AdAsia 2011: People do not need advertising anymore: Will Sansom

By Anindita Sarkar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | November 03, 2011
The writer-consultant noted that today the marketing language used by brands places barriers between 'us' and 'them', thus limiting the scale of any brand's activity.

New technologies and their impact on consumer behaviour have led the advertising industry to embrace the Silicon Valley mentality of risk and reward. But, brands and agencies need to divert energy and resources into experiments, uncovering new opportunities and collaborative cultures.

"People do not need advertising anymore. They need education, entertainment and meaningful talking," said Will Sansom, writer and consultant, Contagious Communications, while addressing the audience on the second day of AdAsia 2011. The session was titled: Ideas that are contagious.

Sansom noted that today, the marketing language used by brands places barriers between 'us' and 'them', thereby limiting the scale of any brand's activity.

"We have to understand that we must do marketing for people, and not robots, and people value experience over innovation," he said.

Today, thousands of technology brands claim to create the 'world's first', and yet they fail to touch consumers personally, and create an impact, said Sansom. "And, an impact can be created only when companies aspire to build brands based on basic human needs. This is because people do not care about technology. They care about experience," he said. He noted that the best applications created are those where technology is invisible.

Meanwhile, brands also need to quickly understand, react and respond to consumer needs in order to create emotional engagement.

To explain his statement further, Sansom cited the example of the 'blank cap recall' campaign of James Ready in 2010. The brand had traditionally printed words of wisdom on the back of its beer bottle caps and labels. The idea was to create a brand recall value for itself with a certain sense of humour, and advice for saving beer money. However, in June 2010, there was a mix-up at the bottling plant, and many caps went out blank. Soon after, James Ready and its agency Leo Burnett Toronto began to receive messages through social networking sites and videos, wherein beer drinkers refused their beer-flavoured celebrations.

So, the agency decided to use this as an opportunity to build a connect between the brand and its drinkers with campaigns like sharing its billboards and campus casino nights to turn blank caps into the Blank Cap Recall. In July 2010, the brand issued an apology video on its Facebook page and asked drinkers to send in their blank caps or pictures of their blank caps, in exchange for a James Ready mystery gift.

"And, the activity created one of the best engagement bustles for the brand, converting a 'screw up' into a branding exercise that was at a personal level," said Sansom.

He finally concluded the session by stating that marketing techniques today have to have a service design. "If you build it with more value and more meaning, they (the consumers) will come," he said.

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