Recently on the IGDA ARG SIG list, the inestimable Brian Clark of GMD Studios offered some wisdom on pitching an ARG or similar campaign to a client. The conversation revolved around the reluctance of agencies and clients to innovate in South America, but the information applies anywhere in the world. Following is what he had to say:
To be fair, what you describe is the same here in the US market (but I don’t think it is innovation they fear, it is perceived riskiness.) Over the years, I’ve found a few techniques that can be helpful in making that case.
1. Lead with measurement. An ARG (or other innovation) shouldn’t be something that’s unmeasureable, or means buying into some alternate metrics schema. Find out what bell the client wants to ring (perception, awareness, sales, etc.) and show how you’ll show them you’re ringing that bell.
2. No ARG is an island. No one should be pitching to an agency doing an ARG instead of an advertising campaign: focus on how the ARG element of a campaign to help every other channel produce more results. After all, that media spend is where you’re going to build your audience.
3. Explain away the chaos. Help an agency understand that they’ll be able to manage you managing the chaos, show them the kinds of documents you’ll use to do that.
4. Evangelize the power of iteration. Help an agency understand that unlike traditional campaigns, those metrics and processes will allow you to improve the chances of success from direct audience feedback.
None of those things necessarily solve all the problems for every agency and client and market, but if I go in anticipating those kinds of concerns I find I can derail a lot of the more common fear-based objections. And, to be honest, that advice is more general than ARGs (as similar rules work for other places where you’re helping an agency innovate outside of their core practice.)