Lots of smart people have made compelling arguments recently for the shift from campaign to conversation thinking. We were particularly taken with this post by Kenneth Weiss courtesy of Rick Liebling at Eyecube which clearly and neatly maps the differences between the two approaches and we very much enjoyed this RGA film talking about the importance of long term brand platforms.
We’re big fans of conversation thinking. The danger, however, is that we believe we can simply shine a spotlight on the conversation, abandon the campaign and leave consumers to it. It’s dangerous for a number of reasons:
- They may not be saying very much at all. Writing about launching “Brands in Public” Seth Godin observes “If your brand has any traction at all people are talking about you”. That’s partially true of course, but only partially. If you’re say a bread brand, a detergent brand or a toilet paper brand they may not be saying a lot. As Oscar Wilde so memorably put it “The only thing worse than been talked about is not being talked about”. Or is it…
- In the absence of something positive to respond to, the conversation may be dominated by customer service issues or by mischief making. The Skittles experiment is a case in point where without a conversation starter from the brand the conversation is effectively high-jacked. Indeed many brand owners’ reaction to the Brands in Public initiative seems to indicate that simply letting the conversation run without interesting brand stimulus and curation is problematic for any number of brands.
- Our brands become the guy with no opinion-the one who responds to every question with “I don’t know, what do you think?”