Promotional models, like it or not, are the face of your business as far as the public is concerned.
You like it when they present themselves in such a way that is authentic to your brand, and hate it when they miss the mark. Of course, almost all promotional models want to get a job perfect, so the reason for their missing the mark is often a simple misunderstanding. Who was to blame is irrelevant, the more important question to ask is if everyone in your organisation, from the CEO through the rest of the team understands the voice of your brand, and how to best communicate it.
The reason this matters is best communicated through the following story. All names, details and pretty much everything else have been changed to ensure the guilty parties cannot be identified. Apart from us, but we accept our guilt and have learnt a great deal from it!
PUSH Agency was engaged by a regional liquor company (again, not the real industry) to run a promotional campaign in local supermarkets. The idea was that tastings would take place in-store, to introduce the public to the brand, and its unique taste. Our role was to use our database to identify and hire promotional models across multiple states, all who needed to have experience in bartending – which the client thought would get the vibe right. The client, trying to do everything in line with best practice, also created a four-page guideline document, explaining the brand and the product and why it was important that the models behave a certain way.
“Promotional models must behave in a friendly and outgoing fashion. The brand is fearless and unrelenting, fights the status quo and doesn’t care for rules. This event is about getting in the public’s face and empowering them to live their lives differently.”
This document was sent to all promotional models across multiple states as part of their training. The only other information received by the promotional models was a representative of the brand at the location when they arrived, whose job it was to remind them of the ingredients and brewing method, in case they had forgotten.
The client refused our offer to create an online training video, or to assign regional team leaders to direct the event, which was coordinated to occur on the same day. In retrospect, we should have insisted.
The issue was that words can have multiple meanings, depending on how they are interpreted by individuals. There was a second issue, in that without a test run there was no opportunity to analyse the process and review any learnings, but communication was the crucial mistake.
In many locations, the promotional models understood the brief perfectly. They laughed and smiled, had fun and enjoyed their time with the product. They casually handed out the tiny samples, making jokes about drinking when you should be shopping and generally putting a smile on people’s faces. Some supermarket managers gave wonderful feedback on how the promotion lifted the energy in their stores.
In some locations, however, the brief was missed entirely. Promotional models took the branding document far too literally, and became almost aggressive in their approach, their version of, “getting in people’s faces.” Others became overly flirtatious, and others took rule breaking to a whole new level. In one cringeworthy occurrence, a promotional model actually ended up in an argument with a store manager as to where she was allowed to stand.
None of these models were trying to do anything apart from a spectacular job. They had taken the brand to heart and were doing what they felt was demonstrative of the organisation that was employing them. Many were delighted with the outcome and felt they had nailed the brief, lived the brand, and done themselves proud.
During the debrief and after interviewing the promotional models it became painfully apparent where everyone had gone wrong. Luckily, the fallout wasn’t terrible, and we were able to recreate the event with more checks and balances in place, including a far more robust training process and brand communication schedule. This time, it included visuals and more operational directions, rather than brand marketing speak.
Promotional models are often highly creative and committed to the work they are doing. As a result, it’s up to us, and you the client, to make sure they understand clearly what they are supposed to do – and not just what we think they should know.