it right see spectacular results (see these integrated marketing campaign examples), many fail to produce truly integrated campaigns, or integrate them in such a way that doesn’t actually confer any advantage and therefore fails to generate the buzz and ROI that might have been expected.

Is this because, all too often, marketing campaigns are created under the assumption that ads that simply have the same look across different channels will magically result in better integration? While the 4Cs of integrated communications, that’s Coherence, Consistency, Continuity and Complementary will with increased Frequency of viewing ads boost recall, they are not the best premise for creating an effective integrated ad campaign. Just because the YouTube video or TV spot looks quite a bit like the newspaper ad and has the same tag line, doesn’t mean it is any more likely to connect with your audience. Yes, consistency will boost awareness and ad recall, but it doesn’t help engage the emotions of the audience and develop preference for a brand. At its worst it stifles creativity, disallows optimising ads to work best in the format they are in and bores customers which ads that look the same as each other and don’t develop during the campaign.

So what is it that better-integrated marketing campaigns have in common? Here are some of the key ingredients shared by classic campaign examples.

Have a big idea

As I have said, tying together your integrated campaign by just making the ads look and feel consistent could be counter-productive. What you need to create a truly successful integrated marketing campaign is centre it around a big idea that connects with your customers. It has to be interesting, and not just a little interesting, it has to really jump out. To do this you need to harness the power of emotions. Humour often works well, as shown by Fosters integrated campaign which very effectively played on the brand’s laid back, Australian image.

fosters campaign

The results from the campaign were impressive: it won numerous advertising awards, was commended for bringing Fosters back to a position of market leadership after a period of falling behind, and delivered an fantastic ROI of £32 for every £1 spent.

Tie it to your ‘brand truth’ or brand values

As I have mentioned, tying together your integrated campaign by just making the ads look and feel similar won’t actually do any good and could be counter-productive. Your ‘big idea’ as mentioned earlier should tie in with your ‘brand truth or brand values. Nike provides a great example of this. Nike’s integrated campaign for the 2012 Olympics used the idea that greatness is not just for elite athletes and is something we can all aspire too and should all try to achieve. This chimed extremely effectively with Nike’s ‘brand truth’; ‘Just do it’.

Aligning your integrated campaign with your brand values is critical if you want it to have a big impact. Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is lauded for showing images of women that would be seen as flawed by the Photoshop-heavy female beauty industry, but portraying them as truly beautiful. This aligns perfectly with Dove’s vision of ‘creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety’.

It is powerful because the images are so different to what we are used to seeing, and because it hits a fundamentally important issue, the statistic that Dove’s research revealed that ‘only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful’, creates the sense we are being cheated into negative opinions due to the unrealistic standards of the beauty industry. By not even mentioning their products in the ads, Dove is helping to re-frame the way we view female beauty in a more positive way, and thus their brand comes off brilliantly.

Dove campaign

The results speak for themselves: In the initial launch of the campaign, different videos showing Dove’s sketches were viewed more than 114 million times, shared 3.74 million times, uploaded in 25 languages, and seen in 110 countries. The PR and blogger media impression amounted to over 4 billion.

Utilise the strengths of different platforms

An integrated campaign does not mean you have to do the same thing across different channels. In fact, it is often best if you can use very different content that plays to the strengths of different channels, tied together by the big idea mentioned earlier.

Snickers did this very well with their ‘You’re not you when your hungry’ campaign. TV ads introduced the notion, already felt by consumers, that you feel touchy or easily annoyed when you’re hungry. Then snickers got celebrities, including Katie Price and Rio Ferdinand to Tweet messages that were out of character. This harnessed Twitter’s uniqueness as a platform. People follow the celebrities they like and are far more likely to re-tweet them than they ever would be a brand. It also allowed them to reach a far larger audience than they otherwise would have been able to.

Three also managed this with their integrated campaign ‘Sorry for all the holiday spam’ from Weiden and Kennedy, London. Here, TV ads apologised for the fact the lack of roaming charges for Three customers meant that they could post loads of annoying photos of their holidays. This introduced the concept, and then Three took it to Twitter with the hashtag #holidayspam. Consumers got involved and took holiday snaps using the hashtag, generating a sense of buzz and increasing the reach of the message for minimal cost.


Don’t assume you should make all your ads look similar across platforms when running an integrated ad campaign, and instead tie them together with one big idea that will resonate with your customers. For truly great integrated campaigns tie in this big idea with your brand values, and utilize the strengths of different platforms for maximum reach.