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How a creative campaign can change everything

Comedy isn’t a common thing to leverage in B2B marketing, but Adecco’s recent ‘Right Talent, Right Place’ campaign shows that when used well, it can lead to incredible results. We spoke to CMO David Malkinson and Head of Customer Marketing Gareth Saunders about the rationale behind the campaign.

Q. Can you tell me about the decision-making process behind the ‘Right Talent, Right Place’ campaign?

Gareth Saunders: A while ago, we looked at the Adecco brand and decided that we needed to kick-start it again from a digital marketing perspective. We settled on creating some form of video content — but then we asked ourselves, why would anybody watch it? I’ve seen other B2B brands create videos that are all about them: who they are, what they do, why they are the best. I only looked at them for research — I thought, if I was a consumer, why would I even watch this?

What we also had to consider was that the primary channel for sharing the video was going to be social media. Social channels are now completely oversaturated with content, so cutting through that noise would require something quite unique.

That’s when we decided we’d do something funny, and the idea for ‘Right Talent. Right Place’ came about. It’s a much more disruptive campaign than what we’ve done in the past with Adecco — but we wanted it to be a bit of a shock, especially as we are kick-starting the brand.

Even though we are a big brand, I think our marketing had lost a bit of vitality over the last four or five years and the rest of the world has kind of moved on and changed. So, we decided to take the plunge with something funny, despite the risk.

Q. Was the risk something you considered before launch?

Gareth Saunders: It was certainly something that we considered — the video shows our customers reading out some of the ‘worst’ things they’ve read on a CV, and while it is all done in good humour, there is always a risk that someone might not see the funny side of it.

However, I think if you put any marketing campaigns out there, there’s a risk associated to it. As soon as you put your head above the parapet, you’re going to get shot at. So, from our perspective, if there’s no risk, there’s no reward and we knew that going into it.

I think if people see the video and it gives them a laugh, they are more likely to remember our name than if they see something more generic. Having that opportunity is worth the risk.

Q. What results have you seen from the campaign so far?

Gareth Saunders: We’ve had around 2.6 million views on the video so far across our social channels. We are delighted with the results so far, but this video is just the beginning. We have a lot more planned for this campaign over the next few months.

Q. Where does this campaign sit in the wider marketing strategy for Adecco?

David Malkinson: The title of the campaign is Right Talent, Right Place and that can have a lot of connotations in our marketing messaging. We wanted to do something that had longevity over a year, so we’ve used that strapline to tie the various activations together. The next phase of the campaign is being launched next year, and it’s going to be humorous again.

As for how this campaign sits in the wider strategy, it is driving brand awareness through to interest and is reaching not just B2B but our candidate audience too. It’s a saturated market and you don’t get much of a chance for people to remember much about you. Therefore, for us this campaign is a way of reinvigorating the Adecco brand in the market and reminding everyone why we’re such a great brand.

Q. Did you encounter any difficulties getting such a long-term, brand awareness focused campaign signed off internally?

David Malkinson: We do get a lot of push to deliver short-term results, as like most businesses, we operate on wanting relatively quick returns on any investments.

So, for us, it’s a challenge internally to get buy-in for driving brand awareness as well as driving demand. We have generated impressive demand directly from the campaign so far, but to me, that isn’t the right way of measuring the results. I think we won’t see the true results, in a demand generation sense, until around 12 – 18 months from now when the campaign really starts to roll.

But since the campaign launched, we’ve been working closer than ever with sales. And that sales and marketing alignment is so important.

Gareth Saunders: A lot of the time B2B campaigns should be measured in months and years, not weeks and days. It’s totally different to B2C — my background is in FMCG and you could really see the difference marketing made day-to-day with those products. But that’s because they are such quick, transactional products.

In B2B, transactions could take weeks, it could take months and even years to complete. The campaign objective was always to establish brand awareness, and for me that should always be on. So, even though we have seen some instant results, this campaign can’t really be measured like that.

We will see the true impact in the medium to long-term and once you get that momentum, then technically the results can be quantified in weeks instead of months as you’re just maintaining the awareness instead of starting from scratch.

Q. How did you manage to bridge that sales and marketing divide and align the two teams?

David Malkinson: Traditionally, marketing was seen as a sales enablement department which was more of a support function. We worked on the collateral that helped sales go out and meet clients. But now, we’re in a position where we’re more strategic advisers to the business.

We’ve also got contracts in place with sales around how we deal with marketing qualified leads. It’s challenging in a complex business like ours, but the important thing is that we agree from both sides on what to do.

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