You can't avoid the fact that advertising in all its forms is part of, and competes with, popular culture. Now more so than ever, thanks to the web enabled, marketing savvy consumer we're dealing with these days (don't you hate the word consumer).
So it makes sense to create campaigns that are relevant to that culture, to real people's lives, not 'the category'. It's not enough to work out where you want to fit in your market, where do you fit in life?
That means cultural relevance as a minimum, but to be honest, cultural significance. Actively setting out to influence culture, get talked about.
Here's some evidence
The IPA Databank has assessed 20 years of Effectiveness Papers and concluded that, not only do campaigns that aim to deliver fame and talkability achieve their business objectives more than any other kind of advertising, with a 72% success rate. They deliver increased penetration AND frequency.
A fame campaign can take different forms, and much of that will depend on the kind of work your agency does.
Develop a brand voice, based on delving into consumer culture and brand culture, do everything from the brand out:
So Lurpak wants to have a conversation with foodies by championing quality ingredients.
This leads to all sorts of stuff, championing proper breakfasts on Saturday, being proud of homemade even if it doesn't look perfect etc.
Nike believes if you have a body, you're an athlete, and wants to create a forum for urban runners to play in.
Then there's the model that cares a little less about a consistent voice and just does what it right for right now, building a loose baggage of feelings and associations. It strives to be more entertaining and populist and overtly focuses on finding out what people are interested in and working back from there. This can be in terms of a playing with a cultural problem or using cultural cues for maximum entertainment and standout. It takes the'fame' argument and pushes it. There's a saying in the beer market, "People drink th advertising". That's kind of the point.
So Oasis has two very different campaigns aimed at young 20 something peoplee, based on the same ideas that it's for 'people who don't like water. Multi-platform storytelling etc. One borrows from japanese manga, one from US teen dramas.
But then the next takes a different tack, from 'entertainment' to pure cultural resonance by championing a decent lunch rather than a limp sandwich at your desk...campaigning on people's behalf.
Crispin Porter's Coke Zero are pure entertainment, built on the truth that it tastes just as good as the real stuff. Taps into cringeworthy, sharp comedy like The Office.
While in the UK Mr Sleep creates fame for Travel Inn by simply being something you find funny, loosely connecting to the obvious truth about hotels, you want a decent nights sleep first and foremost, all else is luxury.
I won't go on.
What I want to say is that you can't escape rigour and best practice. Business objective, correct audience, all that. But when it's always been more commercially effective to create fame and talkability, and it's got harder to do, it makes sense to start with culture and what people are actually interested in and work back from there.
How you then bring that to life will depend on where you work, the clients you have and your own view on how brands work best, but when it gets increasingly difficult to bore people into buying your product, it pays to get very good at delighting.
Agencies can get very self important about their role, but their job isn't to coerce people into buying stuff, it's making them feel great about doing it.
I'll leave you with one of the best examples of this. This ad 'gets' women and the culture around looking great, the joy in feeling beautiful, the confidence and the indefinable sassiness that makes Girls Aloud so brilliant (that the Saturdays don't have making them crap)...the brilliance of sisterhood and the drama of getting ready. All in just under two minutes.