Carling “Be the Coach” shows power of “replicable” brand properties

Many marketing teams re-invent most of their marketing plans each year. They run a campaign or activation only once and then move on in search of something new.

A better approach is to create "replicable" brand activation properties that can be repeated over time. And a great example of this is the Carling Be the Coach campaign in South Africa, which is now in its 3rd year and going from strength to strength. Soccer fans vote by mobile phone to pick the teams for the Carling Black Label Cup between the Kaiser Chiefs and The Orlando Pirates, South Africa's top 2 teams. You can then vote during the match for the player you want to be substituted. The campaign has had unprecedented levels of consumer interaction helped improve brand imagery, most often used and volume, as I posted on here.

This year I'm actually going to watch the event live on 27th July, along with 85,000 fans at Soccer City in Soweto. Having helped create the idea, it will be great to see it for real at last.

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 16.26.43

Here are some key learnings from the Be the Coach campaign about creating replicable brand properties.

1. Companies get bored faster than consumers

Many marketing teams are hooked on novelty, and constantly changing campaign. After all, they live and breathe the brand week in, week out. In contrast, any given brand is a very small part of a typical consumer's life. And as a result, they get bored with ideas much more slowly. This means there is an opportunity to repeat activities over multiple years.

With the Be the Coach campaign, the 19 million entries received in 2012 was up 90% on the first campaign in 2011. And the 2013 campaign looks to be even stronger still.  

2. Creating true brand properties

It takes 2-3 years to create "memory structure" where consumers really start to remember a brand property or device. This is why so much marketing is never recalled, as it is "hit and run" activity, done once then thrown in the bin. In contrast, by replicating activity over several years, slowly the brand property does sink in start to change peoples' perceptions of the brand.

3. Return on investment and talent

The great thing about a replicable brand property is not needing to re-invent the wheel every year. This means you get a better return on investment, both in terms of money and talent, as the effort to create the idea in the first place is "monetised" over several years.

4. Make it bigger and better

With a property like Carling's Be the Coach, the trick is to not just copy the previous year, but rather to make it bigger and better. In Be the Coach 2, people making multiple entries got a voice mail from one of the players, for example. And in this year's Be the Coach 3 you can win special Champion Coach prizes such as attending a team training session or being part of the pre-match briefing.

These improvements are important for consumers. But they are almost more important for the internal sale of the idea, to overcome management and sales teams saying, "Boring, its the same old thing, again! Where's the new stuff?!"

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 16.37.00

In conclusion, Carling's Be the Coach shows how you can creating a powerful, replicable activation property is a more effective use of marketing talent and investment.