The "Rogue" Campaign: Part One

Clients will talk a good game about wanting to be cutting-edge with their thinking, how they want their new campaign to be something that people will remember and be 'award winning' but when it comes right down to it, most clients are too risk-adverse in a depleted economy to push the envelope because of fear--

  • Fear that new thinking won't work
  • Fear of what the industry will say about the new work
  • Fear it will not produce an adequate ROI, thereby setting themselves up for failure within their own positions
  • Fear that something progressive will backfire and tarnish the brand
  • Fear that money will be wasted

ALL VALID CONCERNS! I support these concerns and in my job I need to adjust creative frequently to push up or back off on things that heighten or lessen these fears. Fears like legal, diversity, spam assassin scores and social distribution ability, keyword content and general old fashion creativity – I know, what a concept.

Well, there's no answer, but there are other things that you can do with a progressively-minded agency to push some boundaries and often not take as major a hit if is to fail. "Rogue Campaign" by definition is something that doesn't live within the mainstream of your thinking, perhaps brand and most certainly your current messaging.

These campaigns are often small, HIGHLY creative and typically don't need to cost as much as your primary campaign. Plus, they're like having an army of mercenaries with remote bombs wrapped around their necks-- should they fail to produce, making them go away is often easier than a primary campaign. 

They can take many forms:

  • Smaller riskier versions of the current campaign
  • Underground contests or story lines
  • Microsites
  • Viral videos
  • Live events
  • Ghost twitter accounts
  • Scavenger hunts, flash mobs and storyline "seeding"
  • Alternate Reality Games (ARG's)
  • Villan, whistle-blower, frienemies campaigns

Have they ever pitched two or three ideas that you know the client expected and then they flip out the "wild card?" That one idea that's outlandish and makes your heart race! 'Oh but that's nothing like what we're doing now!' and 'Can we really train unicorns to joust in a crowed mall?' Be that as it may, this idea should be challenged. This is the idea you SHOULD be doing!

What your agency doesn't want you to know about these types of campaigns: 

Your agency is really passionate about the wild card too, they expect that you won't do it but in their heart of hearts they want it. They know it will be fun and most often award-winning. The reason I bring this into play is for you to tell the agency they can have "X" percentage of the overall budget to do this, but it must not touch the primary campaign and we must be actively monitoring not only brand lift and standard transactional effectiveness but also social effectiveness, sentiment, response and adoption. Often an agency will work harder and eat a shit-ton (yes, that's a measurement) of hours to make this one right. They want to do more work like this and getting the chance, they will make the most of it.

Roll the dice. Remember when you didn't want to do social media or a build a website? Nothing ventured – nothing gained.

Have you ever gone with the wild card? Are you selling your alternative thinking? What's your barometer of risk? Give me your thoughts and share this article if you found it helpful.