by Juny Lee
April 19th, 2018

Juny Lee, Executive Vice President of Weber Shandwick Korea, outlines how Agile Strategy has become essential to digital communications in one of the world’s most technologically advanced markets.

As media and communication technologies continue to advance at a rapid rate, we find ourselves inundated by commercial messages. Unsurprisingly, consumers become insensitive to all but the most powerful stimuli – making it progressively more difficult for enterprises to correctly identify customer needs.

With consumers’ needs and expectations becoming more sophisticated (across all areas of the product/communications cycle), it is no exaggeration to say that the age in which a uniform approach to marketing was acceptable has effectively come to an end. Brands and organisations, feeling a greater sense of crisis and uncertainty, are striving to break away from the convention method – i.e. plan→execution→result→report→re-plan.

One of the key concepts at the centre of our practice is ‘Agile Strategy’.

Execution-Oriented Agility

Agile Strategy was designed to help traditional companies evolve into agile, execution-oriented organisations. Its goal is to encourage teams to innovate faster than competitors by executing, failing fast, learning what to fix and how, and redoing – rather than being constantly apprehensive due to fear of failure.

An Agile team has the authority to make independent decisions, allowing management to concentrate on larger strategies and employees to work autonomously. As customer feedback can be reflected on an ongoing basis, the possibility of failure decreases over time.

An agile strategy can lead to increased effectiveness. Traditionally, the success rate of software development projects is approximately 11%. But, if an agile strategy is adopted? The success rate increases to a whopping 39%.

Originally, the concept of agile methodology was started by a handful of developers in 2012. Software developers were highly dissatisfied with the traditional ‘waterfall’ method as the development period was too time-consuming, and it required management’s prior planning and approval. They gathered together in Utah, USA to develop and deliver ‘The Agile Manifesto’ – an entirely new development principle.

If consumers do not respond positively (even if you put forth huge investments and did your best), an IT development project may fail. So, Agile tries to minimise the cost of failure by making the software development process respond sensitively to changes in consumer desires.

But, what if Agile’s ideas of nimble, deft and swift processes were combined with digital marketing? Referring to the opinion of Jim Ewel, expert behind the Agile Marketing blog, agile marketing literally means an approach that is inspired by the Agile development methodology, and reflects and realises its value.

It can be compared to conventional marketing as follows:

* Quickly responding to new changes rather than sticking to a fixed plan
* Continuously and quickly repeating small campaigns rather than investing in large-scale campaigns
* Testing and making corrections based on failures/successes rather than following certain opinions and customs
* Conducting many small experiments rather than making big bets on a few items
* Interacting with numerous individuals rather than a big target market
* Free collaboration beyond traditional departments and hierarchies

The Agile methodology is instrumental as a standard in quickly responding to and handling changes in priorities in marketing activities, changes in customers’ requirements and changes in developed technologies.

For this reason, as a methodology well-suited for managing marketing departments, projects and campaigns, Agile has been adopted as a core component of communications strategy by  a number of global brands.

Agile In Action – Tide

A representative case of Agile Strategy in digital marketing is P&G’s Tide detergent advertisement. During the 2012 Daytona 500, a race car ran into a fuel tank, and a fire broke out. The heat of the burning fuel began to seriously damage the surface of the asphalt.

The safety crew poured a huge amount of Tide on the road to help extinguish the fire. NASCAR fans, watching the efforts of the safety crew, expressed their thanks on social media.

The P&G social media team, which was monitoring brand-related conversations at the digital operation center, decided to use the increasing conversations of the fans as an opportunity for agile marketing. They uploaded images of the safety crew using Tide to clean away the chemical residue and the related copy to their key social accounts.

They targeted marketing efforts to Tide fans and their friends in each social media channel – sending premium ads to amplify interest in the brand. The explosive interest in related postings resulted in engagement that was 62% higher than previous ads. The campaign more than doubled the general reach.

Their use of Agile Strategy allowed them to leverage the zeitgeist to publicise the excellence of the product.

Agile In Action – Oreo

The second case pertains to the wit shown by the American chocolate cookie brand Oreo in 2013.*

At the time, Oreo’s creative team published contents filled with brilliant ideas on a regular basis, which were much loved by social media fans. In 2013, the 100th anniversary of Oreo, the company carried out a campaign called ‘Oreo Daily Twist’ for 100 days as a form of celebration – with a focus on key cultural events and calendar events.

They used Oreo cookies to create artworks evoking Elvis, a panda or the landing of the Mars probe, and produced a lot of images to celebrate the LGBT Parade on June 25, later uploading them to their major social channels.

The images produced during the campaign period were displayed online, offline and on the electronic signage in Times Square. According to the statistics of that time, Oreo saw fans on one social channel increase by 280% during this period – and content shares rise by 515%. It was exposed on media 200,003,000 times, and 400,003,000 times on a major social media network.

Another example comes from Oreo’s work during the Super Bowl, the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL) in America. On February 3, 2013, there was a power outage during the game. Oreo wittily used this incident as a marketing opportunity and produced a stellar advertising effect.

Oreo responded to the 34-minute power outage and posted related content of the Oreo white cream cookie to its social account. The caption? ‘Power out? No problem – You can still dunk in the dark.’ The message went viral almost immediately, generating more than 15,000 shares, and followers of Oreo’s official social account increased by more than 8,000.

At the time, Oreo’s digital agency 360i Team was actually at the stadium. It was as if they had a content strategy developed in preparation for the blackout. But, they simply moved with more agility than anybody else; perfectly demonstrating the merits of adopting agile strategy.

By combining Agile Strategy with savvy digital marketing, brands can quickly process internal decision-making to execute high-impact, memorable campaigns that fully engage the increasingly sophisticated audiences of today’s world.

Juny Lee is Executive Vice President of Weber Shandwick Korea. This article originally appeared in THE PR.

To explore how we can collaborate with your organisation, get in touch.

*Disclaimer: Weber Shandwick were part of an integrated multi-agency team that helped develop and drive the referenced Oreo campaign.

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