We hear so many people talking about launching a “provocative marketing & PR campaign”, but what does that really mean? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just about sex, It’s not just about raising eyebrows, and it definitely does not mean being blatantly offensive. The key is to make your audience sit up and take notice and invest in your brand emotionally. A provocative marketing and PR campaign means you are generating creative and thought-provoking content.
Here’s how to create a provocative marketing & PR strategy:
Assess your brand strategy
The first thing you need to do is make sure a provocative marketing & PR campaign fits within your brand. This isn’t to say that not everyone can include provocative content strategies, however, you need to make sure you aren’t confusing your audience by stepping too far off your core brand message.
Know what makes your audience tick.
Rather than focusing purely on demographics, go beyond age and gender to focus on pyschographics. Find out what the core values are of your target audience. Once you know how they think and what’s behind some of their decision-making, you will be able to better tap into this through provocative messaging that is relevant.
Tap into audience emotion
To create a lasting impression, you need to provoke emotion. How do you want to make your audience feel? Remember to always be tactful and careful with audience emotion, because you don’t want to do more harm than good to your brand reputation.
Select your channels
Obviously, using digital channels will allow your campaign to spread wider and faster, but is there any way for you to build in some guerrilla or experiential tactics that will enrich the content?
Keep it simple
Even prankvertising and the most provocative content campaigns can seem like they are extremely elaborate, but if you break it down and look past the bells and whistles, the idea and the message behind the content is always simple and direct. It is the reaction that makes it seem larger than life.
Be willing to push the limits
There are a number of different ways to push the limits, but remember to not just be provocative for the sake of being provocative. Be provocative with a purpose. One way is to take a stance on a controversial topic and become a change artist. Ensure that it aligns with your brand values and run with it. Push the limits, but you also need to know when it is too much.
Be prepared to accept the consequences
Once you put out provocative messaging, be prepared with answers and messaging. Prepare for both positive and negative feedback. You may alienate some people, but you will also gain a loyal base of followers who share your viewpoint.
What is considered provocative today is very different from what was provocative ten years ago, however the formula will always be the same. Three examples of campaigns that have done it right recently are:
- When the remake of the film Carrie was about to launch in 2013, part of their campaign was to set up an elaborate prank at a NYC coffee shop (I still find this entertaining), which they filmed. The video spread through social media channels like wild fire. They tapped into shock, fear and curiosity of the people in the coffee shop, and those of us watching the video experienced the amusement of seeing the reactions. [youtube=http://youtu.be/VlOxlSOr3_M]
- Chipotle’s “The Scarecrow” is a perfect example of a brand who is taking a huge risk by making a commentary on the fast food industry. This short animated film taps into audience emotion because it makes a statement, but also because the audience can feel connected to Scarecrow’s journey. Using a version of “Pure Imagination”, which many people know from childhood, completes the beautiful artistry of the piece. It elicited both positive and negative feedback. [youtube=http://youtu.be/lUtnas5ScSE]
- Cause marketing has always tapped into emotion, but the most recent video by Greenpeace that highlights the negative aspects of LEGO’s partnership with Shell deserves special mention. It is haunting and simple, but it delivers such a powerful message. [youtube=http://youtu.be/qhbliUq0_r4]
Don’t be afraid to start small and build up to whatever your goals are, but BE BOLD. BE CONFIDENT. BE PROVOCATIVE.