We've all participated in the annual rite of passage that is brand planning sessions for the upcoming year. You know the drill -- cross-functional agencies and brand managers sitting together in a room with one big calendar.
The goal is simple: to identify and allocate the brand's "weight" across the year in a way that will effectively drive business and meets objectives.
To no surprise, a large portion of the marketing budget is allotted to key sales periods such as holidays, product launches and other relevant moments per the brand's affiliations (e.g., NBA All-Star, VMAs). From there, the focus shifts to the mid-to-late summer period, at which point it is quickly dismissed with the standard "nothing to see here, let’s move onto September.” Yep, mid-July through the end of August has historically been the "no fly zone" for brands. And for good reason: reruns on TV, family vacations, summer camps and general "unplugging" from the usual routine.
Brands hoping to rally behind a key sports moment don’t have much to leverage. Sure, there are a couple of PGA Grand Slams along with looming NFL fantasy drafts in late August, but they don't call this period the "dog days" for nothing. With the combination of the 24-hour news cycle and social media exaggerating this lull, any dry spell naturally feels prolonged. Recognizing this, the sports media try their best to light some fires so trivial matters become small stories, and small stories become big (and annoyingly persistent) in many cases.
Progressive brands are starting to come to terms with the fact that they need to throw out conventional wisdoms (and planning calendars) and devise new ways to reach their audience during the dog days.
Over the past month we saw Brand Jordan launch "Blake and Drain," an efficiently executed micro-campaign. It introduced Blake Griffin as a new member of the brand and felt much bigger than it actually was. Why? Put simply, great creative -- simple digital and event extensions alongside a brief TV flight and social media. Plus, there was little out there to compete with.
Not every brand can dedicate those kinds of resources to keeping the conversation going, but every brand can look for opportunities during the dog days of August. So, here are a couple of other ways to manufacture buzz by leveraging partnerships and marketing assets:
So, the next time you are in a room mapping out 12 months of activation, remember that the historical “no fly zones” are just that -- history. You have the tools at your disposal to transform those dead periods into windows of opportunity.