Marketing avenues have grown immensely in recent years, days and even hours with a constant flow of fresh forms of media and innovations, popping up all over the place. Interactive in-store promotions, new retail POS systems allowing space for major innovation, hyper-tags, e-coders, mobile bar-coded vouchers, skype, online magazines, my space, you tube, facebook, viral marketing, pod casting, mobizines and blogging, to name but a few.

Consumers are now taking the driver’s seat in the marketing industry, knowing the power they hold and taking ownership of brands, altering the way we approach consumers in terms of how we connect with them is being revised, as the outdated 4 P’s of marketing just don’t cut it! Sure, for today’s marketing strategies to even see the light of day, you have to know your product, price, place and promotion, but to be quite blunt, these have become hygiene factors in the bringing of your product to life in a differentiated and relevant manner. In order for marketers to now ensure their products are ahead of the pack and their marketing opportunities are properly optimised, you need to play by the revised rules – ‘the 6C’s of marketing’.

Out with the old P’s in with the new C’s

Customers – with consumers taking centre stage marketing strategies are now focused on understanding the consumers as individual people, considering their wants, needs and desires. Crucial here is to differentiate between customers, consumers and shoppers, and in each case knowing the person will shed a great deal of light on how their behaviour can be managed and/or changed.

Consistency – is of utmost importance, ensuring that all elements of the brand are consistent with the message. This will reinforce the brand in the minds of the consumer, known an integrated marketing communications.

Creativity – through imaginative marketing consumer attention can be captured, and in a world tangled with messages and the bombarding media this is imperative. Creativity makes marketing more vivid, which is a good thing as this attracts attention, maintains interest and stimulates consumer’s thinking. Quite simply, creativity informs, persuades and reinforces marketing messages.

Culture – to reach the consumer one must speak their language, this is where the marketing communicator’s ‘cross-culture’ research comes into play. Understanding the consumer’s culture will unlock how the consumer thinks, enabling marketers to persuade the consumer to purchase a product or service effortlessly. It goes without saying that brand activation knows how consumers and shoppers purchase a product and how their selection of the brand can be activated. It is very difficult to make brand activation successful if you do not speak to your target audience in the language and way that they dream in to ‘make the sale’.

Communication – consumers don’t want to be marketed to, but rather communicated with, building long term, profitable relationships. Talk to your target audience in a way that they find themselves wanting to listen to you – this builds brand value. This can be achieved by using the principles of brand activation, which allows brands to get inside consumers heads irrespective of what media channel/medium you use. Engage consumers on an emotional level – a level where their hearts make their heads understand your message.

Change – The only consistent in marketing today is change – be in the position to adapt accordingly. Nothing is worse than a stale marketing strategy. Courage could almost be added here as a 7th C as marketers should never be afraid or too cautious to try something new. Brand activation is the next step in ensuring your brand is abreast of changes, moving where your customers are and in many cases leading and pulling them to the place that they want to be.

By Morne Fourie


Recently in a discussion with some ex-colleagues of mine that I used to work with in the FMCG/Retail industry, I again came to the stark realisation exactly just how fuzzy the definition, and for that matter concept, of Brand Activation really is. At thirtyfour it is our business and we deal with all different aspects of Brand Activation on a daily basis, but out there in the market place, this integral component of marketing is still very much misconceived. So here are my attempts at clearing up the mystery surrounding my favourite marketing topic.

Brand Activation is that sweet spot where advertising and sales meet – the advertising makes the promise and Brand Activation delivers on that promise in a way that brings the spirit of the brand to life, calls the consumer to action and moves the stock out the door.

Brand Activation is not just some feeble disjointed sampling campaign done by a poorly dressed and lifeless promoter whose image couldn’t be further away from the brand’s target market; and it also isn’t a very much out of context Treasure Hunt SMS promotion where you need at least a masters degree and 2 hours of shopping time to figure out the mechanic alone. To qualify as true Brand Activation it is imperative that a sale is made – no matter if the offer was “buy me” or “try me” the consumer or shopper (and yes it could be either and in the context of Brand Activation these are two very different people) has to either buy into the idea of the product or actually buy the physical product – an interactive process with the end result a “sale” either way!

Customers actively choose certain brands above others and the real battle of brands happens in any space anywhere (from the supermarket aisle to the gym and the tea garden and everywhere in-between) where a specific choice is activated and a brand selection is made. Brand Activation effects and affects this selection process by making the brand live in a way that the “buyer” needs it to. The correct combination of buttons are pushed in a way that traditional communication channels like TV, Press, Radio and Outdoor can not.

To me it goes without saying that Brand Activation, or in other words, knowing how consumers and shoppers “buy” your product and how their selection of your brand should/could be activated, must be the starting point for any marketer for every marketing campaign. Getting this is the difference between success and failure, between a mediocre and a super brand, but it is scary how few marketers understand this space, let alone make it the centre of their focus. I mean why would they focus on the important and difficult part if there are fun and creative TV ads to be made wherein we can tell the consumer what to think and do – the alarm bells for these marketers and their brands are ringing, because, at an exponential rate, consumers are coming to grips with the power that they hold and they are taking ownership of “your” brands and if marketers don’t bother to meet them well over halfway in their “buying space”, they will soon not bother to meet you at all.

For those true marketers with a mindset of activating the brands under their curatorship, the spoils of war will be great as Brand Activation and subsequent sales and brand growth, results when all elements of the marketing mix are focused, integrated, creatively conceived, strategically and accurately targeted, fully aligned and perfectly executed – hard work, but definitely worth it!

One of the latest buzz-phrases in the business world is “unlocking the value of your brands” to the benefit of the company as a whole. I have found very few business leaders that know what this means, and even less that have any idea how to do it, but we are all talking the game. My answer is simple – Activate your brand! Unlocking value is actually part of the core of Brand Activation and particularly relevant in the retail and service industries. Once a company has all the necessary brand strategies in place, all that has to be done is to execute them across the entire span of the organisation and in the total offer towards the customer. Sounds like the simple and logical next step . . . In this regard “Great thinking, but pity about the execution” rings true for the majority of companies in South Africa. By focussing on the principals of Brand Activation, business leaders are empowered to systematically look deeper into the opportunities and possibilities inside a brand while your brand advocates (the people formerly known as your employees) start to live your brand by delivering to your customers exactly what they need (and dream of).

The 4 guiding principles in Brand Activation are:

1. Really good Brand Activation is built on smart insights, a sound strategic platform and creative focus that wins the attention of your customers. This way your customers are engaged by your brand and great levels of customer involvement in the experience that you create is achieved. The pull from your customers could even become stronger than the push from your side – what a great result!
2. Brand Activation brings the spirit of the brand to life in a differentiated and distinctive way. (Achievable only through the perfect marriage of brand and trade marketing initiatives.)
3. Brand Activation delivers ideas that genuinely motivate consumers to act now (and if cleverly thought through and executed it offers the opportunity to build a one-on-one relationship with your brand).
4. Brand Activation is measurable and delivers. (It is very easy to determine in which 50% of advertising Brand Activation falls – it is most definitely part of the 50% that works). As
Brand Activation is not channel specific it is imperative to keep an open mind and consider every option and then select the most appropriate channels and media formats to achieve your objectives.

So, Brand Activation enables the synergy of genuine 360 degree/through the line communication by making brands active in their own markets and categories whilst building their reputation along with their results. The balance created in the business between the daily ringing of the tills (positive effect on the bottom line) and the strategic and systematic building of the brand in the medium to long term (adding value on the balance sheet) is in my mind the truest form of marketing that there is.

By Morne Fourie

So Gentle Reader, on Monday we (Myself, Nick Morrison our AM, and Morné Fourie our head of retail) flew up to JHB for a wee shoot of the Springboks. What an amazing bunch of guys, so easy going and relaxed (some models could take some hints – not a prima donna amongst them). They did whatever we asked, signed t-shirts, took a hundred and one pics with staff, friends, agency, kids etc.

Anywho, you’ll soon be seeing their stern mugs and mind-bogglingly huge arms on a campaign we’re working on for a little brand you may have heard of before: Castle Lager. We’re doing a great little promotion for them with the boys in Green and Gold. Watch this space for more details as they unfold. We’re all pretty excited about it, and I wish I could tell you more… But below are some lovely behind the scenes piccies…

In other news we have a new creative starting 1 july… more details on that later too…


thirtyfour is a brand activation agency where creativity counts - not just for creativity’s sake, but strategic, channel-neutral solutions that creates demand in the minds of consumers and ultimately deliver genuine results. It promises liberated thinking in retail, experiential, direct, digital and sports marketing to get out of the rut of traditional advertising campaigns.
April 2018
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