The challenger challenge.

  • November 30, 2023
  • Reading time: 3 min

Cutting out the cliché to stand out from the crowd.

What does it take to get your message across the line? Is it sharp, thought-provoking creativity?

Maybe. It’s being direct. Putting everything you want to say right in front of the people you want to say it to.

Or sometimes it’s about being brave. Having the guts to say something a little bit different to your competitors.

Channels are noisy. Some competitors have stronger brand awareness and wider recognition than others. A huge global conglomerate is likely to attract more eyes, clicks and attention than a smaller business that’s saying the same thing. Getting yourself heard in the crowd usually means you have to say something different, or at least think up a new way to articulate your message. But challenging the status quo, or in this case the most common marketing approaches, can be a bold but oh-so risky move.

It’s getting loud in here.

Business marketing has fallen into the cliché venus fly trap. Talking about a vast, increasingly complex landscape that no one can ever fully define? How about those transformations that are happening at rapid speed? These indeterminable and ominous pictures are only ever half-painted, and depend heavily on the audience’s prior knowledge and understanding of the market. At the same time, unless a product, service or brand messaging is solving a particular challenge in a bolder way than the competition, it could just be contributing to the endless, undefinable void.

A message will either land or it won’t. But once you’ve already tried to say it, it could be too late to course-correct. If you only have one chance to say what you want to say, how would it sound?

Being a challenger in the market gives you the edge. Surreal cereal recently ran a funny, eye-catching OOH campaign carried by bold copy making big claims. We’re Dwayne Johnson’s favourite cereal. A household name – immediately recognisable. For a cereal brand? Instantly questionable. The short disclaimer copy underneath: *Dwayne is a bus driver from London’ — brings Surreal back down to earth, and shows audiences their campaign message, that their cereal is for everyone. They’re getting loud with a known person, working within a tight budget, and being playful in the process.

The brave creative.

It can feel scary going against the grain. Staying in the same lane as competitors makes the fight fairer, and might seem like a safer bet. But being safe doesn’t win customers, especially if your competitors have a bigger budget to play with. To truly make your brand stand out, you have to be brave with your approach.

McDonalds recently ran a TV spot, simply showing a nostalgic teletext screen as though we’d jumped back to 1999. Staying on-screen for 30 seconds, this ad instantly drew attention to the copy – enticing viewers (albeit primarily millennials) to explore what they had to say. It’s not doing anything new, but it does a good trick of drawing audiences in. And for a big global organisation – it’s relatively low budget.

On-the-nose with its challenger stance, e-bike brand VanMoof openly announced its fight against ‘car tyranny’. Rather than leaning into the over-done ‘bikes are a better, eco-friendly alternative to cars’ stance – VanMoof waged a full blown war against cars and car culture. Backed up by sleek, luxury branding, it quickly became known as ‘the Tesla of e-bikes’. Instead of whispering a proposed alternative from the parking garage, it shouted that the battle was on from the roadside.

There will always be brands with bigger marketing budgets. Establishing a strong creative concept can be enough for your campaign to punch above its weight. With KX, a provider of real-time data analytics and decision intelligence, we tapped into the insight that data leaders weren’t thinking about true ‘real-time’ data. From this, we created and launched the award-winning Microsecond Mindset PR campaign – with a research-backed playbook that gave technology leaders a vision and roadmap.

Big, bold and memorable.

Brands that are most known for their competitive prices will do well pushing their deals. Those that are established thought leaders within the world of cutting-edge technology can depend on launching the latest models and services. But for those that are yet to define their USP, whose prices are market-standard and who are sitting alongside myriad other companies offering a similar product – it’s time to go bold with your marketing.

Find the white space within the never-ending landscape. YouTube has unskippable ads – that’s near guaranteed screen time. What can you do creatively that pushes boundaries when you know it’s being watched?

Try leaning into the human insights behind the research findings. Hard-hitting statistics can only go so far if there’s no story behind them. It might be explained further in your hero content, but no one will come along to find out if there isn’t something pulling them in.

And don’t be afraid to be funny. Even if your jokes don’t land with everyone, it’s still something for people to talk about.

Creativity can cut through the noise. Explore our Tudder case study to find out how.

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