The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

Are agencies interested in having a relationship with brands and people or just sex?
Waqar Riaz, Cheil Worldwide
Waqar Riaz

Apparently, most o f the times the answer seems to be the latter, and it all makes sense for the agencies. It’s quick, pleasurable, and without any long-term commitment or responsibilities. On the other hand, having a relationship means something, as relationships demand going through tough times to get to the good times . They seek understanding and love – relationships are connections beyond reason. 
Without a doubt, agencies are realising the shift of control to the people. However, instead of actually understanding this new state-of-mind of the people, brands and agencies have started to use it as another selling technique. Unfortunately, they don’t understand that the customer has all grown up – they know how unkindly communications have betrayed and ripped them off in the past. They can actually  spot the difference between advertising slogans ‘positioned on you’  and companies actually working for them.

It’s quite funny, when brands and agencies start  to communicate as though the customer is a baby who will listen to them no matter what they say. Times have changed, people have changed and it’s important for our attitudes as marketers to change too. It’s not enough to communicate pleasing statements to the people unless we don’t mean them. Because, you know what? People know about mass manipulation.

Recently, I have been observing some rather depressing advertising examples. Every other brand holding the ply card showing ‘you (customer) are the king’.

For example, the recent campaign by Yahoo, focusing on the fact ‘You’. The $100 Million campaign  as described by Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is something like this, ‘What we want to do is show (people) what the new Yahoo is about so they come (to the site) all the time’. All this powered by the unique advertising bullets expressed in the form of images and taglines “It’s time to get personal” and “The new Yahoo lets you do it your way every day.” “The Internet is under new management. Yours,” “Now the Internet has a personality. Yours.” The television film heaves with images of dancers, Dalmatians, soccer and kids blowing bubbles, and highlights Yahoo’s array of services and customization options.

In further explaining the campaign’s philosophy Carol Bartz adds, ‘Yahoo is an asset to our users out there, and Yahoo wants to be a tremendous asset to all of you,” she said. “The ‘You’ is also you.”

yahoo 2.jpg


Now hang on for a second and let’s focus on what this $100 Million campaign is actually trying to communicate. To my understanding, all it is doing is pretty straightforward, ‘pleasing the audience’, by making statements which communicate Yahoo as a company designed around people. But hey, do you actually need to say that to people if you are working for them? Advertising agencies and brands, please try to understand, if you are working for the people, they will know it. You won’t need to tell them by wasting millions of dollars. Learn something from Google - they do useful things for people, rather than just saying so all the time. Google doesn’t waste all its money on telling people that it’s useful for them. Instead, it focuses on improving its product and when people use it, they automatically know the difference. This simple focus on work and not emotional lies is what makes Google the world’s number one brand in terms of its value. 

google 1.jpg
Yes, there was a time, when it was possible for companies to create perceptions about brands which actually were not included in the offering. But this is a different age. People can now cross check the utility of the products and services with the Whole Wide World. The communication between user groups have immensely increased, and what was before the opinion of a few people on a product or service has now become the sharing between thousands of people. Today, it’s practically impossible for brands to win people’s hearts, without bringing utility into their products and a change beyond just advertising. 
How great would that be if Yahoo’s communication partner had used that $100 Million dollars to think, create and communicate what people find useful, rather than telling them how they should feel about the brand?

Subjects: Brands, Advertising, Consumers

24 February 2010 10:59

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