• Jake

Hear about the smart marketing objective? Salience - it’s a Whopper.


Imagine it’s lunchtime and you’re hungry. Now what’s the first place that pops into your head when I suggest ‘fast food’?

That’s mental prominence at play.

Or salience.

Salience isn’t awareness. Awareness is about conscious recall and recognition.

Salience is about the prominence of that conscious recall and associated recognition. Or to be more precise, it’s the propensity of a brand to be thought about or noticed when it matters most around a potential buying situation.

Awareness gets brands onto consumers’ radars. Salience gets brands into consumers’ heads.

Most people are likely to have heard of Pizza Express, Pret a Manger, KFC, McDonalds and Burger King. As national food chains, they all have high levels of awareness.

However, there’s an order in which this awareness springs to mind. And this order – or salience - will influence purchase choice. So, while you may prefer to buy a KFC, if this is lower down the list versus another more acceptable alternative, you’ll go with the higher placed – more salient - option instead.

Brand salience is what helps drive sales opportunity. Of course, that requires greater marketing impact. This can be strengthened by 1) the quantity of memory structures a brand is linked to; 2) the quality of these structures, based upon their strength of association and relevance.

Sticking with the fast food category, building salience is obviously a key marketing objective for Burger King. This is evident with the popular cultural resonance they’ve successfully achieved through a series of maverick executions. It includes their Cannes Grand Prix award winning ‘Whopper Detour’ campaign to drive mass uptake of their mobile app ordering.

Rather than simply offering a free Whopper to download the app, they needed a “big, bold creative idea” to create high levels of consumer engagement. This resulted in subverting logic through human insight to get people talking and taking action. By using geo-fencing, people instead faced the added complexity and effort of having to get within 600 feet of a McDonalds to order and pay one cent to be able to redeem a Whopper from a Burger King outlet. The power of the idea lent itself to cultural gaming at the expense of McDonald’s. It disrupted beyond the ‘normal’ incentive approach to help embed Burger King both physically and mentally in people’s fast food choices.

The result was a whopping 1.5 million Burger King downloads pushing them to number one in the app store in just 10 days, with a 37-to-1 return on investment. Plus, with geo-location enabled on users phones, Burger King can continue to target incentive offers at the expense of McDonald’s. With the premise of course being over time these people will proactively spend more of their fast food cash with them.

Burger King also continue to invest in driving brand salience and usage of the app through a continuum of other high engagement experiences. For example, they developed an augmented reality filter for the app that allowed any customer who pointed their phone at a McDonald’s ad to burn the screen and release a Burger King coupon. And in Mexico City they promoted mobile ordering via ‘The Traffic Jam Whopper’ campaign to deliver to cars stuck in the horrendous daily gridlocks. This was achieved via dynamically served out-of-home ads and push notifications to drivers stuck in the traffic jams. Again, both got people talking and taking action.

Brands can grow their salience by identifying and developing the right brand cues with relevant associated memory structures (such as hungry => flame grilled => Burger King) to gain prominence inside buyers’ minds. Just like Burger King, this could be achieved by:

  1. Tapping into human-centred insights that cues and motivates action.

  2. Developing emotional culturally driven ideas that by-pass rational barriers to build strong memory structure.

  3. Going the extra mile to distinctively reach potential buyers in their moment of need.

  4. Touchpoint map out the experiences so they interconnect and reinforce one another.

As a final point, remember salience is about being thought about or noticed around a buying situation. However, to be noticed you first need to be thought about. Just think about in a supermarket your ability to screen out the unfamiliar and only ‘see’ the brands you know and like. So, brands must work their way up the mental list queue, in order to be noticed in any physical space with lots of competing brands vying for consumer attention.

At Lily Marketing we are focused on helping companies identify and cultivate those remarkable experiences that get noticed, appreciated and talked about at a brand, marketing and touchpoint level.

So, if feeling hungry, we’re happy to drop in for an informal chat with some fast food and fast thinking around customer value experiences for you and your business.


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