Brands Need to Embrace the Brave New World and Advertise to Individuals
Brands and the marketers who look after them are at a crossroads. Do they follow a well-trodden but increasingly dull path? 30 second TV ad, print ad, shopper toolkit, maybe a few banners, TV ad cut down for Facebook…yawn…or do they leave that really (fucking) dull path, kick the door in, take some risks and actually start entertaining a clued up, open minded, yet cynical, audience.
Consumers or ‘people’ as I prefer to call them get brands in 2016. They know how brands work. They want to know what they stand for. They are up for being entertained by brands or for ignoring them completely.
People are changing. Society is changing at maybe the fastest rate in human history. There is a tangible rebellion against the constrictions of easily defined human groups or what our industry calls ‘segmentation’. Marketing professor Mark Ritson calls it right when he says that ‘anyone dumb enough to think that the 14 million British millennials qualify as a segment needs their head examined’. Within this group there are infinite nuances. It is nigh on impossible to segment as individual experience that makes up one human’s psyche can differ so much from another.
This seismic change is not restricted to those born before 1990 or whatever the official ‘millennial’ timeframe is. It seems to change every 5 minutes. The idea of family, too, is undergoing a big shift. Caroline Whaley, co-founder of women’s leadership consultancy Shine For Women, believes that each member of the modern family wants to be treated as an individual. "Un-traditional is the new traditional," she says. "The family has become a collective – it is not just held together by blood."
So what does this mean for brands? What does it mean for agencies advising those brands? It means a lot. Our agency has just gone through a rebranding exercise. Media Bounty is a ‘brand entertainment’ agency. Yes, I know. Another agency making up a new moniker, trying to stand out from the considerable noise. That is absolutely part of it. How else to carve out a space in an industry still dominated by the creative/media/digital/PR/social ‘traditional’ agency mix? But there is more to it than that. We feel that it is no longer good enough to squeeze out another 30 second TV ad to fit the media plan that according to the ANA may have already been written (for reasons I will not go into here). 30 seconds of film is not the only form of entertainment…
Only the brave……….
Brands can entertain but must be brave. Brave in the creative and brave in breaking new ground outside of the comfort blanket of the traditional TV, print, digital, shopper model. A friend of mine who directs documentaries said to me recently, ‘It’s not worth making unless there is a chance you may get killed’. I’m not talking about that sort of bravery but to stand a chance of entertaining and connecting with today’s ‘people’ we have to start challenging, playing, taking risks, making - say it quietly - mistakes…
Don’t get me wrong, traditional media still has a huge role to play. After all, some of us are currently being entertained by the Euros, Corrie, The Archers and Take a Break. Sometimes all at the same time! But - and it is a big but - an increasing number of us are not. Brands who are not embracing the ‘new traditional’ of Facebook and Youtube, the middle aged Instagram and the spotty, yet hugely clever Snapchat stand no chance of entertaining a huge unsegmentable swathe of people.
People want to be entertained. That has not changed. What has changed is that people are no longer all watching, listening, reading and feeling the same thing. Brands that do not wake up to this risk decline and, ultimately, irrelevance.