Agreeing on a Target Group for a communication is a hassle most of the times. Marketeers tend to be very inclusive on defining their audience and agencies are always persistent to force them to be choiceful. Most of us work with smart people- no one is that dumb to put “everyone” as a Target Group just because it is easier. So no matter how much you insist, you only can get a “Bull’s eye” target group definition if you’re lucky. However, the need to be inclusive will be hunting you over and over again on your way to delivering the piece of work that, eventually, would exclude no one.
Why do clients keep doing that?
There might be many answers to these questions: The aggressiveness of the business targets, a complexity in distribution, the necessity to include employees/stakeholders, lack of data, the aspiration for an instant fame, desperation… And the answer is not important, because it is almost impossible to change their minds. And to be frank, they see many campaigns that are really inclusive and successful. So it feels doable to them to design something that can appeal to many different SESs, profiles or psychographics.
By the way, pushing them to be choiceful might cause a worse definition, like: teen-agers and young adults, urban householders, B&C 15-44, etc… In my opinion, these are trickier than “everyone”. Since they are eclectic and/or too heterogeneous, it is always harder to find a valid insight. Because if you focus on the commonalities of these people, you’d find things that are too generic and if you’d focus on the unification of these groups you’d go irrelevant to all. Off. Berserk.
I do not want to say that putting “everybody” on the brief is perfect, I just claim that it promises much more opportunities for a Creative Strategist than an eclectic definition. And it is just a theory… For instance, on Old Spice case the target group was defined as “partners”. So according to the Old Spice’s Effie Case, they targeted males as well as females. I personally do not buy it and I assume that it is just a post-rationalized way of writing a possible target group of a brilliant disruptive idea. If so, what did they do to target women besides the narrative of the content? If you target a new group, you have to meet them and be more aquatinted on field, did you have a marketing activation program? A shopper initiative? A channel idea? No… says the case-study.
So, whenever I get a brief with a complex target group, I prefer to go for the whole society or a human truth. And the choice purely depends on the communication target. Because the target gives me the clues to define the antagonist. And if your antagonist has some characteristics that would be linked to a contemporary social tension, you can go for it. Because a social tension includes everyone; even if it is debatable, it is a buzz. So if you place yourself into that crowded conversation, you’ll be heard. Not because those people are interested in you, but because they are interested in the subject you use as a context. For example: a special day, a national election, an international event like FIFA World Cup, a national holiday, a public scandal… If you can create a narrative that uses one of these as a context, it will be inclusive. Here, you can see one of my “all time favourites” as an inclusive, “for everyone” piece of communication:
On the other hand, if your antagonist is just too ordinary, then you can find a way to go for a big human truth. Search for that old good vs. evil stories and try to create a new way of telling one. It is easy for a Strategist but hard for Creatives, because it is done a million times. So finding an executional idea that is fresh is pure craftsmanship. Of course, there are some tactics to hack this problem: casting animals, babies/children, celebrities in the narrative… However, you still need to find the brilliant story, because everyone knows these tactics.
Here is an example of such a beautiful story below. One of the legendary John Lewis Christmas ads… Do you think that it had the distinctive Communication Objective on the brief, and a well-refined Target Audience?
So everyone has ways to tackle with a brief that has an impossible target audience and a generic claim. I have developed two simple tactics so far:
1. To beat the “ordinary”, focus on your antagonist’s best possible self:
A story cannot celebrate mediocrity, but an aspiration. Therefore we have been watching superhero movies; only independent movies focus on an ordinary day of an ordinary person in life. They are never blockbusters.
However, all superheroes have an ordinary self. In those movies, we can see them as common people like us, and this is on purpose. It is the only way to make us feel emphatatic and love that character. So every movie shows glimpses of those ordinary moments to build a believable persona. But the majority of the storyline is all about action and excitement. So that is what you have to do: defining the aspiration (superhero) of your antagonist yet be relatable.
As Robert Ford says on Westworld:
“They’re not looking for a story that tells them who they are. They already know who they are. They’re here because they want a glimpse of who they could be.”
And it is not always about showing an aspirational profile or a lifestyle, it not about showing a perfect mother that an ordinary mother would like to associate with… An experience they want to have, a feeling they aspire to… Anything that is not evident in our ordinary lives, but can happen to us! Here is an example to summarise my point:
2. To beat the “ordinary”, talk to the antagonist’s inner child:
Everyone, no matter who they are and where they live, they miss that feeling of being a child. The innocence they had, the purity of everything around, being carefree, the playfulness, unconditional love they experienced… Anything that would remind you of your childhood is salient. People buy the softeners that remind them of an old familiar smell, they try to buy the car that was their childhood obsession… So simply looking for a childlike optimism, curiosity and adventure can be a way out. Just like this: