What happens when you’ve got a great idea but no brief to bring it to life?


We’ve all got great ideas. But great ideas sometimes don’t see the light of day. Why is that? Is it a lack of a brief? Not enough time? A small team? Here’s how we developed and ran a digital takeover for a client despite the odds.

Management consulting is often perceived as a PowerPoint-slide-fueled, process-driven, and analytics centred line of work. As a result, one wouldn’t immediately associate a consulting firm as a conducive environment for love (we’re not just talking romantic love here) and work to flourish together. 

Being in a unique position to have shared an office with our management consulting sister company, PEMANDU Associates, we were privy to some of the lesser known nuances of these consultants behind the work. And having observed them (in the least creepy way possible), we felt that this was a part of the PEMANDU Associates story that needed telling. But where would we find such an opportunity to tell it without seeming out of character with the existing content permeating their digital platforms?

So birthed a challenge from our MD, Alex Iskandar Liew, to the rest of the team – to build a 4-day digital takeover for the firm in just 2 weeks! 

Since the beginning of the year, COMMUNICATE has been engaged in improving the business and brand marketing narrative for PEMANDU Associates by refreshing their online presence for the rest of 2020. And since we’d taken the reigns in managing and creating content for their communications channels, we have seen visible growth in their online presence. However, we felt that more could be done to bring this narrative to a wider audience – beyond the firm’s potential business prospects. 

According to Alex, “To achieve desired impact in promotion and communication, we sometimes have to deploy unconventional creative methods.” 

This was one such example of an unconventional approach that we wanted to embark on with our sister company. 

The social media and online landscape today have become overly cluttered with homogenous activities. To stand out, we decided to use our data analytics and storytelling approach to design, develop, and produce a customised takeover for PEMANDU Associates. 

Love at first click.

We wanted to break the stereotype of consultants by highlighting the unseen driver behind their commitment to delivering ‘Big Fast Results’ for their clients worldwide – love. It may sound simplistic, but it’s definitely been a factor that begged a further look. We wanted to use this as a basis to tell compelling stories about them and how the element of love, be it for their family or towards their fellow team members (platonic, of course), helped them to overcome all kinds of obstacles to deliver large-scale transformation for their clients. 

“We wanted to give the firm some personality to depict the consultants as humans and much more than their work,” Maryam said.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we saw this as a perfect opportunity to embark on a digital takeover campaign. Alex jokingly called it #LoveConsulting. We laughed. But it stuck. 

Marrying Consulting to Love: Putting Together a Campaign in 10 Days

Coming up with a fresh idea was relatively easy. But the real cup of a carpenter was to bring the idea to life. Especially within an extremely tight timeline and limited resources. And even then, ironing out internal processes to operationalise an idea was only half the battle won. The next and most crucial factor was getting the client’s approval on the idea. When the COMMUNICATE team brought the #LoveConsulting idea to the client, we made sure to present the idea through the lens of measurable tangible outcomes and the ultimate feasibility to get the campaign running.

Alex proposed that “the key to getting the idea to an implementable activity is to be able to rationalise this idea, highlight potential outcomes and how would the campaign lend itself in terms of relevance to both the business and brand marketing aspects of the firm.”

Then, it was about moving from a creative idea to developing a granular campaign plan from developing the storyline framework, securing individuals to be interviewed, producing both the editorial and audio-visual content, to obtaining the final approval. This required a strict discipline of action.

Crafting humanising stories

Given the time crunch of developing the campaign, all hands were on deck for the COMMUNICATE team to not only source the right stories from the right individuals, but also to tell those stories in a way that would create the most relevance for the wider audience that we were targeting. 

“We wanted to tell the ultimate story of how big fast results can only be achieved when intertwined with the love and passion of the consultants for their work and the relationships formed within and outside of the company,” Maryam said. 

The editorial team in COMMUNICATE was tasked to craft two stories into two separate articles.

One of which was a story of a couple who met in the company, got married, and now, work together. It was important to capture the essence of their life story by asking the right set of questions and to present it with accuracy. The challenge to that was that the featured couple were half way across the globe working together on a project in Oman. The interview had to be conducted thoroughly over a Skype call. From the interview, we realised that there was a bigger hook to the couple’s story – something we would not have been able to capture if it we had not asked the right questions over our interview session – that is to challenge the negative perception that some of us might have towards married couples working together. The article took a slight turn to not only share the experiences of the couple that work together, but also to challenge that negative perception.

The second article was about three consultants who became life-long friends after working together closely on a project – yet another challenging piece to put together in less than 10 days as it involved managing three consultants’ hectic schedules. A lot of back and forth communication happened to secure everyone’s availabilities from their busy schedules for a one-hour interview session. Clear communication was key to nailing down a set time and date to meet with the interviewees. The writing team took the weekend to craft all three responses to jive as one story. It was important to have all three stories connect and to highlight each consultant equally in the article to avoid any unnecessary biasness.

Both articles went through multiple rounds of reviews and edits before it was submitted to the client for approval. 

Capturing two stories into one

Another big component of the campaign was the video content which our Senior Producer, Joanne Ng had to manage within the 2-week period. 

“Most digital takeovers take a month or so to plan out. We only had two-weeks,” she said. 

The video team was bent on creating two videos for the campaign within the limited time that would touch on family and parenting values. They hoped that their videos would be relatable to other consultants facing the challenges of balancing a high-pressure and ultra-demanding career with parenthood.

For Joanne, “it was important to nail down the narratives of the content before interviewing the featured consultants, which we only had one take to get it right.” 

The narrative was set, and the interviews were conducted. However, the video team struggled with aligning the answers of two individual consultants into one of the videos as both responses were on different tangents – a potential problem that one could face when not given enough time to preempt your interviewees with a prepared list of questions. Hence, they went back to the drawing board to figure out ways to piece together the two separate experiences of a father and a mother juggling their work-life while raising a child with special needs at home. The exercise taught them to listen closely to the stories to piece the parts together.

Another challenge that the video team faced was to set the tone of the videos to be less corporate and to emphasise more on the emotions and feelings of the interviewees.

“If we could have spent more time with them (the consultants), they would be more comfortable in front of the camera and their stories would have flowed better to be more relatable,” Nick, our videographer, added. 

Nick joined the team about a month ago. Both Nick and Joanne saw the campaign as a good opportunity to get to know each other and understand each other better work-wise. Sometimes, the best way to put teamwork to the test is to jump into a project and learn to work together. And judging by the outcome of the videos, both Nick and Joanne collaborated well with each other.

Replacing (temporarily) the brand’s corporate identity

The #LoveConsulting mirror site did not stop at content. We went the whole mile by completely taking over the aesthetics, which included a daring shift from the firm’s corporate red colour palette to a striking pink. This was also translated to all their social media pages to drive home a complete take-over.

For COMMUNICATE’s Creative Director, Jerome Jambu, a form of visual interference was necessary and to stir interest.

“It was important to strike the right balance in the website and social media designs,” he said, adding that “we wanted to adhere to the company’s more corporate design guidelines, but also wanted people to be aware of the takeover.”

The design team tweaked the website and social media designs to be relevant to the Valentine’s Day and #LoveConsulting theme but were also careful to exercise some degree of restraint to avoid completely bastardising the PEMANDU Associates brand.  

That said, they did not hold back in completely changing the colours of PEMANDU Associates’ homepage with hints of pink but keeping the layout of the page as the same for returning website visitors to have a sense a familiarity. The profile and cover photos on the social media platforms were updated, and the social media post images were designed to be in line with the new colour scheme.

Like the content review process, there were several rounds of website testing to ensure that all the links to the contents were functional before everything goes live. This required a lot of attention to minor details to spot any glitches, misalignment of the copy and images, typos, or non-functional links. 

Boosting efforts

Finally, when everything went live, the final piece of the puzzle was ensuring that we had the right digital marketing strategy to amplify the message to a wider audience and garner the engagement we’d promised our client. As our digital media strategist, this was Maryam’s time to prove her salt. An extensive market research study and analysis on the company’s existing social media audience and engagement was conducted to determine the target audience and marketing budget of the digital campaign. With a set optimal budget, the social media posts on Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube were boosted with a revised demographic. In addition, the engagement rate was monitored and tracked over the course of 4 days. When the campaign was over, we measured the success rate and saw a leap in social media engagement rate by 4233% and website traffic by 285% during the campaign period.

Continuing Our Efforts

In creative work, it can be easy to end up going through the motions of getting a brief, then taking the most familiar approach to getting the deliverables out. But every once in a while, an opportunity comes to take a risk and do what you feel is right. The #LoveConsulting campaign was an example of an idea we decided to develop. There was no brief. There was no long lead time to deliver. And there certainly wasn’t the luxury of resources to throw at the project. But we did it anyway. And what resulted, was a win for both parties. For the agency: a chance to add a fresh initiative to our portfolio. And for the client: measurable results fit for any senior management meetings.

Here’s the full report on our achievements for the takeover.

Creative campaigns are a creative agency’s staple. Everyone can develop an idea. And given ample time of execution, they can go to market with it as well. COMMUNICATE works as a hybrid creative and business consulting firm. We utilise our data analytical expertise to drive our creatives and messaging for our clients, so that the execution remains relevant and engaging.