What Really Makes A Campaign Successful?

What makes a campaign successful? It is really difficult to say. Every single campaign is different, and is effective in its own way. Companies and brands strive to make an impact with their campaign by triggering emotion and aim to receive interaction from the public to help continue to spread the word.

There are so many steps to take when creating an advert or campaign, but the bottom line is the creativity. After researching the definition of ‘to create’, Robert Smith revealed in his article Toward a General Theory of Creativity in Advertising: Examining the Role of Divergence , that first, there must be something new, imaginative, different or unique (generally referred to as divergence), and second, the divergent thing produced must solve a problem or have some type of relevance.

Defined by Ronald Smith in his book Strategic Planning for Public Relations , divergence means that a campaign/advert must contain elements that are novel, different or unusual in some way that makes it different from any other campaign anyone has been before. However, it must be relevant within the current market and be meaningful, appropriate and valuable to the audience, as otherwise it will have no relevance and will not be as effective.

When it comes to creating a campaign/advert, there are strategies and tactics that will help develop an idea to become a reality. In the book Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns Anne Gregory says that strategy is the overall approach that is taken, and is the coordinating theme or factor, the big idea and the rationale behind the tactics. Erica Austin also adds to this in her book Strategic Public Relations Management: Planning and Managing Effective Communication Campaigns by saying that the social environment increases in competitiveness, it is so important for public relations managers to understand how PR planning, research and program-evaluation practices can help their campaigns become successful

I find campaigning and advertisement an extremely interesting topic within public relations. Each business has a different approach and idea of what would raise the profile of them the best. I also think it is interesting how opinions differ on what has the most impact on them in a campaign and which campaigns stand out to them that they have seen.

Carl Botan said in his book Public Relations Theory II that in the world of public relations, the strategy and tactics are extremely important concepts and are originally developed in military sciences. Anne Gregory also added to this in the book previously mentioned that storytelling, messages and tactics are an essential part of forming awareness and attitude towards a campaign. When a clear message is portrayed within a campaign, people are more likely to interact with it (for example, by posting on social media using the hashtag). This would then show the business that their campaign message has been received, and the interaction demonstrates how effective the communication of the campaign was. I did, however, find out through my research that 91% of people wouldn’t be likely to engage on twitter with a campaign and this was because most of them did not have a twitter account. Hashtags can be used on other social media sites though, so people did say that they would interact more on the channels they had accounts on.


(ITV’s #BritainGetTalking campaign on Facebook using the hashtag. A video about getting Britain communicating and staying in touch, with members of the public involved by sending in their own videos)

Ronald Smith continued in his book I mentioned earlier, that tactics are the more visible elements of a public relations plan. They include considering communication opportunities that involve speech and special effects, and then also thinking about organisational media such as newsletters, websites and social media entries. As technology advances, the range of communication tactics continues to grow.

Social media was ranked the most effective platform for a campaign/advert according to the answers in my questionnaire. They also said that social media was the platform that was most likely to encourage them to interact with the campaign. I think this is because it is so interesting to see everyone’s responses and get involved on social media with it being so popular, and it is the biggest platform where campaigns can be thrusted into the limelight for a huge population, rather than a more niche target audience. With this though, there does come the challenge of being relatable to all ages, and all different types of people.

In my research, lots of people emphasised the importance of a campaign being family friendly, so it can be discussed about amongst family and friends. I also asked in my questionnaire if people could name their favourite campaign that has the most effect on them. A lot of the responses were the most recent John Lewis advert which was the #ExcitableEdgar campaign. I was expecting this to be a popular one because ever since their first Christmas campaign, everyone always watches out for it every year as we approach the festive period. It has become more of a tradition that everyone waits for the John Lewis advert to come on, and that’s when you know it is Christmas time. There were other campaigns mentioned such as the Sainsbury’s Christmas advert of 2014, the Speak Out campaign on ITV and the Thank You Midwives campaign by Pampers.


 (The teddy version of #ExcitableEdgar that John Lewis developed and sold at Christmas)

I think these were the most memorable campaigns to people who had taken part in my research because they all had emotional stories that are either within the campaign, or were emotional because they could be related and connected to. This is supported by my research where I found that 65% of people are effected by a campaign the most when a story is involved or a personal story can be related to the campaign. I further found that emotional stories were ranked the most effective. When emotions are triggered, or people can relate, the campaign impacts them on a personal level and they are then more likely to interact, or spread the word of the campaign through friends and family, and this is how a campaign becomes more successful.

To get deeper into finding out what people really think makes a successful campaign, I asked what campaigns effected people the most and why they think it was a successful campaign. Here are the answers: <EMBEDVIDEOABOUTHERE>

With 78% of people saying that an effective campaign helps them to remember a brand or product, I think we have found our recipe for a successful campaign. A little bit of creativity being different but relevant; a strong message; an emotional story and a hashtag to encourage interaction on all social media platforms. And there you have it! The perfect campaign! I wonder what campaigns will be most successful in the future.

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