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In this monthly column written for PM Forum Magazine, owner of Elephant Creative Helen Hammond  takes a look at what is going on in the wider marketing world and draws out some lessons for the professions.

It may now be May, as you read this, but let’s look back at some of the campaigns that made us laugh over April, starting with an April Fool.  We may work in a series industry but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from those willing to break down barriers with humour.


1.     The Choir of Kings College, Cambridge

Those of you that know me will be aware that I spend an unhealthy amount of time skulking about in cathedrals around the world.  The Choir of Kings College, Cambridge is known for its iconic Carols from Kings and musical excellence, but on 1st April it showed that it not only understands humour but marketing.  Its YouTube video discussing the ‘necessary end to its having boy choristers’ went up to over half a million views within hours, spreading the news of the launch of its webcasts as it went.  It leveraged the one thing that would get people hooked (the old ‘we’re getting rid of trebles’ line), combined humour with the exacting precision the choir is known for and sat back.  Having an ability to leverage negative perceptions is something we talked about last month but, when done so cleverly, it makes for excellent marketing.  And when done in a format designed to go viral, the excellent marketing becomes inspirational.


2.     The Grand National – Original

With a strategy called ‘The Original Extreme Sport’ the creative team behind The Grand National’s advert focused on the ‘original’ part (having covered off ‘extreme’ last year).  This year’s advert saw period costumed riders battling through woods and clearing haystacks (recreating the world’s first steeplechase), moving through the ages and ending as jockeys AP McCoy and Richard Johnson.  This was all done with a punk theme tune, demonstrating the raw nature of the sport and how this was a founding value.  The professional services spend thousands, every year, working on values-based marketing but the value and relevance of this is strengthened by an advertising campaign that focuses on only one at a time.  Why overcomplicate things by trying to explain several in one go?  One clear message, delivered imaginatively, has more impact.


3.     Three’s ‘We Built This City’

You will be noticing a bit of a habit forming here.  It’s true.  I’m a sucker for a singing animal and the latest campaign from Three (whilst it’s no moonwalking pony) is something to watch.  Featuring a young girl cycling around the streets singing away to Starship’s ‘We Built This City’, along with her singing kitten, it’s pretty funny.  But that’s not why I’m drawing your attention to it.  Watch to the very end… and then wait.  Another advert will pop up, offering you the chance to upload your photo to feature in your own version of the advert.  Clever.  It’s all too easy to throw money at fancy advertising but how many firms remember to follow it through and think about the ‘what next’?  How are you going to convert advertising into data or enquiries?  Or spread the theme over other media?  Build a cohesive campaign.  Three has this nailed… every time.


4.     Jaguar – Decision Made

In my first column I drew your attention to the Jaguar XF Superbowl advert, featuring British villains.  The other day I was flicking through the IoD’s magazine and saw a print advert for the same car.  And it had been tailored, once again, to talk to the target audience.  In this case, people who are confident (or like to think they are) decision-makers.  It was simple.  The car and a caption that read ‘Decision Made’.  Tailoring marketing communications to the audience is the single most important thing you should be doing.  Let’s stop thinking about what we’re selling and start saying what ‘they’ want to hear.

If you’d like to suggest campaigns that have caught your eye you can contact me through Twitter on @helenhammond or via email on