How can you really stand out?


It’s easy to park your dollars on social media and search platforms which promise reach and amplification. But chances are, if you are doing it, so are your competitors. And, in an era when consumers are constantly looking to be surprised and delighted, how do you really stand out and make your brand’s presence felt?

Well, it’s all about the experience you create, said marketers at a recent roundtable discussion done in partnership with The X Collective. For Harish Agarwal, senior vice-president and head of customer experience and segments at Prudential, experience plays a crucial role in connecting with the consumer given the insurance industry is now one which is increasingly being disrupted. “No one wakes up in the morning and thinks about insurance – neither in the past nor in the present. But yet, the expectation for financial institutions and insurance firms from customers has increased tremendously compared to before,” he said.

That’s why for us, every touch-point or data point needs to be thought of as an experience – be it the time of claiming, or purchase, or query.

While insurance may not be at the top of your mind in the mornings, what Agarwal deems successful is if it’s top-of-the-mind in brand recall. One way Prudential is trying to ensure this happens is by looking to integrate itself into the lives of consumers by being where they are. The train stations are a perfect example of that. Earlier this year, the brand launched an activity-based campaign at Tampines MRT station and City Hall MRT – two locations with immensely high footfall and urged commuters to do 20 full squats in 40 seconds.

Titled the “DO Squats Challenge”, these squats were then assessed by a machine with an inbuilt sensor, and in return for the successful attempt, commuters received a free ride. This was Prudential’s attempt to add to its “We Do” campaign, that aimed to spread healthy movement to encourage people to take charge of their health and wellness. “In a market like Singapore where the geographical distance is small, OOH mediums really work for us as they are easily track-able and pay off. We spend a large part of our media spend on these platforms to engage with commuters,” Agarwal said.

The widely successful campaign made its return recently, only with a small twist – by roping in a buddy system in place where there were now two of these machines. Quoting Maya Angelou, Agarwal added: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. “This focus on creativity and experience by design is also what is now driving the innovative, integrated solutions offered to our partners across all our assets”, said Dawn Low, The X Collective’s managing director and executive vice president managing the advertising OOH and properties businesses.

Recently, the OOH player created an execution in partnership with Jimmy Choo for its fragrance line where it dispensed unmanned new fragrances across the station. The objective was to showcase the new masculine fragrance with the unveiling of Urban Hero. The OOH ad showcase was prominently placed so as to drive footfall to Jimmy Choo’s roadshow at Paragon Atrium. “More time and emphasis is being placed by the XCO team to create customer journey maps that brands can tap on to identify specific moments, and design curated experiences on-thego. The key is to have enduring engagements that break out of the norm and stand out,” Low said.

The marriage of online and offline

For educational brands such as Busy Bee, Alvin Tham, head of marketing, said it was important to resonate both with the child and the parent, and for that, a dedicated in-house customer experience team is necessary. “In the segment we are in, the customer experience is the main differentiation in everything we do. So simply having a digital experience is not enough,” he said. He added that while Busy Bee had been busy with its launch of a chatbot platform for all of its brands, it hadn’t neglected the traditional elements and holistic marketing campaigns across numerous channels. “Our name has to be out there. A lot of our quality leads come from offline platforms as parents need to see your brand and experience your brand before deciding on sending their child to your institutions. For parents, there can be no second best. So they might learn about you online, but offline is where the bulk of the decisions are made,” he said.

Christopher Daguimol, director of brand communications at Zalora, added that while he was also a big proponent of programmatic advertising, when it came to the acquisition of consumers, this had to be coupled with an on-ground experience – be it through OOH or popup retailers. Touch and feel was the second step to this acquisition in helping to build a relationship with the consumer.

For example, for the recent 11.11 campaign, Zalora bought several OOH ad spots targeting malls with the creative stating that you don’t have to just shop at crowded places, you can do it from the comfort of your own homes. “It is a matter of being purposeful in how you use it. It’s not just about conversion alone. If you know your target market will be there and your ad is creative enough to stand out, I don’t see why we shouldn’t put our ads out there,” he said.

A common challenge brand marketers face when it comes to non-digital platforms such as OOH, explained Jeslyn Tan, vice president for Transit business at The X Collective (XCO), is they aren’t sure how to measure engagement with the audience. The first step is to have an idea which is out of the box and actually draws interaction.

“The OOH medium needs to be thought of differently in a creative manner to drive engagement and brand awareness,” she said. “Gone are the days where you need to worry about the cost, accuracy and speed when tracking who is interacting with your activations. With the WINK+ app, marketers are able to measure campaigns quickly after capturing the attention of customers on the platform that they are often glued to – mobile.” She added that OOH has evolved to integrate digital. Now, we want help clients know who is in our network and who they are reaching out to. OOH continues to be relevant and powerful medium for marketers. We are shaping the future of the OOH network to make it more targeted, experimenting with dynamic content, facial recognition and even programmatic OOH,” she said.

Kartik Khare, vice-president of marketing and digital for Asia Pacific at Tupperware, added that if mediums such as OOH or radio, which traditionally have built trust with marketers on spend, could also incorporate programmatic, it would also ease fears around brand safety. “While the conversation on efficiency on OOH will still emerge even with the incorporation of programmatic, it will be bring back a level of trust in brand safety,” he said.

This post is part of Marketing’s bespoke roundtable series and was sponsored by The X Collective (XCO). It was held on 31 October 2019 at Flutes Restaurant Bar.