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THE FUTURE

OF BRANDS
Five awarded and inspiring essays
by MECs class of 2013-14

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THE FUTURE OF BRANDS
Five awarded essays on branding by MECs rising stars
What is a brand? How can it bring value to a business? How to build a great brand?
Working with our clients brands, these are the kind of questions we constantly ask.
How else can we meet the task of efficiently growing our clients businesses?
The following five essays on branding are all award-winning work by upcoming
MECers. Two have passed the 2014 Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA)
Excellence Diploma with credit and two with distinction. Of the latter, one was also
awarded the honorary title Outstanding Body of Work. The Excellence Diploma is the
pinnacle of the IPA qualifications and of the total of 54 essays that passed, only five
passed with distinction.
The last essay in this collection took bronze in the 2014 Admap Prize, an international
industry award that encourages and rewards excellence in strategic thinking and
brand communications.

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CONTENTS
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I Believe in the Future Brands Must be Superhuman
to Compete against Everything and Everyone in this
Marketing age, Truly Delivering the Extraordinary
We live in mans fourth cultural phase, the Age of Marketing where everyone is
a marketer and everything communicates in marketing terms. In this world the
paradigm that brands should act human and be flawed, real and transparent
is outdated and untrustworthy. Instead, in order to succeed, brands must
impress consumers withtheir superpowers; their extraordinary storytelling,
performance and brand control.
by Emily Fairhead-Keen, Business Director Communications Planning,
MEC United Kingdom
IPA Excellence Diploma Dissertation, passed with Distinction and IPA Award
for Outstanding body of Work.

PAGE 28
I Believe that in the Future Brands will have to Earn
the Right to Communicate
What kind of communication can make people stop and pay attention? The
author argues that the answer is epistemic advertising where a range of
very specific techniques will earn you the attention of an audience. Here is the
recipe to make your advertising stand out in todays world of constant over-
communication.
by Richard Bradford, Group Strategy Director, MEC United Kingdom
IPA Excellence Diploma Dissertation, passed with Distinction

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PAGE 50
I Believe the Future Belongs to Brand-Driven
Businesses, not Business-Driven Brands
The author shows how the most successful brands are the brands that embrace
change and makes sacrifices in order to follow the consumers needs, not the
shareholders. With lots of examples and empirical data he argues that it is the
agile, brand-driven businesses that hold the keys to the future.
by Emil Bielski, Business Director MEC, United Kingdom
IPA Excellence Diploma Dissertation, passed with Credit

PAGE 66
I Believe that the Future of Brands Lies in making
Loving Fun
The brand loyalty debate is outdated. A consumer never marries a brand, but
goes on multiple first dates with multiple brands, so brands must continue to
woo consumers, existing as well as potential. James Boardman offers a new
perspective on the costumer purchase journey and describes the what and the
why behind the MEC Momentum tool.
by James Boardman, Client Communications Director, MEC Australia
IPA Excellence Diploma Dissertation, passed with Distinction

PAGE 80
Statics & Flows: The Creation of Brand Fame in the
Digital Age
Sudden fame is easy to come by in the digital age and so it is tempting for
brands to pursue this. But, the author argues, to build a brand effectively, the
consumers every encounter with the brand, with its products as well as the
content it creates, must be aligned to the achieve on-going, sustained fame.
by Pete Buckley, Head of Strategy, MEC United Kingdom
Admap Prize Bronze winner

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I BELIEVE THE FUTURE OF BRANDS MUST BE
SUPERHUMAN, TO COMPETE AGAINST EVERYTHING
AND EVERYONE IN THIS MARKETING AGE, TRULY
DELIVERING THE EXTRAORDINARY.

Figure 1

by Emily Fairhead-Keen

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The Age of Marketing
Men want say rain. They begin by performing a rain dance, which often does not work. This is the Age of Magic. Then,
baulked of success, they do the next best thing and fall to their knees and pray. This is the Age of Religion. When prayers do
not work, they set about investigating the precise causes of the natural world, and on the basis of their new understanding
attempt to alter things for the better. This is the Age of Science.

I believe that civilisation has entered a fourth cultural phase, the Age of Marketing. By this I mean whereas once marketing
was a skill reserved for professionals, and stages and certain signals and semiotics, reserved for brands, now everyone is a
marketer and everything communicates verbally and visually in marketing terms on the same stages as brands.

This has occurred because people are more aware of how they are seen by others as a consequence of technology beaming
identities around the globe to millions. This has effectively given rise to the foundation of a new understanding and hyper
conscious state of self-awareness. Becoming a marketer in an effort to win in this world is the fourth cultural phase
equivalent of the rain dance.

I shall explore in more detail:

1.Why this has come about

2.What people have become

3.What culture has become

Then ultimately what this all means for brands.

1. Why this has come about


New cultural phases appear to coincide with humanitys increase in self-awareness and a new type of consciousness of
both their nature and limitations. We saw this with the early civilisations of the Historic Age and of the Axial Age where
people became more conscious of their nature, their situation and their limitations with unprecedented clarity and just as
civilisation began to discover quite a different basis on which to look at the world, following the Middle Ages, people are now
looking at the world and themselves quite a lot more and in quite a different way.

Technology is hosting, and arguably, creating a hyperconscious state of self. Once confined to the living room, on the
bookshelf was where people were judged by how interesting they were, where theyd travelled, what theyd read. Now the
living room is on screen to millions of people who can see and judge what they stand for, what they think about the world.
The UK takes 35m selfies a month, creating an image of you for the world.

2. What people have become


In the same way people looked to magic, prayed for rain, looked to God for answers or used science to try and understand
the world they lived in, people have become marketers to understand how the modern world works and indeed win in it. They
now tailor their identities in a way they never could, changing themselves with a filter, baking fiction into their timelines. On
Twitter they sell current, witty and smart. On Facebook they hang their lives in photographs and in taglines. On LinkedIn
they become the person everyone wants to employ. They create brand names, logos, photos, language, all giving off their
own social semiotic code. They hire third parties to reputation manage and mini teams of public relations entrepreneurs to
brand their identities online.

As marketers, people are interested in how to market better and have become marketing experts. Marketing books make
it on to the best seller lists and they watch programmes about it: The Gruen Transfer, a television programme which airs in
Australia is about marketing, with segments entitled How do you sell? and The Pitch. It sees high viewing figures week in
week out and its debut drew in 1.3 million, the highest for an entertainment programme in the ABCs history.

Marketing is now a professional skill amongst non-marketing professionals. As weve seen with what Chris Anderson terms
the Maker generation,12 there is a whole generation of entrepreneurial talent who market to make a living with their readily
accessible stories and products for all to see online. He argues that the most successful makers are also the most the
successful marketers.13

As marketing expert, these Marketing Age consumers get the game brand play and are willing participants in the fiction. As
Ogilvy quite rightly says the consumer is not a moron. She is your wife. Dont insult her intelligence.14

Whilst Guy Debord in Society of the Spectacle argues all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles.
Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.15 Baudrillard too suggests that the world we live in
has been replaced by a copy world. I believe people are more switched on than ever and able to distinguish clearly between
what is real and not, in a world where the true rubs shoulders with the false:

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The websites, the blogs, the search engines and encyclopedias, the analysts of urban legends and the debunkers of the
analysts.16 Evidence of this sophistication is in the appreciation of complex concepts of reality in mainstream box office hits:
The Truman Show, Lynchs Inland Empire, the Matrix, and Synecdoche New York.17 18

I believe that whilst people are sophisticated and get the game, they are also willing participants in it, accepting the copy
world; comfortable with this permeable fourth wall, willing to adopt Kayfabe, to suspend reality. In the same way people get
reality TV isnt real but still enjoy the entertainment, the same is true in marketing.

Living in a marketing society,19 in this Marketing Age, we see the duality of marketing man:20 the Marketing Age consumer
willingly suspends reality, plays the game brands play, while at the same time being sophisticated in his critique of them.
Marketing Age Man analyses the Superbowl ads at length across the world.21 Of the 20.9 million Super Bowl related tweets
sent during the game in February 2013, 30% were about the ads.22

Figure 2

He joins the critique of the annual UK Christmas campaigns in real press not just industry. From the Daily Telegraph to the
Daily Mail, he interrogates the art direction, judges the aesthetics, dissects the stories and analyses the strategies of brands.
He has strong appetite to do so: interest in Christmas advertising as a search term rising since 2010:

Figure 3

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3. What culture has become
Whereas once the marketing world borrowed from culture, now culture is borrowing from brand. Everything now copies how
brands communicate with a marketing filter and usurps the physical and virtual spaces where they do so. We are effectively
seeing the commercial colonisation of culture in reverse.

Culture speaks to people now in marketing terms. Journalists bounce around marketing patter, describe naming your child
as branding it, in the weekend papers. Marketing terms have become a generations diction, not just reserved for marketing
specialists. Culture plays with long tail, content is king, in articles. Specialised jargons and developed and added to,
altered and refined to the point of mutual comprehensibility.

Culture presents to people visually, with marketing signals. Editing tools once the sacred possession of the production houses,
now come as standard on phones. People now rarely seeing images which havent been cut, edited and a treatment applied.

Politicians are chief marketers. No one more so than Obama, his marketing victories were well documented in real press,
not just trade. Time Magazine tells the world that 2008 was all about social medias role, and that 2012 was down to use of
data in media targeting. Politicians arent simply asking people to vote anymore, but asking people to share and indulge in
their social currency in the same way Oreos does.

Even the physical spaces brands have traditionally occupied are under threat from non-traditional brand marketing, from
Jesus to John William Waterhouse, all jumping up on the physical and virtual stages brands have traditionally performed on.

From Mormonism:

Figure 4

To Jesus:

Figure 5

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To John William Waterhouses Lady of Shalott. 30

Figure 6

All now occupying the same spaces we sell dog food in this Marketing Age.

This new Marketing Age has presented brands with two critical challenges
Firstly, brands no longer compete for the precious real estate of the consumers31 mind against other brands in category or
indeed cross category, but with everything (and one). Everything and everyone is communicating as marketers, in the swim
lanes32 and on the same stages. Unless brands find a way to cut through, they risk becoming invisible.

Secondly, everyone has become a marketing expert, interested in it, and analyst of it. We are now living in the midst of an I
Can Do That Too generation of marketers. Everyone got better at the brand game, the bar was raised and expectations grew.
Critiquing now comes from the streets not just from the boardroom.

Whilst everything and everyone is trying to be more like brands, one solution the industry has offered is for brands to be
more like people.

Because people and brands are on the same stages, in the same swim lanes,33 one industry mode prevails around a central
thought: Brands must be more human34, in order to connect with consumers and build trust. Thinking centres on getting closer
to people in this Human Era,35 brands relinquishing control, brands being more flawsome36, real37 and transparent.38

Brands beg for love and attention: like me, engage with me, please play with me, effectively trying to form synchronised
swimming feats with the consumer as buddies and best friends and getting close enough for contact to happen, like
Michelangelos God assuming the form of a man to better touch Adams extended finger.39

This human Clark Kent trend has permeated brand communication and we see a kinder, gentler, more sensitive ad product
with an inbuilt sense of vulnerability. Boy next door rather than Super in tone. For example, NatWests Helpful Banking
executions40 and the Milk Tray Man who was effectively emasculated when he became a more human lighter in love
version, or what Julie Burchill terms castration with cuddles.41 Looking a little closer at this human doctrine of thinking:

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The Fourth Cultural Phase: One Solution from the industry:

The Age of Marketing The Clark Kent Human belief system


Everything and everyone For brands to become more like and
communicating as marketers closer to people

Communicates to

Brand
Mimic people

People Brand People

Mimic Brand Mimic brand

Same worlds, same stages Same worlds, same stages

Figure 7

Real
We see real people in ads, we see real people talking from behind the ads, we get a sense these brands arent trying
necessarily to evoke emotion in the consumer, but to show that they have feelings. We even see it with packaging, bananas
are labelled eat me salad packs invite the buyer to wash me thoroughly.42

Flawed
We see a trend for admitting imperfection and being flawsome.43 For example TD Bank admits Of course, we want
everything to be perfect. But were only human.44 So if theres ever an issue, well keep working until we get it right. Thats
what it means to bank human.

Transparent 45

We see brands desperately trying to show people their honest nature. From asking for peoples opinions to showing the
product journey and just how committed to sustainable growth they are. For example, Starbucks gives its customers their
say on products found instore46 and McDonalds has its ongoing battle to try and prove it isnt evil, and that it does put more
back in the world than it takes.

Relinquishing control
In being transparent we often see brands explicitly relinquishing their power, coming down to meet people on peoples terms:
For example the Coops latest Have Your Say campaign:

To Barclays Your Bank. Were listening campaign:

Figure 8

Figure 9

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I believe the solution lies in a fundamental shift away from current thinking
Go pricke thy face, and over-red thy feare, Thou Lilly-liverd Boy.47

Whilst this doctrine can work for some brands and some categories, for example new brands like Jack Wills and Patagonia
who build new brand myths by using transparency as a way to enhance their story, and where brands actually have sexy
underwear worth seeing underneath, it isnt the ultimate solution.

Instead, I believe the solution to the challenges brands face; competing with everything (and everyone) and in the face of
sophisticated Marketing Age critique, is a shift away from this rather lily livered behaviour.

The solution lies in a superhuman belief system


I believe brands have got to be truly extraordinary and superhuman to beat Jesus and mormonism, the Lady of Shallot an
Joe Bloggs in his bedroom and be truly Super to cut through and impress these Marketing Age consumers. By Superhuman
I mean one who can deliver the extraordinary through:

Extraordinary Fiction: Has a compelling fantastical mythical story and is opaque and mysterious

Extraordinary Performance: Is from another world and brings the spectacular fromthis world to earth

Extraordinary Control: Is in fierce control, living on his terms, excercising military jurisdiction

The Fourth Cultural Phase: One Solution from the industry: My Solution:
The Age of Marketing The Clark Kent Human belief system The Superhuman belief system
Everything and everyone For brands to become more like and For brands to be superhuman,
communicating as marketers closer to people delivering extraordinary

Superhuman worlds,
superhuman stages

Communicates to Brand

Brand Impressing Marketing Age consumers


Mimic people
from a transcendental spot

People Brand People

Mimic Brand Mimic brand

Extraordinary Extraordinary Extraordinary


Fiction Performance Control

Same worlds, same stages Same worlds, same stages People


Figure 10

Human Superhuman

1
Real Fiction

2
This World Spectacular Perfomance

3
Relinquishing Control Military Jurisdiction

Figure 11

I recommend three shifts away from current human thinking. I will explain why Superhuman is right, exploring the audience,
brand, cultural and business reasons, whilst highlighting some dangers in the current human doctrine.
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1. The first shift: From real to fiction
A deep cultural need for fiction
Despite my childhood wishes to the contrary, I live in the real world. Its no Metropolis. The skyline is free from flying men or
flashes of inexplicable light they were missing from the real world but there must have been a parallel world, a possible future.

A desire for fiction, stories, fictional heroes a social need for extraordinary action and indeed myth is deep within
humanity. People have always put superhuman fictional superhumans on pedestals, be it Gods, Goddesses or subsequently
Superheroes as immortals. Humanity looks for taboos, ways of insulating certain people from harmful social contact,
for fictional beings with mystical charges operating like an electrical current. They have a history as old as the
establishment of human socialisation.

Theories around why are rich and well documented; they range from religious studies to anthropology to literary criticism.
For example, Freud and Jung argued we look to stories to help us understand the world and give it meaning, Joseph
Campbell argued that the images of myth are reflections of the spiritual potentialities in every one of us. Through
contemplating these, we evoked their powers in our own lives. I believe that myths give order and narrative structure to the
way humans contemplate the world around them, they are both escapist and explanatory solutions to the world around us.

Whilst this is not a paper about the theory of fiction, myth and fictional powers, it is one which rests on the importance of
them. As Karen Armstrong in A Short History of Myth argues, whilst we might be more sophisticated in material ways, we
have not advanced spiritually beyond the Axial Age.58 People have always wanted superpowers which can do things mortals
cant, we buy into their stories and still do.

A cultural need for escapist fiction in complex times


The modern man emerged from giant ignorance like a butterfly from its cocoon.Where there was darkness, now there is
light, but also where light was there now is darkness.59

Escapist fantasy thrives in times of social complexity: Superman was born60 in the midst of the Great Depression, on
the cusp of WW2.61 In the 19th Century people looked to fairies and Gothic revival as an escapist solution to the rapid
industrialisation which had left them confused.62 We are now seeing the revival of the superhero in popular culture.63
A Golden Age of the Superhero,64 has dawned, from comic books to blockbuster movie extravaganzas. Interest in
superheroes has risen exponentially:

Figure 12

People want fictional escapism in this overly transparent, information heavy world, traumatised by war footage and disaster
clips,65 where the internet has revealed everything, and where the daily grind of Facebook presents us with darkness: From
open mourning, to calories consumed at dinner on someones latest diet; all pouring out into the newsfeed. People dont
want more emotional baggage from a brand.

We are living in a world of information glut and gluttony.66 500 billion images were captured in 2010; people now encounter
zettabytes and yottabytes.67 Brands information heavy transparency can add to this information overload and be a burden,
resorting in what Corey Mull terms consumer cognitive overload (a condition where consumers have absorbed so much
information that theyre incapable of mentally sorting it all and making an optimal decision).68

Whereas John Grant argues that in the absence of the formal and traditional societal structures, brands are simple ideas
we look to help us navigate a complex world,69, 70 I believe that the Marketing Age consumer wants brands to provide simple
escapist fiction in these complex times.
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Real can feel faux real to a Marketing Age sophisticate
I believe that brands are not real and the Marketing Age consumer gets this. What we see with current human doctrine
is reification,71 that is the application of concreteness to an abstract idea. Instead I believe a brand is authentic in its
abstraction, not in being a concrete thing. Brands are slippery,72 weird, and abstract73 and it is in the abstract and indeed
the ambiguous that people find them attractive, in the mystery box, a container of infinite possibilities [which] continues to
fascinate because it remains unopened.74
In trying to be real, admitting their flaws, it can feel false because it is in perfection that they are authentic. Quite literally
a brands history lies in the stamp of approval, a promise of better.75 On a deeper level, theyve always offered utopian
possibilities:76 More sex (Lynx), the acceptance of any body shape (Dove), happiness (Coke). Theyve always promised
superhuman powers in the product itself: Nike trainers for superhuman speed, Pantene for the locks of Wonder Woman. A
brand isnt real but feeds upon it: Publicity is effective precisely because it feeds upon the real Publicity begins by working
on a natural appetite for pleasure.77

Marketing Age consumers want fictional brand heroes and worlds. Ones who come from the sky and occupy transcendental
spots: The Marlboro Man,78 the Milk Tray Man and even Hello Kitty, their complex simplicity79 fascinates people. They buy
into Mytho-Symbollic worlds80 that brands create, like McDonalds, a wondrous, magical place, where everyone is welcome,
safe, happy It does not matter that sometimes when we go there it feels more like a cafeteria food fight.81

A business case for fiction


People dont pay for the real, they pay for the fiction and this is one of the ways a brand can implement a price premium.82
Take Polaine bread, an almost criminally overpriced semi stale loaf which is exhibited in selected and exclusive retailers like
Selfridges, has people paying up to ten times the amount versus a standard loaf because it bakes a fictional mystery in with
its closely guarded recipe from 1932.83

Take Field Notes stationery, able to charge up to ten times that of a standard Rymans notebook, because it bakes fiction into
its brand, or Moleskin, the pad which the novelists chose, but really a replica of the 19th Century Parisian writers choice,
again charging astronomical price premiums.

We see this repeatedly with blind taste testing where own label brands repeatedly beat named brands and where84
consumers buy into and pay for the myth but often prefer the base product when myth isnt in the mix. For example Aldis
own label gin, recently won out against Hendricks and Bombay Sapphire.85

As Trout argues, the consumer tastes what [they] expect to taste86 and indeed they taste the fiction and are willing to pay
for it.82

2. The second shift: From this world to spectacular performance


An appetite for extraordinary performance in culture
Given the pervasive impact of entertainment in our economy today,87 and the number of entertainment options [which have]
exploded to encompass many new experiences,88 culture is delivering unforgettable performances in an effort to woo more
demanding audiences:

In theatre, sensually intense experiences such as Fuerza Bruta or the Punchdrunk theatre company wow audiences. In
the fashion world, designers compete to stage the best show, not just the best collection: Chanel takes its shows to the
extreme,89 Prada too, its shows claim to be a celebration of the transformative theatre of fashion and the performative power
of clothing.90 In music, visual spectacular is now as important as the audio, with phenomenal superhumanly performances
coming from the Gorillaz to Lady Gaga. In film, movie makers find innovative ways of using surround sound and hyper framed
realities. In cinema, Secret Cinema provides immersive intoxicating experiences. The Sydney Fireworks, the Olympics, each
time more spectacular.

Figure 13
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An appetite for spectacular performance in advertising
We see this with the Superbowl where more than two thirds of viewers pay attention to the eventised commercials and
50% tunes in just for them.91 We see this with the UK Christmas annual advertising fest. On TGI people professing to love
the cinema ads 92 and we see spectacular creative performance in Cadburys Gorilla and the Red Bull famous Jump
accumulating views years after the event. See figure 14:

Figure 14

People love lavish advertising display so much they buy into the commercial merchandise from the adverts themselves.
From baby (Comparethemeerkat) Meerkats, to Natwest pigs and John Lewis alarm clocks to songs from ads making to the
number one chart position.93

The all Lego adbreak on 9th February on ITV to promote the Lego Movie is a great example of successful advertising
performance. 94 Tweets went through the roof:95

Figure 15

So did Google Search volumes on the Sunday it went live:

Figure 16

15
And there was a peak in the Lego break performance as people tuned in to watch the ad: 97

Figure 17

People apply the same expectations they have in theatre and the arts, to advertising and enjoy spectacular advertising
performance.

A business case for spectacular advertising product


Whilst we must be careful, in the absence of regression modelling, to apply a direct correlation to the movies phenomenal
Box Office success 98 from the Lego adbreak, we can assume the exponential increase in awareness as a result of the ad, did
in part contribute in some way to converting awareness to sales.

As we have seen with the Cadbury Gorilla, spectacular advertising product can generate 5.22 million incremental sales,
deliver a 5% margin improvement, bring to life a more profitable model, re-energise the company, delight the investment
community and maybe even contribute to shareholder value.99 Arguably it can also reap the benefits long after the ad has
aired, driving long tail awareness and cost efficiency.

We also know from past research papers that highly creative advertising can drive market share and profitability:
The link between creativity and effectiveness, published in 2011 concluded that creatively-awarded campaigns are more
efficient than non-awarded ones in terms of the level of market share growth they drive.100 Whilst Advertisings greatest
hits: profitability and brand value by Karl Weaver and Paul Dyson concluded that after market size, creative execution is the
second most important factor in determining advertising profitability. They calculated a profit multiplier of ten.101

3.The third shift: Away from relinquishing control to exerting military jurisdiction

Successful brands are ruled with an iron fist


In order to deliver extraordinary fiction and performance, brands need to be ruled with military jurisdiction.

The worlds most valuable brands adhere to strict processes, guidelines, rules and procedures in order to ensure perfection
goes out the door every time. For example Coca Cola is notorious for its books on process, what can be done with its brands
and what cant, from a strict recruitment process, to how global creative is unpacked locally.

Sometimes they are ruled by one iron fist. For example, Apple, with its dictator style puppeteers from Jobs to Cook.102 This is
often true for luxury brands, where frequently the person is the brand. For example Karl Lagerfeld is Chanel, ruling the brand
like a cartoon superhero, collar is high hair powdered glasses dark... fingerless gloves,103 and as we saw with Angela
Ahrendts at Burberry,104 with the right superhero director in the directors chair, the control of the individual can have enormous
benefits to the brand.

Figure 18
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Strict control enables Red Bull to deliver extraordinary fiction and performance by being tightly controlled in the right places,
at the centre its brand plot. It allows consumers closer to the events but controls the big performances, e.g. the space jump.
Strong brands like Red Bull are expert at wearing a mask of easy going but are really ruled with an iron fist, also true of Lynx,
which appears to have a fly by the seat of its pants kind of attitude but is rigidly organised.

Relinquishing control can humiliate brands


With the advent of social media the errors businesses make receive far more attention now than they might have in the
past. There are almost too many examples to list. From Qantas in Australia in 2011, who after months of negative publicity
stemming from industrial disputes, promoted the #QantasLuxury hashtag as a chance to win a first-class experience but
was made a mockery of with tweets condoning pay rises and offshore job placement.106 To Waitrose in the UK107 asking
consumers why they shopped at Waitrose, met with only a handful genuine responses, the majority taking the opportunity to
mock: I shop at Waitrose because Clarrisas pony just WILL NOT eat ASDA Value straw.

Just as people dont want to have to advise a needy Superman on how to save Lois or direct Batman on how to put out
Gotham Citys fires, Marketing Age consumers prefer the robotic efficiency of a superhero to simply deliver the goods and
entertain them on the way. If brands relinquish control, the consumer finds entertainment their own way.

Relinquishing control can be very rational


Asking what a person wants their bank to look like, or what the next Starbucks product should be are very rational lines of
communication and I believe this is dangerous when there is a business case for the emotional rather than the rational in
communication. We know this from Les Binet and Peter Fields robust analysis which states that emotional campaigns profit
effects build more strongly over time vs. rational ones,108 Robert Heath adds rational messages require attention and can
be easily filtered out and ignored whereas emotional communication requires no attention or conscious effort and therefore
cannot be filtered out.109

In summary, there are many audience, brand, cultural and indeed business reasons why Superhuman is right for brands in
this Marketing Age, and why there are dangers in the human doctrine.

The practical application of a Superhuman: A Superhuman Creed


I believe the practical solution lies in a Superhuman Creed with a three paneled framework. I shall explore how brands must
implement this in the Marketing Age.

Human Superhuman

The shift away from


Delivering the The Superhuman
the
Superhuman solution creed
human solution

1 1
Real Fiction Extraordinary Fiction

2 2
This World Spectacular Perfomance Extraordinary Performance

3 Relinquishing 3
Military Jurisdiction Extraordinary Control
Control
Figure 19

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1. Extraordinary fiction
No idea too bizarre, no twist too fanciful, no storytelling technique too experimental. 110 Brands have to tell fantastical
stories which are as addictive as cocaine, 111 as unforgettable as the classics and as entertaining as the childhood stories we
all remember. A brands story has to be unforgettable, not just memorable. Just like when comics went colour, they must
have seemed hallucinatory, as potent as dreams, 112 brands must make their story telling superior to that of the Marketing
Age consumer and be more elaborate in their telling of it.

Explicit and expected fiction


They must do this by treating each communication as if it is a new episode in the story, with a clear narrative for the audience
to follow, explicitly in execution. For example, the Nescafe couple of the nineties or the current Compare themeerkat
narrative. Each execution, the audience looks forward to, discussing it like the latest episode of a soap opera.

Brands must look to own spaces and media where they can narrate the fiction, each campaign a new chapter in the drama,
on the same stage each time. In the same way that Jack Daniels repeatedly buys the same London Underground hoardings,
telling its story in the same expected places, week in week out, with consumers following each episode daily.

Brands must repeat their origin story again and again. Innocent is a super example of this, where it reminds consumers of
its narrative in interesting and entertaining ways from its website to its Youtube vignettes, all repeating the same tale now as
familiar as Goldie Locks and the Three Bears.

For example, Parker Pen could reinvigorate a depleted pen industry in the same way Moleskin has the notepad by explicitly
telling the tales of the famous writers and artists who have used them over the years and the famous work which has been
possible because of the Parker Pen. Now that the pen, like the wrist watch, is primarily decorative, fiction and myth is even
more critical in the sell. They could sponsor the British Librarys manuscripts and host spectacular manuscript limited
exhibitions from across the globe. The pen should have novelist limited editions people want to be seen with for example, the
Dickens Pen, or the Vonnegut Pen.

Figure 20 113

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Playful fiction
It is more fun to talk with someone who doesnt use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like What about lunch?114
Brands must be fun and funny and have fun. They must learn from the childhood tales, the simplicity and stickiness of the
Hungry Caterpillar and Winnie the Pooh. Stories must be told with a sense of childish playfulness, executed with a simple
playful energy. Brands must tell tales and look like they are enjoying telling them, appealing to the consumers inner child.

Brands must use their magic powers and play to the irrational in people. Just as round tea bags and smoothies with bobble
hats excite people for no logical reason 115, they must dial up the nonsensical and the ridiculous 116 and make guinea pigs talk
117
, bounce balls down hills in San Francisco 118 , get babies to roller skate 119, teach ponies to sing 120 and make gorillas play
the drums.121 Championing the stuff humans cant do and offering entertaining escapism in this overly transparent society.

Figure 21
Figure 22

For example Toys R Us could use fantastical playful fiction around how it gets its Christmas deliveries to children. It could
turn its delivery vans into liveried Rudolph sleighs, and then excited children and parents could track where their delivery
was leading up to Christmas online with a Santa Tracker 122 and spot them on streets of England.

19
Bigger fiction
Brands must subvert other peoples big myths and make bold claims. In doing so they emotionally put themselves on pedestals,
as the protagonist in the story, elevated from people. This signals their powers of temporal duplication and timelessness, which
Marketing Age consumers cant exercise. For example with Coca Cola owning Santa, or indeed sponsoring Jesus in Rio de Janeiro.

Figure 23

They must also own the biggest concepts, telling fictional stories around them, for example, Lynx and sex; P&G and mums;
and Dulux and colour.

Figure 24

By doing this they are demonstrating they can do things the Marketing Age consumer cant, impressing them with their
Superhuman confidence, with the ability to pull Santas strings, turn Jesus red, paint countries and stimulate mating
behaviours, albeit all with the knowledge that consumers get the game but play along anyway.

For example Johnson and Johnson Baby could go bigger by owning The Beginning. They could make Child of Our Time
style documentaries about childrens beginnings. They could write childrens first books and create physical books where
mums can document their childs beginning. They could build Intel Museum of Me style virtual experiences collating all
the Facebook memories and photographs around their childs beginning: The scan, the first photo, and the comments from
friends. Literally owning the beginning with scale.

Figure 25

20
2. Extraordinary performance
Your advertisements should establish in the readers mind an image she will never forget.123 In the same way the cycle of
superhero movies moved away from the real world approach in 2010 to expansive, fantastical movies like Camerons Avatar
124
, brands have got to stop sucking on the lollipop of mediocrity125 and deliver mentally unforgettable performances, not just
be mentally available.126 They have got to create fireworks, and construct spectacle with its power to demand obedience.127

Blockbuster advertising performance


Brands must do this by constructing awe inspiring event performances like the Red Bull space jump and advertising event
performances like the annual John Lewis Christmas treat. People are everywhere; a brands arrival should be special
and built up, like Superman appearing in the sky. The performance must be appointment to view with a campaign built
around the ad itself, for example as with the trailers for the Superbowl ads.128, 129 The ad must be supported with ad product
merchandise consumers want to buy just as they buy Spiderman pyjamas for their children.

In the same way audiences respond to big name actors, special effects and in your face advertising130 for movies, brands
have got to not spread money out in a series of smaller, safer bets, but invest in event creative like the studios are investing
in event blockbusters, making the big bets. This means pooling monies into high production, headline star ads, not a series
of low cost mediocre creative. The ad industry has to follow the movie studios which now succeed by sinking extra resources
into a handful of super hits, and the public responds by flocking to them. Harvard Business School Professor Anita Elberses
book Blockbusters shows that this strategy has also worked for book publishers, music labels, TV networks, and video
game companies.131

Awe inspiring physical theatres


A new type of aerialized spectatorship conquering the laws of gravity, physics and biology.132 I believe brands have to
impress people and be unforgettable by doing things, and existing in, impressive physical superhero spaces like Burberrys
theatre on Regent Street or the Guardians Kings Cross lair. In a world where everyone is trying to own virtual, we mustnt
forget the power in the physical. With physical materials, the brain is processing both visual and spatial information and from
research we know that additional engagement of spatial memory results in a stronger memory.133

We know from research that bigger is more memorable134 and brands must scale up the spectacle and not be simply
physically available135, but physically intimidating in their performances. They must put themselves on real physical
pedestals, like the trapeze artist, occupying that transcendental spot136, bigger than the Marketing Age consumer could ever
be. This means investing in new stages and worlds to perform on whether it be stores, existing property (the O2 Dome) or
sponsoring other peoples giant stages, for example Hondas sponsorship of The Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern.

For example Odeon should make more of its estate. As a brand built on bringing film to people but also theatre With
their cloud-piercing towers and sweeping lines [people] disappeared into a shining world of futuristic dreams, a whole
dimension away from the grim economic and political reality.137 It should take lessons from Secret Cinema and put theatre
back into movie theatre. For example, by capitalising on when people want to dissect the film post screening and that
after film high, warm to wanting to see more films, and make its foyers places people want to dwell. It should give people
opportunities to engage with the previous film in review booths where opinions get uploaded to their social profiles, and give
them the option to book again for their next visit.

Figure 26

21
Masked actors and extras in the show
To stimulate fascination, brands must remain as actors in the show, keeping their masks on, and encouraging speculation
around the characters and narrative in the same way a superhero comic allows the readers imagination to run wild joining
the frames.138

Brands must empower Marketing Age consumers to be mysterious extras in the show through consumption of the brand. In
this Marketing Age people like brands which allow themselves to appear mysterious. Brands have to bake mysterious ritual
into the product and act of consumption, allowing Marketing Age consumers a part in the show.

For example Guiness drinkers love the mystery of the product. Their colloquial term for a pint of the black stuff, illustrates
a muted sense of pride that they are requesting some dark art only Guiness drinkers are in on, a magical concept which
mysteriously takes longer than their friends pint to pour, whilst they wait theatrically, their friends wondering where they are
and whether they have scored with the barmaid.

3. Extraordinary control
I believe that in order to deliver extraordinary fiction and performance, brands have to exercise extraordinary levels of
control over the brand and its communication. I believe there is also mystery in this fortress behaviour which is attractive to
Marketing Age consumers. Brands must maintain control of the critical bit of the brand: The plot. They must do this either
with an individual or a team and deliver it with military organisation and process.

Explicit brand rules


Brands must show a person who is the boss, and take back control showing the Marketing Age who is boss in how people
interact with them. They must set the consumer explicit rules, making them play the game on their terms.
For example the Bourke Street
Bakery, a tiny corner bakery in Sydney,
an institution, famous for its divine
pastries, has been a phenomenal
success139. Its also a place which has
rules: It commands people pay in cash
only and if a product runs out, there
are no buns more mere mortals.

Another super example is the current


London restaurant scene with
eateries like Polpo which commands
not being able to book as just one
of its rules. Here we see brands

Figure 27
toughening back up, standing out and
putting their code of observance first.

Pseudo democratisation
We see this with rigidly controlled brands, for example Coke asking people to name their can and Walkers to choose their
favourite crisp flavour. These are brands which dont really truly relinquish control but successfully implement strictly
controlled, tightly managed processes where people are kept at arms length, merely acting out a pre directed script, with
readymade choices and template visuals. This can be entertaining for this Marketing Age consumer and adds to the escapist
entertainment, as long as the strings are held tight.

Brand as teacher on stage


Brands should be standing up and explicitly expressing their authority as superior Superhuman, teaching the Marketing
Age consumer a thing or two. Just as the Guardian puts on its Masterclasses, performances which signal its superiority to
its readers, a teacher, one who exerts control; the tired book industry and what is left of the music retail industry should be
doing this and advertising they are doing so.

For example, Waterstones should be opening its doors week in week out charging for lessons from novelists and writing
classes. HMV should be hosting master classes with musicians, making podcasts to purchase on how to write music, form a
band or play the drums

22
Figure 28
In order to deliver superhuman, the industry must practice superhuman
Dont bunt, aim out of the park. Aim for the company of immortals.140

Like brands, the ad industry is also under threat in this Marketing Age. Once admen were distinctive, unique and different in the
work we produced, in our eccentricity, now we are under threat from the belief that everything and everyone can and will do our job:
From Obama, to clients, to Joe Bloggs in his bedroom, all equipped with the latest technologies and seeming expertise to do so.

Whereas once we were confident in our value: Ring the bell I said, and walked outToo many masters, too many objectives,
too little money,141 the proliferation of agencies has now made us Yes Men, where we accept mediocrity, bland middle
ground, and turn out turgid pieces of work. We too have championed a lily livered set of behaviours for too long.142

Instead we must remember, like Hollywood and Disney, Maddison Avenue is in the myth making business,143 and superheroes
need courageous superhero artists and powerful controlling directors to construct these extraordinary fictional performers.

We must practice what I have preached to brands and adhere to the Superhero Creed. I illustrate two examples of how we
must implement this.

1. Exert extraordinary control


In the same way brands indulge in pseudo democratisation; this should be true of the creative process where agencies use
pseudo beta in that only the best prototypes see the light of day before they are ready. The best agencies in the world rarely,
if ever, send work down the catwalk which isnt perfect, isnt outstanding, isnt the best.144

The most successful agencies out there now, the BBHs, the Drogas, the AKQAs and the R/GAs, they exercise control at the
right points with the military jurisdiction of a Mark Rylance or Lloyd Webber. Agencies have to follow these superhuman
agencies and truly deliver on being clients most trusted business partner by bravely saying no to JFDI prescriptive145 briefs,
staying true to our own rules, in a battle for extraordinary work.

2. Hire superhuman performers


If we are to compete, effectively against everything and everyone in this Marketing Age and be unforgettable we have to not
just be like the Hollywood masters and West End legends but steal talent from them. As artists, we must hire superhero
artists to up our game, the job of the artist is to deepen the mystery.146 We must hire supreme myth makers, story tellers,
screenwriters, movie men, literally taking talent from other entertainment professions from Lady Gagas wardrobe team to
the Sydney Fireworks choreographers and designers, to write our myths and direct the extraordinary performances.

CONCLUSION
If brands are to compete against everyone and everything in this Marketing Age, communicating to Marketing Age man in
need of impressing, they cannot afford to lower themselves to earth as mortals and fellow humans, but instead must rise
high above as supermen, with superhuman powers, delivering extraordinary fiction and performance, exercised with an
extraordinary level of control.

Jesus and Mormonism must be left intimidated, the Lady of Shalott belittled, and mortal Marketing Age man left awestruck,
necks crooked, goose pimples pricked, at the sight of Superhuman brands swooshing across the night sky. Just as Lois Lane
looks up to Superman:

Wondering why you are... all the wonderful things you are. You can fly. You belong in the sky.147

23
References
1
Frazer R, Introduction The Golden Bough, 1890
2
Armstrong, K., A Short History of Myth, 2005
3
Ibid. Referencing the Historic Age: Where people could give permanent expression to their aspirations in the civilised arts, and the invention of
writing meant they could give enduring literary expression to their mythology.
4
Ibid
5
Brooker, C., The Seven Basic Plots: Why we tell stories, 2004
6
Adley, E., Picture this: How the selfies has captured a mood and become a social phenomenon, in The Guardian on Saturday 8th March 2014
7
Martin, R., a photographer and artist working particularly with self-portraiture in ibid
8
Hall, S., This means this and this means that, A Users Guide to Semiotics Second Edition, 2012
9
For example: Flavours.me (owned by business card company, Moo and allows anyone to make a branded web presence using personal content
from around the Internet).
10
The Tipping Point had sold 1.7 million copies by 2006
11
OZTAM data, Australia (Barb equivalent)
12
Anderson, C., Makers, The New Industrial Revolution, 2013
13
Ibid
14
Ogilvy, D., Confessions of an Advertising Man, 1963
15
Debord, G., Society of the Spectacle, 1977
16
Gleick, J., The Information, A History a Theory, a Flood, James Gleick, 2011
17
The Truman Show 2.4m, 1998, Inland Empire 540,000 2007, The Matrix Trilogy cumulative box office 1999- 2003, 12,836,000 source: Caviar
18
Baudrillard, J., Simulacra and Simulation, 1994
19
James, O., Affluenza, 2007
20
Duality of Man: The intuitive and psychological confusing nature of mankind to be twofold. The state of being in two qualities and relates to
Dualism, denoting a state of two parts
21
From CBS, to the Daily Mail, to the Guardian to the Sun
22
Indvik, L., Ads made up 30% of the tweets, in Mashable, February 2013
26
Jhally, S Prof., Advertising at the Edge of the Apocalypse
27
Epstein, R., Middle Class Problems, Baby Names, in the Independent on Sunday 23 February 2014
28
Banks, I., The Bridge, 1986
29
Scherer, M., Inside the Secret World of the Obama Data Crunchers who Helped Obama Win in Time Magazine, November 2012
30
Gosling, E., Art Everywhere Project to turn the UK into the Worlds Biggest Art Gallery in Design Week, June 2013
31
Trout J., and Rise, A., Positioning, The Battle for your Mind, 2001
32
GME CMO Beth Comstock in The Market Maker in Google Think Insights, January 2013
33
Ibid
34
Parekh, R., The Newest Marketing Buzzword? Human in Adage, September 2013
35
Chahal, M., How to be a Human Era Brand in Marketing Week, February 2014
36
Flawsome: Why brands that behave more humanly including showing their flaws, will be awesome, in Trendwatching, April 2012 briefing
37
Hutchinson, A., The Importance of Creating Human Connections with your Brand in the Social Media Space, in Social Media Today, February 2014
38
Kolster, C., A Transparent Marketing Means Changing the Way Brands Advertise, in the Guardian, December 2013
39
Morrison, G., Supergods, Our World in the Age of the Superhero, 2012
40
Whitehead, J., RBS and Natwest push Most Helpful Bank promise in ads in Marketing Week, June 2010
41
Burchill, J., The Lady Still Loves Them in the Guardian
42
Grimshaw, S., The Guardian 26th March 2014, Wackaging Do we want our food to talk back?
Flawsome: Why brands that behave more humanly including showing their flaws, will be awesome, in Trendwatching, April 2012 briefing
43 

Parekh, R., The Newest Marketing Buzzword? Human in Adage, September 2013
45
Post, R., When Big Brands Stumble: Starbucks and Toyota on Hypertransparency in the Guardian, October 2013
46
Through their open online forum, My Starbucks Idea, where customers suggest new products
47
Shakespeare, W., Macbeth
48
Pedler, M., Morrisons Muscle Mystery Versus Everyday Reality... and Other Parallel Worlds! In The Contemporary Comic 49 Book Hero, edited
by Angela Ndalianis, 2009
49
Ndalianis, A., Comic Book Superheroes An Introduction, in The Contemporary Comic Book Hero, edited by Angela Ndalianis, 2009
50
Graves, R., The White Goddess, 1948
51
Frazer R, The Golden Bough, 1890
52
Frazer R, Introduction The Golden Bough, 1890
53
Ibid
54
Shultz, J., McDonagh, P., Brown, S., Titanic: Consuming Myths and Meanings of an Ambiguous Brand, in Chicago Journals, December 2013
55
Randazzo, S., Subaru: The Emotional Myths Behind a Brands Growth in Emotion in Advertising ii, Journal of Advertising Research, March 2006
Volume 46, No.1
56
Campbell, J., The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 1949 Ndalianis, A., Comic Book Superheroes An Introduction, in The Contemporary Comic
Book Hero, edited by Angela Ndalianis, 2009

24
59
Armstrong, K., A Short History of Myth, 2005
59
Campbell, J., The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 1949
60
Ndalianis, A., Comic Book Superheroes An Introduction, in The Contemporary Comic Book Hero, edited by Angela Ndalianis, 2009
61
Ibid: His image reflecting the great gods and hyperhumans of a mythic past. Superheroes offered hope to a despairing humanity that had lost
faith in the civilization embodied by urban life
62
Booker, C., The Age of Loki Chapter 34, in The Seven Basic Plots: Why we tell stories.2004 He argues that although it was a materially
triumphant age, it cut them off from nature and the past to an unprecedented degree, so they hankered for the lost certainties of a vanished
time when their ancestors had been able to enjoy the sense of a spiritual centre and transcendent dimension to life.
63
Ndalianis, A., Comic Book Superheroes An Introduction, in The Contemporary Comic Book Hero, edited by Angela Ndalianis, 2009. She argues:
The hero in his and her superheroic dimensions has reached a new level of popularity never witnessed before
64
Williams, H., A World of Wonder, in Spotlight, Wonder Woman, in the Independent on Sunday, February 2014
65
Morrison, G., Supergods, Our World in the Age of the Superhero, 2012
66
Dupuy, JP., in The Information Age, James Gleick 2011
67
Ibid
68
Mull, C., No Brands Arent People and Consumers Dont Want Them to Be, in Adage, September 2012
69
Grant, G., The New Marketing Manifesto, 2000
70
Erasmus, Religion and the Economy blog, March 2014 in The Economist argues: much of the rich, northern hemisphere, commercial products
and images are now the defining archetypesdisplacing the old reference points of religion.
71
Bain, D., Deep Dive One IPA Autumn 2013
72
Bullmore, J., Posh Spice and Persil, in Campaign argued that the image of a brand is a subjective thing and no two people have the same view of it
73
Parsons, J., The Myth of the Brand in Asia, ESOMAR April 2013 found in Warc
74
Rose 2011 in Titanic: Consuming Myths and Meanings of an Ambiguous Brand, Stephen Brown, Pierre McDonagh and Clifford J. Shultz,
Chicago Journals, December 2013
75
Feldwick, P., What is Brand Equity Anyway, 2002
76
Ndalianis, A., Comic Book Superheroes An Introduction, in The Contemporary Comic Book Hero, edited by Angela Ndalianis, 2009
77
Berger, J., Ways of Seeing, 1972
78
Randazzo, S., Subaru: The Emotional Myths Behind a Brands Growth in Emotion in Advertising ii, Journal of Advertising Research, March 2006
Volume 46, No.1
79
Shultz, J., McDonagh, P., Brown, S., Titanic: Consuming Myths and Meanings of an Ambiguous Brand, in Chicago Journals, December 2013
80
Randazzo, S., Subaru: The Emotional Myths Behind a Brands Growth in Emotion in Advertising ii, Journal of Advertising Research, March 2006
Volume 46, No.1. He argues Mytho-Symbollic worlds are a way of giving brands uniqueness and create an emotional bond with the consumer
81
Ibid
82
Bain, D., Deep Dive One IPA Autumn 2013. He argues that marketing is a business tactic to get people to pay too much for stuff
83
Waitrose.com
84
Store brands beat name brands in flavour test, in Personal Finance CNBC, August 2013
85
Smithers, R., The Guardian Life and Style, April 2013
86
Trout, J., Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind, 2001
87
Wolf, MJ., The Entertainment Economy: The Mega Media Forces that are Re-shaping our lives, 2003
88
Pine, JB., and Gilmore JH., The Experience Economy: Work is a Theatre and Every Business a Stage,1999
89
Guardian Fashion Blog, March 2014, it talks about Chanels latest Warholian fashion extravaganza in a staged supermarket
90
Fury, A., Prada Delivers Spectacle of Fashion Theatrics during Autumn Winter Show, in The Independent on Sunday January 2014
91
Siltanen, R., Yes a Superbowl Ad Really is $4m, in Forbes, January 2014 and Monster.com CEO Jeff Taylor says with regards to Super Bowl
Sunday the advertising is the programme.
92
TGI data 2013, profess that they think the advertising is as entertaining as the film
93
Lily Allens song which featured in the John Lewis Christmas commercial made it to number one in the charts in 2013
94
ITV aired an adbreak made entirely of Lego, February 2014
95
Topsy, Twitter data Jan Feb 2014
96
Google Trends data Jan Feb 2014
97
Barb performance data versus HW+CH)
98
The movie took 42m in the UK in its opening weekend with 34% of tickets sold being adult only according to Rentrak
99
Barreyat- Baron, M., and Barrie, R., Cadbury How a drumming gorilla beat a path back to profitable growth: a real-time effectiveness case
study, IPA 2008
100
The link between creativity and effectiveness fused together the Gunn Report database of creatively-awarded campaigns with the IPA
Effectiveness database, 2011 located warc
101
Weaver, K., and Dyson, P., Advertisings greatest hits: profitability and brand value, 2006 located warc
102
Brand Z top 100 brands Millward Brown 2014
103
Fox, I., Karl Lagerfeld: I always think I could do better, in the Guardian 26th March 2014
104
Friedman, V., Angela Ahrendts, in the Financial Times, December 2013
105
Jones, T., Kanse, P., Shaw, B., Jones, J., Booty, E., Pessin, I, Axe/Lynx, Inspiration From Above, a Fresh Approach to a Global Product
Launch, IPA Effectiveness Awards 2012, located warc

25
106
Courtney, A., Australias Biggest PR Disasters, Sydney Morning Herald, September 2013
107
The Daily Telegraph Technology, September 2012
108
Field, P., and Binet, L., The Long and Short of it, located in Campaign 2013
109
Heath, R., Emotional vs. Rational, Advertising Research located in warc, 2012
110
Morrison, G., Supergods, Our World in the Age of the Superhero, 2012
111
William Casebeer of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) a neurobiologist argued that certain narratives can be
as addictive as cocaine, cited in Russell Davies Typad, December 2012
112
Morrison, G., Supergods, Our World in the Age of the Superhero, 2012
110
Morrison, G., Supergods, Our World in the Age of the Superhero, 2012
111
William Casebeer of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) a neurobiologist argued that certain narratives can be
as addictive as cocaine, cited in Russell Davies Typad, December 2012
113
For example Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his later Sherlock novels with a Parker Duofold Fountain Pen. The new BBC Sherlock series paid
homage to this when Holmes comments by looking at a letter that it was written by a Parker pen but this is the kind of story which should
be in its advertising not just a reference in a show. Cited in http://blog.penshop.co.uk/news/celebrities-and-their-pens/
114
Winnie the Pooh
115
Binet, L., and Carter, S., Mythbuster: Marketing always needs to make sense, Admap 2014. They rightly argue that it is actually sensible not
to make sense in
marketing as people are drawn to things which make no sense at all: Round tea bags, alphabet letters stamped on bread
116
Ibid
117
In reference to the 2007 commercial for Egg
118
In reference to the Sony Bravia Balls commercial
119
In reference to the Evian Babies commercial
120
In reference to the Three Pony Dance commercial
121
In reference to the Cadbury Gorilla commercial
122
Santa Tracker on Google exists so the brand could take the build and label it
123
Ogilvy, D., Confessions of an Advertising Man, 1963
124
Morrison, G., Supergods, Our World in the Age of the Superhero, 2012
125
IPA Deep Dive 3, January 2014 AKQAs ECD Nick Turner
126
Sharp, B., How Brands Grow, 2010
127
Debord, G., Society of the Spectacle, 1977
128
Walker, T., Superstars, Super Budgets, Super Bowl Independent on Sunday, January 2014 referencing Anita Elberse
129
Cadbury Gorilla and Honda Live ad both ran campaigns around the advertising itself
130
The secret to Hollywoods future? Think Big, Chris Stevenson citing the Harvard Academic Anita Elberse, 19th January Independent on Sunday
131
Elberse, A., Blockbusters, 2014 - a recently published a book on how the entertainment industry is obsessed with producing big blockbusters.
Elberse decided to quantify the best entertainment business strategies, building complex models that controlled for all kinds of factors
132
Ndalianis, A., Comic Book Superheroes An Introduction, in The Contemporary Comic Book Hero, edited by Angela Ndalianis, 2009
133
A study done by Millward Brown suggests that physical materials generated more brain activity than virtual material in two key parts of the
brain. Cited in the Newton Blog, The Power of Physical Advertising, April 2013
134
JC Decaux research with the Sunday Times used London as a test region to measure impact of larger panels vs. smaller ones. They found
larger ones boosted awareness; campaign understanding and most importantly those subjected to the larger panels were also more likely
to recommend the Sunday Times. Commuters in the test wore eye tracking devices
135
Sharp, B., How Brands Grow, 2010
136
Ritter, N., Art as Spectacle, Images of the Entertainer since romanticism, Cambridge Journals 1990
137
Glancey, J., The Moguls Monuments, How Oscar Deutschs Odeon cinemas taught Britain to love modern architecture, in The Guardian,
May 2002
138
Beyond the Veil blog Ritual Portrayal in Comics, 2009
139
Bourkestreetbakery.com.au, now publishing a cookbook and they have opened several other stores in Sydney
140
Ogilvy, D., Confessions of an Advertising Man, 1963
141
Ibid
142
We too have even resorted to jumping on the human bandwagon ourselves sometimes quite literally, with agencies like Hummanaut
launching last year. http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/brands-behave-humans/244261/
143
Randazzo, S., Subaru: The Emotional Myths Behind a Brands Growth in Emotion in Advertising ii, Journal of Advertising Research, March
2006 Volume 46, No.1.
144
IPA Deep Dive 3, January 2014 AKQAs ECD Nick Turner claims never to send anything out which isnt perfect
145
JFDI Industry slang for clients asking agencies to implement Just Fucking Do It briefs
146
Bacon, F.
147
Lois Lane to Superman, cited IMDB quotes

26
Image references
Figure 1 http://davidcranmer.blogspot.co.uk/2011_04_01_archive.html
Figure 2 http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/usa-today-expands-super-bowl-ad-meter-155123
Figure 3 Google trends data January 2010 January 2014
Figure 4 http://limelightprsonar.wordpress.com/
Figure 5 http://www.flickr.com/photos/brokendrumphotography/2565961868/
Figure 6 http://societeperrier.com/blog/art-everywhere-invades-uk-streets/#.Uxx5cD9_svc
Figure 7 Author
Figure 8 http://www.thedrum.com/news/2014/02/17/co-op-launches-have-your-say-campaign
Figure 9 http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/news/barclays-seeks-voice-of-customer-for-rebuilding-efforts/4007990.article
Figure 10 Author
Figure 11 Author
Figure 12 Google Trends data July 2007 January 2014 search volumes for all superheroes combined
Figure 13 http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/fashion-blog/2014/mar/04/supermarket-karl-lagerfeld-chanel-collection-paris
Figure 14 Google Trends data 2005 2013
Figure 15 Topsy Twitter data January February 2014
Figure 16 Google Trends data 2014
Figure 17 Barb data
Figure 18 Brand Z top 100 brands Millward Brown 2014
Figure 19 Author
Figure 20 http://blog.penshop.co.uk/news/celebrities-and-their-pens
Figure 21 Google
Figure 22 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/christmas/8188997/The-science-of-Christmas-Santa-Claus-his-sleigh-and-presents.html
Figure 23 Authors own photograph showing Coca Cola sponsoring the Christo area, train and narrative in Rio de Janeiro
Figure 24 http://www.unurth.com/filter/Dulux
Figure 25 http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/pregnancy-announcements-added-as-a-new-option-on-facebook/
Figure 26 Google images with Powerpoint Odeon logo
Figure 27 Author
Figure 28 http://www.kaiandsunny.com/blog/blog.php

27
I BELIEVE THAT IN THE FUTURE, BRANDS WILL HAVE
TO EARN THE RIGHT TO COMMUNICATE

by Richard Bradford
Introduction
In 1955 the poet Jaques Prevert walked past a homeless man holding a sign on a busy street. The sign read Im blind,
please help.

The homeless man didnt have many donations. So after walking past the sign and the empty hat too many times, Prevert
took the sign and changed it.1

When Prevert wrote that sign he created something very different. Instead of presenting the passer-by with a statement it
created a question. Why does it matter that its springtime? What can I see that he cant?

That question leads the passer-by to an understanding of whats important about the sign. The passer-by sees what the blind
man doesnt see: Springtime. From then on the blind mans hat was full.

Theres a lot we can learn from Prevert and the blind mans sign. Anything that communicates can challenge people.
Challenge creates questions, and those questions lead people to a new understanding of whats important about the
communication. In our mans case a hard question about what we see that others dont, and a full hat.

If all our communications were like that homeless mans sign, in a busy street with people engrossed in other things, would
we have to think differently about how brands communicate too?

1. How come I cant pay people to listen anymore?


...in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that
information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a
wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance
of information sources that might consume it.2
Herbert Simon

Theres high competition for attention


I bought a clicker to count the number of communications I consume in a day.
After an hour and a half it broke: I had received 1,822 pieces of communication.3
I saw 87 individual pieces of communication pulling into a tube station.

Absorbing so many communications forces the mind to filter and it does it well.4
Is this communication a risk? Is it pertinent? Is it interesting? I see a small
clock half a kilometre away over a six sheet next to me when Im late.

People receive an increasing volume of communications on a daily basis.5 That


includes advertising messages but isnt limited to them. There is high level of
information, and that demand creates a paucity of attention.
Figure 1. The clicker
28
There are more brand messages competing
There is more competition for messaging in out of home environments. There are 1.5m out of home sites in the UK,
growing at 2% per year.6 There is more competition for messaging in internet environments. People see 16,000 digital
brand adverts per year: 35 for every hour spent on the internet.7

In 1986 there were 44 beer brands. By 2012 there were 2,751 on the market.8 More brands are competing for a smaller
share of attention. Fame drives business success for brands.9 But competition for attention means its harder to appear
famous brands are increasingly one of many competing voices.

There are more ways to opt out


Theres another problem. People can opt out of brand communications. The problem of an alternative focus of attention
prevails everywhere because there is one screen that half of people always have with them and thats a smartphone.10

Its something thats potentially more interesting than brand communications. People have it with them when theyre walking
down the street, when theyre sat in front of a laptop watching pre-rolls, when theyre reading the Metro on a commute.11 With
more than one source of information present, interest is the key factor driving attention.12 Having a mobile phone has created a
new dynamic in communications. If people arent interested in communications they dont have to pay attention to them.

Opting out isnt just about skippable ads and PVRs. Its about whether someone feels compelled to pay attention to you or
not. People can opt out of brand communications with their attention by turning away to a mobile phone and sending a text,
or browsing the internet for something else.13

If that seems like a niche behaviour, 2/3rds of everyone has done it at some point.14 Half of people regularly opt out of
communications to use a smartphone, laptop or tablet. Weekly, daily, sitting in front of the television and just ducking out into
a secondary device. 15 Smartphone penetration is increasing consistently by ten percentage points a year.16 But its not just
smartphone users. The two most prominent second screen activities are messaging and calling.17

Its becoming more difficult to buy peoples attention. This isnt a phenomenon unique to television advertising.
The same rules of the second screen exist in all brand communications. In a caf, on a bus, walking down the street trying to
figure out where where Im going: attention has shifted from being in the viewers world to being in their hand.18

From low attention to no attention


Attention is monopolistic, we cannot attend to more than one thing at a time. We can only attend to a number of things by
switching our attention from one thing to another.19
Robert Heath

The second screen is such a compelling activity that youre either involved in it completely or not. If youre sitting in front of
the TV and youre looking down to your mobile phone or your tablet or your laptop, your attention isnt half on the television
any more, its gone.

From watching a human beings brain when they switch to a secondary device we see that attention moves from the TV to
the secondary device like a switch. It intensifies around the secondary device for 50 or 60 seconds then its focused on the TV
again.20

Figure 2. Attention switch between primary and secondary screen

29
Viewers dropped out of programming to use a second screen for more than three minutes over the thirty-five minute test
period, with a bias towards advertising. Between ten and twenty percent of ad breaks were dropped out of.21

In the past, low attention has been defended by the models of Low Attention Processing.22 Second screens have
created a new problem: not low attention but no attention. If an audience is not compelled to pay attention, most
consumers in most situations now have an opportunity to opt out.23

Opinions differ on the level of residual attention that remains with the TV when a person drops out into a secondary device.
Some research points to meerkatting, where the viewer intermittently flicks their attention back to the TV momentarily to
check for high interest communications.24

All evidence shares a common point of view: we seldom remain focused on the TV when distractions are available, digital or
physical. In those situations, a third of brand communications are misattributed. 25 The ubiquity of second screens means
distractions are always available. Only communications that are compelling on an instinctive level are able to retrieve and
retain attention when there are other options.

2. What do people pay attention to?


Even at a very early age, children do not treat all communicated information as equally reliable. At 16 months, they notice
when a familiar word is inappropriately used. By the age of two, they often attempt to contradict and correct assertions that
they believe to be false.26
Dan Sperber

Communication is so important people dont sleep if they dont have it: human beings will wake up intermittently in the night
if theyre deprived of social contact. 27

To have social contact humans need to be able to establish reliable communications. Most importantly, we need safeguards
in place to ensure that were getting an accurate picture. Its a risk not to: we could be missing something important, or the
messenger could be wrong.28

We do this by sense checking everything thats communicated to us against our beliefs. If the communication doesnt match
with our beliefs were triggered into working out why not.29

That mechanism is called epistemic vigilance. Simply put it means checking what were told against what we know.

Epistemic vigilance is a sub-section of a body of work called Argumentative Theory which was developed to explain how and
why humans reason. Its chief finding is that reason isnt reasonable: humans have developed not to reason abstractly but to
contend with problems. Humans are hard wired to defend their beliefs against contradictory ones theyre presented with.30

Epistemic vigilance is always on, subconsciously monitoring communications in the background to check that were not being
led astray.31 If a communication doesnt fit our expectations, it becomes our number one priority to establish why not.

These anomalous communications are called epistemic triggers. They are problems in a communication that the receiver is
forced to solve. And they are an evolutionary imperative. Humans cannot help but deal with a communication that contradicts
their beliefs.

UNCONSCIOUS

Communication re- Communication Beliefs in communication


ceived scanned for beliefs sense checked against his
own beliefs

Anomaly found, High attention focused Low attention as new


epistemic vigilance on problem until belief is saved down
triggered anomaly is resolved to memory

CONSCIOUS

Figure 3. The process of being triggered

30
Whether the communication is missing something, contradicts itself, contains unexpected information or simply states
a belief that we cannot accept at face value; epistemic triggers are a priority for human attention. Not dealing with a
communication which conflicts with our beliefs could be an evolutionary risk.32

As a result, there are types of communication that trigger an irresistible urge to engage. When our beliefs are challenged we
cannot help but focus our attention squarely on whatever communication has challenged our belief until it is resolved.

3. What triggers attention?


The system is a pattern detection device. The rule that the pattern better be coherent is at the heart. If we do not achieve
coherence we are made to feel uncomfortable.33
Kahnemann

Epistemic vigilance depends on us challenging the beliefs of the person communicated with. To challenge the beliefs of the
person and trigger epistemic vigilance we need to present a view of the world which cannot be accepted at face value.To
understand how to trigger attention we first need to understand what kinds of beliefs we hold that can be challenged.

Human beings have simple beliefs like lemons are yellow and more complex beliefs about our identities and values like
its important to be an individual. Both of these challenge our explicit understanding of the world. Others challenge our implicit
expectations of the world you never go to church on Sunday; or the subconscious feeling that theres something youre not
telling me.

EXPLICIT -
Understanding challenged

DISSONANCE CHALLENGE
They dont go Im not sure Id
together buy that

AUTOMATIC LEARNED
Simple assumptions Complex beliefs
about the world about the world
ABSCENCE UNEXPECT
Theres some- EDNESS
thing missing That doesnt
here usually happen

IMPLICIT -
Expectations challenged
Figure 4. Four beliefs, four triggers

Although very different, all of them can be used to create epistemic triggers which compel the user to engage. Anything that
we hold as a belief can be challenged to compel attention.

Trigger one. Dissonance Incongruent information


The simplest situation that triggers epistemic vigilance is incongruent communication: the communication is telling me two
contradictory things. The communication is saying one thing but doing another or it is presenting one thing and describing it
as another.

There is an evolutionary instinct in us to solve contradictory communications.34 It could be dangerous to us to be told that
something is a lemon when it looks like something else. These logical gaps in communication between different parts of the
communication create a question: which is correct?

This desire for congruence is felt unconsciously. To experience this visceral reaction first hand, listen to the Tristan Chord
from Tristan and Isolde.35 It contains communicative dissonance sounds that should not go together. It is experienced
instinctively by any listener, and creates a desire for resolution. Psychological research has shown that the incongruent facial
expression of the Mona Lisa has the same effect.36 Communications that are incongruent compel the receiver to engage.

31
Marketing communications can create incongruence too. In Volkswagen Lemon, we see a picture of a car and a descriptor
that says lemon. This is a wonderful epistemic trigger because it replicates an epistemic trigger that could exist in everyday
life: the viewer is being presented with something that is not a lemon and being told it is a lemon.

There are many reasons why VW Lemon is brilliant which have been pored over in great detail.37 My reason is because it
creates a compulsion in the viewer to deal with an epistemic problem. One thing is being shown and another thing is being
described. Its quick to solve and gets the viewer to a strongly branded belief: that Volkswagens not a lemon.

Volkswagen- Lemon

32
Trigger two. Absence Something is missing
Is there a piece of information thats obviously missing from this communication? If you give a person a communication that
is incomplete, they are compelled to fill in what it is that you havent told them.

Absence of information triggers epistemic vigilance because its a clear sign that theres either something I dont know, or
Im being deceived.

Heinz - Bottle38 has a series of people interacting with a mass of air. It is visual ellipsis. People who are watching this scene
are forced to ask themselves what it is thats missing from this picture. And the answer is its Heinz Ketchup thats missing.

Its not an answer that Heinz tell us in their advert. Its an answer that the viewer figures out because all of those behaviours
are unique to Heinz. The viewer is forced to ask whats missing and in answering their own question they form a branded
belief about whats going on.

Heinz - Bottle

Trigger three. Challenge Statements of belief


Statements of belief challenge not just the facts of the world but the values we hold dear. Statements of belief trigger
epistemic vigilance because they call into question whether we should trust our own beliefs and values or trust the
communicator. Both are important decisions.

Guinness - Sapeurs does this with its opening statement:You cant always decide what you do but you always decide who
you are.39

Its a challenging belief which the reader is forced to process. It cant be evidenced or decided instantly from memory. It
challenges our beliefs not just about the product but ourselves. It requires attention and thought. The viewer is forced to ask:
why cant I decide what I do? How can I decide who I am?

From the challenge to the actions of the people throughout the answer to that challenge is this: in situations where youre
forced to make the same choices as everyone else you can be different. That is the fundamental truth of Guinness. What
Guinness is above all else is the different choice. When everyone else is drinking lager, you can have a Guinness: you can
decide who you are.

Guinness - Sapeurs

33
Trigger four. Unexpectedness Unusual patterns
Unexpected information creates an epistemic trigger when we see something in communication that we do not expect to see.
It is a deep evolutionary principle that helps people spot when danger is coming. It is an epistemic trigger that alerts people
to the possibility that something important may have changed, triggered by a communication not experienced before.

Innocent have done something to their product that doesnt make sense. They have put a knitted woolly hat on all of their
bottles. Anyone who sees the bottle is compelled to ask what a drinks bottle is doing with a woolly hat on. Woolly hats are
for things that create their own heat through metabolism. The answer is left up to the viewer. When they interact with the
product or ask someone they will find out that the reason an Innocent smoothie has a woolly hat on is because Innocent care
about the world we live in.

Innocent- Big Knit

4. How to create epistemic advertising - A three step dance


In the examples of the four epistemic triggers we begin to see a common pattern. A belief is challenged, that challenge
creates a question for the user to solve, and the answer creates a branded belief. It gives us a simple understanding of how
we can create our own epistemic triggers:

1. Challenge Beliefs

2. Create a Question in the receiver

3. Use the answer to create a Branded Belief

Communciation Volkswagen lemon Guinness - sapeurs Heinz - bottle Innocent - woolly hat

Belief You cant choose who Something should be


Lemons are fruits Bottles dont wear hats
challenged you are there

Question Why is that car being How can i choose who i Why is that bottle wearing
Whats missing?
Instigated called a lemon? am? a hat?

Branded Volkswagens arent I can be an individual by Innocent care about the


Its Heinz thats missing.
belief created lemons. drinking Guinness world we live in

Figure 5. The three step dance in action

All these examples create questions quickly. Those questions lead us to branded beliefs. Those branded beliefs feel like they
come from us.

How can brand communications ensure that a question gets created? And that the answer feels compelling? And that the
new belief is branded?

34
5. Implications for planning
Create a question in the first 5 seconds
Epistemic triggers can happen in the first 0.493 milliseconds of a person noticing a communication. Thats how long
it takes to assess a communication.40 Simple epistemic triggers can create questions very quickly: dissonance and
absence require low cognitive demand to realise something is wrong. That means communications have to start creating
epistemic triggers from the first contact. Theres a finite amount of time to create the question. Research into digital out
of home recorded an average dwell time of eleven seconds.41 Static posters are looked at for three to five seconds. 42 With
pre-roll, theres a grace period of five seconds. Epistemic triggers need to create questions quickly.

Let Them Answer the Question (Messenger is Me)


The artist rules his subjects by turning them into accomplices.43
Arthur Koestler

Good advertising does not put out messages, it creates them in the listener, or the viewer, or the watcher.44 This may seem
counterintuitive.

Because humans have a critical faculty, it is more effective to create branded beliefs that come from the user. In epistemic
communications, this means letting the user answer the question themselves. None of the four examples ever state their
branded belief explicitly. Volkswagen does not tell us that its cars are not lemons. Heinz does not tell us that Heinz is
missing. We tell ourselves.

Letting the person answer the question themselves bypasses their critical cognitive processes that occur when people
receive a communication.45 Low Attention Processing is effective for the same reason, but epistemic communication lets
brands do that with conscious communications as long as the user answers the question themselves.46

Getting the viewer to answer the question changes the messenger from the advert to the user. Acceptance of communications
depends heavily on the levels of trust for the communicator.47 A persons most trusted beliefs come from themselves.
Communications which feel to have come from the person rather than the advert are much more likely to be accepted.

Finally, messages which come from the user are more likely to be deeply encoded as memories and recalled later. Questions
create an action for the user they require cognitive processing to be resolved. Its in processing that memory is created: the
higher the level of processing, the more likely it is that the branded belief will be recalled by the viewer.48

Make it simple to answer


Humans find solving problems rewarding.49 Resolving problems releases dopamine which makes the experience rewarding
and makes memories more likely to be encoded and recalled later.50

Epistemic communications need to stack the odds in favour of the audience solving the problem. The communication needs
to lead the audience to a solution. Heinz showed seven different sequences of someone getting ketchup out of a bottle. If one
of them doesnt land, another will. It needs to be clear and simple for the audience to figure out whats going on.

Despite answering the question, epistemic triggers are still effective on subsequent exposure. This is because the
mechanism for epistemic vigilance is instinctive. Innocents Big Knit campaign triggered the same uplift in interest in
its second year. 51 Consciously knowing the answer does not stop the person being triggered because beliefs are still
challenged: people still dont pour ketchup out of thin air.

Brand Throughout
When I want a good recall score, says my partner David Scott, all I have to do is show a gorilla in a jock strap.52
David Ogilvy

Epistemic Triggers instigate intense reading of a situation while the brain seeks to understand the problem presented by the
communication. Once the problem is solved the brain starts writing as the person remembers the new belief about this situation.

Theres an inherent risk here. If the viewer solves the problem before the brand is introduced, they will remember the
answer without the brand.

We know this from looking at response to an epistemic advert in a neural scanning machine.53 An advert creates an
inexplicable situation. This triggers a high burst of attention (red line on the neural scanner) until the situation is explained.
Once the situation is explained attention falls away as the brain begins recording.

35
Two seconds later the advert shows the brand. The ad suffers poor recall because the brand is shown too late while the
brain is recording. Read/write capability in the brain is a switch too. When its remembering its not listening. To experience
this first hand, try to remember what youve just driven past when youve been daydreaming whilst driving.

Figure 6. Memory encoding before and after a situation is revealed

Epistemic advertising creates the same burst of high attention, but once the situation is resolved there is low attention while
the answer is recorded. If branding is left until after the resolution it wont be remembered.

Using Visible Cues to Brand Throughout


The simplest way to brand throughout is to use visual cues. Colours and visible consumption are effective ways to do this.
Cadburys are lucky enough to own a distinctive colour. Roadsigns coloured purple and the small moments of product
consumption in James Cordens Lip Sync mean that the statement about joy becomes a branded belief. (A purple street sign
is itself an epistemic trigger). Epistemic advertising changes the rules of branding: we need to brand throughout the answer
because once the epistemic problem is solved the viewer will stop paying attention.

You dont need to own a colour to brand throughout. Heinz have a distinctive bottle shape and a set of behaviours any
recognisable physical attribute can be used to brand throughout.

Cadbury Lip Sync Colours and Consumption

36
Using your emotional benefit to brand throughout
In Sapeurs Guinness use product imagery to create visible branding throughout. They do something else as well. The answer
to the Guinness Question: How can I be different when Im doing the same things creates an inherently branded answer. The
answer is branded not around the product but around the emotional benefit of Guinness.

Guinness is not just burnt ale. Its a drink that allows people to be individuals in situations that seem to afford them no
individuality.54 If you want to find ways to brand throughout that arent just showing your packet every three seconds find your
emotional truth and make that the answer to your epistemic trigger, to the question you ask in the first five seconds.

6. Epistemic triggers throughout the journey


The real giants have been poets, men who jumped from facts into the realm of imagination and ideas.55
Bill Bernbach

If epistemic vigilance is an instinct that applies to all communications then we can apply it to anything that communicates.
That means we should be able to apply it anywhere where brand communications occur. There are five points to any
consumer journey where brands communicate.56 All five phases are attention competitive. All five phases favour brands that
are salient and talked about.57

Out of market / everyday life


When consumers are out of market they form impressions about brands. Half enter a purchase with a strong
idea who they want to purchase. This is driven by beliefs about brands and their ability to stand out.

Trigger
When consumers are triggered into market they form quick impressions of brands: whos associated with the
reason Im in market? Whos salient around the things I value? Brands can even become triggers into market
themselves.

Research & shopping


When consumers research in market they compare brands to form shortlists in competitive environments like
search terms, looking for brands that stand out from competitive options, and brands that are talked about.

Purchase
At purchase consumers have to choose from a mental or physical shopping list of brands. Brands that have
compelling products and are believable prosper.

Post-purchase & in-life


Post-purchase, the first thing consumers do is research the product again and share their experience with
a friend. What makes them feel good about the experience and prompts them to share their impression to
create word of mouth?

Figure 7. Five communication points

These are the five points where any brand needs to communicate. If we can show that we can use Epistemic Triggers to earn
attention at all five points, we can use Epistemic Triggers anywhere.

37
Out of market / everyday life
When consumers are out of market they form impressions about brands. Half enter a purchase with a strong idea who they
want to purchase. This is driven by beliefs about brands and their ability to stand out.

Brand Blinkbox Cadburys - BA Thank you Wateraid - O2


Audi Flaunt It
communication Twerking 9 to 5 Gorilla for not flying Spaghetti Be more Dog

Twerking doesnt Gorillas dont You have to be a


Airlines just want Cooked spaghetti
Belief challenged belong with the appreciate Phil prick to drive a cats are cats
bums on seats is floppy
song in my head Collins German sportscar

Question Why is a gorilla Why doesnt that Why is that


Why are those Why dont BA Why isnt the
Instigated enjoying himself prick want that cat behaving like
lyrics together? want me to fly? spaghetti floppy?
so much? car? a dog?

Blinkbox has got Cadburys can Theres a lot of O2 is the brand


Branded Audis arent BA really
all kinds of make anyone things I couldnt that lets you do
Belief Created for pricks supports Britain
different music feel joy do without water more

For all video copy see http://goo.gl/LHfFke

O2 Be More Dog Wateraid Spaghetti

Blinkbox Twerking Nine to Five Audi- Flaunt it

British Airways Dont Fly. Cadbury Gorilla

38
Trigger
When consumers are triggered into market they form quick impressions of brands: whos associated with the reason Im in
market? Whos salient around the things I value? Brands can even become triggers into market themselves.

Snickers
Economist
Brand Youre not you Save the Children HMRC Parkinsons UK Monster
Where do you
Communication when youre Second a Day Footsteps (Radio) Jigsaw When I Grow Up
stand?
hungry
Those two views Chocolate bars Unexplained The words should
Belief Bad things happen Children should
are incompatible, have nothing to do footsteps mean be in a specific
Challenged far away have ambitions
one is wrong. with performance something bad. order

Question Why is an English Why dont Why do those


Why did I spell Whos the
Instigated Which one is right? girl getting the words children have low
that wrong? bad guy?
bombed? make sense? expectations?
Me, and the
The Economist Just because it The simplest
government are
Branded challenges me to isnt happening things are I need to find a
I need a Snickers! coming if I
Belief Created think about things here doesnt mean difficult with different job
dont declare
from both sides it isnt happening Parkinsons
my income
For all video copy see http://goo.gl/LHfFke

Snickers Youre Not You When Youre Hungry

Economist Where do You Stand?

Save the Children Second a Day

Parkingsons UK Jigsaw

Monster When I Grow Up

39
Research & shopping
When consumers research in market they compare brands to form shortlists in competitive environments like search terms,
looking for brands that stand out from competitive options, and brands that are talked about.

Audi Showroom with GCHQ Can you crack the Frank Pablo the drugs
Brand communication Apple Store No Tills
no cars code mule

Car showrooms should Communications


Belief challenged Dead dogs dont talk Shops are about selling
have cars in them should make sense

Why doesnt that Why wont this one tell me Whys that dead dog
Question Instigated Why arent there any Tils?
showroom have cars in it? what its about? talking about drugs?

Buying an Audi is all about GHCQ is only for the best Coke has some not Apple isnt a product its an
Branded belief created
the experience and Im one of them great effects experience

For all video copy see http://goo.gl/LHfFke

GCHQ Crack the Code Pablo - The Drug Mule Dog

Audi Digital Car Showroom Apple- Apple Store

40
Purchase
At purchase consumers have to choose from a mental or physical shopping list of brands. Brands that have compelling
products and are believable prosper.

Brand communication Grey Goose Time Puccinos Good Taste


Pricing Strategy Typewriters cover Freshly Baked Pies Real Life
Belief challenged Vodka is a cheap drink Typewrites produce Pies and Croissants arent Food shopping is part of
information, they the same everyday life
cant read it
Question Instigated Why is that vodka so Why is one mans Why does it say Pie next to How are cheese and wine
expensive? typewriter feeding a croissant? different to real life?
the other?
Branded belief created Grey Goose must be the Theres an Interesting Its a light hearted place to Their cheese and wine is
best vodka in the world article on creative stop for breakfast better than real life
collaboration in here

For all video copy see http://goo.gl/LHfFke

Time The Ideas Issue Grey Goose - Pricing

Puccinos Freshly Baked Pies Good Taste Real Life

41
Post-purchase & in-life
Post-purchase, the first thing consumers do is research the product again and share their experience with a friend. What
makes them feel good about the experience and prompts them to share their impression to create word of mouth?

Orange New York Salve Jorge Bar


Brand communication Got Milk Milk Mustache Soho Gyms - Insanity
Blackout The Offline Glass

Attractive people wont Insanity and Fruitcake


Phone networks are about A glass is supposed to
Belief challenged turn up in a poster with a belong to different
selling phones stand up on its own
milk mustache semantic fields

Why does a phone network Why is getting milk more


Question Instigated Why do I need to prop this Why are fruitcake and
want me to turn off my important than looking
on my phone? insanity opposites?
phone? good?

Orange are about Im making a good


Salve Jorge is a place Getting milk is looking
Branded belief created connecting people, not trade-off by going to
where people switch off good
minutes and texts the gym

For all video copy see http://goo.gl/LHfFke

Orange New York Blackout

Got Milk Milk Mustache

Soho Gyms - Insanity Salve Jorge Bar The Offline Glass

42
7. Applying the theory: New epistemic triggers
Anywhere where there is competition for attention epistemic triggers give brands a way to create compelling brand
communications.

Audi created an epistemic trigger in their shop front by leaving out the cars. Instinct tells us that car garages have cars in
them; Audi challenged our beliefs by making a store thats about something else: service.

Grey Goose created an epistemic trigger with their pricing strategy. Vodka was perceived as a cheap spirit. Grey Goose challenged
beliefs about the category by charging too much for vodka.58 They created the question why is it expensive, and then filled the
vacuum with stories about pure French grain. The conclusion Grey Goose must be the worlds best tasting vodka.

Native advertising and content approaches need to earn peoples attention too, since they are directly competing for attention
against unbranded content. In Can you crack the code GCHQ created a trigger by posting unsolved code on hacking forums
and leaving users to crack the code. Successful crackers were eventually led to a branded page and the belief that they
should really be doing it for a living.

Jacques Prevert created an epistemic trigger with a homeless mans board. Snickers created one with search terms.
Anything that communicates can challenge someones beliefs; anything that challenges someones beliefs can earn a
disproportionate share of attention by compelling the viewer to engage with an epistemic problem. Epistemic triggers matter
because they lead consumers away from the distraction of other communications and towards branded beliefs.

But the critical test of a theory is whether it can be used to create new work. The four types of trigger: absence, dissonance,
challenge and unexpectedness should allow us to create new epistemic triggers in brand communications. The following
are two new examples from very different brands detergent and blood donation, which Ive used to create new epistemic
triggers in different communications moments.

Discounting is a problem for FMCGs.59 What if we can use epistemic triggers instead of offers to drive share for our brands in
the supermarket?

Fairy - Twinpack 60 Fairy - Buy One Dont Need One Free61

Fairy -Twinpack, creates a problem for the viewer to solve. A twinpack should have two bottles in it. When doesnt a
twinpack need two bottles? When it lasts twice as long. In proximity to a supermarket this drives more salience and
memorability that a straight product ad.

The role for epistemic advertising doesnt stop at the supermarket door. Shelf space is a competitive environment.
Prominence is driven by discounting and discounting damages profitability.62

43
In Fairy Buy One Dont Need One Free, I created a multipack that challenges the assumptions that good value means carrying
an extra product home. It creates a question why dont I get something free? It leads to the answer because I dont need to.

Epistemic advertising doesnt stop with the question. The answers to our epistemic triggers should feel positive. To avoid the
risk that the consumer feels that the bargain is all on the side of Fairy, we donate the money saved from not producing the
second bottle to a charity. To avoid the risk that supermarkets will want to delist Fairy for not producing an offer, we give that
money to their charity of choice in this case Sport Relief for Sainsburys.
Theres a fifth step in the purchase journey beyond the purchase. People make their decisions about whether theyve done
the right thing after purchasing, and become a potential beacon for the brand. Not enough brands do this well. Epistemic
Triggers can reinforce draw a consumers attention to the fact that theyve made a great choice.

Plasters are for sick people. But not always: we can challenge that assumption to create branded beliefs. By adding the
words Something Amazing to a plaster we can create the question why is wearing a plaster amazing? Because if youve just
given blood, thats something amazing.

Give Blood - Something Amazing (Selfie)65

All blood donation plasters should be branded, since peer groups are trusted messengers.64 But by creating an Epistemic
Trigger instead of simply saying Give Blood we create a messenger in the viewer too. By viewing that plaster the passer-by
tells themselves Giving blood is something amazing. It might even be something people take a selfie of.

Im not a creative, but using the four triggers and the simple three step dance its possible to create new epistemic triggers
that earn attention by challenging peoples beliefs.

Fairy Buy one dont need one


Brand Communication Fairy Our new twinpack Give Blood: Something amazing
free

A twinpack has two Offers mean I get


Belief Challenged Sick people wear medical plasters
bottles in it something free

Question Instigated Why dont I get Why is he wearing a plaster when he


Wheres the other bottle?
something free? looks fine?

I already do because
Branded Belief Created Fairy lasts twice as long Anyone can do something amazing
it lasts twice as long

Figure 8. New examples of epistemic triggers

When not to get in the way - Epistemic Vigilance and Behavioural Economics
Behavioural Economics introduced the idea that the brain has two systems. System 1 is quick, unconscious,
instinctive. System 2 is conscious, methodical and reasonable.66
System 1 scans communications for challenge to beliefs and alerts system 2 if it finds incongruence. Its system
2 that takes care of investigating and resolving the challenge.

44
System 1 has traditionally been seen by behavioural economics as a biased instrument. System 2 has its biases too. Reason
isnt reasonable: people want to confirm their own beliefs. Once System 2 becomes suspicious of a communication, it will
remain engaged until it understands why. This is epistemic vigilance.

There may be times when its inappropriate to create epistemic triggers. Where brand communications need to be accepted at face
value, epistemic vigilance creates unnecessary problems. Epistemic triggers derail default behaviour by instigating high attention.
When the default behaviour is already what the brand wants, epistemic triggers are counterproductive. A mortgage application, a
transaction page or a cash machine are no place to trigger vigilance.

An understanding of what triggers epistemic vigilance is still useful. Epistemic thinking can be used in user experience
design to avoid creating any of the four epistemic triggers. Dont leave missing information or unusual patterns mid action.
Dont challenge beliefs. Dont deliver unexpected information. These triggers set off alarm bells in a human being that say
I should question what Im being told. When we want someones attention, thats great; when we want them to finish a
transaction, less so.

Theres a simple parameter for using epistemic triggers: when someones already engaged in a transaction dont get in the
way. When someones attention is flowing away from you, use epistemic triggers to get them back. A payment confirmation
page is no place to create uncertainty.

8. Epistemic triggers and effectiveness


We would expect epistemic campaigns to impact on three important metrics: salience, since the epistemic vigilance drives
memorability; bonding, since the brand beliefs are generated by the user; and sales, since epistemic campaigns generate
high fame, recall and bonding.

We can use the campaigns already identified to examine the effectiveness of epistemic communications. IPA Effectiveness
Awards data shows that campaigns which used epistemic triggers increased salience 87% more than prior campaign
approaches. For Snickers this benchmarked against a competitor norm of 4%.

A similar pattern appears in bonding scores. Campaigns using epistemic triggers show a strong effect on bonding compared
with norms from all brands. Brand tracking norms show average growth in bonding of 2% per annum. For years where
brands ran campaigns using epistemic triggers, bonding increased 45%.

Finally, IPA Effectiveness data shows that epistemic campaigns increased sales 12% across the brands discussed in
this paper. This was not at the expense of profitability: Cadbury were able to reduce promotional reliance and increase
profitability at the same time as driving sales growth of 4%.

This impact on salience, bonding, promotional reliance and sales is in line with the effects we would expect from

epistemic campaigns. This range of data gives us evidence that campaigns using epistemic triggers are effective in driving a
range of significant metrics.

Figure 9. Growth in bonding: epistemic campaigns vs norm

45
9. Implications for planning
Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.71
Bill Bernbach

1. Rethink the competition


Start thinking about the competitive set not as other brands that sell the same things but messages around the message
youre trying to put out. Look at the context of the environment the communication is going to be put out in - whether its
a supermarket shelf, a pre-roll in a busy environment or someone watching a TV ad with their laptop on. What are people
doing when our communications are going to be played out in front of them?

That demands good media understanding up front. For advertisers that demands earlier dialogue between creative and
media planning. Media context means more than they listen to the radio in the morning and they watch TV at night.
Advertising that works within its context needs richer understanding of that context, and that level of understanding comes
not just from tools but ethnography and experiencing the attention environment. Media planners should be proactive about
providing that information and painting a picture of what the competitive attention set is.

2. Test in attention-competitive environments


That same attention-competitive environment needs to be reflected when we test communications. Rather than sitting
around a table and devotedly looking at the only attention source, epistemic triggers need to be tested for their ability to
capture attention when there are other options and distractions available. Copy needs to be shown amongst other copy;
products amongst other products to see if they land in their native environment.

3. Check the Three Step Dance is happening


Does the communication challenge beliefs? Does it creating questions in the recipient? Are the answers creating
branded beliefs?

There are four ways brands can test epistemic triggers in order of difficulty and expense:

i. The acid test asking ourselves what the question created in the first five seconds is. Do we feel compelled to stay with
the communication? If I could skip my own advert, would I?

ii. Creative pre-testing: showing people the first five seconds and asking them what the question is. Showing them the
remainder and asking them what the answer is. Getting clarity on whether we are creating clarity in peoples heads.

iii. Using digital pre-rolls to physically test whether its a skippable ad by seeing if people skip it. Launching in digital gives us
a real world test of whether the ad is ignorable.

iv. Using neuroscience to measure read-write performance. Neuroscience lets us know objectively if were creating
epistemic triggers or not.

4. Measure effects, not intentions


Communication sent no longer equals communication received. Measurement needs to reflect this. Measurement needs to
stop looking at what has been spent and said, and start looking at the effect it has on consumers. Share of Voice does not
necessarily mean the advert has been received. An attention deficit means moving from measuring SOV to share of attention
are people aware of the communication? If we spent was it remembered? Yes we had ratings but are we top of peoples
minds? Of course we told them about our qualities but what do they believe about us? Were on the consideration list but
have those beliefs bonded people to us? Finally, epistemic triggers reduce reliance on promotions: business measures
should focus on ROMI, not just raw sales. Great communications take responsibility for the effect they have on people, not
just what they say and how loud.

Input Output Comprehension Attitude Business

Communications
Old Measures Share of Voice TVRs Consideration Sales
Diagnostics: Qualities

Communications Price
Communication
New Measures Top of Mind Diagnostics: Bonding Elasticity
Awareness
Beliefs created ROMI

Figure 10. Old measures and new measures

46
Outcomes are what matters to businesses.72 Creating harder metrics around the effect we have on consumers can only
strengthen epistemic communications role in business success. Showing that brand communications are thinking their way
around the attention drought rather than spending around it can only develop a stronger case for investment.

The four epistemic triggers give brands a broad range of techniques for earning attention that still allow room for the kind of
creativity that is so imperative to effective work.73

With the right measures in place Epistemic Advertising is primed to bridge the gap between delivering the creativity we need
to drive consumer behaviour and the hard-as-nails metrics marketing departments need to take the business with them.74

CONCLUSION
A person with experience is never at the mercy of a person with a theory.
Anon

This is a paper about the communications we make and what makes them interesting to people. Its exciting when
communications put an irresistible question in your head. The communications we make should put an irresistible question
in peoples heads too.

The blind mans sign tells us something important about communications. Challenging peoples beliefs can make believers
out of passers-by. Our communications are a lot like that blind mans sign: Many passers-by but few takers.

Its not enough to rely on promotional spend to buy attention any more. There is no corner of brand communications
left where attention isnt heavily competed for. Brands will have to earn peoples attention by creating compelling
communications, or risk not communicating at all.

47
Appendix Figure references
Figure 1 Source: Authors photograph
Figure 2 Source: Neuro Insight, The Myth of the Distracted Second-Screener, May 2013.
Figure 3 Source: Author
Figure 4 Source: Author
Figure 5 Source: Author
Figure 6 Source: Neuro Insight, The Myth of the Distracted Second-Screener, May 2013.
Figure 7 Author Summary of Agency Anonymised: Consumer Journey Research Norms, August 2013.
Figure 8 Source: Author
Figure 9 Author Amended Brand-Z Data
Figure 10 Author
Additional Tables All creative summaries in tables are authors own.
Cardboard Sign Authors own

References
1
Kirby, D, The House on Boulevard St: New and Selected Poems, 2007. This story is now advertising apocrypha and has many claimed
protagonists, including David Ogilvy (Iezze, T., The Idea Writers: Copywriting in a New Media and Marketing Era, 2010) and Bill Bernbach.
More important is the value of the sign.
2
Simon, H. A., Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World. In Martin Greenberger, Computers, Communication, and the Public
Interest, 1971.
3
Authors own research, conducted 19th March 2014 in Southwark and City of London while travelling via tube and foot.4 4 Colgin et al,
Frequency of gamma oscillations routes flow of information in the hippocampus in Nature 462, 353-357 (19 November 2009); A concise
summary of the findings can be found at: http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=62898&CultureCode=en
5
Global Information Industry Centre, How much information? 2009 Report on American Consumers, University of California, 2009.
Information consumed is reported to be growing at 2.6% per annum.
6
Kinetic, The Future of UK OOH Media in the UK, November 2012
7
Comscore, UK Digital Future Focus, Feb 2013; IAB/PwC, Digital Adspend H1-2013; Office for National Statistics UK Population, mid
2012 (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/taxonomy/index.html?nscl=Population); Ofcom, Communications Market Report, August 2013. 938bn
impressions served to the 80% of UK population of 63.7m who each spend 43hrs each per month online.
8
The Beer Institute, Beer Statistics, Dec 2012, Sourced: (http://www.beerinstitute.org/br/beer-statistics)
9
Binet, L., Field, P., Marketing in the Era of Accountability, 2007.
10
ComScore, Device Essentials, Monday, 21st January 2013.
11
GfK / Facebook, Finding Simplicity in a Multi-Device World, March 2014.
12
TechNation, Eye Tracking Study, 2013.Sourced: (http://www.slideshare.net/newsworks/tech-nation-eye-tracking)
13
ComScore Datamine,Multi-Platform Users Consumer 23% More Content, September 2013. Sourced: (http://www.co scoredatamine.
com/2013/09/multi-platform-users-consume-23-percent-more-content-than-pc-only-users/)
14
Ofcom, Communications Market Report, August 2013.
15
Ibid.
16
Ibid.
17
Ibid.
18
GfK/Facebook, Finding Simplicity in a Multi-Device World, March 2014.
19
Heath, R., The Hidden Power of Advertising, 2001.
20
Neuro Insight, The Myth of the Distracted Second-Screener, May 2013.
21
Neuro Insight, The Myth of the Distracted Second-Screener, May 2013. Viewers were shown a 35 minute X-Factor viewing, with 192 seconds
of second screening and 24% of the second screening during adbreaks.
22
Heath, R., The Hidden Power of Advertising, 2001.
23
Ofcom, Communications Market Report, August 2013.
24
Goode, A., TV planning: How ads work in multiscreen viewing, in Admap January 2014;Thinkbox, Screen Life: The view from the Sofa, June 2012.
25
Thinkbox, Screen Life: The view from the Sofa, June 2012.
26
Sperber et al, Epistemic Vigilance, in Mind and Language 25(4), 2010.
27
Cacioppio, J., Patrick, W., Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, 2008.
28
Mercier, D., Sperber, S., Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory in Behavioural and Brain Sciences 34, 2011.
29
Sperber et al, Epistemic Vigilance, in Mind and Language 25(4), 2010.
30
Mercier, D., Sperber, S., Why do humans reason?, 2011.
31
Ibid.
32
Mercier, D., Sperber, S., Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory in Behavioural and Brain Sciences 34, 2011.
33
Kahneman, D., Interview with David Baddiel, 18th March 2014
34
Mercier, D., Sperber, S., Why do humans reason? 2011.

48
35
Sound clip sourced: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tristan_chord; For a full recording search Tristan Furtwangler on Spotify.
36
Ekman, P., Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life, 2003.
37
Marcantonio, A., Abbott, D., Remember those great Volkswagen ads?, 1993.
38
For all video copy see http://goo.gl/LHfFke
39
For all video copy see http://goo.gl/LHfFke
40
Ng, A., and Chan, A., Finger Response Times to Visual, Auditory and Tactile Modality Stimuli, 2012
41
Screenmediamag Blog, Why creatives need audience measurement, 10th December 2010. Sourced: (http://www.
screenmediamag.com/blog/item/1713-why-creatives-need-audience-measurement?tmpl=component&print=1)
42
Kinetic, The Future of Out of Home Media in the UK 2012.
43
Koestler, A., The Act of Creation, 1964.
44
Bullmore, J., Behind the scenes in advertising (Mark III), 2003 .
45
Heath, R., The Hidden Power of Advertising, 2001.
46
Dolan, P. et al, The Institute for Government, Mindspace Influencing behaviour through public policy, 2010.
47
Ibid.
48
Schacter, D., Searching for Memory, 1996.
49
Berridge K. & Kringelbach M., Affective neuroscience of pleasure: reward in humans and animals, 2007
50
Wittmann, B. et al, Mesolimbic interaction of emotional valence and reward improves memory formation in Neuropsychologia Volume 46,
Issue 4, 2008. Sourced: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028393207003880
51
Google Trends, Innocent, 2007-2014
52
Ogilvy, D., Ogilvy on Advertising, 1985
53
Thinkbox, Payback 3 Success in Tough Times, 2011. NB. Section on Conceptual Closure. Sourced: http://www.thinkbox.tv/server/show/nav.1829
54
APG Creative Planning Awards 1999, Guinness: Good things come to those who wait.
55
Sourced: http://www.ddb.com/BillBernbachSaid/
56
Agency Anonymised: Consumer Journey Research Norms, August 2013.
57
Binet, L., Field, P., Marketing in the Era of Accountability, 2007; Agency Anonymised: Consumer Journey Research Norms, August 2013.
58
Brand Strategy Insider, Brand Strategy: The Flanking Move, 4th September 2009, Source: http://www.
brandingstrategyinsider.com/2009/09/brand-strategy-the-flanking-move.html#.UzYYVKh_sXs
59
The Moodie Report October/November 2006, Grey Goose Soars Into Flight. Source: http://www.moodiereport.com/pdf/tmr_oct_06_29.pdf
60
Kantar Seminar, IPA, 2013. Price Promotion accounts for more than 50% of marketing budgets.
61
Source: Author
62
Kantar Seminar, IPA, 2013; Websteret al, Bain Report: Learning how to change with UK shoppers, 2013; see also Binet, L., Field,P., Brand
Success in the Digital Age, in Market Leader Q4 2013, and Shaw, R. and Merrick, D., Marketing Payback: Is Your Marketing Profitable?,2005.
63
Agency Anonymised: Consumer Journey Research Norms, August 2013.
64
Dolan, P. et al, The Institute for Government, Mindspace Influencing behaviour through public policy, 2010.
65
Source: Author
66
Kahnemann, D., Thinking Fast and Slow, 2011.
67
Pooled data from IPA Effectiveness Awards: Cadbury Joy of Content, 2010; Snickers Youre not you when youre hungry, 2012; British
Airways Thank you for not flying, 2013.
68
IPA Effectiveness Awards: Snickers Youre not you when youre hungry, 2012
69
BrandZ Bonding Scores, All brands vs available campaigns listed in this paper as using epistemic triggers. Campaign years when epistemic
campaigns ran vs previous data for British Airways, Audi, Apple, Cadbury, O2.
70
IPA Effectiveness Awards: Cadbury Joy of Content, 2010; Snickers Youre not you when youre hungry, 2012; British Airways Thank you for
not flying, 2013; The Economist: Debate, 2011.
71
Sourced: http://www.ddb.com/BillBernbachSaid/
72
Shaw, R. and Merrick, D., Marketing Payback: Is Your Marketing Profitable?, 2005.
73
Binet, L., Field, P., Marketing in the Era of Accountability, 2007.
74
IBM, Global CEO Study 2010, Capitalising on complexity; Kelly, F. and Kelly, H., What they really teach you at the Harvard Business School, 2010.

49
I BELIEVE THE FUTURE BELONGS TO BRAND-DRIVEN
BUSINESSES, NOT BUSINESS-DRIVEN BRANDS
by Emil Bielski

I. Introduction
The existing players in any sector have resources, processes, partners, and business models designed to support the status
quo. This makes it difficult and unappealing for them to challenge the prevailing way of doing things. Organizations are set
up to support their existing business models. Because implementing a simpler, less expensive, more accessible product or
service could sabotage their current offerings1
Clayton Christensen

This paper will begin by explaining why many businesses have become increasingly inwardly focused and risk-averse,
something which has put them in great peril. I will then lay out why I believe a business brand and its agency are their
most powerful weapons to break out of this dangerous inward facing cycle. To survive and succeed they will need to become
brand-driven businesses, rather than simply owners of business-driven brands.

The applications stage of this paper will outline how achieving this step change will require businesses to sacrifice
established ways of innovation, holding market position and measurement, all in the name of their brands and customers.
The marketing department will help drive this change as the translators of consumer needs into action within the business,
requiring them to be guardians of both the internal and external brands.

Agencies, more than ever before, can support this shift by reforming as their clients primary source of market intelligence,
their nerve centre: effecting change and allowing brands to become more agile. As brand-driven businesses move to
creating value for consumers, agencies will increasingly become facilitators of innovations & partnerships rather than simply
messengers.

II. Declining profitability has created cultural lock-in in many businesses


I believe most large organizations are suffering from a crippling disease-hierarchical bureaucracy. This disease is resulting
in remarkable declines in long term returns on assets, life expectancy and engagement of people doing the work.2
Steve Denning

The technological playing field is a driver of perpetual equalisation. Competitive advantage doesnt last for long and the
internet has democratised the creation of new businesses and innovations. These businesses can be created with the
minimum of transaction, start-up and marketing costs. The great monopolies such as the one that Ford enjoyed are no
longer a license to print money, and even the current shareholders darling Apple is being challenged by open source
operating systems and lower cost alternatives.

Figure 1. Return on assets/Return on investment has been in decline for fifty years, driving ever decreasing profitability5

50
The march of capitalism and efficiency has meant profitability for large businesses has been in steep decline since the 60s
(Fig1). Many large businesses that surveyed this bleak prognosis started taking an ever more defensive outlook, drawn to
sure fire financial bets rather than any exposure to risk. This created a state within businesses called cultural lock-in3:
the codification of mental models into fixed processes that avoided risk. This made many businesses wedded to their way
of doing things: namely capital accumulation, no matter what the markets told them. Top UK management spend only one
tenth of their time working out how to increase their cash flows, rather they are far more concerned with how to spend or
count it.4

III. In response many businesses have increasingly focused on shareholder


rather than customer value
With profits declining businesses looked to solutions that would improve their accountability and maximise short term
returns. In this regard there were two key developments in the 70s that would shape the operation of business for the next
forty years. Together they would usher in the era of shareholder-capitalism.

1. In 1976, the most famous business book of the 20th century was published: Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior,
Agency costs and Ownership structure.6 This tome would argue that the current businesses were broken because they were
run mainly for the benefit of the management. From this the concept of shareholder value was born and from then on boards
of directors would align their payment structures to those of the shareholders.

2. Accounting methods advanced significantly during the 70s, making internal rate of return (IRR) far easier to calculate. If
brands attempted to use their money to deliver a product or innovation that didnt pay off for years, the IRR was so poor that
instead they began to use their capital on shorter and shorter term wins.7

With shareholder value, businesses became more internally focused: they moved away from putting consumer
needs first and instead focused on strategies to increase stock market valuation. Based on the principles of linear
programming it is impossible to have two objectives to maximise as the other becomes a constraint8. For many
businesses consumer needs became that constraint, whilst innovation in the name of those needs became a
liability on the balance sheet. Shareholder capitalism and advanced accounting methods drove businesses to
become sales-orientated: focusing on selling products or services rather than on satisfying the wants and needs
of customers. The CEO of GE put it thus: Its not that GE hated customers; it just was not customer centric.
Marketing had become a lost function during the 1990s.10

IV. A sales-orientation means established businesses are being increasingly


overcome by market forces
Lacking product-oriented control systems, markets create more surprise and innovation than do corporations. They operate
on the assumption of discontinuity and accommodate continuity. Corporations on the other hand, assume continuity and
attempt to accommodate discontinuity.11
Richard Foster

51
Businesses with a sales-orientation focus on optimising their current business model: this can mean better distribution,
additional services or a slightly improved product (at a price) for their most valuable customers. Their ultimate goal is
minimising their cost base and making the most revenue possible from their current business model. This has worked in
the past, shareholder capitalism and a sales-orientation drove great returns for both Coca-Cola and GE. However lower
entry costs and improved access to information driven by the rise of the internet has made the market more disruptive:
continuously speeding up its creation of innovations that answer consumer needs.

Cultural lock-in at Blockbuster: In 1997, unassuming former marine and software entrepreneur Reed
Hastings gave back his copy of Apollo 13 to the local Blockbuster video store. To his dismay, they had charged
him $40, a fee so high that he was thinking about hiding it from his wife. Mulling this over on his way to the
gym, he had a moment of clarity: I realised they (the gym) had a much better business model. You could pay
$30-$40 and work out as much or as little as you wanted.

Three years later, John Antioco, a respected negotiator and the chief of Blockbuster, would sit in a room and
laugh at Reed Hastings offer to sell him Netflix for $50 million. With a market cap of $4 billion Blockbuster felt
they were in a position of strength, though you could argue their size was also their biggest weakness.Its hard to
change a business with 9,000 retail stores quipped one consultant on the challenge they had faced. John Antioco
was a pragmatist rather than a visionary, but he did try to set-up a streaming co-venture with Enron, which for
obvious reasons had to be abandoned. Yet it would still take another four years for Blockbuster to enter the DVD
delivery market and eleven to fully move into unlimited online streaming.14

Forty percent of the businesses that have entered the S&P 500 over the past 20 years have done so through business model
innovation: a new operating structure that releases value for both them and the consumer.12 Sales-orientated businesses
however, hamstrung by their profit models and processes, rarely invest in large scale restructures nor dare to risk their
current product ranges. The market on the other hand does not fear cannibalization, customer channel conflict or dilution.
It simply waits for processes to play out-for new companies to be created and for acquisitions to clear the field.13

Blockbuster moved slowly because it was scared of cannibalising its core offering. Online and delivery
would put the retail business in jeopardy with a lower margin offering. Instead, in those eight years, they
followed traditional business thinking: make more money from your most valuable customers. They focused
on selling confectioneries: hiring seven execs to simply focus on the the package that their customers
left the store with. By the time they moved into online they were far behind Netflix, with none of the smart
algorithms or platforms to deliver content. They were never to surpass 1/3 of Netflixs customer base.14
Suffering from this cultural lock-in would within ten years of that first meeting drive the once monolithic
Blockbuster to bankruptcy.15

It is because of these challenges that the average lifespan in the S&P 500 has been driven down by two thirds since the 1960s
(Fig 2). It is also because of these challenges that the IPA Excellence diploma reading list gives so many examples of brands
that were once at the pinnacle of innovative thinking but are now largely irrelevant. We have studied Sony, Kodak, and Saturn
cars, all of which are now in dire straits, with the once pioneering Sony running their electronics division at a loss. Even if we
look at the portfolio of companies in Jim Collins famous manifesto Built to last, they have since performed more poorly than
the average stock market tracker.16 They were once organisations driven by consumer needs, but as they evolved business
processes took primacy, and they like those who they had originally displaced became blind to the market and consumer.

52
Figure 2. Average company lifespan in the US stock market has decreased by 2/3 since 196017

V. In the current disruptive landscape, a market-orientation is crucial


to success
If you want to know what your future cash-flow will look like, investigate where it comes from - the market.18
Tim Ambler

Focusing on customer needs is not simply a fanciful notion: the most successful businesses have a market-orientation.
This means the organisation-wide generation of market intelligence relating to customer needs and competitor movements,
combined with the organisational capabilities to respond to it.19 Market-orientation has been demonstrated in numerous
papers (Jaworski & Kohli 1993, Matsuno& Mentzer & Ozsomer 2002, Han & Kin & Srivasta 2002) to drive significant returns and
increased innovation. To quote Jaworski & Kohli, the level of market orientation of a business is an important determinant of
its performance, regardless of the market turbulence, competitive intensity, or the technological turbulence of the market
within which it operates.20

One of the main drivers of market-orientation has been demonstrated to be a willingness to take risks and make significant
organisational changes based on market intelligence.21 The most sucessful businesses have seized opportunities by
sacrificing the primacy of current offerings, business models and even shareholders (in the short-term). In an increasingly
competitive environment and a market that thrives on disruption, I believe market-orientation is key for businesses to
increase their longevity and to drive profits above the norm. So the simple queston is - why is it not more common place?
Full adoption of market orientation can mean swimming against the tide of traditional business thinking and upsetting
everyone from shareholders through to employees. To counter this I believe a businesses brand combined with an evolved
agency model are the answer.

A willing sacrifice of business models and shareholder value:


Netflix had learnt from Blockbuster that moving with the consumer needed to be their primary concern. Reed
Hastings saw the emergence of online streaming as a trend that could not be ignored. Against the prevailing
business mantra he believed that aggressive cannibalisation of his core offering of DVD delivery was crucial
for long term success. He would therefore take the dramatic step of splitting the business in two, allowing the
products to compete against each other. Shareholders were up in arms and the share price plummeted.

Reed Hastings would be vindicated by the long term impact of his move: with a standalone online product he
grew his customer base whilst still maintaining strong returns from DVD delivery. These revenues were then
used to create online platforms and matching algorithms that would ultimately give Netflix a competitive
advantage that the others have as yet been unable to match. As Ben Gordon from Columbia business school
put it They didnt want the Netflix brand to be damaged by the inevitable death of physical digital goods.22

53
VI. Therefore companies need to become brand-driven businesses, not
simply owners of business-driven brands
I believe the brand is a business most powerful asset because it can be used as the simplest lever to drive a market-
orientation. For an average company, brand equity accounts for about 30% of their market cap and is often their single
biggest asset. Asserting the primacy of the brands role is an easier sell than simply asking shareholders to expect lower
short term returns. It is a rallying call for investors and employees and it allows businesses to stretch and pivot into new
areas by acting as a safety net. If cultural lock-in is the mental model of internal fear, the internal brand can be the mental
model of the principles that the business aspires to.

A brand stretch that became a pivot: Lego means play well in Danish and has been the internal brand purpose of
the company since its inception. They first successfully started moving with popular culture by licensing themes for
popular films, but their biggest innovation was moving into the digital age. Understanding that children had started
playing well differently, they shifted focus into the video game market in 1997, and by 2014 the Lego Movie was
released which featured the parallel Lego-verse that they had created. The film has grossed over $400 million
worldwide, a quite incredible pivot for a company that started by making wooden toys in 1949.25

Traditional measurements of brand value are in fact closely related to levels of market-orientation. When you take away the
assets of a business and its net present revenue, what are you left with? You could argue the actual brand value is already
accounted for in the revenue due to the higher prices the business is able to charge. Therefore is brand value measurement
actually the stock markets evaluation of your business potential to innovate in tune with the market? The brand can be at
the heart of a business in more ways than is traditionally thought:

One side guides customers to the right products (external). The other side guides the companys product designers, marketers,
and advertisers as they develop and market improved and new versions of their products. A good purpose brand (internal)
clarifies which features and functions are relevant to the job and which potential improvements will prove irrelevant. 26
Clayton Christensen

The internal power of the brand makes it possible for the business to be aligned behind one vision: it is a reflection of a
businesses culture, innovativeness and willingness to take risk. If unified behind consumer needs it forces businesses
behaviours to evolve as the market and competition changes. In an age of peer recommendation and online transparency the
internal brand is becoming ever more important.

The external power of a brand is that it is the sum of the consumer perceptions created by the communications and
behaviours of the business. It absorbs any value or harm that is put their way and it can move and morph faster than the
business as a whole. This creates new opportunities when current operational platforms are undermined.

Agencies will help power this change by being the consumer facing vanguard
With their multitudes of relationships, agencies are far less prone to cultural lock-in than traditional businesses. They can
act as the lens through which the business and brand survey the outside world. Through advances in data and capabilities
they are now in a position to help businesses and their brands respond faster to consumer needs and act upon them in
communications, partnerships and products. In the brand-driven business model, the agencies need to behave like Adam
Morgans Denters: those that have the external brand at their core and are willing to challenge the status quo of the
business.27 They will help brands become more fleet of foot and create value for their customers.

A new agency role: In 2010 PepsiCo joined up with their media agency OMD and three other partners to create
a program to discover and support start-up technology firms called the Pepsico10. This partnership redefines
the traditional role of and agency and helps propagate an external facing outlook for the business. It gives
them the ability to spot disruptive technologies at their incipient stage and it will help PepsiCo challenge their
current ways of thinking and processes, putting them closer in touch with consumer trends and ultimately
increasing their market-orientation.28

54
VII. Brand-driven businesses keep ahead of the market through
collaboration, sacrifice and brand led opportunism
In any competitive market, what drives margin and growth and separates one business from anotherfor employees,
customers, partners, and investors is the brand.29
Jim Stengel

To put a brand at the heart of how a business operates is a challenge to established ways of thinking. However through
agency collaboration, sacrifice and opportunism I will show how it has allowed businesses to thrive despite increasingly
challenging conditions.

The brand and collaboration: P&Gs statement of purpose is: We will provide branded products and services of
superiorquality and value that improve the lives of the worlds consumers.30 To bring that to life P&G have relentlessly
focused on collaboration to drive an outward focus and innovation.

During his time at P&G the legendary Jim Stengel, who would later become their CMO, continually aspired to create
marketing and communications teams which were as diverse as possible. He brought his advertising agency Grey
right into the heart of the production process for Jif peanut butter, taking them out to meet the farmers and working
together on initiatives such as donating 10 cents from every jar to a local Parent and Teacher Association. They,
as brand and agency were already thinking about platforms that added value (through common good) specifically to their
audience rather than simply about communications. These efforts saw Jif increase total profits by 143% and margins by
110%.31 This collaborative approach is still evident throughout P&G: they have the Connect+Develop open innovation platform
that has led to over 2,000 successful partnerships.32 This focus on collaboration and innovation has helped P&G deliver
consistent 6% organic growth rates.33

The brand and sacrifice for the consumer: Johnson&Johnsons charter puts the stockholder as the final
consideration, after doctors, patients, customers and nurses.

In 1982 when a spate of Tylenol poisoning occurred in Chicago the then CEO issued a nationwide rather than regional
recall. This was not altruism on the part of the CEO because he was simply adhering to the brands principles. As Tylenol
represented 1/5 of J&Js profits sales, market share and share prices tumbled. Whilst commentators expressed surprise at
this move, in the long term loyalty to Tylenol increased hugely and J&J grew to be a company with a $271 billion valuation.34

The brand and innovation: A participative culture is one of the main drivers of innovation because it empowers employees.35
In 2003 IBM rewrote its brand principles by hosting an online discussion with 50,000 employees. The analysed and codified
results set out three principles Dedication to every clients success, Innovation that mattersfor our company and for the
world, Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.36

For the past twenty years IBM has held the record for most patents developed, and have been behind inventions such as the
ATM, hard disk and magnetic stripe card.38 This internal brand strength allowed them to eventually pivot away from their
legacy base in personal computing. Through this move they sacrificed a significant and profitable area of their business to
shift into an area where they could service consumer needs better.

The brand and opportunism: As soon as Apple had rebooted their brand with the launch of the iMac, they looked straight away
at how they could stretch and disrupt: their 3% share of PC marketplace was going nowhere fast.39 Steve Jobs knew that if they
found an area not delivering on consumer needs, they would be able to back up their brand promise of superior design. Firstly
the team looked at cameras and camcorders but decided that they were selling well and competently designed. However when
they looked at the fledgling digital music industry, they came to the realisation that the products stank.40

Apple took a risk by moving into a market that they had no prior expertise or brand recognition in, yet they went into it
because they knew their brand gave them an in. They met consumer needs when the market didnt: the iPod had an
extended battery life, easy music transfer, a small form factor and an intuitive menu system. They worked as a cross
departmental team, and it was their Marketing Director who came up with the concept of the thumbwheel to scroll through
the music. As a business they leveraged their brand to stretch and ultimately pivot into a new growth area. With that risk the
modern Apple Inc. was born, and in the 10 years that followed their stock price would increase by over 3000%.41

55
Figure 3. From 2002-2012, Brand-driven businesses have consistently outperformed the S&P 500 in terms of shareholder value growth42

VIII. Therefore companies need to make sacrifices to put the brand at


their core. They need to become brand-driven businesses, not simply
owners of business-driven brands
Becoming a brand-driven business is certainly a risk and it means sacrificing the known; the counting of money and the
optimisation of assets for something more fluid and less easy to calculate. But with no risks, how successful would Apple
or Lego still be? Without sacrificing profitable parts of their business would IBM or Netflix still be relevant? Without their
brands at their core would these businesses have been as innovative, valuable or as consumer focused? Below I will outline
the three steps of sacrifice that businesses need to make to become brand-driven. I will then demonstrate how agencies can
help power this change.

The 3 steps of sacrifice that brand-driven businesses need to make

1. Sacrificing short term revenue for long term innovation for consumers

2. Sacrificing your position in the market for the consumer

3. Sacrificing short term shareholder value as a compass by which to steer the business

Sacrificing short term revenue for long term innovation for consumers
An established business capacity to innovate is largely driven by the value it puts on two things. The first is its profit model:
those of a large business are shaped by its size. If 10 billion company wants to grow by 10% every year, the marginal
utility of smaller projects becomes unattractive, as does any project that may cannibalise the business primary offering.
The second is processes: innovations can be created or spotted in the market but they may sit outside a business current
comfort zone operationally. The model for business-driven brands to deliver an innovation to market is linear (Fig 4), with
profit models and operations having the first and final say. Consumer need is only properly addressed at the point when
marketing of the product is concerned, which can in many cases be too late.

Figure 4. A business-driven brands innovation capacity framework43

56
There is a problem with creating a business driven product and then marketing it to a segment. It is that segments dont buy
products, people who have specific needs do. When a product is created for a demographically defined group, the marketers
only know in probabilistic terms if they are likely to buy it. A brand that focuses on consumers does not create products that a
profit model demands, rather it creates value by answering needs.

A gap in the market does not equal a need: In the mid-1990s, Scott Cook presided over the launch of a
software product called the Quicken Financial Planner, which helped customers create a retirement plan. It
flopped. The demographics data and surveys suggested that many people didnt have a financial plan, so here
lay an apparent opportunity. Unfortunately constructing one wasnt actually a need that most people had. The
fact that they didnt have a financial plan and that they perhaps should, didnt mean that there was a latent
need requiring satisfaction with a product.44

Putting a brand-driven innovation framework (Fig 5) in place makes businesses more fluid. This is because the consumer,
who is ever changing, is given equal billing to the fixed operations of business. To achieve this, processes must become
increasingly dynamic to accommodate innovations, as long as they answer consumer needs. If they do not, a disruptor
with no legacy operational restrictions will enter the market and deliver that innovation. Profit models must also be
thinking ahead: taking into account consumer trends over three or five years, rather than their current over-valuation
on the rate of return over one or two. It is this consumer focus that drives P&G to spend more than all their competitors
combined on innovation, with thirty percent of that investment put into disruptive innovations that sit outside their
operational comfort zone.46

Customer (Brand)

Does our innovation meet Profit model (management)


customer needs or is a
competitor better fulfilling How can we adapt the operational Processes (Operations)
those needs than our structure to accomodate the
current products? innovation? Can we create an offshoot
business or acquire the
competitors challenging our
brands?

Figure 5. A brand-driven innovation capacity decision framework47

The marketing department will need to be the conduits of the market intelligence generated by agencies. In the brand-driven
framework they will need to ensure that the information is transferred to the right people and that it is acted upon. To achieve
this, they will need to speak the common language of business across geographic functions, management boundaries and the
marketing mix.48 Robert Shaw & Tim Ambler suggest that part of the financial function be brought into marketing to create a
revenue insights team. This gives the finance function a more external view of the business, whilst the marketing department
can leverage their expertise in accountability and delivering consistent information across the business.

Sacrificing your position in the market for the consumer


To have the capacity to innovate brand-driven businesses will need to embrace the discontinuity of the market by regularly
sacrificing positions they hold dear. Richard Foster calls this process theembodiment of Schumpeters Creative Destruction
principle,49 something a market which thrives on discontinuity can do far easier than a business-driven brand.

Therefore brand-driven businesses have to embrace discontinuity and sacrifice; they can use their brand to be as fluid as
the market and to embrace change, because if they stand still peril will be at the door. The next examples demonstrate how
large brands currently facing huge challenges can overcome them through sacrifice and the opportunities that their brands
still represent.

57
Figure 6. Potential sacrifices and opportunities 50

Challenge: Microsoft phones represent less than 4% of the market51, most likely because the established app ecosystem
which powers the popularity of IOS and Android simply does not exist for Windows mobile. The Microsoft and Nokia brands
have not been powerful enough to disrupt the marketplace with a full service hardware and software solution.

Opportunity & sacrifice: The Microsoft brand still offers competitive advantages in the areas of enterprise software and
perceived expertise: from Outlook to Microsoft Office they are seen as the backbone of businesses. With the demise of
Blackberry Microsoft has an opportunity to create an android powered smartphone with a layer of office functionality. Their
strength in this area is undoubted: the recently released Office suite for iPad topped 12 million downloads in one week.52
This is perhaps a signal that Microsoft is finally willing to move with the times. However a shift to Android would require
sacrificing their current huge investment into Windows mobile by accepting that they would cannibalise their own sales. A
brand-driven business could make this sort of sacrifice because it would reflect consumer needs, whilst at the same time
understanding the value that their brand could bring into new areas.

Challenge: In a brand-driven world Nintendo would realise that their console business is holding them back. Out of the last
three consoles they have released two have been failures. Whilst many will point to the worldwide sales of the Wii, in reality it
was a product that would end up gathering dust in many peoples homes. It had no stickiness as many games developers did
not embrace the platform.53 It is clear that technologically Nintendo has not been able to keep up with the likes of Microsoft
and Sony. With the Wii U, the business tried to force a game-changer with a $100 control pad/separate gaming device, but by
then the developers had abandoned the console and consumers had no need for this expensive innovation.

Opportunity & sacrifice: The Nintendo brand is still the most renowned in gaming because they have been responsible for
12 out of the top 20 highest selling games of all time. Yet the blockbuster releases of the Wii U have only sold one tenth of
those of the x-box 360, and only one twentieth of the original Wii.54 This is because there are not enough consoles out there to
support them. Games not hardware is where the brand still has power: the business of producing consoles is holding them
back. Making the sacrifice of rolling up the console business and using the power of the brand to open up new territories is
most likely the solution. Nintendo can remain relevant through casual/nostalgia gaming on phones and of course developing
their legendary titles for the Sony and Microsoft platforms.

58
Challenge: Trust in the banking sector is at an all-time low: the Libor scandal, Co-op falling into dire straits through
mismanagement and industry wide PPI miss-selling. Trust should be top of the agenda, yet one of the significant drivers of revenue
for banks is when consumers forget to change their savings accounts at the end of their term.

This is a category wide challenge, because by offering a bonus rate banks are able to offer better priced products in the short
term. To be able to offer these rates requires a certain percentage of people to not remember to switch out of their account when
the interest drops to nearly 0%. This category behaviour is in direct opposition to putting customer needs first and only increases
distrust.

Opportunity & sacrifice: Santander or any other large bank has an opportunity to become leaders of trust in this space. Many banks
have rolled out charters or commandments, but one could draw a real line in the sand by offering to always put you on the best
rate. This would mean that as soon as the introductory bonus period was over, the bank would put your money into the best instant
access account they currently have available. This would be a true brand-driven business decision: sacrificing significant revenues
in return for the opportunity of becoming true consumer champions.

Sacrificing short term shareholder value as a compass by which to steer the business
When AG Lalfley joined P&G as the CEO, he removed all the screens that tracked the companys stock price to signify to the other
executives the changing focus of the company.55 The CEO of Unilever Paul Polman would go one step further, stating: we have
moved away from quarterly profit reporting; since we dont operate on a 90-day cycle for advertising, marketing, or investment,
why do so for reporting?56 Shareholder value has almost nothing to do with the present;57 rather it is the reflection of market
expectations that are often based on imperfect knowledge. If Reed Hastings had guided his actions by the stock market, he would
have had to let the DVD rental business hold back the explosive growth of the Netflix online platform.

I believe a brand-driven business needs to look at holistic brand health as a primary measure to guide the business. The Millward Brown
equity measure of Brand Voltage is a great start: Brand Voltage is a relative measure of how efficiently a brand converts people from
presence to higher levels of attitudinal loyalty. Because higher levels of loyalty are associated with increased probability of purchase, a
brand with a high Voltage score is positioned well to grow its share of sales in the category.58

Figure 7. Strong Brand Voltage drives market share and stock price59

Brand voltage however is a purely external view and I believe that brand-driven businesses will need to measure and respond to
their internal brand health as much as their external. This is because the behaviours of a business are driven by the internalbrand,
which when combined with communications forms the perceptions in the consumers mind of the external.

The marketing department can apply their knowledge of consumer insights to become the guardians of internal brand health.
Having clear KPIs around consumer needs and innovation will help warn when cultural lock-in may be setting in or if internal
work to restructure is not having the desired effect. Being market-orientated is absolutely crucial to respond to a disruptive
marketplace; hence I believe it should form the basis of internal brand health measurement.

Market-orientation is made up of three parts: a focus on consumer innovation, competitors and the ability to act on that
information. Therefore, depending on the marketplace a business is in, different elements become more important. This means the
KPI set is flexible depending on whether it is innovativeness that drives the market or being fleet of foot. The works of Jaworski &
Kholi as well as Hurley & Hult identified the key facilitators of market-driven innovation and orientation, which have been included
as an original construct for this paper of internal brand measurement called Brand Dynamism.

59
Brand Dynamism is an extremely responsive measure because employees can provide, far more cheaply and easily, proxies
for external research 61 as well practically measuring if the brand or business remains market-orientated. Therefore combined
with Brand Voltage, Brand Dynamism will flag issues far more effectively than simply profit or stock price.

Figure 8. Internal & external brand health can be the most powerful measure to drive longevity, long term shareholder value and profits63

In the way that IBM used technology to work out what their brand stood for, businesses do not necessarily have to rely on
explicit survey data to work out their Brand Dynamism; they can use social data, online discussions or their percentage of
revenue through innovations developed within their measurement set. By factoring in Brand dynamism as a crucial KPI it
forces the business to look at longer term projects, restructures and facilitating responsiveness. These will drive improved
innovation, brand voltage and ultimately long term shareholder value.

When the internal brand doesnt match the external: AOLs brand promise stated our members and
consumers deserve the best possible and most valuable online experience available anywhere. Yet
the website consumeraffairs.com logged 4,000 complaints around delayed cancellation techniques and
antagonistic staff. Due to the conflict of the external brand promise and internal practice AOL would start
losing up to 800,000 customers per quarter.60

60
IX. How agencies can power the brand-driven model
Agencies will become the nerve centres for brand-driven businesses, allowing them to
react faster to consumer needs

Figure 9. Social Graph looking at the relationships and uses of different drinks brands69

Businesses and brands need to react ever faster to the market and agencies can help facilitate this. They are external facing
and can be a brands most valuable asset in providing real time market intelligence. According to IBM, 88% of CEOs put
understanding the customer as their most important strategy dimension in the next five years. The CMO report however
gives a more nuanced interpretation:Its also a question of understanding what they value and how they behave. Moreover,
the clues can be very subtle, since the way in which customers act is sometimes at odds with their stated preferences.67

Agencies need to go further in developing their behavioural economics offerings to become true consultancies, shifting the
knowledge base from strategy and planning and bringing it into the analytics departments, whilst also hiring recognised
experts. Agencies now have an incredible amount of social media data, which with the right analysis is a much more
powerful tool to understand what people believe than explicit surveys. The older methods suffer from thegoldfish bowl
effect: meaning people answer what they think the surveyor wants to hear, or what is most memorable to them at that
particular moment in time.68 As an example of the power of social data analysis in Fig 9, we can see that conversations
around Evian are often only one degree of separation away from those about Lucozade. By layering conversational data on
top of this, the insight can be built that:mothers use Evian as a way to maintain energy without caffeine. Identifying this
as the consumer need can have wide ranging product and planning implications and can be fed back far quicker and more
regularly than traditional surveys. Walkers used digital channels and consumer feedback withDo us a flavor, leveraging
media to bear the weight of product decisions and launch.

Media agencies as feedback hubs: As technology is evolving at an ever faster pace, media agencies can use big data
to target needs not segments and loop the information back to their clients. In the past traditional data sources have only
shown customers in aggregate, offering little insight into what individual customers need or desire.71 However, media
agencies are now able to de-aggregate: this allows clients to follow an individual from owned channels right through to paid
advertising, be it online, mobile or television. Agencies finally have the capability to makereal-time marketing a viable
operating model combining ongoing behavioural understanding, the developmentof powerful ideas and content automation
to better serve consumers.72

61
Example of a media agency as a feedback hub: Agency A matches listings data from a property website with a
mortgage providers customer list. From this they are able to work out who out of the mortgage providers back
book is selling their home and therefore in need of a new mortgage, allowing them to deliver a personalised
offer. Data around the lifestyle and consumption habits of the customer can then be fed back to the product
teams, helping them develop better tailored products in the future.73

The linear model of product development and planning 74

The traditional product development and communications model is slow, requiring field research and giving little feedback to the
business. If feedback does occur it is a post campaign piece of analysis that may or may not get all the way back to the product
development teams. The old model is not set-up to react to market shifts: changes in consumer needs or increased competition.

Acting as anerve centre, agencies can help brands react to consumer needs by facilitating
fast feedback
Cultural latency is nearing zero, at least in the more connected parts of the world It creates much faster feedback
loops - information, once delivered, is both a reported effect and a subsequent cause, which triggers more effects.75
Faris Yakob

Figure 10. The agency nerve centre model76

Speed is now of the essence and in the new agency model created for this paper (Fig 10) implementation is just the
beginning of the process. Real time data is passed back from both media and social analysis, informing product teams and
communications planning departments how to change direction far faster than traditional models. It also allows the wider
business to have a constantly evolving sense of the market, knowing where disruption may next be occurring and helping
the product teams. Through leveraging their data and breadth of external contacts, agencies can also help develop products
through facilitating partnerships between large brands and innovative technology providers.

In a brand-driven world intent on answering consumer needs, agencies will use data to
facilitate partnerships that create value
Consumers have become choosier: they now have access to reviews and information that is unbiased, whilst digital mediums
mean that up to 50% of product decisions are driven by word of mouth.77 In a previous era consumers relied mainly on
marketing communications to guide their decision making. This is not the only challenge brand communications face: people
are increasingly using on-demand platforms which offer fewer advertising opportunities, whilst agencies struggle to market
effectively through mobile. In this context platforms and partnerships that create value and drive word of mouth whilst still
tying strongly back to the brand will become ever more important.

62
How O2 created consumer value with sponsorship and their data: With their Arsenal sponsorship coming to
an end, O2 came up with the idea of turning their customers into fans. By taking on the Millennium Dome they
wanted to change the relationship they had with their customers from purely functional, to both functional and
emotional. By using their data to create Priority moments to work together with their sponsorship, they created
value for their customers and the activity really took off, and by 2009 it was modelled to contribute to up to 12%
of all new contracts for the brand.78

In the IBM survey of 2012, CEOs stated that therising complexity and escalating competition have made partnering a core
innovation strategy for many organizations.79 Thenerve centre model puts agencies right at the heart of decoding this
complexity. They are able to connect the consumption habits of their clients customers and use them to find the right technologies
and partners for brands to work with. Customer data is a valuable commodity that brands hold, yet they often struggle to utilise it
in the best interests of their consumers. In thenerve centre model agencies have the ability to leverage data to create reciprocal
partnerships that create transparent value both for the consumer and the brand. In the theoretical examples below I demonstrate
how data-driven partnerships can be achieved through a focus on status, money and common good.

Value Partnership Data Shared Value Created


Status Passenger data Priority upgrades to business class for Burberry
customers, access for BA to Burberry customer
data and a redesign of BA uniforms.
Money Shopping and Opt-in personalised cashback and voucher offers
location data to peoples mobiles whilst people shop.
Common Good Consumption Habits A school-first mortgage product that gives
back to the local community through textbooks
or computers.
Burberry and British Airways are quintessentially British brands. An agency could facilitate a partnership that would mean
a redesign of the BA uniforms, in return for priority upgrades to Burberrys customers or simply a glass of champagne.
Taking it a step further BA could use Burberrys data to create bespoke special offers and packages, whilst Burberry could
gain access to BAs worldwide customer data. This would be invaluable as they expand aggressively into Asia. This could have
great PR potential and would offer the right type of value to both brands & consumers.

Morrisons is a brand focused on providing good quality value. When a consumer entered the store they would actively sign in to
the iBeacon technology: meaning that offers would be sent to their mobiles as they shopped, recreating the online experience
offline. These could be activated through data partnerships with cashback or voucher codes and tailored to the individual. It
would make the customer feel like the brand was giving something back as well as making shopping more exciting.

Halifax with its heritage as a building society to the local community, Halifax could create a tailored schools-first mortgage
product. This would allow retailers to use the mortgagers anonymised data for research or offers, however instead of the revenue
going to the bank it would be used to help fund local schools. This opportunity is powerful because many people uproot their lives
to get the right education for their children, yet their schools are so often underfunded. In return for the sharing the incredible
amount of data the bank holds on them, the customer helps the common good and the brand lives by its brand principles for free.

CONCLUSION
The future for businesses may be unknown, but as Tim Ambler wrote:re-counting the same money does not make it any
more certain. If established businesses continue down the same path, two thirds of them will disappear within the next
quarter of the century.82 The way they operate needs to change. Analysis of the PIMS database back in 1987 showed that
businesses that wanted longevity needed to earn their way into a market through higher quality products.83

The consumer, nearly twenty years on expects even more, with over 70% wanting brands to play a positive role in their lives.84
Hence I believe that in a consumer driven and disruptive marketplace businesses need to more than ever earn their customers.

Becoming a brand-driven business is the simplest way to achieve this, because its about linking and leveraging the
behaviours of all the people important to a business future.85 This is what will fundamentally allow businesses to embrace
change: evolving in tune with the employee, market and consumer. Agencies will help drive the shift in this model by making
brands more consumer facing, agile and innovative. They will need to look beyond their current roles as deliverers of
communications and use all their capabilities to reform as true brand partners.
63
References
1
Clayton Christensen & Michael Overdorf Meeting the challenge of Disruptive Innovations (2000)
2
Deloitte Analysis The 2011 Shift Index (2011)
3
Richard Foster & Sarah Kaplan Creative Destruction (2001)
4
Tim Ambler Marketing and the Bottom line (2000)
5
Deloitte Analysis The 2011 Shift Index (2011)
6
Roger Martin - The Age of Customer Capitalism (2010)
7
Clayton Christensen: - How the Pursuit of profit kill innovation (Forbes 2011)
8
Roger Martin The Age of Customer Capitalism (2010)
9
Mehrabi, Noorbaakhash, Shoja & Karim - Impact of Customer Orientation and Sales Orientation on Sales Performance (2012)
10
Geoffrey Colvin Talent is Overrated (2008)
11
Richard Foster & Sarah Kaplan Creative Destruction (2001)
12
Henning Kagermann & Mark Johnson Reinventing your business model (2008)
13
Innosight Creative destruction whips through corporate America (2012)
14
Marc Graser - How Blockbuster could have owned Netflix (Variety 2013)
15
Wikipedia: Blockbuster
16
Steven D. Levitt- From Good to Great...to below average (Freakonomics blog 2009)
17
Innosight Creative destruction whips through corporate America (2012)
18
Marketing & The Bottom line, Tim Ambler
19
Robert Hurley & Thomas Hult - Innovation, Market Orientation and Organizational Learning (1998)
20
Bernard Jaworski and Ajay Kohli - Market orientation: Antecedents and Consequences
21
Robert Hurley & Thomas Hult - Innovation, Market Orientation and Organizational Learning (1998)
22
Michael Liedtke Netflix says its sorry, then creates new uproar (AP 2011)
23
John Gerzema & Ed Lebar The Brand Bubble (2008)
24
Jim Stengel - Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit (2012)
25
Wikipedia: Lego
26
Clayton Christensen - Marketing malpractice, the cause and the cure (2005)
27
Adam Morgan The Pirate inside (2004)
28
Pepsico 10 link
29
Jim Stengel - Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit (2012)
30
Roger Martin - The Age of Customer Capitalism (2010)
31
Jim Stengel - Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit (2012)
32
P & G Connect and Develop - link
33
Jeff Dyer & Hal Gregersen - How Procter & Gamble keeps its innovation edge (Forbes 2012)
34
Roger Martin - The Age of Customer Capitalism (2010)
35
Robert Hurley & Thomas Hult - Innovation, Market Orientation and Organizational Learning (1998)
36
Wikipedia: IBM
38
Newsweek - IBM named Americas greenest company
39
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40
Jacqui Cheng - The tale of the iPod and how it came to be (arstechnica 2006)
41
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43
Authors own conceptual framework
44
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46
Jeff Dyer & Hal Gregersen - How Procter & Gamble keeps its innovation edge (Forbes 2012)
47
Authors own framework
48
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49
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51
Matt Hamblen - Can Microsofts Windows Phone OS surge in market share (Computerworld 2014)
52
Ryan Tate - With Office for iPad, Microsoft Kills Its Old Ideology (Wired 2014)
53
Nielsen- People may buy Wiis but do they use them? (2009)
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58
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60
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64
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85
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65
I BELIEVE THAT THE FUTURE OF BRANDS
LIES IN MAKING LOVING FUN
by James Boardman
Marketings debate about loyalty is fundamentally flawed. Therefore a total reframing of what loyalty actually is and a better
understanding of what it can do for businesses is critical.

Loyalty to brands is a lot like loyalty to bands. Bands would love to believe that they are the favourite above all others. Every
Bono pronouncement, every John Mayer break-up, every Justin Bieber misdeed will be embraced or forgiven because the
Beliebers or Directioners will forgive anything in their devotion. But, thats just not how the majority of music fans see it.
Sometimes Ill settle down with a beer and Bruce, sometimes its my running shoes and Girls Aloud, sometimes its fine wine
and Ryan (Ryan, not Bryan) Adams. However whilst it might suit John Mayers ego to see me as a loyal fan, actually most
people like lots of different music at different times. They try new things out, rediscover old classics and exhibit every degree
of loyalty in between.

Brands are not really all that different. Yet, when it comes to looking at things from a consumers point of view, brand
managers and their agencies go all Justin Bieber on us and start acting as if loyalty is a fixed thing that can be nurtured,
grown, measured and used to set objectives against. And, yes, taken for granted. As I will demonstrate, loyalty is much more
complex than that, so much so that it might even be time to jettison the word altogether. Having unpicked this complexity Ill
then attempt to deliver some solutions.

Part 1: The problem with Loyalty


Baby, I need your loving 1

What is loyalty?
The concept of loyalty sits at the heart of the marketing industry. The idea that people, through rational experience and
emotional connection weld themselves to particular brands is a very powerful one. The pursuit of loyalty has spawned countless
strategies, initiatives and campaigns. People who are loyal to brands are supposed to be the bedrock, the foundation of
companies. These customers who will forgive the odd stumble by a brand and keep coming back time-after-time are supposed
to ensure survival in a competitive world.

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Unfortunately the idea that there exists a safety blanket of loyalty which protects great brands is wrong. It is misguided and
ignores some worrying truths at the heart of brands customer bases.

One of the greatest mistakes marketers have made is to think about loyalty as a monolithic construct, a binary state of either
being loyal or not. Research by academics such as Byron Sharp and Andrew Ehrenburg has begun to open our eyes to the
more complex nature of loyalty, but I believe we should be going even further.

It is possible to frame loyalty in numerous ways. I can think of at least 6, all touched on or at least alluded to by Sharp and
Kahnemann.2

First of all is the overarching concept of loyalty:

1. Surface Loyalty: the act of repurchasing.

But then there are numerous subsets, all of which have to varying degrees received some attention:

2. Instinctive Loyalty: tunnel vision loyalty where only one brand is considered.

3. Powerful loyalty: a strong likelihood to repurchase but with other brands used as benchmarks or reference points.

4. Polygamous loyalty: active consideration of (and over time purchase of) multiple brands.

5. Inert loyalty: repeat buying driven by lack of interest and apathy.

6. Safety-first loyalty: loyalty driven by a fear of losing what you already have loss aversion. A desire to change but
chickening out at the last minute.3

Historically, the marketing industry has been seduced too often by Surface Loyalty. Surface Loyalty is attractive in many
ways. It is easily quantifiable for one thing. It is easy to set metrics against reducing churn rate, encouraging repeat
purchase, deliver greater returns from existing customers are all marvelously measurable and can be turned into lovely
neat SMART objectives.

The problem is that this makes a very flawed assumption about loyalty. Surface Loyalty looks at loyalty from a purely
rational perspective did someone repurchase or not. To nurture loyalty, to encourage it, to use communications to create it,
we need to fully understand the other types of loyalty. If we can do that, well understand our consumers better, bring them
back to brands more often, know how to use their loyalty to encourage others and, most importantly of all, well know when it
is time to risk letting them go by trying something new.

Love in the first degree 4

A tender devotion to Surface Loyalty and why it leads us astray


You can see why, from an emotional perspective, the analysis of surface loyalty looks appealing. It tends to deliver some
rather large numbers which makes marketers and their agencies feel good about themselves. In How Brands Grow Byron
Sharp unearthed a retention rate of between 33% and 53% within the car market and this is borne out by analysis of a set of
data from Germany, collected in mid-2013.

Figure 1. Car Category - Germany 5

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So far, so good. All of Sharps rules appear to be coming true:

1. The brand with the biggest share of the market VW has the highest level of loyalty.

2. Two brands have managed to eke out a fraction more loyalty than their market share would suggest Mercedes and
Ford but certainly not to the extent that they dramatically outpace their competitors. Following Sharp one would conclude
therefore that it is rare for a brand to deviate from the category norm when it comes to inspiring loyalty and we should
probably focus on recruiting new customers instead. Right? Not quite.

The challenge with drawing conclusions like this is that repeat purchasing in this category is actually much more
complicated than this. If we look at the different types of loyalty as a percentage of all loyalty, we see a much more complex
picture:

Figure 2. Car Category - Germany 6

Whilst surface loyalty for each of these brands may look similar, there are some marked differences in the nature of that
loyalty. For example:

1. Over 40% of Fords loyalty is inert, that is that they had little noticeable bias towards any particular brand but still
repurchased Ford. For anyone selling Ford motorcars this is a pretty worrying statistic in the long term. A vast chunk of the
loyalty to the brand is not born of anything resembling passion. It is the loyalty of inertia.

2. Compare this to the type of loyalty exhibited towards Mercedes. From the data in figure 1 you can see that on the surface
Ford are doing better than Mercedes 41.6% loyalty for Ford, 38.5% for Mercedes but when you start to dig below the
surface, Mercedes loyalty looks to be much more solid and useful for the brand. Whereas over 40% of Fords loyalty is inert,
only 16% of Mercedes fall into that category. Mercedes lower surface loyalty contains much greater levels of passion and
what might be termed true loyalty than Fords seemingly impressive loyal base. Surface loyalty is a flawed concept that
encourages the wrong conclusions.

Byron Sharp is correct in asserting that it is, in most cases, difficult for a brand to dramatically outstrip the category in terms
of the quantity of loyalty that it inspires (the top six German car brands ranged from 33% for Audi to 41% for Volkswagen).7 It
would be wrong, however, to suggest that within those numbers there is nothing brands can do. It is possible to outstrip the
category in the quality of that loyalty.

To take advantage of this we need to develop a better understanding of the individual types of loyalty present within our
brands customer bases.

New ways of understanding and interpreting the customer journey now allow us to quantify the deeper levels of
loyalty. Using a series of data collected across multiple markets in 2013-2014, I hope to show just how complex but ripe with
potential loyalty really is if we understand it properly.

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Love aint here any more 8

Time to abolish the word loyalty and think about bias instead
To start to properly understand loyalty, its time to forget about loyalty. At least from a semantic point of view.

Thinking in terms of heuristics or biases would be more appropriate. The experience of using a product and experiencing
it influences both our System 1 and System 2 sides. Too often measures of loyalty, when only looking at surface behaviour
assume rational and logical, system 2 type decisions. When we start to break down loyalty into its component parts we can
see many more complex biases and preconceptions coming into play:

Odd as it may seem I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.

Daniel Kahnemann 9

Instead what we have is likelihood to repurchase being driven by biases. Its time to update our thinking. Instead of creating
loyalty, we need to start creating biases. The five subtypes of loyalty identified above should therefore be reframed:

1. Tunnel Vision Bias: the act of repurchasing, only considering that brand (i.e. there was one brand and one brand only on
the shopping list) and having a strong feeling that youll buy that brand right from the start of the purchase journey.

2. Passionate Bias: the act of repurchasing, having a strong idea before you start shopping that youll end up with that brand
again but still having at least a brief look at other brands along the way.

3. Polyamorous Bias: repurchasing but having at least a reasonable notion that you could have ended up with two or more
other brands.

4. Inert Bias: repurchasing through inertia, lacking any great passion or compelling reasons for repurchasing, but doing it anyway.

5. Safety Bias: loyalty that is born from fear of the unknown or the safety blanket of the customary.

Nothing Compares to You 10

Tunnel Vision Bias is it real and how big is it?


Conventional wisdom is that levels of loyalty vary dramatically by category. That is certainly true at the surface level.
For example:

Figure 3. Cross-Category and Market Analysis11

Surface loyalty doesnt necessarily follow value or purchase cycle length - flatscreen TVs have much lower loyalty than
yoghurt but the critical point is that levels of loyalty vary wildly from category to category thus making it difficult to look at
any kind of cross category norms.

But how real is this loyalty? How committed is it? When we start to pull this surface loyalty apart we find that actually
categories are in some respects more similar than it would otherwise appear.

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This is particularly true of the most passionate type of loyalty bias: tunnel vision bias. When people come to repurchase a
product, they have a clear idea in their heads that it will be the brand they bought last time and they only consider that brand
along the way. This is the purest and most powerful form of loyalty. And it is very low. Look at this type of loyalty bias on the
same scale as the total surface loyalty:

Figure 4. Cross-Category and Market Analysis12

Whilst surface loyalty looks very strong in many categories, the number of people who have this, most pure form of loyalty
is very low in most sectors. The process of buying or experiencing a product actually creates very little in the way of
unconditional loyalty: on average below 10% of your customers are going to unconditionally repurchase your product.

Figure 5. Cross-Category and Market Analysis 13

What this means for marketers is that even if your brand is in a category where loyalty looks on the surface to be very high,
the extent to which you can rely on that loyalty to sustain your business is very limited. Tunnel vision bias represents on
average only 27% of a categorys loyalty base as illustrated in figure 5.

It is dangerous to rely on loyalty because it is overwhelmingly conditional. In fact, the category with the highest level of
overall surface loyalty mobile phone networks has one of the leakiest loyalty bases of them all. Only 21% of the mobile
phone network categorysloyalists have the kind of tunnel vision bias that a brand could rely on.

The scale of this disparity between surface loyalty and tunnel vision bias is alarming for marketers and shows how
dangerous it is to rely on apparently loyal customers. The Sharpian answer to this conundrum might be to forget all about
loyalty as an objective altogether. Byron Sharp argues very convincingly that recruitment should be a brand managers
primary focus and looking at these numbers you can see why. But before we totally walk away, we should look at some of the
less extreme but potentially powerful types of loyalty those biases that make up the rest of brands loyalty bases.

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I was made for loving you baby 14

Passionate Bias
Whilst tunnel vision bias makes up only a portion of a loyal base, that doesnt mean that other repeat purchasers do not have
a passionate connection to the brands that they rebuy. It just means that they are, at least theoretically, open to the idea of
considering others.

What a purchase experience creates, for good or bad, is the ultimate point of reference. It is this that drives passionate
bias. Even when customers are strongly minded to repurchase, they will still compare the brand to others. Passionate bias
typically accounts for 20% of loyalty although, as with other types of loyalty it does vary by category. It is in passionate bias
that we see the scale of the purchase and the length of time between purchases really coming into their own as a driver of
loyalty. For example, as percentages of the overall customer base:

Figure 6. Cross- Category and Market Analysis15

For clients with high value and/or long term purchase patterns, passionate loyalty is critical. Customers who have strong
desire to repurchase but who will still compare the brand to another make up substantial volumes of the repeat purchase
base. Any programme or campaign that is designed to target these customers must to be structured to help those people to
get the very maximum experience from their purchases.

I would argue that these people are fundamental to growing brands. Those who have strong biases towards brands but who still
make comparisons are the most active in researching products online and are likely to be the most vociferous in blogs and forums.

They are also the most likely to be vocal in recommending products. For example, if we compare those who recommend their
purchase to others post-purchase, those with passionate bias are more likely to do so than those who had tunnel vision bias
towards the brand they rebought. For example, when expressed as indices (Tunnel Vision = 100) a pattern starts to emerge:

Figure 7. Cross- Category and Market Analysis16


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It is in nurturing this group that brands have a powerful opportunity. The key point here is that this group is often not the
largest in terms of their loyalty but to a business they are potentially the most valuable: they have made a relative choice,
selecting one brand over another but have displayed conviction whilst doing so. They are also more likely to talk positively
about the brand than other loyalists. A potent combination.

The Sunshine of your Love 17

Polyamorous Bias
There are a small group of people who maintain strong biases towards more than one brand. The fact that these
numbers are very small highlights two big issues for brands:

1. The concept of the shopping list and all that brands need to do is get on that list is flawed. Position on that
shopping list is much more important. Second really is first loser.

2. These biases are not created during an active purchase stage. They are created by all of the other things a brand does
when a consumer is not actively looking for a product. The most powerful one of these is actual product usage.

Within many categories the concept of the brand shopping list is fairly well grounded. The logic is that consumers will only
actively consider two or three brands and therefore the first job is to get on that shopping list. This is wrong. The ambition
has to be to be first on that list. If people really behaved like this, polyamorous bias having a strong bias towards more than
one brand including the one that customers actually bought would be high. But as you can see below, it isnt:

Figure 8. Cross-Category and Market Analysis18

In only a very few categories face cream and mobile phone networks are the only two example so far does polyamorous
bias account for over 10% of a brands loyalty base.

It is unlikely that a consumer will have a strong bias towards more than one brand when they start looking for a product.
They will either have a bias towards none in which case the active research phase becomes a free-for-all or they will have
a strong preference towards one particular brand. This calls into question some of our traditional ways of measuring brand
performance.

Metrics such as brand preference and brand consideration as part of balanced scorecards of measurement are
questionable barometers of how people will actually purchase. The lack of polyamorous loyalty in almost every category
means that the only truly effective measures would be brand first preference and brand first choice.

Love is just a four letter word 19

Inert Bias
Bias born of inertia Ill just renew and get it over with loyalty is a marketers worst nightmare. Unfortunately, in some
categories its large and within a category it can affect more brands than others (see the German car example in fig 1 above).
Byron Sharps analysis highlights a double whammy that the biggest brands in the marketplace receive: the larger their
customer base, the higher their loyalty levels. However, hidden beneath this is potentially a significant problem. The biggest
brands in the market tend also to suffer from the highest levels of inert bias affecting their loyalty bases:

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Figure 9. Key Toothpaste Brands in France 20

On the surface Signal looks to be in the better place. Their overall loyalty in terms of consecutive repeat purchase (i.e. the
last two purchases were the same) is 29% compared to Sensodynes 14% but almost a 3rd of Signals loyal customer base is
inert they are repurchasing Signal without having a strong bias towards the brand or any other.

What we are seeing here is not loyalty. It is routine or expedient convenience masquerading as loyalty. When analyst Andrew
Pole went to work at Target stores in the US and began working through their loyalty figures he found a number of patterns
of behaviour driven by inertia. For examplewomen who had infants were so tired that they would buy everything they needed
wherever they could purchase bottles and formula.21 Loyalty to those brands was being driven by factors far beyond the
control of the brands themselves.

Turning that routine into a habit is an interesting opportunity for brands but that requires the addition of rewards to the
routine creating more passionate and tunnel vision bias. There are obvious opportunities in having this kind of information
that Pole and Target were able to build on but equally obvious is the danger to the brands concerned of relying on inert
loyalty to sustain sales.

Stop, in the name of love 22

Safety Bias
When we start to analyse safety bias we are seeing two classic behaviours in action. The first of these is loss aversion
described by Thaler and Sunstein in Nudge:

Loss aversion acts as a kind of cognitive nudge, pressing us not to make changes, even when changes are very much in our
interests.23

Were also seeing at work here what Samuelson and Zeckhauser called status-quo bias:

Most real decisions, unlike those in economic texts, have a status quo alternative that is doing nothing or
maintaining ones current or previous decisions.24

The interesting thing about safety bias is that it has the potential to kick in, even at the very last minute. Traditional
definitions of this,status-quo bias, have tended to view this behaviour as something that prevents decisions happening at
all. In some sectors however this bias is powerful and critically, it stops fairly well made decisions dead in their tracks, late
in the day. Within any clients customer base there will be a certain number of loyal customers who exhibit this bias. These
customers are those who had a strong passive bias towards another competitor, had lost any strong bias towards the brand
that they actually bought but yet still rebought the product anyway.

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In most categories this number is very small anywhere between 0.5%-3% of a customer base will be made up of these
reluctant renewers. In some categories, however, this group is huge. Huge and, I believe, problematic. Within mobile phone
networks for example, up to 10% of the customer base fall into this category. Take these figures as an example:

Figure 10. Italian Mobile Networks25

These were people who renewed their contracts with their mobile network but had a powerful inclination to switch and
moderate-to-little intention of staying. These arent people who when given a list of options, opted to stay with what they
knew best. These are people who had strong thoughts about leaving and made a last ditch decision to stay.

From a revenue perspective, to have up to 12% of your customers teetering on the brink like this is potentially quite
dangerous. Competitors have clearly done something to nearly get these people over the line being highly recommended
by friends, launching new handset partnerships or super-fast services for example. At the last minute brands have done
something to keep them in the fold. Usually this is either the current brand dropping their prices or the prospective
competitor letting the customer down at the last minute e.g. by being out of stock of the new phone.

I would argue that treating these customers the same as any other customer exhibiting repeat purchase behaviour is storing
up trouble for a brand. These customers need to be nurtured and convinced to look at the brand afresh. The brand has been
given a second chance by default.

These people should be treated much more like new customers than existing ones. Mobile phone networks are lucky in one
sense in that their contracts often tie their customers in for such a long time. The networks have two years to make their
customers fall in love with them again. In an ideal world the safety first loyalists of today would become the passionate loyalists
of two years time. Given that these people have already experienced any loyalty schemes or bonuses that the brands have to
offer, the brands need to rethink about how to engage these customers. How can brands become present in their everyday
conversations? Can they get their friends talking about the brands in positive lights? A loyalty programme that fixes the problem
of safety bias might end up looking suspiciously like a recruitment campaign for switchers from other brands.

Although data is not available for them in the same way as it is for business-to-consumer brands, I would hypothesise
that safety first bias is a particular problem forbusiness-to-business brands. For brands such as investment banks (e.g.
Schroders, JP Morgan, Investec), this kind of safety first bias creates a perfect storm of new clients being difficult to recruit
but not emotionally invested once they finally are switched. Loyalty within business-to-business is driven by an incredibly
powerful emotion; the desire to protect ones own reputation. The challenge for brands operating in this space is that the
emotional connection in this type of loyalty is primarily negative rather than positive, defensive rather than passionate.

Both inert and safety first biases are especially vulnerable to advances in social media that make it easier for customers
to find out about brands which previously they would have struggled to find enough information to trust. Many observers
have suggested that loyalty as a whole to brands is on the decline because of the speed with which consumers can now find
out information that leads them to be willing to experiment with new brands.26 Inert and Safety First biases would seem
especially vulnerable to this:

For consumers this is ideal: theyre making better choices... And theyre not the only beneficiaries; upstarts now find it easier
to compete with the big boys. If you build a better mousetrap, people will soon know about itFor much of the twentieth century,
consumer markets were stable. Today, they are tumultuous, and youre only as good as your last product.27

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The early part of the twenty-first century has seen a number of brands benefit from declining loyalty towards existing brands. I
would hypothesise that the majority of those that have switched to Acer, Lenovo or Hyundai have come from their competitors
Inert and Safety First biased customers. These are the two areas that established brands must be most focused on fixing.

Part 2: How to solve a problem like Loyalty or how I learnt to stop


worrying and embrace the fact that Fleetwood Mac hold all the answers
An action plan for dealing with this complex world of biases.

Go your own way 28

A new approach to customer journeys


The need for a new approach to understanding customers purchase journeys is not a new one in the marketing industry. The
ground-breaking work done by the likes of Daniel Kahnemann, Byron Sharp and the rest has shown us that the old model of
a logical linear version of a customer journey is broken. Traditional AIDA style approaches focussed far too much on the 5% of
human action thats conscious and spent not nearly enough time unlocking the 95% of human activity that is subconscious. 29

Marketers understanding of the purchase journey needs updating. A lot of work has been done in recent years, to redefine
what the journey looks like, but we marketers still need to better understand how consumers connect with brands at every
single touchpoint and at every single stage in their lives.

As an industry, marketing in general has been very good at looking at collecting information in three silos.

1. Were drowning in rich data about perceptions. A whole variety of large scale brand health trackers tell us why people
renew their purchases and gauge the extent to which they profess to love brands.

2. We can look in all manner of ways at what people do. In many sectors we now potentially have data on an epic scale to tell
us about how people behave, enabling us to unpick loyalty in unprecedented depth.

3. Agencies and clients have a huge amount of touchpoint data to play with for example econometrics and click stream analysis.

The challenge is joining all of these together. To do that requires a simple chassis of a customer journey that reduces
complexity and allows marketers to develop a clear understanding of the path to purchase. Just one example of this type of
framework is the recent MEC Momentum structure:30

1. Passive Stage: daily life, when someone is not actively considering a purchase but is exposed to brands and their messages.

2. Triggers: needs or wants which move people from the Passive stage to the Active stage.

3. Active stage: when people are actively looking for a product to buy.

4. Purchase: The act of buying, followed by product usage and discussion post-purchase.

Understanding how consumers behave around journeys like this is critical. Pinpointing the power of existing product ownership
and usage and understanding how different types of bias play out is critical. As weve seen, brands and categories may have
very different levels of bias within their surface loyalty groups. These need to be quantified, understood and acted upon.

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I believe that customer journeys that look like the McKinsey example below are increasingly problematic when it comes to
understanding loyalty to brands:

Separate loops that splice loyalists into activists who recommend and passivists who dont are a cop out for advertisers and
agencies alike. They assume that repeat purchasers miss out on the active evaluation that new customers undertake. With
low levels of tunnel vision bias in most brands customer bases, this is quite a leap of faith to make. I believe it is time to
stop treating our loyal customers differently to new ones. We need to keep them excited and treat them as if they were seeing
us for the first time.

Woo me until the sun comes up and say that you love me 31

Brands need to be constantly surprising and innovating


This is likely to be a function of both the rational and the emotional, for example Binet and Field recommend splitting
budgets 60% towards the emotional and 40% towards the rational.32

In some categories this means innovating around the way they create noise and conversation, building the
passionate and powerful biases that lead to more sustainable and reliable loyalty.

In other categories innovation may come in the form of pricing and product innovation. For example, in the utilities market
where inert bias is extremely high, creating passionate bias will come as much from differentiated approaches to billing
as distinctive approaches to brand building and emotional connection. For example, in the UK, major provider British Gas
recently announced plans to offer free electricity on Saturdays to its most valuable customers. The expressed reason for this
is to try and generate loyalty:

Its not philanthropy. Its a great retention device for electricity customers.33
Ian Peters, British Gas

This kind of initiative is exactly the type of thing I mean when we start talking about a shift in mindset. The mindset that leads
to thinking imaginatively about innovation stops treating customers as husbands to be henpecked and starts treating them
as potential lovers to be wooed. Orange Wednesdays, O2 Priority Moments, BA Rewards are all great examples of businesses
wooing customers rather than taking their loyalty for granted. Some are better than others and all have their failings but
innovation in approaches to existing customers is critical:

Brands must find new ways to reinforce loyalty. The ones that are most likely to succeed are those that create a positive
consumer experience around their brands, during the entire length of their relationship with consumers.34
Ernest & Young

This means constantly updating and innovating in so-called loyalty schemes. Loyalty schemes are potentially quite
dangerous for big brands in that they become ubiquitous and something that starts out as apassionate or powerful bias
builder recedes into a hygiene factor that fails to lift people out of inert biases. The Tesco Clubcard is a classic example of
what happens when loyalty schemes stop innovating. Tesco recently announced a total review of the way they promote and
use their Clubcard.35 They are right to do so. Schemes that reward existing users are potentially very powerful at turning
inert bias into passionate and powerful bias but they have to keep pace. Loyalty cards arent a marriage contract, rather an
embossed invitation to another date.

I want to be with you Everywhere 36

Build daily life biases rather than relying on loyalty


As weve seen, relatively small amounts of a brands customer base are likely to reach the benchmark of being truly, truly
loyal the tunnel vision loyalists.

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I dont believe however that it is time to give up on loyalty altogether. Other types of loyalty, especially the passionate and
powerful, can be extremely valuable for brands. This not least because actually having powerful or passionate loyalty makes
one more likely to recommend a brand to a friend or colleague than having absolute, tunnel vision. Having a bit of leakiness
in your loyalty is a good thing. It just means brands have to work harder at it.

Both Passionate and Powerful biases are created in thepassive stage of daily life, not in the active stage of consciously
researching products to buy. All of the things that brands do, from brand advertising to shop frontage, to sponsorships to staff,
from packaging to posters, has an impact. In many categories the power of being overheard cannot be understated. This is
particularly true of categories where the purchase cycle is long but lacks seasonality, for example, mobile phone networks.

As weve seen, the mobile phone network category has one of the highest levels of surface loyalty but struggles to create
passionate and powerful biases. Loyalty is often driven by inertia and safety first biases. Yet for mobile phone networks
a powerful opportunity exists. Conversation is one of the most important touchpoints for those actively researching a new
mobile phone to buy. Yet, it is also a top ten touchpoint for those who are simply hearing about the brands in daily life.

Everyone overhears conversations about mobile phones all the time and these build the powerful heuristics and biases
which later play out in purchase behaviour. Making existing customers feel warm about their purchases by making sure that
they overhear positive things about their brand as they go about their daily business is a powerful way of building a positive
emotional connection to go with their user experience. This is especially important for those brands that sit within theyou
only notice when it goes wrong categories such as mobile phone networks, tyres, utilities or credit card provision.

In fact credit card providers have generally done very well at this in recent years. American Expresss Small Business
Saturdays is a particularly good example of a brand putting in place activities which raise everyday positive conversations
and, hopefully, build biases around the brand. In a category with high levels of retention but low levels of passionate bias,
activities like this should become a benchmark for others looking to turn inert bias into powerful and passionate biases.
Orange Wednesdays are another cracking example of a brand building powerful and passionate biases by being positively
present in everyday conversation. This type of activation, I would suggest, is, in many categories more likely to turn inert bias
into passionate or powerful bias than yet another price promotion.

Les Binet and Peter Field suggested as a result of their work in Marketing in the Era of Accountability that Fame was
the optimum objective for achieving success in advertising campaigns. After analyzing a huge volume of loyalty data (over
12,500 people in the surveys mentioned in this paper), I firmly believe that they are right when it comes to applying metrics
that will generate loyalty. The fact that polyamorous bias is so low suggests to me that being at the very top of the list before
customers even start thinking about looking to replace an existing product is critical. A balanced scorecard of metrics that
puts fame at the very heart of it seems to me to be the best way to do this.

Dont stop thinking about tomorrow 37

A balanced score card of loyalty


If we are truly to understand loyalty, we have to be able to measure it. That means adjusting our approaches to setting
objectives and assessing the results of campaigns. Whilst Binet and Field argue for a balanced scorecard of metrics, I believe
that we need to think about setting specific scorecards for loyalty too.

At the heart of this scorecard of metrics should sit greater precision about what we mean by loyalty and that means throwing
out and refining the ways we currently seek to measure loyalty.

Churn Rate as a metric has had its day. It measures surface loyalty which provides information rather than insight. Churn
Rate needs to be replaced with measurement of inert bias level. Brands need to be on a mission to convert inert bias into
passionate and powerful bias. Understanding the percentage of inert bias within a brands loyalty structure is more impactful
than measuring surface loyalty. As we saw in the German car market a brand may actually be in a healthier position with
lower surface loyalty if that loyalty is of better quality, as I firmly believe Mercedes are than Ford.

This is particularly important for market leading brands in cluttered FMCG markets packed full of variants. Sensodyne
have a much more solid foundation in the shape of their loyalty base than Signal do, because Sensodyne have offered their
customers reasons to be passionately and powerfully loyal, whereas Signals repeat buyers do so from inertia.

Brand Preference is another metric which has served its purpose but which, when used as a way of understanding loyalty,
offers information rather than insight. The lack of polyamory within loyalty bases shows that Brand Preference is no longer a
good enough benchmark. Being on the shopping list or in the consideration set is broken as an objective. Second is first
loser. Brands need to start caring about being first choice and first choice only.

Finally, we should stop setting objectives for campaigns like increase loyalty. Loyalty, as weve seen is far too complex.

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When campaigns have been shown to increase loyalty in the past Id wager that they have successfully improved one part of
loyalty. How Brands Grow demonstrates that it is tough to grow loyalty beyond category averages. Only some specific brands,
in some specific situations (e.g. Walkers Crisps in the UK) have been able to do so. I believe, however, that it is possible to
grow specific elements of loyalty beyond category norms. As brands like Sensodyne, Mercedes and Nivea have shown, it
is possible to get Passionate and Powerful biases to outstrip the category. Rather than setting objectives that are aimed at
increasing loyalty, we should be aiming to increase Passionate and Powerful biases.

Now there you go again, you say you want your freedom 38

Abolishing the idea of loyalty as a monolithic construct will set brands and those that work
with them free
The complexity that hides behind measures of loyalty and the concept of loyalty to brands requires above all one massive
shift. That is not a shift of product or communications; it is a shift in mindset, driven by a semantic overhaul of the way the
marketing industry talks about loyalty.

As I have tried to demonstrate in this paper, the idea that vast swathes of people are unconditionally loyal to brands is misguided.

A whole new construct for the way that people view brands, even (and especially) the ones they own already is needed. A
simple analogy is one of dating. Traditional thinking and prioritization of surface loyalty as an objective and metric has led us
to believe that people marry brands.

That is true in very few cases below 15% of customers in every category surveyed so far have tunnel vision bias towards
their brands. What appears to happen is that people go on multiple first dates with brand. Every repurchase is essentially a
first date. Of course, sometimes that is a date that a customer enters into with a good feeling, a strong premonition in fact
that you and the brand are going to settle down and have babies and a house in the country together. Sometimes its a date
that customers enter into thinking about the guy they met last night or the one lined up for tomorrow. And sometimes its a
date where, despite having strong feelings for that other girl, a guy settles for the devil he knows.

But its a date nonetheless. People go on multiple first dates with multiple brands. Very few settle down and marry them. The
change that brands and those that work with them (both in client businesses and agencies) need to make is to start behaving
like they are always on first dates.

On first dates we do the following:

1. Look our best at all times.

2. Talk about the other person as much as possible, appearing interested in their lives more than our own.

3. Think of new and exciting things to say and meet in new and interesting places.

Those that invest all their hopes in loyalty behave like old married couples:

1. Stop making an effort, believing that because you love me, youll forgive or even embrace dull or wearily
familiar appearances.

2. Drone on about ourselves believing the opposite party is interested.

3. Repeat the same patterns of behaviour over and over again until the routine grinds the relationship to a halt.

Treating every contact with a consumer as a first date is the key to success. Brands need to match the first three behaviours
and stamp out the latter. Thinking that consumers are loyal to us encourages the second group of behaviours at the expense
of the first.

Understanding what makes people keep buying brands again and again is a critical part of marketing. It is wrong to reject
it entirely as some have suggested but equally too simplistic to suggest that loyalty is a binary state being loyal or not.
People are rarely uncritically loyal to brands. Even if strongly minded to repurchase shoppers will still look at others by
way of reference. Some may even be strongly minded to move elsewhere before changing their minds and sticking with the
devil they know. With all this clearly laid out before them as new research techniques enable them to do, those that manage
brands can now see just how complex the world of loyalty is and in so doing begin to develop solutions that build the right
types of bias, keeping their repurchase levels strong, and their customer bases healthy.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place
for the first time.
T. S. Eliot

78
References
1
The Four Tops, 1964
2
See Sharp, How Brands Grow, Thaler and Sunstein, Nudge et al
3
Kahnemann, Thinking Fast and Slow, 2002
4
Bananarama, 1987
5
All brand data contained within this paper is taken from proprietary agency consumer journey research, MEC Momentum. All survey sample
size exceed 1500 respondents and were conducted in 2013 and 2014. MEC Momentum Database Analysis 2013, Cars in Germany
6
MEC Momentum Database Analysis 2013, Cars in Germany
7
Certain brands such as Walkers Crisps in the UK were able to achieve much greater levels of surface loyalty repurchase - than the category
average simply by being more physically and mentally available but this is tough to do and is true of only isolated cases working under specific
market conditions. See, Byron Sharp, How Brands Grow, 2010
8
Take That, 1994
9
Daniel Kahnemann, Thinking Fast and Slow, 201
10
Sinead OConnor, 1989
11
MEC Momentum Database Analysis 2013-2014
12
MEC Momentum Database Analysis 2013-2014
13
MEC Momentum Database Analysis 2013-2014
14
Kiss, 1979
15
MEC Momentum Database Analysis 2013-2014
16
MEC Momentum Database Analysis 2013-2014
17
Cream, 1967
18
MEC Momentum Database Analysis 2013-2014
19
Bob Dylan, 1965
20
MEC Momentum Database Analysis 2013, Toothpaste in France
21
Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit, 2011
22
The Supremes, 1965
23
Thaler and Sunstein, Nudge, 2008
24
Samuelson and Zeckhauser, Status Quo Bias in Decision Making. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty: 759
25
MEC Momentum Database Analysis 2014, Mobile Networks in Italy
26
Ernst and Young report, This time its personal, 2011
27
James Surowiecki, The Twilight of the Brands, The New Yorker November 2013
28
Lindsay Buckingham, Go Your Own Way, Rumours, 1977
29
See Kahnemann, Thinking Fast and Slow amongst others.
30
Thompson and Varley, Admap, January 2014, pp 13-15
31
Christine McVie, Say that you love me, Fleetwood Mac, 1975
32
Binet and Field, Marketing in the Era of Accountability, 2007
33
The Times, March 17th 2014
34
Ernst and Young, This Time Its Personal, 2011
35
Christine McVie, Everywhere, Tango in the Night, 1987
36
Christine McVie, Dont Stop, Rumours, 1977
37
Stevie Nicks, Dreams, Rumours, 1977
38
Stevie Nicks, Dreams, Rumours, 1977

79
THE CREATION OF BRAND FAME IN THE DIGITAL AGE
by Pete Buckley
The most effective way to build a brand in the digital age is to ensure every encounter with the brand reinforces its fame.
Brands need to align every detail to the objective of fame from the products at their heart (statics) to the content they create
(flows).

Introduction
On the 15th October 2009 in Fort Collins, Colorado, Richard and Mayumi Heene allowed a gas balloon filled with helium to
float away into the atmosphere, with their six-year-old son Falcon inside. The news attracted worldwide media attention.
Within hours of the balloon being released Balloon Boy became the no. 1 searched term on Google. Falcon and his balloon
had become famous. But their fame was short lived. When the balloon eventually landed and no boy was found inside
suspicions began to rise. Ultimately, Falcons parents were prosecuted for the hoax and balloon boy disappeared from the
public conscious as quickly as he had arrived.

The digital age is transforming the very nature of fame. How it is created, how it develops and most importantly how its sustained.

This transformation is of crucial importance to brands as its well established that fame is the essential ingredient of strong
brands. A recent analysis of the IPA databank stated fame is the fundamental value that all strong brands own.1 Whilst
some have different names for it (Ehrenberg used salience, Stephen King used familiarity), across the years fame has
consistently been singled out as the key driver of brand growth.

This essay evidences how changes driven by the digital age have made sustainable fame even more essential to brand
growth and details a number of steps brands can take to most effectively create on-going fame.

Fame defined
Before we get to the heart of the issue its important that we clearly articulate what fame is and how it is created. Brand
fame is about reach and numbers; it can be defined as the perceived majority of people having a high quantity of high quality
associations in their mind about a brand. Fame is driven by two key ingredients being consistently present:

1. Mass visibility

2. Being talked about by the masses

These two ingredients are not disconnected and often drive each other. A recent study into word of mouth found that whilst
interesting brand behaviour did impact the volume of chatter the key driver was the visibility of the brand.2

Put simply brands which are seen more get talked about more.

Research into the exposure of people in the media found there are two distinct types of fame:3

1. Ephemeral fame
Passive fame for a limited amount of time, usually fixed to a specific event i.e. a stunt, a shock, a scandal.

2. Self-perpetuating fame
Sustained fame which experiences on-going sustenance, constantly topped-up by exposure and chatter.

To experience growth brands need to create self-perpetuating fame. The digital age has changed society, culture and how
ideas/news spread by drastically increasing the visibility of conversations and behaviour. Ensuring a brand is consistently
visible and talked about matters more today than ever before.

How digital has changed fame


Crucially for fame, digital has increased the strength of cumulative advantage, also known as the snowball effect. Put simply
the famous get more famous more easily in the digital age. The web and social media are teeming with social influence; this
coupled with low transaction costs make the digital environment the ultimate breeding ground for cumulative advantage.4

The more inter-connected an environment the stronger the influence of cumulative advantage. Research has shown that the
perceived popularity of a song becomes the key determinate of choice when popularity increases, meaning that the most popular
songs become even more popular whilst the least popular become even less popular.5

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The sociology of fame suggests that fame is highly susceptible to self-reinforcement, whereby every increase leads to a
greater chance for recognition and exposure in the future. In the digital age, brands which are talked about become even
more talked about and the brands that are seen become even more seen, leaving those which arent more lost than ever.

This is further exaggerated by the explosion of choice. All decisions are a blend of personal and social information, when
personal information is weak and choice is high, people tend to rely more on social information and particularly popularity. In
a study on social influence, when investors were uncertain about the direction of the market, they were more likely to look at
what was popular and base their decisions on that, resulting in the popular becoming ever more popular.6

The increased influence of cumulative advantage means it is more important than ever for brands to focus on creating a
sustained, long term consistent fame, a fame which is self-perpetuating.

How brands can create self-perpetuating fame in the digital age


The route to most effectively creating self-perpetuating fame in the digital age has two stages:

1. Start with statics


2. Make flows more culturally congruent

1. Start with statics


As Balloon Boy would testify more people are more famous for shorter amounts of time in the digital age. Ephemeral fame
is now much more common. The digital age has resulted in the cultural latency of events dramatically reducing, meaning
events move more quickly through a cycle of interest (from unknown to famous to uninteresting in less and less time).

This increase in speed has been seen way beyond single events. Baby name popularity (often used by anthropologists
as a proxy for popular culture) has seen a substantial acceleration in innovation, since the growth of digital at the end of
the 20th century. More new baby names have appeared and disappeared in a shorter amount of time than ever before.7
Popular culture is getting quicker, more intense but with a shorter attention span. A natural response to this from a brand
perspective would be to increase the velocity and variation of brand activity, make more stuff, more of the time and hope it
develops into a peak of fame and attention for the brand. This has been one of the drivers behind the growing attention given
to real time and agile content planning. While this makes intuitive sense it can potentially result in a lot of effort for very little
return. Even if successful the result is likely to be ephemeral fame, here today, quickly gone tomorrow and in isolation is
little help in the creation of self-perpetuating fame.

The solution is for brands to ensure they create fame from their statics as well as their flows. All brand activity can be
categorized into two types, statics or flows. Statics are the near constants the brand is built upon whilst flows are the ever
changing temporal activity of a brand.

In the digital age the importance of statics in creating brand fame is dramatically increased. If used correctly statics can
constantly create fame for the brand at every encounter, as opposed to the more occasional and sporadic fame created by
brand flows.

Visibility and talkability need to be design into a brands statics. Products need to have stories embedded within them
which people can spread, packaging needs to be distinctive so visibility is increased, and services need to be innovative and
interesting so people talk about them.

Digital brands lead the way in exploiting their statics, GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) consistently focus on
using their statics to drive fame rather than flows. Fame, advantage and growth is driven mainly by product innovation.

81
More and more brands are now establishing their fame through statics rather than flows, Starbucks, Zappos, Method and
Red Bull have all grown dramatically through this approach in the digital age.

When audio brand Beats By Dre launched, its headphone product had a story embedded within it, (Dr Dre was fed up with
poor quality white headphones so he personally designed the best headphones ever made), the distinctive design made
sure their visibility was maximized, you cant mistake someone wearing Beats. Different music celebrities helped design
different products ensuring each came with its own story. All this was coupled with a long term commercial partnership with
HP which saw Beats branding added to their high end laptops and their technology embedded inside. As Jimmy Lovine the
co-founder of Beats stated after the launch we arent buying many ads.

The use of statics to build fame matters more than ever in a world where visibility and chatter have more value and cultural
latency is ever decreasing.

Many brands dont understand this. They launch focusing on how to make their flow famous, asking how can we use
advertising or content to make this brand famous? The problem with this approach is popular culture is accelerating and
its attention span reducing, what was interesting today, will not be tomorrow. The most effective way to overcome this is by
transforming the brands statics to continuously spread news and visibility, creating self-perpetuating fame for the brand.

Every day millions of people notice the transparent design of a Dyson; see Beats branding on a HP laptop and eat a Doritos
Taco Lacos. Every day these help the fame of these brands grow. As Philippe Starck said in 1990 about his famous lemon
squeezer designed for Alessi, its not meant to squeeze lemons, its meant to start conversations.

Exploiting statics isnt easy or quick. It means having influence outside of the marketing departments usual remit,
and creating initiatives which can take a serious amount of time, expertise and expense. Launching new products and
creating long term commercial partnerships does not come easily. The Frito Lay Taco Bell partnership took three years and
45 prototypes to launch. But in the digital age the pay back from such activity is undoubtedly worth the effort.

82
2. Make flows more culturally congruent
Whilst optimising statics is essential for creating self-perpetuating fame, brands also need to consider how best to use their
flows to further add fame.

Determining how brand flows are designed requires an understanding of how the digital age has changed the nature of
influence in society. The growth of digital and social media specifically has further accelerated a shift in influence from
authority/institutions to friends, family and peers. More than ever people trust people like them more than figures of
authority; the annual Edelman Trust Barometer has documented this shift accelerating over the last 10 years in particular.

To exploit this shift brands need to align their flow activity with what people are interested in rather than what the brand is
into. Conveniently the digital age has brought about great opportunities to create content which is contextually relevant. The
growth in native advertising is testament to this.

But congruence with content will only get brands so far, for more sustained fame brands need to shift their ambition from
congruence with content to congruence with culture. Cultural congruence means seamlessly infusing brands into popular
culture. It inverts the planning process. Instead of starting with the brand and working back to the audience it means starting
with audiences culture then working back to the brand i.e. what are the audience interested in? How can our brand be a
central part of that story? What can the brand do to truly become part of popular culture?

Obviously marketing communications has always tried to align with common interests through sports sponsorships and
celebrity endorsement for example, but the digital age requires this to evolve much further.

In a review of last years MTV VMAs Ad Week commented that it was hard to know where the ads ended and the show began,
so integrated was Beats By Dre in the proceedings.8 Beats ran a bespoke ad to comment on the twerking by Miley Cyrus
minutes after the incident, they placed their product in the video for Miley Cyruss We Cant Stop and used the video for the
hit Blurred Lines as their TV ad, again heavily featuring their product. This was completeand full integration, Beats moved
marketing communications from being an awkward add-on to being seamlessly embedded. Popular culture may be speeding
up but if your brand flows are inside rather than outside, it will be much easier to encourage conversations and efficiently
boost visibility to drive fame.

Cultural congruence isnt just possible through alignment and response. Brands can, and do create popular culture
themselves, Red Bull Stratos is a prime example. It is in this creation space where Coca-Cola are focusing their future
marketing as explained in their Content 2020 strategy. The objective is to create stories which will spread and become part
of culture. Whilst this exploits the opportunities of the digital age it is worth highlighting that without strong brand statics
constantly reinforcing the brands fame this type of content strategy would struggle to create a self-perpetuating fame alone.

Static/flow mix depends on brand size


Whilst statics and flows are relevant to all brands the most effective balance of focus depends on the size of the brand. Large
brands with an established fame can re-enforce their fame more easily through flow activity (famous brands are easier to
notice), whereas smaller brands, and brands being launched need more focus on their statics, the heart of the brand, the
more constant factors which can make every encounter build fame a little more. As a guide, a split between the focus on
statics and flows is given below:

83
CONCLUSION
Balloon Boy and his sudden fame can appear tempting for brands in the digital age. But fame capable of building brands is
sustained and self-perpetuating not ephemeral and short-lived. The creation of self-perpetuating fame demands brands
ensure their statics are fame generating and their flows are culturally congruent like never before.

References
1
Binet, L and Field P. IPA The Long & Short of it, 2013
2
Lovett, M et al. On Brands And Word Of Mouth, 2013
3
Van De Rijt, A et al. Only 15 minutes? American Sociological Review 78 (2) 266289, 2013
4
Findlay, K. The Fundamentals of Market Share: Power Laws and Preferential Attachment, WPP Atticus 2009
5
Watts, D. Everything is obvious: Why common sense is nonsense, 2012
6
Pentland, A. Social Physics: How good ideas spread, 2014
7
Gureckis, R and Gladstone, T. How You Named Your Child, Cognitive Science 1, 651674, 2009
8
Thielman, S. Twerking the Hand That Feeds You: Beats Tees Off on Miley Cyrus, Ad Week, 27th August 2013

84
GLOBAL Charles Courtier
1 Paris Garden Chief Executive Officer, Global
London charles.courtier@mecglobal.com
SE1 8NU Alastair Aird
United Kingdom Chief Operating Officer, Global
Tel +44 20 7803 2000 alastair.aird@mecglobal.com
Melanie Varley
Chief Strategy Officer, Global
825 Seventh Avenue melanie.varley@mecglobal.com
New York
NY 10019 Caroline Foster Kenny
USA Chief Client Officer, Global
Tel +1 212 474 0000 caroline.fosterkenny@mecglobal.com
Stephan Bruneau
Chief Analytics & Insight Officer, Global
stephan.bruneau@mecglobal.com

Carl Fremont
Chief Digital Officer, Global
carl.fremont@mecglobal.com

ASIA PACIFIC LATIN AMERICA


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Stephen Li Michael Jones


Chief Executive Officer, Asia Pacific Chief Executive Officer, Latin America
stephen.li@mecglobal.com michael.jones@mecglobal.com

EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA NORTH AMERICA


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Alastair Aird Marla Kaplowitz
Chairman, Europe, Middle East and Africa Chief Executive Officer, North America
alastair.aird@mecglobal.com marla.kaplowitz@mecglobal.com
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Chairman, UK and North Europe
tom.george@mecglobal.com

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