Tag Archives: crime

Can crime be inspirational in marketing?

We work with service brands to help them build better propositions for their customers. Part of the what we do involves ideation type activities to find more engaging ways for brands to resonate with customers.

Using creative activities, the sessions are structured so that clients arrive at new and unordinary outcomes. One of my favourite parts of the job is to hear the exciting ideas generated during these sessions. To  achieve this we spend time at Lexden honing the creative activities we use in the workshops to achieve results.

So when I come across examples of propositions in market which are different to the norm I will take a step back and consider how their process might have worked to allow them to get to somewhere new.

One area I always feel must be challenging to arrive at ‘out of the box’ solutions is crime prevention, given the seriousness and the public scrutiny of the subject matter. But as these examples show, it is possible to arrive at some very unexpected solutions.

Fashion defence

Japanese designer,  Aya Tsukioka created a dress which doubles as a Coca Cola vending machine should the owner feel threatened and want to blend into the background.

Bonkers, perhaps. But I believe it’s an idea which has only been conceived because of the type of contributors involved. When running ideation sessions it’s important to make sure the invitation list is wide reaching and includes those you wouldn’t normally turn to for solutions but have insight into the subject in hand.  

In financial services I find people from risk are very good at idea generation if given encouragement. Give these renegade types (the non-marketers) the tools and permission to run off in unordinary directions and they will often surprise you with the territories and solutions they get to.

Miss Tsukioka said: ‘It is just easier for Japanese women to hide. Making a scene would be too embarrassing.’ She added: ‘These ideas might strike foreigners as far fetched, but in Japan, they can become reality.’

From DC to Brazil

Andre Luiz Pinheiro, a retired police officer, has been drafted in by the police to the Brazilian city of Taubate. In a city where the murder rate is 12 times that of London they have turned to fiction to change the crime facts.

Andre is Batman. Batman is Andre. And he is inspiring children to consider an alternative life than crime, “I am fighting crime in a preventative way by helping these children to avoid becoming criminals.”

It’s a long term strategy which has the full support of the police. They were looking for symbols of good that they could leverage and help inspire children.

Batman fits ‘the bill’.

Imagine how that would have sounded when it first came up in the ideation session! To let these ideas live a little, it’s important to forget the world in which you inhabit sometimes and think about your audiences world in order to see what the outcome might look like – as they would have done here. Is it working? Time will tell.

Crime can backfire as a creative territory

But as this Sony example shows, using crime as an entry point for something as escapist as entertainment is more challenging to pull off.

When Sony launched The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on DVD they decided to style the DVD to look like a pirate copy.

I have seen the Swedish original and assume the piracy theme is meant to link more to the crime genre rather than the film itself. But either way it was intended to make the film stand out.

And it did, but not in the way intended. Those renting the DVD thought the shoddy looking production was really a pirate copy and not a gimmick. So rather than enjoy the film, thousands returned it to their DVD rental store for a genuine replacement. Only to find out it was genuine. Do you think that enhanced their enjoyment of the film? I assume not.

It also highlights how some territories don’t work so well when creating ideas for products or campaigns. Whilst an interesting idea, if the agency had run a ‘de-risk’ activity after the idea was conceived they would have spotted this potential flaw, looked into it further and canned the idea. The de-risk activity is an important post-idea generation exercise often overlooked. 

So there is much to learn from crime when it comes to idea generation. I hope these examples inspire you to push your ideation sessions a little further.

My point is this; as long as you start with a customer’s motivations and end with customer betterment, by leveraging a brand’s advantage and validating the viability of any solution, then what you do inbetween needs to break the rules in order to be authentic and stand-out.

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which achieves cut-through propositions for our clients. To do this we look beyond the familar towards the unordinary. To find out more about what we do and if that might be of interest to you please visit our website lexdengroup.com

Or contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123. 

Unordinary Thinking No.15 – Using death to create life and other stories, by SJ Watson

Being a law abiding citizen, I had never really thought that I could be inspired by crime, but that’s what happened last week.

I was lucky enough to be at an inspirational evening with SJ Watson last week including a reading from his best-selling crime novel, ‘Before I go to sleep’. As many will know this is his debut novel, in fact the fastest selling crime book ever from a new author. And before it even hit the number one spot in the Times crime novel list, Ridley Scott had snapped up the film rights. Which for an author who still holds a part time (although not drawing a salary) post with the NHS his story seems more like fiction.

During the evening he revealed how this overnight success actually took many months of writing and editing and a few years before that believing and growing in confidence as a writer. Which owed as much to the creativity in his process as anything else.

As the evening unfolded I was looking to pick up tips to help stimulate my own future writing ambitions but, in truth, I was finding I was also picking up a number of creative thinking suggestions to improve my present occupation as a strategic marketer.

Through his explanation of the creative writing process I found there were some interesting parallels between his world and my own. We both look to create a plan to achieve a goal and are heavily reliant on smart interpretation of research to create structure and need to inject this with creativity to achieve compelling output. Whilst I’m not convinced a strategic marketing plan would ever make the Richard & Judy Book Club, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be a boardroom page turner.

I believe great marketing strategy is achieved when you focus on where you take ideas to, not where you take them from. So with that in mind, indulge me and I’ll illustrate two of the many things from the world of crime writing which you can apply to the strategic marketing day job:

#1 A crime novelist researches characters; a strategic marketer looks deeply at customer insight

In order to breathe life into characters and develop their profile, SJ Watson looks for neatly packaged articulations of a life. And he finds these in obituaries, where a person’s entire life is summarised. Their stand out moments, achievements and defining characteristics are captured in a few short paragraphs. Very quickly you recognise and establish a portrait in your mind. Take this back into customer insight activities to frame segments and you will find it a very smart, and quite dramatic way to bring a segment to life. Try it, it works.

#2 A crime novelist builds his story around ‘magnetic ideas’; a strategic marketer develops ‘propositions’

SJ Watson also spoke about the strength of an idea as a magnet. It can be measured by the amount of related elements that can be drawn and attached to it. Which, in turn, strengthens it. Look at strategic marketing and we seek to build propositions which achieve the same magnetism by being able to incorporate the assets of a brand, resonate with the emotional needs of customers and optimise the capabilities of a business.

However, perhaps marketers try too hard to tick all the boxes of the proposition build checklist or an A3 mind-map template.  If, instead, we think about it within the laws of magnetism, it allows the mind to reach out to a wider selection of ‘attractive’ elements. And, when visualised, these elements will be pulled towards the central thought. You’ll find that your mind will repel the less attractive but those elements it allows to attach will make the central idea even more powerful.

Both are unordinary approaches to arrive at better outcomes for conventional challenges. That evening made a big impression on me. I caught up with the author afterwards and he acknowledged the importance of looking beyond the obvious places to find something extraordinary. The fruits of his method are in abundance in his novel. Do read it, it’s wonderfully original and executed in a captivating fashion.

Overall it reminded me of the extra energy and different perspective you can gain when you look at the challenge from an alternative starting point, or even apply a different logic and approach.  And, by doing this, you get to interesting outcomes you may never have considered.  Who says crime doesn’t pay?

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris and @consultingajai.