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January 11, 2007



These are $64,000 questions, I think. I have to say that I feel very optimistic about them. That said, I’m sure I’ll be on a sugar beet farm by 2012 being laughed at by my friends who are lawyers and bankers as punishment for my naivety and over-simplifications. (As somebody that grew up surrounded by sugar beet farms it is not an enticing prospect).

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here are my naïve answers

1. Will brands be allowed to step into these loaded, explosive areas?

I say ‘yes’ for two reasons.

Firstly, there is too much money, too many talented jobs and too much opportunity at stake for marketers not to find a way. After all, our illustrious predecessors 50 years ago found a way to jump into people’s living rooms and interrupt their favourite TV shows without pissing them off. Arguably this is an easier task. I think it’s conservative, unimaginative clients and agencies that are the real brake.

Secondly, consumerism has been gradually incurring on more and more parts of our lives for the last 50 years making it more and more ‘acceptable’ for brands to move into such previously taboo territories. (The rise of CSR as penance or necessity for taking over the world demonstrates this). Unless there is a sudden change of direction (such as the setting up of a Taliban Super-Caliphate in the West) these prevailing conditions will continue.

2. How will low interest products engage consumers for more than a fraction of a second?

By providing high interest gifts of content. These gifts will clearly have nothing to do with product benefits and demonstrations and everything to do with the values of the brand. There is precedent for this: the soap opera. Who says that Persil can’t buy all the best writers of East Enders, Coronation Street and Neighbours and create the mother of all soap operas? It’s won’t be set in a launderette. It won’t have product placement but it’ll clearly be made possible by Persil. Viewers get it for free. They like it. Without Persil it wouldn’t exist. They say ‘thankyou’ by buying lots of Persil.

3. What will happen when the land grab is over?

The land grab won’t end because the ability of low interest brands to create high interest content will mean there is room enough for everybody. The only caveat on this is that the gap between the good ‘advertisers’ and bad ‘advertisers’ will be far greater than it is today because the lack of interruption media means that there will no longer be a level playing field. The good will be really sort out. The bad, really ignored.

4. Will people max-out on engaging brands?

Not if brands hire the best people, stay fresh and imaginative and provide some of the best content available. People only max out when something gets stale or boring. Once again, it’s up to marketers vision, commitment, will power, creativity and wallets whether they want to make this happen or not.

5. What will happen when interruptive media have so dwindled that you can’t advertise your funky on-line presence?

Once again, if there is a will there’ll be a way. If (and my I mean ‘if’) interruptive media so dwindles, surely there is a business opportunity for www.homeofthebrands.com which makes money by being a listing site for brand content and attracts consumers to it because it hired Armando Ianucci, Pierre Omidyar and Dave Alberts (see what I did there) to make it one of the most entertaining home pages on the internet.

But more to the point do we really see interruptive media completely going? Will people really pay to remove all advertising from billboards, radio and their newspapers?

6 & 7. Who are our test-bed brands and should we establish ‘conversational’ roles for all our brands before the oxygen supply is cut-off?

We should establish two test-bed brands, deliberately chosen to be at different ends of the engagement spectrum. At one end perhaps The Business or Nokia. At the other, Fairy or Bold.

And we should look at establishing ‘conversational’ roles for all our brands. Even more so we should try creating entire campaigns for them based solely on destination not interruptive media consumption.


Very good Guy. I'm cheered.

What then, would the role for advertising be on a typical Nokia brief?

And Niki, if you're reading this, what implications would it have for Fairy?

This change of tack would have massive implications for P&G with their addiction to ORS and its measurement of trial potential.

Account management we desperatley need your help.



I must confess that I can be quite receptive to much of the ‘fake friendship’ that Bouncy criticises the DIG campaign for. I don’t really mind a laundry detergent telling me that dirt is good and I quite like that my Innocent smoothie shouts “Shake me like crazy!” and suggests “See if you can recycle me…and I could end up as a poster of a cute kitten”. Its fun.

The problem arises when consumers object to being forced into these friendships through this ever more prevalent ‘corporate chummyness’. I, for example, find myself answering back to me-old-mucker Jamie Oliver’s suggestion to “Try Something New today” with a new-found level of mindless sarcasm; What’s that you say Jamie? Put spinach AND tomatoes in with my pasta? Top tip you smug mockney.

I suspect that if we address consumers as friends, we risk alienating them if we don’t get the tone exactly right or if consumers already foster even the mildest dislike for our brand/product/spokesperson. The link below is to an article that goes into detail, albeit in a rather journalistic and self-aggrandising fashion, about why consumers ‘should’ object to all fake friendliness in marketing. The article is called “You’re Not a Friend” and is written by Peter Lyle in Tank magazine. I’m intrigued to know what people think about how/when/if this overfriendly approach to engaging consumers can be successful.

Click me and save the file I link to.
(You can do this by right-clicking on the bit that looks like this when you get to the page:


Without getting into big details, the DIG idea came out of developing markets - in particular South America. When you think about the notion of promoting learning in developing markets, maybe the idea takes on new dimensions. Go further, think about markets in Asia in which 'learning' tends to be a very very structured 'wrote' process, injecting the notion that kids can learn outside the schoolroom is a very powerful and quite controversial thought.

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