Human brands

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For a long time now, I’ve been wondering about why brands think it is OK to interrupt our daily lives with their messaging: people handing flyers out as you walk to work, posters in the tube, TV ads every 5 minutes when you sit down to watch the umpteenth re-run of Friends, ads on the car radio as you drive to work, pop-up ads when you go online to read the daily news…you get the picture.

 

In most cases brands think of us as targets.

 

That very word allows them to distance themselves from us, as Neil Perkin quite rightly said here.

 

‘Let’s shove free branded chocolate into her hand as she gets into the tube station’. (This actually did happen to me last week, thanks InStyle).

 

‘Let’s accost her as she walks to get a sandwich for lunch and entice her to sign up for discounted haircuts’. (This happened to me too, twice last week. Thanks, random hairdressing salon marketers).

 

The thing I don’t get is that the people behind these marketing tactics are other people like you and me. Almost unbidden, Hugh MacLeod’s artwork ridiculing advertisers comes to mind. So why do brands (and advertisers and marketers) think they’re different from us?

 

Technology has massively bridged the gap between people; between the young and old, the near and far, the intelligent and the obtuse (they all have access to Facebook, wot?). Technology is the great leveller. It wasn’t so before; I remember when I was in university, only a handful of people could afford mobile phones (the dinosaur phones that looked like mini-bricks). Today, milkmen, carpenters and plumbers are as likely to have an iPhone as the CEO of a company.

 

The days of brands thinking that it is smart marketing sense to throw leaflets at people, accost them in the street or disturb their viewing activity have gone. I bet you that if a brand actually pays money to *not* advertise on TV other than at the beginning, middle and end of a programme (i.e not every 5 minutes), *that’s* an advertising tactic that would actually work because people would remember that that’s an intelligent brand. A human one.

 

The tragedy is that we’re bound to tradition. Tradition says it’s the way TV advertising works: interrupt to get the message across.  But it’s not the world we live in anymore. Old media devices like the brick phone are so difficult to find today, but this media model isn’t.

 

Let’s change that.

POSTED BY: Anjali Ramachandran , @anjali28

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