Take a Risk While Still Protecting Your Brand

After witnessing the success of risky campaign launches like Chipotle’s “Scarecrow” video, it seems like brands everywhere are starting to believe that the risk of the advertisement is everything. Companies are taking huge strides in going outside their mission, beyond the assignment, and past their comfort zone to launch truly surprising creative to consumers.

However, there are so many brands that feel these risks may not be worth the potential sacrifices and implications to the company. How do these brands leverage their product and stay relevant without putting their reputation in jeopardy? Ad Age explains it in simple terms, “push them to the edge of the cliff, not over it.” Ad Age continues with describing seven simple guidelines for advertising agencies to follow to bring their clients to a limit, without taking it too far.

  1. Obsess on the target. Remember whom you are trying to reach. Will your target respond well to risk? Or, do they prefer to stay to what they know?
  2. But don’t ignore the boss. Keep the CEOs and CMOs along for the ride. They will likely respond better to the final product.
  3. Don’t let ‘boring’ categories be an excuse. Every category has room to extend the limits. If you don’t search for these opportunities then the category will likely stay ‘boring.’ Change the way consumers view the category.
  4. Test, don’t over-test. While it is important to get a feel for what consumers want to see, the better way may be to put the campaign right in front of them.
  5. Maintain trust. If everyone has all the facts, they can make better decisions on where to take the brand.
  6. Remember that the devil’s in the details, but maybe not the way you think. You want consumers to understand the essence of the brand, not be lost in details they don’t understand.
  7. Don’t mistake edgy for enough. Bring in other emotion. Consumers want to be able to make a connection with the brand.
With contributions by Megan Monsees


Brad is an expert in private label and challenger brand food marketing for Barkley, an integrated marketing and advertising agency. He specializes in working with manufacturing-driven food companies that have aspirations to develop a consumer insight-led strategies to help drive innovation and growth.

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