In our world of cognitive overload and bombardment being bold is the only option.

Bland is a high-speed train to failure. Or put another way it’s like leaving the cottage door wide open, allowing, if not almost inviting, those disruptive competitor bears to walk right in and eat your porridge for their breakfast… and in time, and if they’re consistent and especially bold, meaningful, and brand centric then they’ll also start to eat your lunch, dinner and perhaps even your supper too! The demise of Blackberry in the shadow of Apple’s meteoric rise is the example that always springs to mind for me, but there are many others.

Brands grow by being meaningfully different to more people, so the bold approaches you adopt need to consistently reinforce this in a way that’s connected and optimised. There are many routes to bold. A bold strategy. Bold product and experience innovations to enter new spaces. Bold communications. Bold interactions in bold places.

The risks associated with failure can stop brands taking these leaps or mean they do them in a toned down, ‘safer’ way. Louis E Boone’s quote refers to how people live their lives, but I believe it can also be applied to brands: “Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” Nobody wants to leave a role or end their career feeling like that.

Life in business doesn’t have to feel like the Squid Games. Gut-feel and commercial instinct matter but capturing the perspective of the people who matter most – your audience – enables you to make informed choices and optimise them further.  At MAD//Fest last year Cadbury revealed that research from Kantar Marketplace had provided them with the evidence and shared conviction that the bolder, more disruptive creative route was the most effective. Audience insights and Kantar expertise also enabled them to optimise the effectiveness of the campaign. The result? Cadbury’s best Christmas ever.  

In time, failing to be bold means you’re bound to fail; but disruption without meaning is not enough and this applies to all the ways in which you can be bold. Creativity is a prerequisite to being bold, but to succeed commercially it must also be human centric, brand centric and context centric. In other words, it feels native where it will be experienced, it’s not an unwelcome interruption, and it’s an enjoyable part of what people are doing.

There’s nothing quite like hearing first-hand how to master being bold. Essity is trailblazing in this space. It has a bold purposeful strategy. It innovates boldly to meet people’s needs. It develops bold award-winning ads: Bodyform, and more recently Tena Men, are famous for it. It invests in ensuring these bold approaches are the right ones, using audience research on Kantar Marketplace to not only learn if an approach will deliver results, but also how to optimise it.

This is not boldness for the sake of it. It’s boldness that’s human centric, anchored in an understanding of their audience. It’s bold in tackling taboos and showing up in a way that makes a genuine difference to people’s lives. It’s boldness that works in the context where it will be experienced; what someone will watch in a private space is quite different to what feels comfortably uncomfortable in a shared, more communal one.

Most importantly, it’s boldness that’s brand centric, in which the brands are not incidental to these bold stories but rather sit at the heart of them.

And of course it’s boldness that’s creative, unexpected, original and above all, effective.

Join me, Tanja Grubner and Jason Kaplanis from Essity and Margaux Revol from AMV BBDO and be inspired by Essity’s success on the Kantar Marketplace Hexagon Stage 3rd July at  11:20am and at Cabana 9 for the duration of MAD//Fest.