Our Manifesto for Meaning
One of the benefits of taking time off from commercial television (whether to binge on an ever-expanding range of series from our current Era of Great TV or simply as a fit of pique exit from our Era of Depressing Cable News) is that when you return, there’s been obvious evolution in brand messaging. Some are based on consumer insight. Others on laws of diminishing benefit return. A couple on public policy backlash potential
“The one starting with F” campaign for Farxiga instantly tells us patients are having a hard time keeping straight the various diabetes treatments about which to ask their doctors. Really, people? That’s the meaningful attribute you decided can best connect the promise of a chronic disease breakthrough to the ever-escalating number of diabetics?
“Only Tylenol has laser-drilled holes” tells us the world of pain relief is getting weird. Desired consumer response: Gosh! That’s the aha! for which I’ve been waiting to switch from Aleve. I demand laser-drilled holes.
“McDonald’s: America’s first best job” suggests a repositioning of minimum-wage employment to be a remarkable career track decision, working (dare we say it) overtime for the brand as an image-enhancing defensive move against living wage legislation. Communication: Let’s bring a tear to their eyes and they won’t see this makes no sense. White manager. Multi-racial crew of all ages. Best first job for whom?
Our world is a remarkable place to be born into, as beat poet Ferlinghetti told us. Actually he said it was a beautiful place, if you didn’t mind certain things. I’m the one saying it’s a remarkable place. The marketing world, that is. If you don’t mind certain things. Like the fact it is chock-a-block with real, but tenuously relevant, or sometimes purely imaginary benefits. Spending top dollar to reach a declining audience with declining interest in differentiating their identity based on your decliningly differentiated brand message.
We believe we can tell the story better, based on the authentic drivers of real emotional meaning. We believe we must do it in a way that generates genuine margin. We believe we can put anticipation of brand engagement back into the equation, exciting, invigorating, indeed, enchanting the consumer. We believe we can because we are doing it, every day.
It’s a journey we want to begin with you today. Or else, in the middle of all this marketing-as-usual “comes the smiling mortician,” as Ferlinghetti also told us. The trash bin of dead brands. No recycling.
We didn’t get into this profession to be ones to figure out the patient can only be trusted to remember “the one starting with F.” You didn’t. I didn’t. We can do better. Call me.
PS: I’m speaking at AmericasMart in Atlanta this weekend. If you’re in the ‘hood, come to the 1 p.m. session. Re-inventing Retail for Relevance. ‘Bout time.