Engagement: old wine in a new bottle?

Jana Bowden

It seems that everyone's jumped on the engagement b(r)andwagon: ad agencies see it as the panacea for reestablishing brand relevance, research consultancies have heralded it as the next holy grail for greater accountability over ad effectiveness, and in the midst of all this, the ARF (Advertising Research Foundation) has formalised a working definition of it. Apparently everyone's trying to engage the consumer. The idea's a bestseller!

But (and forgive the question), exactly what is new? Is this just another convenient label to revamp the important issue of the feel–think–do approach, in other words, the old so-called tri-component model of emotion, leads cognition, leads action? And what about all the chatter in the past about brand marriages and love-marks: exactly where does that fit with the current pursuit of consumer engagement? It seems that rational and emotional engagement with the brand is still just as important as it always has been. So what exactly is the way forward?