In the second of the series, Fuse brings you the biggest talking points from the Festival of Marketing that have inspired us to think differently.


Technology is revolutionising the way we communicate in marketing, but with endless opportunities to use new platforms, reach new audiences and create new experiences, is there a danger that we forget about the basic human needs of our audiences? We joined Lucy Reynolds, Head of Consumer Communications at Vodafone as she discussed the importance of putting people first and using technology to enhance, rather than replace, the human experience.

A good marketing campaign is not about the tech. It’s about the human.

There are few campaigns that demonstrate the perfect equilibrium of ‘human’ and ‘tech’ as well as Vodafone’s DreamLab project does. The campaign, created by the Vodafone Foundation, enables thousands of people to help speed up vital cancer research while they sleep by using a free app on their mobiles. The project is made possible by new technology which takes unused processing power from your mobile phone and uses it to power a virtual supercomputer, capable of processing billions of calculations – helping research into better ways to fight cancer. And all you need to do as a consumer is download an app and charge your phone.

Reynolds, who was part of the team behind the project, recognises the undoubted importance of the technology but explains that they didn’t focus the campaign on the tech. They focused the campaign on the person using the app and the incredible role they could play by joining the DreamLab project. This led to Vodafone’s ‘Be a Hero’ positioning, which manifested itself into social moments such as #SleepLikeAHero and their ad campaign starring John Boyega. The campaign engages our human values, as Reynolds explains, “People really do want to help. Why would you turn down the opportunity to help cancer research?”

Speak human in your assets. Look human in your assets.

Prioritising the emotional messaging over the use of tech was crucially important to Reynolds, who wanted to avoid the notion of using tech for the sake of tech, or as an excuse to prove you are an innovative brand. Reynolds explains “We wanted to focus on how people can use tech, rather than the tech itself. Considerations like using language that people understand were important”, a point that is made in the creative assets you’ll find across their platforms.

This is where purpose driven marketing is particularly powerful. Richard Parkinson, Global Creative Director of Text100, who joined Reynolds on stage to discuss the campaign, urged brands to “Speak human in your assets. Look human in your assets”. Parkinson also warned that brands should consider the gap between what you claim and what you deliver. Vodafone appears to have found the right balance with the DreamLab project.

If your organisation had never existed, what would the world have lost?

Parkinson then posed a searching question to the room. “If your organisation had never existed, what would the world have lost?” While the question was not directed at, or answered by Reynolds, a coherent argument could have been made. Taking the campaign to the extreme, the battle against cancer would genuinely have been worse off without the DreamLab project. The campaign could not exist without the technology, but the campaign is about much more than technology. It is about the
humans that use it.

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Applying new tech to your campaigns can transform an idea from good to great, but it’s absolutely key that the tech compliments your campaign and does not overshadow it.

Think through the language you use when describing the tech in your campaign and consider whether you need to mention it at all. Don’t focus on how the tech works; focus on the outcome. In the DreamLab example, they use “Help solve cancer while you sleep”. This is a great use of emotive language and the message is clear.

Tech at its best should simplify your campaign, not make it more complicated. The way you communicate this to consumers should follow suit.

To read our full report on the Festival of Marketing 2018 click here.