The battle between the salience crusaders and big data disciples

Michael Lee, Chief Strategy Officer at VCCP reviews the latest instalment of Binet and Field's IPA Databank research, with contributions from Ben de Castella, Group Planning Director at VCCP.

Effectiveness in Context - Reviewed by Michael Lee

It sometimes feels like the marketing world is spawning its own rather idiosyncratic version of the culture wars.  

Instead of “Somewheres” Vs. “Nowheres”, ours is a battle between the salience crusaders and big data disciples. A binary world where nuance and context all too often get sacrificed in the desire to prove our tribe was right all along.

Binet and Field have long taken a more balanced view of things. While they’ve historically made compelling cases for the value of brand building, they’ve also reinforced the importance of activity that keeps the tills ringing in the short term. Much of their research to date has focused on when and how each should be used together to best effect – an approach key to the success of brands like our own clients easyJet (featured in the latest report).

However, I’m surely not alone in confessing that there have been multiple debates over the years with clients, where I’ve reached for the iconic 60:40 recommendation on brand vs tactical, only to be rebuffed by the standard, “Yes but does it really apply to my business/my category?”

Effectiveness in Context goes a long way to answering this. The latest report addresses the nuances of different categories and business models – with a higher level of fresh revelation and pointy recommendation than I’d been anticipating.

We learn why rational, high research categories are often those most in need of an injection of emotion. That selling online doesn’t necessarily mean you should focus your marketing spend there. And that product innovation has the potential to become a powerful driver of brand growth - but not in all circumstances.

Binet and Field also share important new findings on how effectiveness principles vary according to brand size, category maturity and price positioning. 

Finally, to address some talk that Binet and Field’s work is based only on cases deemed worthy of entry into the IPA Effectiveness Awards - i.e. not a representative sample of all brands in a given category. It’s worth reminding yourself that the aim of the Binet and Field reports is to identify the most effective approach in marketing not just mediocre ones! So by comparing the most effective case studies (i.e. the winners as chosen by the IPA jurors) to relatively less effective approaches (i.e. the entrants who don’t make it through that cut) they can arrive at the lessons that we all want to learn.

Binet and Field then analyse the trends from Awards cases over multiple cycles to draw out the changes and longer-term patterns in what makes for the most effective marketing. Arguably, it would be hard to see how you could get a better primary source for this approach than the Effectiveness Awards.

Effectiveness in Context is therefore a worthy and timely addition to the Binet and Field canon, with a fresh array of case studies and recommendations that are both highly practical in application, and enlightening in revelation.