Thoughts on the Participation Paradox

I mentioned a while ago that occasionally some of us get together to chat about planning-related issues of the day.

Recently we debated Martin Weigel’s participation paradox, as put forth in his blog post.

We discussed how penetration is a better campaign objective than loyalty when you consider the main objective of advertising is to sell.

But we also discussed how it is important to remember that brands need to be able to generate ‘loyalty beyond reason’, as Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, said about re-orienting his company around Lovemarks. (Worth taking a look at the Lovemarks site if you haven’t lately, they even have a Pinterest page now!).

So we need to remember that advertising is sometimes best when people don’t notice it, and is probably most effective when you’re not trying to sell a specific product, but talking about something larger than you. As Steve said, if you try to be the best/strongest/coolest brand, sooner or later, thanks to technology, someone will out-‘est’ you.

We discussed how this is easier for some brands than others. How do you elevate chips  above its category, for example? For an entertainment company it may be easier to elevate above a specific film to the cause of film in general. We discussed how entertainment companies should take advantage of their enormous catalogue and do things that make the entertainment brand itself as universally known as a Disney property like Disneyland. Not Warner Bros-land per se, for example, but more along the lines of the Warner Bros Studio Tour in London.

wb studio tour

We wound up discussing how ideas like Nike Chalkbot (used in Weigel’s article as an example of a campaign that bridges both the participation and awareness criteria by giving something for hard-core fans to do, while still being interesting and raising awareness for the masses in general), are very rare. Other examples of projects or campaigns like that include Dulux Own a Colour, Eternal Moonwalk and the Nike Joga Bonito Football Chain.


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