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Wednesday 26 July 2017

Take five with Cian Corbett from the ad agency that makes us cry each Christmas

Ellie Donnelly

You may not realise it but Radical, a content and advertising agency, is the company responsible for us getting so weepy each Christmas as we watch the Aer Lingus advertisement bringing loved ones home for the festive season.

Radical is in many ways the silent and most important partner behind campaigns that can have a significant emotional impact on us.

Other notable campaigns that the company has worked on are ‘GAA 360’ with AIB, the ‘Beat January’ campaign with Lifestyle Sports, and ‘Making Ireland a Talent Magnet’ with Tech Life Ireland.

Ellie Donnelly sat with Cian Corbett, business director and strategic planner with Radical, to discuss influencers, social media, and the importance digital marketing campaigns.

Do you think the fact that Radical has been around for almost 10 years helps you in terms of bringing experience to clients?

Certainly, having that legacy and the media sensibilities mean that any content that we are creating is really informed by what is possible to target people with to make sure that a campaign will really resonate. I have seen a lot of campaigns where there is a lovely creative idea but it is just not activated properly, so for me it is really about the marriage of the media targeting and the site led creative.

You use influencers’ in some of your ad campaigns, for example the Lifestyle Sports ‘Beat January’ campaign, do you think the use of influencers is going to become more important, are people trusting people now more so than trusting brand? Or was it simply that influencers were suitable for the Lifestyle Sports campaign?

The whole influencer debate keeps raging on, people are wondering whether the established influencers are becoming saturated or over exposed.

For that particular campaign we chose micro influencers, people who were specialists in their own space but who didn’t have thousands and thousands of followers but they were very authentic so the content that they created themselves really resonated with their follower base.

It was up to us to allow them to help us create the content so that it would be credible and authentic and then we provided the boost and impressions behind that, it’s that kind of marriage between creative and media.

So in some respects with that campaign the influencers were assisting you would you say?

Absolutely, that’s a very good way of putting it.

So for us we always approach a campaign with the question ‘what’s the objective?’

We said that okay the influencers objective here is to create authentic content, and our objective is to make sure that it reaches the right audience and the two together is the marriage of a successful social media campaign.

Does it take a long time to prepare campaigns or does it depend on each individual campaign? Obviously with the Aer Lingus 2016 ‘Bring Them Home’ campaign you were taking what you had done in 2015 and making it bigger, what this one quicker to do?

It would be a campaign by campaign basis, for us we spend a lot of time making sure that the insights are sound and that the strategy works. We would spend a lot of time crafting the strategy and then testing it, seeing can we pull holes in it, and if it falls apart in any way we have to start again.

Once the strategy is really sound the creative falls out of that quite quickly, and we have a very talented creative team who understand a good strategy so when we do hand it over to them they can move quite quickly with that. On the other hand the media part can be done quite quickly, we have a lot of learnings and the longer you are working with a client the more you can built up those audiences.

Do you work on a big team or is it a case by case basis?

In Radial there are thirty people, I am on the strategy team, we have a creative team, a search team, and a media team. We would pull in specialists based on those needs.

We would pull in a lot of specialists on the insights space, that is, we would do a lot of research at the very start, finding out what is the search traffic around an item. We would go through Facebook audience insights, pull out all of those insights then built it up. After this we would hand it over to the creative team, so the creative team are quite big.

What important lesson have you learnt?

A really nice learning from the Aer Lingus campaign was the research that followed up. Our sister agency Ignite Research did qualitative studies to find out how effective that campaign was which adds a qualitative layer to your analytics, results. They found that

70pc of the people surveyed thought that they saw the ad on TV, it made such an impact, it occupied such an emotional space for people

that they thought oh I must have seen that during the Late Late Show or something, whereas it only ran on social and digital.

What that means is that if you are going to invest in content and tell a brands story, whether it is above the line or below the line, it still requires the same amount of effort. Because our audiences don’t see the world the way agencies see it, we see it as ‘this is online, this is offline, this is below the line, this is above the line’ whereas your audience just see it as an experience.

So one thing I have learnt is

don’t scrimp and save just because it is going to be a digital campaign. A lot of people are willing to spend millions on a TV campaign and then scrimp and save on a digital campaign but essentially the experience still needs to be the same for the customer.

Did you know doing the Aer Lingus campaign that it would be so successful? The 2015 ad got 1m views in 24 hours and the 2016 ad got 1.8 million views in 24 hours.

That’s the real value of really strong insight, the campaign brought out emotions that people usually reserve for family members and once we cracked this and got the creative team in we knew this was going to be really huge. If you make people think about a brand the same way you think about your sister or your brother returning home that’s an incredible feat. When we were testing the creative we felt it was going to really take off.

And for Aer Lingus, have they found that they have a feel good factor among consumers now?

Yes, within the Ignite research 80pc of the people surveyed felt that Aer Lingus care about Irish people and that they are very aware of the challenges facing Irish people and absolutely that leads to stronger relationships and then an increase in people flying with Aer Lingus.

The TechLife campaign has over 20m impressions, could you describe what this is about?

This is a campaign which we are doing with IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland and it is about attracting tech talent to Ireland. So we have these amazing tech companies working here and we don’t have enough tech talent to actually service them so it’s our best interests to attract tech talent from other countries and bring them over here.

So the whole idea about TechLife Ireland is about showcasing Ireland as a fantastic place that nurtures talent.

We create content that highlights the fantastic companies that work here, the great lifestyle here, the great events that happen here to really nurtures peoples talent. The campaign is going down really well.

Are there any particular channels of social media that Radical would use or does it depend on each campaign?

For me it is all about the objectives, what exactly are we trying to achieve? If it is going to be awareness Facebook is your go-to place because it has such a mass reach and the clicks and costs per views are normally so much cheaper than the other channels.

What I see as the big challenge approaching us is using the ‘dark social channels’ or the ‘closed social’ these are the social channels like Snapchat, WhatsApp, messenger, which have millions of users but they are closed off and it is nearly a rejection of the older social media channels, people want that network where they can have private conversations with family and friends in that closed environment.

What it means for brands is that when brands are measuring the success of a campaign they are only measuring the public engagement. So for us it is about how do you really activate those channels, a big help in that will be the creation of Facebook bots, this will create world leading social care through dark social channels, I might actually start a campaign to start calling it ‘closed social channels’, dark social sounds so negative, it sounds like the dark web, that might be my next campaign!!

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