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“I’d like to thank the colon”

My first text was to our wonderful client to say “We won! The power of the colon!" No. Not that sort of colon. This : sort of colon.

What started as a throwaway comment in a meeting together – “It feels like there’s a full stop after this idea. We’re telling people something, not asking them to participate or put things into their own words and tell us. It needs a….colon?” ended up guiding a six-month, integrated, participatory campaign that got 18,000 people involved, helped deliver a 23% increase in charity memberships and contributed to being named one of Aesop’s best storytelling brands.

Since then, we’ve dug a bit more into putting those two little dots : at the heart of integrated thinking works so well.

Firstly, even if you were really bad at maths at school you probably remember using a colon to make a ratio. And ratio is a really important argument for integration. The Millward Brown multiplier effect would tell you integrated campaigns deliver at least 4:1 the effectiveness of a one-channel campaign. No doubt that can apply to earned, shared and owned media as much as to paid. Using more than one channel of course makes a sum greater than its parts. We used everything from TV to influencers, Facebook to Instagram, property noticeboards to a call waiting message.

Secondly, a colon "may be used between independent clauses, when the second sentence explains, illustrates, paraphrases or expands on the first sentence”. “Explains, illustrates, paraphrases or expands”- isn’t that what earned, shared and owned media are absolutely brilliant at in a wider integrated piece? We can explain and illustrate a single-minded idea more deeply, we can get third parties to put a story or concept into their own words, we can expand on it in owned channels. We got 18,000 people to tell our story for us through their and our channels and then we turned it into a piece of content that explained why the Trust’s work is so important.

Finally (although I’m sure there are more reasons than three for integration), Originally the : meant "A complete thought or passage”. And isn’t that a brilliant argument for integration – that actually what we are doing is not a linear campaign but adding together individual parts to create a circular, complete thought with the audience at the centre? Telling the same story, against the same strategy, at the right time, in the right way, in the right channel, on the right device? Everything that shaped the charity’s Summer campaign last year, in whatever channel, was linked by one thought: #lovethecoast

So, that’s why I think campaigns are better with colons. It's a crucial difference in the battle of hearing v listening, spectating v participating, encountering v caring, seeing v sharing, broadcasting v involving.

Of course this is no magic bullet and great work starts with a great strategy, purpose, idea…and a little bravery from a fantastic client like ours, who was as responsible for the success of the campaign as we were (more great integration right there!). But once you’ve got all those, it’s worth asking, "Is the best idea full stop? It could be better if:"