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14 June 2021
Friendship and Engaged on the future of advertising

Friendship and Engaged on the future of advertising

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Whether you want more brand awareness, engagement or interaction, there is always room to improve your brand’s advertising. But all too often we fall prey to the traditional thinking that when it comes to advertising, we need to choose: offline or online. Which brings us to the age-old question: Is there really a difference between both? Not according to Phil Blondé, creative director at Friendship and Wim Segers, creative director at Engaged. We sat down with both of them to talk about the future of advertising and how it impacts their audience’s pains and gains.

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Whether you want more brand awareness, engagement or interaction, there is always room to improve your brand’s advertising. But all too often we fall prey to the traditional thinking that when it comes to advertising, we need to choose: offline or online. Which brings us to the age-old question: Is there really a difference between both? Not according to Phil Blondé, creative director at Friendship and Wim Segers, creative director at Engaged. We sat down with both of them to talk about the future of advertising and how it impacts their audience’s pains and gains.

The debate between traditional and digital advertising is long and lasting. What do you say to an advertiser who claims they are two separate worlds?

Wim: “It’s true digital advertising is essential for businesses today. But to claim that these two are completely different is false. You’ll find the same people online as you do offline. It doesn’t change your consumers’ needs or the entertainment they crave for. The objective stays the same, it’s the medium that is different.”

Phil: “I agree. We are moving towards a completely digitalised world. It’s already here and we are all transitioning, whether we like it or not. Audiences are easily merging their offline and online lives. It’s our job to make sure brands and organisations stay connected with them through relevant and useful ways of advertising.”

You regularly join forces to develop creative campaigns. So, how would you describe the vision behind your collaboration?

Phil:We can make people’s lives better, more fun and more interesting, together with brands. So why don’t we? 90% of advertising is useless and pollutes our minds, society and environment. So many brands are still advertising the same way they did 30 years ago. Together with Engaged, we challenge this every single day.”

Wim: “For both Friendship and Engaged, advertising is more than just sales. If you want the attention of your customer, you have to earn it. It’s about interacting and empathizing with them. That is often underestimated. It‘s not about coming up with something that is cool and fun, but that does not trigger your audience. By seeing yourself as the recipient of what you are going to create, you’ll succeed.

We can create fantastic campaigns within our own expertise. But it’s only by uniting online and offline that we can tell a bigger story, one that doesn't feel fragmented. It is one story with a common denominator. As agencies, we are working towards a common goal and don’t think of each other as competitors. On top of that, we are already physically one - by sharing an office- and all of that makes it a lot easier for clients.”

There is a lot of value in joining forces and creating well-integrated campaigns. What is your secret formula for bridging the gap between digital and traditional advertising?

Phil:There is no secret formula when it comes to marketing and advertising. It’s all about communicating with large audiences. Surprising them, entertaining them, showing them, listening to them,… Since most people always carry their smartphones with them, the gap between digital and advertising has become very small. Almost invisible.”

Wim: “If you want your brand to be part of your customer’s life, you have to create a cross-media experience that matches the way your audience consumes media. It’s basically the same message, but translated differently. It’s also extremely beneficial when we are both involved in the development of the creative concept from the beginning. Our expertise in less mainstream technology allows us to be very creative and versatile, and that is a real gold mine while brainstorming.”

It’s clear that both of you feel that traditional and digital advertising can work magic when united. But should they always be combined?

Wim:Always? No, there is a time and place for everything. They can amplify each other. Traditional advertising has a very wide reach and creates a lot of brand awareness. It’s a big plus if you can use that. It’s easier to buy reach online because of data, but that doesn’t buy attention. At the same time, that’s where you can make the difference as a digital agency. It’s about creating meaningful interaction, making your target audience feel good and providing something that is useful to them.”

Phil: “I agree with Wim. It depends on the needs of the brands and the needs of their audiences. But… these two worlds are intertwined and in the near future will always be connected in campaigns one way or another.”

Consumer behaviour has drastically changed over the past year. How do you take that into account whilst creating campaigns?

Wim: “Luckily it stays pretty much the same digitally. We now notice that digital takes precedence over traditional advertising. A form of online escapism where the real world is being simulated online, is becoming a bit of a trend. We now create a world or an experience rather than a website, app, game,...And that is clearly due to a lack of a connection with the physical world.”

Phil:Just to add on that: We live in a fast-changing world. People are busier than ever. Let’s just try not to waste their -and our- time and give them something worth watching, buying and enjoying.”

What do you think the future of advertising looks like?

Phil: “It’s the most exciting time ever to be in advertising. A lot will - and must- change and I believe people expect brands to be relevant, to take a stance and step up their advertising game. Brands have a huge responsibility and they don’t always realise it. Neither do their audiences. And yet, so many brands are still advertising like they did decades ago. Promoting a wasteful society and throwaway culture. Marketing budgets can be spent in a more useful and durable way. Think about all the people you could reach in this way. People also seem to forget that they have a say in shaping their future. They have spending power, they decide what to buy with their money. Buying local and conscious or buying cheap t-shirts from a mega brand that produces in Bangladesh, It’s your choice. We need to be more aware of this.”

Wim: “Online advertising will become more mature and marketers will see it as a fully-fledged medium compared to traditional channels. Advertising will undoubtedly evolve into a hybrid format. Tomorrowland - for example is already becoming an online experience next to the festival. Especially with virtual and augmented reality, which is still in its infancy. In the past, asking for money online was unthinkable. Big giants such as Netflix and Spotify have paved the way for this new business model. And Covid-19 has caused a big change in attitude. Today you can charge money for an online experience and that's a very important mind shift.”

To finish: What’s your insider tip when it comes to advertising?

Wim: “Surround yourself with the right people - It is crucial that you have a good partner who helps you see the bigger picture. There are so many possibilities in which you, as an entrepreneur or marketer, allow yourself to be carried away and it might not always be the right fit for your brand. Don’t forget your brand promise, always start from a place of empathy when it comes to your target audience and adjust your digital channels accordingly. New isn't always better: There has to be a match with your brand and target audience.”

Phil: “Stay amazed. Always.”

Interested in how to use both tactics in your next campaign?

Get in touch with Phil and Wim and create a 360° story.

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