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Operation ‘Russian Doll’.jpeg

Operation ‘Russian Doll’

How to cohesively package any internal campaign to any audience

If I had a proverbial penny for every time I was called into a large corporate and asked to do a tactical piece of internal marketing and communication, I would be sunning myself on a tropical island and not penning this piece from my desk.

This is because as a large corporate you have a never-ending stream of issues that need to be communicated to your employees. This can be anything from new products and services, to new IT systems, new performance management processes, new market challenges, cultural interventions, leadership changes – you know the list.

Strategic Creativity

I believe there is great value in developing a marketing and comms campaign that goes beyond a newsletter or an e-mail alert and becomes something strategic and creative. I’m not saying this just because I love strategic creativity – which I do - but because strategic creative is proven to be the most effective way to give a message impact at both a cognitive and emotional level, and that is the only way to measurably change behaviour.

My reasoning is similar to the thinking that goes into your ATL advertising and marketing campaigns - strategic concept, emotive connection, creative delivery, and a compelling call to action – but sadly that’s too often where the similarity stops, or never gets started.

Your company would never brief a bunch of different advertising agencies on a bunch of tactical campaigns without giving them the brand strategy to guide their thinking. Yet this happens all the time with internal marketing and communications agencies.


Your resulting campaigns can become a never-ending series of disjointed, even schizophrenic communications, with tactical messaging that bears little or no relation to the brand strategy that is so assiduously supplied to external agencies working on tactical consumer-facing campaigns.

This is perhaps one of the reasons that as research shows, less than 2 out of 10 employees understand their company’s strategy. That’s 80% of your people – many of whom are directly serving your customers - who have no idea why you are bombarding them with these haphazard tactical comms in the first place.

A Solution

Okay, enough of the problems, fortunately there is a solution - cue the reassuring choral sting – and it can be found in the design principle of the Matryoshka dolls, a.k.a. Russian nesting dolls.

Matryoshka Dolls

There are traditionally seven dolls in a set. The largest is the exterior doll that establishes the design theme, inside of which all the smaller dolls fit. The principle follows a recognisable relationship of "object-within-similar-object" that appears in the design of many natural and crafted objects.

To address the challenge of designing a strategically creative internal marketing campaign, the biggest doll should be your business strategy. This will instantly and clearly create the commercial context, the communications landscape, and the messaging objectives of your campaign.

All other messaging – your ad hoc and tactical content - can be unpacked from this context, and then further unpacked into any number of directly relevant and therefore meaningful messages at a company-wide, departmental, and even down to a team level.

By following the Matryoshka principle you can use your business strategy as a framework to connect every piece of communication briefed out to any agency, and create a tangible connection of the employee’s everyday activities to the strategic objectives of your organisation.

Yes, your next internal marketing campaign can be designed to be that aligned, and thats beautiful!

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