How does Store Back work?
According to P&G's Phil Duncan, the program encourages brand teams and agencies to "start with the store in mind as they evaluate their big ideas, because what we have found is we actually develop better big ideas if we think about the store first and work our way back." Working on the premise that "if it doesn't work in the store, it doesn't work," P&G's own internal brand managers are working with the agencies that represent them to refine the way product campaigns are created. As Andy Murray from Saatchi & Saatchi X notes, "you still start with the idea." But that idea gets tested, either literally or figuratively at the store level, before being considered for a wider rollout on the Internet, mobile, print and TV. Consequently, ideas that can't be properly demonstrated in the retail environment may get left behind, while those that excel in the selling space will be given a more prominent role in mainstream media and marketing channels.
And this is good for DOOH?
Image credit: Robert Couse-Baker
Additionally, as the agencies become more adept at this kind of work, in-store digital media will become a natural part of their repertoire -- again, without us having to wring our hands and explain how great DOOH really is. With first-hand experience and at the demand of major marketers like P&G, they'll be forced to experiment and adapt, or else potentially lose business in their bread-and-butter business areas like TV commercials. Let's face it: big media agencies aren't going to bother with our fickle little networks unless there's a big reason (read: $$$) to do so. P&G and other store-centric brands have deep pockets. They've also shown a willingness to both try out new things in-store and push their agencies around to get them done. Initiatives like Store Back thus offer a compelling reason for big agencies to look at digital signage right now -- maybe even on the customer's dime.
Can we speed things along?
I doubt it. Don't get me wrong -- I'd love to help push agencies in the right direction. But if P&G is only just starting this program and other marketers haven't even embraced it yet, there's little hope that our ragtag band of misfits has any hope of changing things. And the very sparse attendance of agencies at events like DSE's Content Day indicates that they're not (yet) really interested in the educational expertise and advice that we have to offer. Expect this to change as Store Back and similar programs become the norm (if they do), but it seems unlikely that we can do anything to hurry this along.
Wait, so we can't do anything?
Well, I've come to the conclusion that it's a waste of time to go after the Madison Avenue clan. If they have a client that wants or needs to do some digital signage work, they'll call us. But trying to push them into more complex, less lucrative digital signage work from the bottom up seems implausible right now.
Where we can make some potential headway is with digital agencies who are already doing digital out-of-home-esque things. Twitter, Foursquare, social networks and viral video are being adopted as legitimate techniques by large, respectable digital agencies working for large, respectable clients. The unique properties and capabilities of digital signs offer a lot of synergistic opportunities with those channels. If you're planning to lobby an agency, I'd focus on one of these guys first. You'll at least be speaking (approximately) the same language.
P&G's earlier work on the "First Moment of Truth" added much-needed legitimacy to the marketing at-retail argument. Do you think Store Back will have the same effect? Will it be more or less important? Leave a comment below and let us know.