No one cares about your brand
In a world overloaded by information, Lawrence Dodds explains why cultural moments matter to advertisers now more than ever
In this hyper-connected world, attention spans are growing shorter. FOMO is driving consumers to relentlessly seek out the next thing. We’re all goldfish, forgetting things as soon as we look away.
And I’m afraid to say, if you’re a CMO looking to garner long-term love and engagement, good luck. It’s becoming harder for all but the biggest brands to stand out under this constant deluge of information.
People don’t sit and watch ads like they used to. We’re living in an era of non-traditional media consumption where advertisers have less than a second to grab a viewer’s attention as they scroll down on their social network’s feed.
And so, with a few honourable exceptions, ‘brand cults’ are a thing of the past. No-one really cares about brands any more. Consumers are promiscuous and most push marketing is struggling to catch their eye. To call it a tough environment for marketers is a colossal understatement.
Moments that matter
But not everyone is suffering. Some global brands such as Coca-Cola have become entwined and synonymous with particular cultural events such as the FIFA World Cup. Others, notably Apple, have created their own.
People might not care about brands any more, but they care about moments. Marketers can and should be looking to take ownership of those moments, focusing not on reach but on how a given moment impacts their target audience.
And fortunately, the technology exists so that brands can adapt their campaigns dynamically to fit each moment as it happens. That enables them to offer content that both adds value and is relevant to that specific point in time. The Economist’s online ads kept viewers up to date on the latest 2018 FIFA World Cup scores and results, while John Lewis featured dynamic creative highlighting the ad viewer's weather in real-time with accompanying lifestyle imagery.
It’s a little surprising that more brands haven’t taken advantage of real-time dynamic advertising – simply because it allows them to, quite literally, seize the moment.
What moments are relevant to your brand?
Not all moments are created equal, of course. There are persuasion moments, those big, cultural touchpoints that everyone knows about and follows – global sporting events, Hollywood blockbusters and so on. There are also precision moments, the smaller things that happen every day and might (at least at first glance) affect fewer people or individuals.
Both can be valuable to brands if managed the right way. A parenting brand, for example, might want to own key moments such as Mother’s Day or more targeted moments such as ‘bedtime’.
And perhaps most importantly, if your brand can’t find an external moment to draw upon, it can try to create one of its own. Apple’s iPhone launches have become synonymous with splashy headlines and technological innovation, but not every brand-generated moment has to be quite that imposing.
Think about it. Amazon has its Prime Days, KitKat is the unquestioned owner of the ‘break’, and who among us hasn’t longed for a cool, refreshing drink when it reaches Pimms O’Clock?
A moment in time
Your brand will have values and a specific tone of voice and approach, but that still offers a great deal of room for manoeuvre. Dynamic ad technology allows campaigns to remain true to their core messaging while offering content that targets the right person at the right moment.
Targeting moments allows marketers to be focused, to generate cut-through, and to change consumer behaviour without automatically needing a vast budget. It doesn’t have to be burdensome – and enables brands to offer thousands of different creatives without having to design each one individually.
And perhaps most importantly, brands can use moments to create talking points and earned media that exist beyond the initial media campaign. When no-one cares about brands, finding something they do care about – and making your brand part of it – has to be the dream.
Lawrence Dodds is communications planning director at media agency UM