Today most companies strive to be consumer centric. To be consumer centric we need to build a relationship with consumers. Yet what is the fabric of a great relationship?
In a great relationship, there is a time to talk; there is a time to listen; there is a time to act; and, at a crescendo, a time to propose. But most importantly, a great relationship is a continuous process underpinned by shared values. It is a commitment and you never let go of each other .
When consumer brands produce TVCs, more and more are consumer insight driven and less product & feature focused. They leverage at a value set shared with the consumer. They dramatise values such as family, health, security, relationships, identity, happiness, and empowerment in the context of the Brand. By keying into these values they trigger a deep rooted emotional response from the consumer for maximum memory and influence. They exploit the principles of the Heart2Brain model of marketing.
When I see a new TVC, I am genuinely emotionally touched. I embrace the offered relationship with the Brand on the ground of some of the most fundamental values in my life. It is an unexpected wedding proposal. But I feel torn. On the hand, I am a little doubtful of the sincerity of such a proposal from a “stranger”. On the other hand, I am excited. The stranger wants to engage with me at emotional level. How will “she” try to take our ambitious, but also new relationship, to the next level?
The initial excitement often turns to disappointment. As a next move from the stranger, I am being proposed to again, this time via a 15 seconds TVC rather than the initial 30 seconds version. In addition, I am sometimes invited to visit the brand’s website. There is no particular reason to visit the site, but I still want to give this relationship a chance. The website turns out to be about the products of the brand mainly, and not does focus at enriching our nascent relationship based on the shared values dramatised in the TVC. I feel estranged and foreign to the Brand.
A case in point is Levi’s Go Forth spot. See it here. Even for an old, uncool man like me, it is hard not to be caught by the spirit of the video. As a consumer, you would want more of those poems, that music, that vibe and explore the relation between Charles Bukowski and Levi's? The TVC is fantastic in my view, but it leaves the consumer mentally stranded, unaware of next step to take, if he is not ready to buy immediately.
What happened to fundamentals of relationship building after the initial proposal by the Brand? The one on one talk; the listening; living the values together; walking the talk to address my initial skepticism and fuel by eager expectations; what happened to the longevity we all know is required to build valuable relationships; where did the mutual commitment go? To top it up, suddenly the campaign is all over, and the Brand is nowhere to be seen.
In life, we all know it is much easier to make a proposal than building and living in a relationship. Similarly, most Brands know how to make an consumer insight driven and emotionally appealing TVC, whereas building relationships require new competencies and new experiences. Empowered consumers lose trust when Brands do not follow through on the TVC channeled wedding proposal by continuing a sensitive strengthening of the the relationship building through intimate talk, listening, action and long term commitment.
And yes, as a founder of a digital agency, I firmly believe Brands need an integrated multi-touch point strategy with digital as the centre point. Practically, it means that whereas campaigns are important, an Always On content strategy is a must in order to build those deep relationships. At Vertic, we call it EntangledMarketing.
We are no longer going online. We are living online. Today, every company must think of itself as being digital to some degree.