by: Scott Goodson

Advertising can suck.

Yes it's always effective to start with a surprise, especially one that is so often true. But don't be scared away. After all, even those of us totally committed to the ad game do often get twitchy fingers whenever confronted by another direct sell commercial invading our tv, computer or environment. We're human.
Why watch the hard sell when you can surf over to a quality show, website, movie or the National Geographic channel? We know how it should be: towards REAL WORLD inspiration and quality ENTERTAINMENT.

Why aren‚t ads be more like hugs? Totally engaging.

I consider myself the average impatient consumer. I like tech. I try to stay abreast. I'm as human as the next. And to witness our true nature just look at elevator buttons: the open door button is always pristine and the close door button is always dirty and broken. Humans want to move. We want to shake. And tech let's us do that. But at the end of the day I'm an old fart when compared to my kids or the average North American teenager. They move in brief intervals between TV, web, ichat, gaming, sms, cell calls, events˜and all at the same time. Now that's exactly the sort of multitasking I aspire for! So if you think traditional commercials bore you, well then: THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!

Interactivity is so much more interesting anyway. My 4 year old son more often prefers Noggin the website to Noggin the TV channel. His younger brother Ellis is a die hard web man.

In our multimedia world, people have been given the choice to press the close door button on ads that disrupt. Excellent. They also have the choice to then go to seek another door towards relevant culture that enables them to engage on their own individual terms. Even better. The age of disruption is dead. But disruption can be reborn as the jumpstart towards surprise and delight.

I've always been immensely attracted to the idea of communication being a powerful merger of advertising + content + entertainment + actions = TOTAL ENGAGEMENT as we Frogs say.

But talking about engagement alone as a powerful advertising force is missing the whole point. Engagement is about media. It's about finding the consumer, wherever he or she may be, and engaging them there. Fantastic opportunity to engage on multiple levels.

Larry Hotz one of the best consumer researchers I have met showed me how D&G and Chanel outperformed other luxury brands recently, not because they outspent them in ads, but because they augmented their traditional ads with events that garnered invaluable editorial, like Chanel‚s exhibit at the Met which written about in the widely read premium lifestyle journals US and People, as well as Vaniety Fair. Relevant word of mouth, buzz, editorial--all worth much more than their weight in gold.

But...

The real opportunity now, now that you‚ve got them, engaged them, what the hell are you going to do with them? Advertise to them? But that's what people are still doing.

I think Engagement has had its day. Engagement is still too focused on the disciplines integrated. It's still to much about the agency's ability to pull it all together than about the consumer who, by the way, doesn't differ between an ad and editorial about a brand.

Culture Connection is the future of marketing communication. Identifying cultural trends, creating new cultural trends, grassroots movements, it's about being a catalyst for culture on the rise, shaping cultural space. It‚s about sparking cultural movements for brands. Using the discipline of brand marketing, and the populist power of grass roots movements. Using ideas to propel brands into the cultural conversation --all of this. There are good examples of how cultural movements have affected massive numbers of people. Take Ohio in the last election. Or Punk. Or Rap. Or the International Vampire Meet Up phenomenon.

Cultural Connectivity - a powerful Cultural Connection with the consumer. The final step in the evolution process: from Dinosaur to Frog mentality, from Interruption to Engagement to Cultural Connectivity.

It's a mental leap from advertising to culture. From engagement to connection. From Strategic Planning departments to Urban Culturologists.

Because with a change in culture on your hands, advertisers can profit.

Original Post: http://scottgoodson.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/06/index.html

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