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The benefits of developing campaigns in addition to everyday activity

A truly integrated marketing approach is fundamental to everything we do at Pho. Given the challenges we face as an industry, we need all our marketing to work hard to grab people’s increasingly short attention span in a crowded market.

In the digital age, everybody wants a piece of your time – space on your feed, likes, clicks, shares – and we’re fighting for people’s attention and engagement, not just with other brands but with videos of your baby nephew, yet another badly-lit gym mirror selfie or The Holy Grail of cringe content, the post-proposal engagement ring boomerang.

So how do you get attention in an infinite space? Uploading the same stock photo of your burger or tacos isn’t going to cut it, no matter how delicious they are. Your brand needs to stand out to cut through. Buying attention using boring content is expensive. You have to give people a reason to give a sh*t about you. Have something to say. Be interesting and make sure your message speaks not just to your brand but your customers.

At Pho we work with our digital partners, Ignite Hospitality, to develop concept-led, integrated marketing campaigns that excite our customers and move them into action.

Our 2016 Christmas hangover campaign resonated because we stayed true to our brand – instead of jumping on the turkey bandwagon we demonstrated through video, PR, competitions and collaborations how Pho is the ultimate hangover cure for the festive season. By using our core brand experience principles and making eye-catching creative, the message cut through – and continues to – because, you know, hangovers are for life, not just for Christmas.

Similarly, our “Pho Obsessed”, “Vietnamese Summer” and “Just Pho Students” integrated campaigns built on our experience principles – how do we want people to feel when they experience Pho? We’re as much a discovery brand as a restaurant with a loyal following – we think when people try Pho for the first time, they’ll become life-long “Pho-natics” – so our campaigns always speak to that. Honing in on what makes Pho special – our broths, love of Vietnam, health benefits – demonstrating all this in a creative way helps our brand to stand out.

Of course, with digital marketing and the ubiquitous smartphone it’s possible to reach the right people (based on interests, behaviour and demographics) at exactly the right time (in their buying cycle, when they’re actively searching for you or just simply when they might be hungry) and in the right place – near a restaurant! Leveraging digital techniques allows us to deliver our brand message in an exciting way and encourages engagement and action.

However, integrating our digital activity with other marketing initiatives is key to a campaign’s success. Our big, integrated campaigns are underpinned by everyday marketing activity – perhaps less splashy but fundamental in continually talking to new and existing audiences. We use a mix of online and offline channels – we keep it “old school”. Events, festivals, collaborations and charity support help cement Pho restaurants in their local communities – as a big a part of the marketing mix as anything else – not to mention the importance of interesting, organic social media content. We can tell when you are scheduling it all in people!

This mix allows us to spread awareness and see engagement every day, in every city. Our food, our amazing people and the cool stuff happening at local restaurants is all increasingly important to customers, who are looking for more personal and meaningful experiences with restaurant brands.

Something I always tell my marketing peers is you have to work closely with your agency – YOU are the brand and they are your partners. You have to do the work, too. If you don’t join in on the process of campaign development from beginning to end, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Our integrated campaigns are developed collaboratively with Ignite, starting with analysis and insight and then, through a process of group brainstorming, exploring and building. We work together to develop the campaign concept and creative direction and to plan out activations. Like any relationship, this takes time, trust and commitment from both parties.

Get that right, be creative with your content, don’t be afraid to go “old school” – and get noticed.

Libby Andrews is marketing director of Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho and their digital agency is Ignite Hospitality.