Leading with values and a purpose for brand loyalty

VCCP's strategy team present opportunities for brands to engage with audiences on a deeper level

yoluyla India Fizer , AdForum

VCCP
Full Service
Global
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Rob Estreitinho
Planning Director VCCP
 

Tiffany Mondesir
Planning Director VCCP
 

As social media continues to evolve, brand communication strategies must adapt to keep up with the culture. VCCP's Planning Directors, Rob Estreitinho and Tiffany Mondesir, weigh in on their strategy for resonating with modern audiences and establishing brand loyalty.

 

In what ways are you leveraging new platforms and technologies to engage and resonate with the digital-native nature of Generation Z and younger consumers? Further, what channels and formats are you prioritising and how are you adapting your content for these platforms?

It’s less about the platforms and more about the principles behind how we operate. A big part of how we talk about modern brands is not through what they say, but how they say it. And given everything is communication, this includes how a brand shows up in culture. Less of a brand world, more a set of behaviors. This matters because part of the problem with captivating younger audiences is you need to earn attention, instead of just paying for it. Among other things, this may be why we have an explosion of brand collaborations, joint ventures, acts not just ads. They’re not a replacement for broadcast advertising, but offer a powerful complement to give you fame through earned media. This is why partnerships like Crocs x McDonald’s, or Tiffany’s vs Pokemon, work quite well. It’s quite rare that people remember or talk about the ads they saw on a TV screen anymore, but they do remember and talk about the things others shared on their social feeds or private groups.

 

How are you tailoring your messaging to align with the values and interests of modern consumers, and how does this differ from your approach with previous generations?

One fantastic example was how we approached O2’s sponsorship of Love Island in 2023. We had a full sponsorship package we needed to activate, but also were conscious that the conversation around the show is as important as the show itself. So rather than behaving like a sponsor, we went full on and behaved like a Love Island fan on TikTok and Instagram. This affected the communications we developed for 8 weeks, which were always looking to balance product messaging with pure fan service. But it also affected how we cast for this job, namely by hiring a former social admin for an ex-Islander, who knew the show inside and out and therefore could help keep us honest around the main narratives, tropes, pitfalls and opportunities for standing out while Love Island was on.

The partnership was the perfect opportunity to drive cultural conversation and to highlight O2’s inclusive EU roaming at no extra cost. By executing it in this way, O2 achieved their KPIs around impressions and engagement, growing these year on year from 2022 to 2023.

"O2 has coupled up with Love Island"

What role does culture, sustainability and social responsibility play in your brand's communications strategy for engaging with younger demographics?

More so than ever before, we're seeing younger audiences have an expectation for brands to behave more responsibly – leading with values and purpose, not just profit. They believe brands are in a position of power and should therefore use it wisely. A demand for better practices and actions (not just words) means we need to be thinking of this from the start; we need to think of how and where this shows up in our comms strategies. Where in the past, we may have looked at social media as simply a space for entertainment and humour, we're now seeing audiences lean into social media as a way to connect over shared values, including with brands. Brands arguably need to work harder to put their messages out there in ways that have the power to hook audiences and then keep their attention (all without trying too hard). For example, the rise of body positivity made way for brands like Estrid to show up authentically, celebrating diverse bodies with influencers already resonating with the younger demographic. Or brands like Oatly, who have found ways to both entertain AND educate with a tone of voice that tells it like it is. 

 

From the start, our comms strategy for LinkedIn identified areas around social responsibility that we knew our younger audience was passionate about. For our 'Avoid the Awkward' campaign, we honed in on topics around diversity, equity and inclusion, which many Brits often feel uncomfortable talking about, despite those conversations being necessary and highly valued by the younger generations. We developed a format that was approachable and had the ability to keep their attention through engaging storytelling, working with influencers willing to share their real stories and experiences around their chosen topics (eg. disability, race, etc.) to help the brand deliver an important message. This is just one example of how we can reflect the company's values back to the younger audience as a way to engage with them on a deeper level.