Don’t just have serious converastions

I just read a short book that interviewed advertising guru Charles Saatchi, of Saatchi & Saatchi fame.  In it he refers to a period in advertising when people actually looked forward to commercial breaks because the advertising was that entertaining.  People it seems looked forward to the latest ad from brands in the way they now get excited about the next movie staring their favorite celebrity.  I remember that era and he’s right.  I recall wanting to see the latest Levi ad before the start of a movie.  The closest we get to this now is a Budweiser ad during the Superbowl.  That’s sad.  Very sad.

My point here is that marketing should entertain as well as inform.  It should get us on the edge of our seats waiting to be sold to.  In a way Apple has adopted this approach by on the one hand helping fuel rumors about its latest products (see all the rumors around the tablet for example) and on the other making sure it says nothing publicly.  In short we are all dying to find out what Apple will do next.  This is a launch though, so building hype is to be expected.  But what can brands do to build expectation into their marketing AFTER a product is launched?  I’d argue that marketing has lost the art of entertaining and is too wrapped up in having a dialog that is focused on the ‘key points.’  Talking about the key points after the news is out gets, well, boring.  Also, as a consumer I don’t want to spend all my time in a serious conversation with a brand.  I want that brand to entertain me, surprise and even shock me.  Not in  the Tiger Woods way perhaps but you get my drift.

2009 was a year when everyone feared for their jobs and people ran a mile from risk.  In the race to avoid risk, they also avoided anything that was just plain fun.  Please let’s not repeat that in 2010.  Let’s create marketing programs that have a serious conversation but which also engage with customers in other, less serious ways.  Ways that may be harder to rationalize but which we all know just plain work.  Let’s have a Happy New Year.

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