Advertising is the most direct way to promote products and services. However, the ease of reaching consumers in less than no time is stalled by regulations that come into our lives. But the main contribution of these regulations to the brand managers, agencies and the marketing researchers is maneuver competence.
The basis of creativity and finding alternative ways to strict regulations is called 'Dark Marketing'. Dark Marketing is the invisible marketing techniques to create a brand, strengthen & maintain brand image and create customer demand in the times of imposed regulations. Dark marketing, as the name suggests, is a method that has been generally referred when the threats exist against the brand image.
Today’s major brands are forced to show rapid and persistent reactions to protect their positioning for strict regulations and various threats. These forces made brands discover alternative channels rather than the safe ATL solutions. To achieve this, most of the brands head towards “under the radar” channels.
Regardless “under the radar” channels and its strategy, a correct dark marketing starting point must be implemented with a strong consumer insight research, well decoded metaphor analysis and correctly combined strategy and planning tool. After the discovery of the brand essence of how the brand is perceived by the consumer, the brand should focus on its symbol, language, characters, symbols, hooks to carry brand's emotional benefits. At this stage, the road map is phased like:
1.’Discovery': understanding of category and brand value,
2. 'Brand belief system': implementing brand and revealing the philosophy and personality,
3.'Brand expression': expressing brand values and hooks like graphic style, jingle, audio, material and pattern, voice over, movement, etc,
4. 'Brand application': implementation of brand values to different communication materials.
Dark marketing has become one of the most important elements of creating a glocal and leading brand value. This technique takes time to see the visible results contrary to normal marketing techniques but thanks to dark marketing it is now easier to get close to consumers DNA and establish long term relations. Although the starting point of dark marketing is not different from “below the line marketing techniques”, the diversity is based on WOM (word of mouth).
Camel case is one of the iconic dark marketing practices; Urban Wave parties that created a special symbol, and became the pioneer of the concept of the underground party, and which is known throughout the world as an alternative entertainment. In the same years, Camel and Lucky Strike association exhibits “elitism” and “luxury experience” concepts.
What should not be forgotten is “innocence” when dark marketing and regulations come alongside. Dark marketing techniques must not stand against the law or order, and the "brand manifesto" should not be considered different from other communications.
Alibi Marketing, which is one of the subsets of Dark Marketing, involves distilling a brand identity into its key components. The key components are sometimes 'arts management' and typographic elements, sometimes the color scale, and sometimes the product design.
Heineken Cup, known as the European Rugby Cup, makes their communications as “H Cup” due to restrictions on alcohol category in France. Heineken’s color code, star icon and typography manage to execute the brand communication successfully. Marlboro uses its distinctive red and white coloring in Formula One sponsorship. The old Jordan Formula One used the words Buzz and Hornets using the same coloring and type face as a pack of Benson and Hedges.
If we look at Turkey, advertising and promotion of alcoholic beverages cannot be executed in any manner, as published in the Official Gazette. But Efes is already taking the advantage of invisible dark marketing techniques using its product design and typography.
Dark Marketing Tactics:
There should be a road map of brand marketing platform which shows at least three years planning.
Lie heavily on the most effective sensory. The importance of the sight sense for consumers is 58%, smell is 45%, hearing is 41%, tasting is 31% and touching is 25%. (Martin Lindstorm)
3. Media Priorities:
Typography and product design should be supported with sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch respectively.
4. New Media:
With the rise of online games and viral films, dark marketing started making cooperation with new under the radar medias.
5. RTB or Emotional Bond:
Brands should avoid the error of talking self-oriented; consumers like the context rather than content. To build a strong emotional bond, brand should talk about context. (Apple laptops are constantly featured in movies, ‘Motorola’ brand name frequently takes place in Jay-Z song lyrics.)