‘Take a look at the collaborative video we started, and then film what happens next. We'll rotate a selection of the clips we receive on this page, and add the best ones to the video. The final video will be featured on the Gmail homepage and seen by users worldwide’. In 2007, this is how Google started one of the best co-created communication pieces for Gmail. As a result – the entire world came out holding video cameras and letter ‘M’. Hats off to the thinking of Gmail Labs.
If we look at this activity from an advertising effectiveness point of view, we come across some amazing results. Thousands of blogs across the World Wide Web, started to talk about Gmail’s clever stunt – it reached a worldwide audience of millions, and represented the multicultural, global outlook of the brand. All this apparently at zero media, production and advertising budget.
So, what actually made people so interested in doing what they did for Gmail? In my opinion a good product is a ‘product’ of focused thinking, value optimisation and not merely dreams and hopes. Google doesn’t sell dreams – it simply brings Value to all of us.
Without a doubt, as a product Gmail is full of Value, whilst deploying a very commercially viable model:
• Customers: They only want what they want (Unlimited space, GTalk, Video etc.).
• Advertisers: They want low cost and low risk (In-mail targeted ads, low cost etc.).
• Media/Publishers: They need to engage customers and they want to do so at a low cost and with low risk (Targeted, Text sense, low cost, easy campaign monitoring etc.).
It’s important for us to understand that we are moving away from an era of creative engagement to an age of Value exchange. If we don’t realise this fact and avoid bringing it in what we do, then soon brands may not have any need for us, as we now know that some brands are actually very good in planning total solutions for their businesses – including communications.
Without a doubt, we must learn how to analyse data about brands, the ways to use research usefully and how to bring human insight into the communications process. However, if one stops here, then everyone’s in trouble, because as business thinkers, our job is not to just create useful digital strategies, guide the creatives, client and agency in developing television commercials, or introduce a cool way to communicate over the mobile; most importantly it is to create a brand experience which delivers Value to the business and people in general.
'Communication' is the end result of brand thinking, and there’s no way we can make that end result valuable for people, unless we don’t design the brands to work the way people think. It’s important for advertising industry to redefine its role from creating marketing solutions to offering business solutions. The reason is simple; the industry’s main source of inspiration, ideas and insights (people) has evolved. Today, people demand value from businesses. If they get it they will do anything for you – if they don’t, they won’t hesitate to do everything against you either.