F**k the Formula: Striking the balance between brand and performance with aiApply and Grenade

In the era of economic uncertainty with the relentless rise of automation and AI, traditional marketing methods are becoming increasingly obsolete. The solution? Saying ‘F**k the Formula!’ and utilising strategic marketing methods to stand out from the crowd, creating an online presence to be reckoned with and, ultimately, boosting ROI. 

Navigating the tightrope between brand and performance marketing is a challenge every marketer faces. This was the hot topic at our F**k the Formula panel featuring Dan Peden, Solutions Director at Journey Further who was joined by Yoann Pavy, Head of Growth at AI-powered job search platform aiApply, and Cameron Goldie, E-commerce Director at performance nutrition brand Grenade. Read along for top takeaways from their discussion.


Expert panellists discuss strategies for ROI optimisation, ad spend efficiency, and future-proofing in a cookieless era


The eternal struggle: brand vs. performance

Balancing brand investment with performance metrics is a perpetual challenge, especially in a tight economy. Cameron Goldie from Grenade argued for a long-term vision, advocating for sustained brand investment even amid short-term pressures. He emphasised that keeping brand awareness high ultimately slashes customer acquisition costs and boosts performance marketing.


Leveraging creators and UGC

Yoann Pavy shook things up with his take on blending organic content from niche creators with paid ads. This combo, though experimental, can supercharge both brand and performance. With the rise of user-generated content (UGC), high-quality videos are now just a smartphone away. Yoann spotlighted the viral success of street interview-style videos on TikTok, a go-to for many brands. It’s cost-effective, it’s engaging, and it’s the future of content marketing.


Measuring success

Measurement remains a complex challenge, especially in a landscape where traditional metrics like ROI are becoming less reliable. Cameron discussed the value of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) to track long-term customer journeys and profitability, enabling more informed decision-making. Yoann shared his scepticism towards over-reliance on data, warning that it can stifle creativity and lead to analysis paralysis.


Incremental testing and attribution

The debate around incremental testing and attribution was spirited. While Cameron expressed enthusiasm for holdout testing and triangulating data from multiple sources, Yoann recounted his frustrations with early, unreliable tools. Despite the challenges, both agreed that these methods are essential, demanding a nuanced and evolving strategy.


Practical tactics for ROI

When asked for actionable strategies to boost ROI, Cameron stressed the need to nail down fixed costs and keep marketing spend flexible. At Grenade, they crunch daily performance data to make swift, profit-maximising tweaks. Yoann jumped in, championing impactful, creative content over sheer reach. His secret weapon? Authentic, user-generated content that sparks real engagement and drives conversions.


Embracing social commerce

The panel concluded with a look at the future of social commerce. Cameron shared insights from a visit to TikTok’s HQ, highlighting how high-quality, engaging content is becoming crucial for ranking and visibility on the platform. This shift underscores the need for brands to align closely with creators who can authentically represent them, even in non-traditional or niche markets.


Thriving on tight budgets

Dan Peden, our Solutions Director, kicked off the discussion by addressing a common challenge: maximising output with limited budgets. He emphasised the need for a proactive approach to brand building, highlighting that reactive strategies can lead to short-term gains but may harm long-term objectives. Dan stressed the importance of prioritising customer engagement to prevent competitors from stealing market share with viral moments and low-cost alternatives.


Leveraging AI and automation

Cameron Goldie delved into the shift from old-school marketing to sleek, data-driven strategies. He highlighted the game-changing power of AI and first-party data, revealing how feeding AI systems the right info can churn out countless content variations and pinpoint target audiences with laser precision. Forget traditional tactics—AI is the key to smarter, more effective campaigns.


Want more?

Read our top takeaways from fireside chat with Richard Shotton. Lydia Hinchliff, our Director of Strategy, sat down with Richard Shotton, Behavioural Scientist and author of The Choice Factory, to dig into his expertise in applying behavioural science to marketing strategies.

We hosted F**k the Formula in New York too. Check out key learnings from the expert panel involving marketing leaders from Adidas, Whoop, Brooklyn Brewery, and Tod’s Group.