NEW YORK: Edelman has kicked off a global branding campaign called Show Up Differently aimed at showcasing how PR can lead in the marketing mix by bringing ideas to life and challenging the status quo.
Agency employees created and produced all assets of the multifaceted initiative, including advertisements, blogs, videos, and the redesigned Edelman website.
Global CEO Richard Edelman explained that a PR firm can be a lead agency because public relations is a 24/7 business; communications firms understand conversations and relationships; and they can capture the public imagination by knowing what is newsworthy.
He added that he realizes PR agencies tend to have smaller budgets than media buying firms or ad shops, but “we have the belief that we can be the lead agency if we have the right idea.”
Show Up Differently, which was tested in the US, London, and Singapore, “resonated deeply across the board and across all audiences,” said Howard Pulchin, executive strategic director of the Edelman Strategic + Creative Guild.
“The campaign makes people more curious about Edelman and makes them want to participate in the conversation,” he said.
The campaign's four print ads are linked to stories from Edelman employees that depict how the firm is “showing up differently” in client work and as a company overall, said Caroline Dettman, executive creative director at the agency who oversees Edelman Strategic + Creative Guild.
The firm plans to add more ads this year since it is “a living, breathing campaign,” said Dettman.
She added that the print ads are meant to be a teaser for videos and other online assets that unveil additional layers of the story.
Although the print ads, art direction, copywriting, and video production for the initiative were done in-house, Edelman said “advertising is never going to be a primary form of our business.”
“Our goal is to be so powerful in the idea and express it initially in public relations or in social,” he noted. “If an ad has to be done in order to support the creative, that's fine, but it's about acceleration, it's not primary.”
Edelman has also partnered with Fast Company to create a microsite in January and February where about 55 employees will give their perspective about what moves them about the campaign, said Jon Silver, deputy director of global marketing at Edelman.
The firm will also have three sponsored posts on The Huffington Post over the course of three months.
Silver added that Edelman.com has undergone a transformation to include new ads, as well as small studies, videos, and blog posts.
Edelman said the concept for the branding campaign evolved from his vision four years ago to “build a PR-centric holding company.”
“The idea was that around the PR firm, we would have everything — digital, research, events, sports, consulting, and advertising,” he explained.
After assessing the firm's practices two years ago, Edelman said he noticed that advertising and consulting weren't doing well, but digital and research were thriving. This past summer, he announced a five-year plan called the “Hamburg Principles" to guide the firm toward integrated marketing.
The principles, which were named at Edelman's annual management and strategy meeting in Hamburg, Germany, include a focus on strategic partnerships, creative work that can compete with advertising and digital agencies, research and insights, digitizing the firm, and different relationships with media.