Brand Perfect Tour – Notes on ‘Successful Strategies for Digital Media’ talk

My notes on the talk given by Neil Christie, MD of Wieden + Kennedy at Creative Review’s ‘Brand Perfect Tour’ conference. The talk describes how successful brand communication is no longer about consistency but ‘coherence’ and the most successful campaigns are flexible, device neutral ideas that tap into emerging behavioural trends and encourage people to get involved.

Brand communication has changed – instead of being logical, targeted and having a single message it’s now about complexity, irony, humour, subtlety etc. This can be likened to a pinball machine.

It is important for agencies to understand how technology is changing behaviour.


Cravendale Cats with Thumbs – First a news story hit the news / tabloids about a cat giving a ‘thumbs up’ on Youtube. Cravendale then launch a TV-ad based on the premise that cats like milk and what would happen if they had thumbs and tried to get Cravendale milk.  They created a character – Bertrum Thumbcat – who became active on Twitter, Youtube and Facebook. He responded to questions with videos showing how thumb cats were going to get the Cravendale milk and sent gifts to other cats. The campaign led to an 8% increase in sales, was a trending topic on Twitter and the most viewed video on Youtube when it launched.

Beyonce – her dance has been parodied by fans on Youtube and inspired a ‘get fit’ campaign in schools who were encouraged to create their own dances. Beyonce made a surprise appearance at one school and the video went viral. There are blurred boundaries between the physical and online worlds.

Coca Cola summer camp – teenagers were given wristbands containing RFID tags that they could swipe to ‘like’ things that they did directly to Facebook. This has translated an online behaviour into the real world.

Nike ‘write the future’ campaign – fans of Nike Football on Facebook could see a 3minute football film. It was also released on X-box live and Youtube. They also launched ‘The Chance’ where young people could use their Facebook profiles to showcase their football skills to Nike scouts. Orders went up 7% globally and there was a 336% increase in Nike Football Facebook fans.

You can’t control brand consistency any more:
– Nestle suffered a backlash when they tried to stop people changing their logo on Facebook
– Ryan Giggs trying to silence people on Twitter

Brand communications is now about ‘coherent inconsistency’. Create a set of guiding questions that give flexibility to create brand assets for any platform without needing extensive brand guidelines that cover every eventuality.

Old Spice – ‘the man your man could smell like’ campaign
By giving up control over consistency, the campaign was created then widely parodied on Youtube and by other brands. The brand videos had combined views of 40 million after a week, Twitter followers went up 2700% and traffic to the website went up 300%. They became the number one in the market and doubled sales.

This illustrates a cultural shift – get people involved for success.


  • Brand communications are now complex and chaotic
  • Look to young people for emerging behaviours
  • Blur online with the physical world
  • Create conversations
  • Explore ‘coherent consistency’

Consider the idea of ‘move me’. If you wouldn’t be moved by it, it won’t work.

Think about a big idea or lots of little ideas that move beyond the execution and can be adapted to any device.


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