content

What’s love got to do with it?

Brand love should be dead.

Byron Sharp and the Ehrenberg Bass Institute should have seen to that.

But many in our profession are still pursuing it.
Brand differentiation.
Loyalty beyond reason.
It’s all alive and well.

Perhaps because we have a fundamental need to be seen to make a genuine difference to society that goes beyond selling stuff.
Make love, not commerce.

Perhaps because it helps us to sell stuff beyond advertising to clients.

But by now we should all know that most people won’t love the brands we work for.
Yes, some people might, but they won’t grow our brands.
Because brand love is not a prerequisite to growth.

So what’s our role then, when there’s no love around?

To paraphrase Jenni Romaniuk, Byron Sharp and the Ehrenburg Bass Institute:

Don’t worry so much about what they’ll think about you when they do.
Worry more about them thinking of you at all.

This has a whole host of implications for everything we do, from planning to creative to measurement.

However, incidentally, it also does creates a role for ‘love’ – if one is keen on the metaphor.

Just a very different one.

First of all, we have to make people love our ‘advertising’, ‘publicity’ or ‘content’ – whatever you want to call the ‘advertising-like-object’ that reaches the many people.

Make ads people love. (If not pay for.)

So that they pay attention to it, remember it and subsequently think more of the brand – even, or perhaps precisely because of an absence of deep feelings for it.

Or so they might share it and talk about it and give us incremental reach.

We can make them love the packaging.

An iconic shape and canvas.

So it stands out on shelf and they can find and use it without much thinking.

Or so that the unboxing becomes a moment, to share and remember.

We could even make them love how they can try it, or buy it.

“Nike’s New Massive Store Is the Disney World of Sneakers”

Google Home

So that it is more memorable or irresistibly simple.

We can even have a go at making them love using the brand.

From start to binge in 5 … 4 … 3 … seconds.

Designing rewarding experiences that help build a habit.

So that perhaps, there is less need for thinking.

So let’s ditch the love keys.

They will never love you.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t love them.

The Case for Content

In last week’s Campaign, venerable ad-man Dave Trott launched a salvo aimed at ‘content’, the word and the business of. BBH’s Digital Publishing Director, Richard Cable, responds below.

Shipping Containers at a Chinese Port by Lou Gold

Dear Dave,

We read your article in Campaign with great interest. ‘What is content?’ you asked. You concluded that it wasn’t actually important. Unlike advertising, where the idea is the important thing, ‘content’ is just stuff to be moved around by exciting new ‘delivery systems’. Ideas don’t matter.

So, given that content marketing is now worth £4bn a year in the UK alone, what exactly does everyone think they’re doing?

We can only speak for ourselves, but at BBH we believe there’s a very clear case for content. You’ve raised some excellent challenges and we’ve taken the liberty of addressing them here.

What is content?

‘Content’ is a really bad word, there’s no denying it. Content is just stuff in a container. It’s a word that encompasses rather than differentiates. A bin has content, but then so does a Shakespeare First Folio.

Unfortunately it’s the word we seem to have settled on to describe a new kind of marketing activity that isn’t advertising. It’s the stuff that used to be over the wall that we’d built between Church and State until the digital revolution came along, kicked down that wall and told us we could do whatever the hell we liked.

So here’s a definition.

Where advertising is a marketing communication that interrupts what you are doing (whether you like it or not), content is a marketing communication that you choose to spend time with. It’s not about being the thing people block, skip or ignore, but the thing they appreciate, seek out and share.

That’s arguably a much, much harder proposition to get right – you not only have to answer the question of what’s in it for the brand, but what’s in it for your audience as well – but also potentially much, much more powerful.

It’s all about ‘delivery systems’

By becoming the thing you want to spend time with rather than the thing that interrupts it, content has liberated marketing from the strictures of banners, six sheets and 30 second slots. It can literally be anything you want it to be, from a single tweet or a six second Vine to an immersive virtual experience to an interactive data visualisation to a full blown feature film – and all points in between.

The sheer bewildering versatility of content has the benefit of allowing you to be precisely where your consumers are, which these days is atomised across an ever-burgeoning array of fast moving media platforms. Each of these has its own grammar and its own local rules of engagement. If you’re not mildly obsessive about what success looks like on each, you’re a) not doing your job and b) not going to succeed.

Ideas don’t matter

This is the most serious charge levelled at content and also, arguably, the easiest to dismantle.

Content without ideas simply isn’t content. People don’t buy magazines, or watch films, or read articles, or spend time on social media for the adverts. They are there for the content. More precisely, they are there for the ideas within the content. They are there to be entertained, inspired, informed, moved, engaged. These experiences don’t happen in the absence of ideas.

Content is an unconstrained and endlessly adaptable idea delivery machine designed to build quality relationships with people. Building those relationships demands thought, creativity and craft. Just like advertising.

We think that what you were describing, Dave, was bad content and you were absolutely right to call it out. Like bad advertising, bad content can be genuinely harmful. But good content, like good advertising, is an extremely effective and valuable part of any brand’s marketing arsenal. Great ideas should be at the heart of both.

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This article was first published on Campaign on Tue 3 November