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Hegarty On Social: why we need to zag

by Sophie Kay on 01 February 2013

In the 1000heads London office, we have an ever-growing library of books intended to inspire, disrupt and challenge our work – everything from neuroscience to comics to postcard design. On a recent browse, I spotted John Hegarty’s advertising classic, ‘Hegarty On Advertising: Turning Intelligence into Magic’, a weighty tome where he explains how he ended up being the ‘H’ in BBH, one of the world’s most successful creative agencies. Embarrassed that I’d never read it, I slipped it from the shelf.

Reading Hegarty has reminded me how much the ‘new’ discipline of social media marketing has to learn from the old masters. Take BBH’s first piece of print advertising for Levi Strauss, the agency’s second client, when they launched their new black jeans into the UK market.

Despite not featuring the product, this poster embodied the brand’s personality, and the campaign’s success led to the black sheep becoming BBH’s agency logo and philosophy.But it was the sentiment behind the ad, rather than the poster itself, that really captured my attention – ‘When the world zigs, zag’.

We’re working in an industry where extraordinary creativity is needed to cut through the social noise and get people talking and listening afresh. We have a responsibility to our clients to zag, and to prove that zag drives business results. Something I’ve heard more than once is the view that clients should take more risks, but that’s a little disingenuous. It’s up to us as creative strategists to convince our clients through intelligent insights that these risks are worth taking.

Of the four 1000heads brand values, the one that I believe to be most important is ‘Be Bold and Be Brave – take risks; don’t fear failure but learn from mistakes’. With that in mind, here are my top 3 social media campaigns that have zagged:

1)     Oreo’s ‘Daily Twist’ Facebook campaign – this included the rainbow-coloured Oreo in support of Gay Pride 2012 which gained a lot of attention but also put Oreo out there as a brand who weren’t afraid to shout about their integrity and take risks.

2)     Smart Car Argentina’s use of Twitter to create the first ‘animated’ advert on the platform – this is a really nice example of someone thinking outside of the box to innovate a widely-adopted platform.

3)     Nokia’s partnership with The Dark Knight Rises included building a Facebook app that allowed people to explore Gotham in 3D within Nokia Maps to win exclusive prizes – and the innovative use of an existing technology to capture a new audience is definitely zagging.

So, in honour of John Hegarty, what are your favourite examples of social media zag?

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