Showcasing A “You” Brand
I am sitting in a coffee house as I write this blog.
Folks that read this and know me will not be at all surprised. They know that I spend a lot of time in coffee houses.
In addition to being well wired on caffeine… I find the diversity of the people I chat with to be a wonderful snap shot into the market mindset.
We are about to enter into the 2019 Holiday Season.
This past weekend, I did a field trip into a batch of Target, Walmart, Home Goods, Home Depot, Kohl’s and Ace Hardware stores. Today I went and took a walk through Atlanta’s signature shopping environment at Lenox Mall.
Here on October 23rd, every single one of the environments I toured had Christmas décor and Christmas products all up in full display.
The WSJ reports that Walmart is starting its Christmas ads and promotional discounting this upcoming weekend… a week before Halloween!
I am the first to admit that when I sit in Atlanta Georgia and ask folks about whether they are thinking about starting their Holiday shopping, many think I am not all in the here and now.
Perhaps if I were up in Billings Montana where I believe it is snowing today, a few folks might actually realize that I am asking a very valid question.
The best part of the Holiday season is not what we find in the retail stores. It is not what we see in the lights on houses and trees. It is not even what gets wrapped up in the papers of dazzling colors and glitter.
The best part of the Holiday season is what we see in the Video ads… the ads that air on televisions, smart phones, MacBooks and iPads. Although I am more visual and carry a slight bias, I will also throw in the radio ads. The radio ads are very telling too.
Holiday ads often tell us a lot about product and service categories as well as the corporations and organizations airing the ads.
A lot of brands today are driven by the “Me Generation.”
What is fascinating is that there really is not a set age group that comprises the “Me Generation.”
If you Google it, some sources say it’s the Baby Boomers, other say it’s that generation that reached adulthood in the 1980s and 1990s — which is Generation X. Others say it’s the Millennials. Some actually call the Millennials the “Me… Me… Me Generation.”
A lot of the ads that are about to hit the airways and digital screens are authored by the “Me Generation.” They extol the extraordinary aspects of the brand — at least extraordinary aspects championed by the brand’s C-level management.
You know the themes and the copy lines…
** We use… we only use… we find the very best…
** Our brand is brought to life and provides you with these (fill in mechanical benefits)
** Our team has over zillions of years of experience doing whatever
For fun, ask your friends to guess how many times the group will hear the word “best” used in commercials airing during a college or pro football game.
One of the categories that EXPERIENCE has rich expertise is healthcare.
Now having shared that factoid, I have to quickly add that we are not the production house nor the ad agency that produce our clients’ healthcare ads.
If you are a corporate or organizational psychologist, there’s a lot of work for you in the healthcare industry… and it’s not the patients that are the opportunity… it’s the provider brands and the management teams.
Shoot, it could be a hospital, a physician group, a pharma, a healthcare insurance company… there’s a lot of shared ownership of narcissism.
Healthcare ads overtake the “Me Generation” and even the “Me… Me… Me Generation.” The only thing that saves many of the healthcare brands is that the ads all look the same so it’s hard to tell just whose ad is who.
One of the New York healthcare groups ran a full-page ad in yesterday’s WSJ that showcased its team of doctors and nurses fixated on an X-ray shot projected up on the wall with copy talking about how the healthcare group was leading the industry in the integration of technology into patient assessment and care.
That group could be called the “Dr. Me Team.” There was not even a picture of a patient. No use of the pronouns “we” and/or “you.”
Healthcare is a category of a lot of troubled brands just seeking to survive. Not too unlike restaurants.
Arby’s is owned by Inspire Brands located right here in Atlanta-land.
The one thing that I will give credit to Arby’s and their ad agency, Fallon, is that they do produce groups of ads versus only producing one ad that keeps running over and over and over again.
The problem actually is exemplified in their tag line… “Arby’s. All About Meats.”
I am not a creative director, but think about the image take-away variance if the tag line instead read… “Arby’s. All About You.”
I am not here to say that all the restaurant ads are off-track and that the management teams and ad agencies are teams of narcissists, but a good share are.
The Holiday season will be loaded with bunches of restaurant — particularly fast food brand — ads.
Burger King will be showcasing its burgers. Domino’s Pizza will be showcasing its delivery. And while KFC brought back The Coronal … when was the last time you actually saw the Coronal interacting with people?
There will be car ads highlighting the Vrooom, Vroom power of the auto as it speeds down the curving roadway. Shoot, it could be electric, an SUV or a MINI Cooper… it’s all about showcasing the vehicle.
At least Subaru is passionate about pets and has dogs driving their vehicles in the ads.
You will also see a good number of ads for new start-ups — most being online-only retail ads.
LOL… there’s a television ad that I saw a lot on the sports broadcasts this past weekend for a website that only sells socks. It talks all about the personality of the founders of the start-up. It highlights how the one founder got a tattoo for reaching a level of sales volume. It highlights the stitching around the heel of the sock.
Nowhere do you see an actual person wearing the socks. And at no time does the copy use the pronoun, “You.”
Many of those ads that you see for those start-ups will not run again. Not only do they fail at generating clicks in the digital “ad agency” “database tracking,” most will not deliver much in terms of ring-ups on the cash register.
However, when a brand is brave enough to actually embrace its audience group and showcase its audience group. When a brand stops being a Me-Brand and instead becomes a You-Brand… then it is so distinctively different, it makes audience groups stop. Watch the ads. And passionately seek out the brand.
No question that Apple gets it right. Nike often does. Marriott ads have been showcased in this blog. A lot of the Verizon ads tout the mechanics and attributes of Verizon, but a couple of Verizon ads showcased You and let go of Me.
As the 2019–2020 Holiday season opens up and the ads take the limelight, stay in front of the TV during the commercial breaks.
If you are watching shows on YouTube… click on the ad links and watch what comes up on the screen.
If you see links to videos and commercials in banner ads, click and watch them on your smart phone — just don’t do it while you are driving the car!
When you see an ad that is not produced by the Me Generation, jot it down on a piece of paper or on the notes app on the smartphone.
The next time you are sitting down asking the question, “What can we do to increase our brand sales this year,” pull out the list. Go and Google the ads and stream them together in one sit-down with your brand team.
Then go out to your neighborhood coffee houses and talk with folks. Bring your brand up in the discussions and then sit back and listen.
Ask them to describe experiences when they used or might use the brand.
Watch their non-verbals. Watch their body movements.
And then script your Mission around authoring a You Brand.
My bet is that in the 2020–2021 Holiday Season… there will be a lot of smiling among you and your fellow team-members.