We are you, honest.

15Sep09

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Ad agency JWT NY say:
“Shot in NYC’s Flatiron District, Morgen leads a series of New Yorkers to the HSBC soapbox where they sound off on immigration, technology, and family. Understanding the unique values of their customers has made HSBC the world’s local bank.”
There’s a significant trend for showing reality and real people and stimulating discussion on themes companies align themselves with. It’s a really tricky area; one that you can easily get wrong.
Take the above example.
There’s only a few strategies in creative advertising (as opposed to marketing). I’m trying to uncover how many there actually are, so watch this space or help me!
This one sits in the ‘We understand you’ box, as opposed to the ‘This is us, take us or leave us’ approach.
Cynically, you could call it  ‘We know that you probably want text banking, so we thought we’d create an umbrella thought around ‘technology’, associate ourselves closely with it through ordinary Joes and then you might think we’re progressive in this area, even if we don’t mention any related products of services that might be of benefit to you’.
So in using real people to represent a point of view, we have to ask what the take out is. Does this ad strategy make you think “you understand me”? Or rather, does it make you ask “are they real people and do I care about them”?

 

We  obviously know people tend to be drawn towards people they understand and can associate themselves with. So the risk in using ‘real’ people is that we tend not to like everybody. People also tend to reject artifice and can sniff out the absence of authenticity/truthfulness in a flash, so if the ‘real’ people are not really very ‘real’, we can tell. This then distracts from the message.
So the above is a strategy aimed as associating a brand with the questions/opinions people apparently have about a topic the brand defines via a few hand picked members of the public (note older woman as well as bespectacled business man). This approach is in danger of creating a riven take out: “I don’t like/understand those people so I don’t understand the ad/point of view/the sponsoring brand’s point of view.”?
A tricky one.

 

Boxfresh, so down with it that it's tragic.

Boxfresh, so down with it that it's tragic.

But this approach is probably preferable to that of Boxfresh. Any brand that shouts this at me is asking for a punch in the face.
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