As we enter the New Year, marketers and non-marketers begin to look back on all we’ve accomplished last year. As advertisers, nostalgia has us reminiscing about the latest of late nights, the incredible feats we accomplished, and the campaigns that made it big along with those that didn’t. For most planners we might put together a deck on what consumer culture was and how it has changed. But as planners working in CPG, one of our favorite things to also look back at is all of the random creative ideas picked up about the products we launched, and how they might plague the people around us for years to come.
Life in CPG marketing is like a master’s level education on everything from toothpaste to laundry detergent. With clients’ innovation teams coming through every couple of months with breakthroughs and better research, it’s our job as planners to help find the most relevant place in the market to have a campaign shine … and learn everything there is to know about a product in-between. And while it’s a privilege we don’t take for granted, it is most hilarious when the campaigns we've been creating and attempting to apply to consumer culture begin to pop up in everyday conversation.
The holidays are the pressure cooker to what I like to call “moments of CPG” — where as families ready meals to mark the occasion, we CPG planners inevitably present campaign ideas on a holiday platter. Did someone splash oil all over their shirt? There’s a new product in-market with enzyme and whitening in a single chamber! Loading the dishwasher? Running the hot water before the load will help release the dirt off the plates! By the end of an evening, we have not only found situations for a number of our clients’ products (and perhaps helped sell a few more SKUs), but we have litmus tested every product benefit we know of, in the hopes of finding deeper and more meaningful insights. It’s like we’re handing out Christmas crackers of random product information, pulled apart by holiday situations, and planners are trying to gauge the reaction once the thing’s gone off.
One might guess that because planners look for insights, that “moments of CPG” might just be what happens when planners can’t turn things off. But we all know that planners aren’t the only kind of marketers who turn families into focus groups, and that it’s not just around the holidays that we do these things. The truth is, everybody in advertising brings their work into their life, and their life into their work. Because that’s where the most creative campaigns are born: from an advertiser’s personal interpretation of a human truth, turned into a campaign for the masses. It’s a surreal feeling when you can look back and see how much of yourself has made it into your work. It’s almost as if you will inevitably end up playing a part in the ads that you help create.
This year, I’m offering up a New Year’s resolution for all CPG marketers: let’s find a way to keep ourselves at the heart of the insights we dig up, but not become so much of the testing grounds for our campaigns. Let’s be less eager to produce ads, and more focused on discovering true meaning in insights. Let’s be in the moment and conscious of things as they happen, but only test the campaign part of the equation once we’re at the office. Because while we might love making ads for a living, we don’t need to always be living the ads we make.