In this guest column piece, marketing guru Dr Arry Tanusondjaja (pictured below) from South Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute takes a look at the way agencies can better give brands personality…
The 2016 Ig Nobel Prize for Economics was recently awarded to a team of New Zealand scientists who investigated brand personality tests and proved that respondents can attach human characteristics to rocks. Their paper “The Brand Personality of Rocks” raises a very important question. Do brand personality tests report anything meaningful at all?
The move to attach human characteristics to inanimate objects (including brands or products) is called anthromorphisation – and it is a fun thing to do. But fun is of little value in informing marketing decision making – indeed it can be dangerous.
Anthromorphising brands is based on the idea that buyers have the sorts of feelings towards the brands that they purchase as they do to people they know. This is a massive exaggeration, but “The Brand Personality of Rocks” research showed that it’s not hard to get consumers to play this game, especially in focus groups.
You can imagine the following scene taking place in a boardroom – a presentation where the marketing director explains that their brand of shampoo can be likened to a funky 30-year-old hipster, who likes organic food and yoga. Or perhaps this scenario – a CMO explains that their brand of butter is a homely silver-haired 50-year-old lady who lives on a farm; slightly old-fashioned but well-trusted. These presentations fit well with the image of marketing, as being fun, imaginative and inspiring – more fun than the real-world facts and figures from finance or operations
Let’s go back to what we do know about marketing. Evidence-based principles pioneered by Andrew Ehrenberg and research by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute have shown that buyers tend to shuffle between brands in their repertoire. We know that marketing needs to ensure that brands remain prominent in the buyers’ mind whenever they are in the market to purchase. There is also little evidence that buyers think of brand personalities when they put certain brands in their trolley or shopping basket.
Fortunately, things are slowly changing, moving in the direction of evidence-based marketing. Boards and senior executives expect marketers to justify their strategies, with supporting evidence. Marketers are also becoming more accountable for applying what is known about how brands grow and how consumers behave to their strategy. The days of anthromorphisation – are hopefully on the way out. As stated by the authors of “The Brand Personality of Rocks”: “After all, how can ‘intelligent’ be a descriptor for a rock and what is the probability that ‘loving’ is a descriptor for a brand of bleach?”.
These links between science and marketing enable closer scrutiny and measurement, just like any other departments in the organisation. Of course, there is always a place for creativity, but even then, there are principles to apply that will help the brand perform as it should. There is no reason why presentations by the CMO or the Marketing Director can’t be exciting and evidence-based. The difference is that marketers who apply marketing science will be taken more seriously. Board members or senior executives will be much more likely to approve budgets if presentations are evidence-based rather than being subjected to lines such as “Picture our brand as a person … ”.
Medallia has appointed Heather Paterson as its new ANZ country manager to drive further growth across Australia and New Zealand. With a strong sales performance and leadership background, Paterson joins Medallia as ANZ country manager following more than seven years with leading SaaS financial technology provider, Intralinks, where she was most recently director for Asia […]
Spikes Asia today announces that the 2021 awards will take place in February, bringing them forward to the first quarter of the year. Judging for the Spikes Asia Awards, the region’s most prestigious creative branded communications accolade, as well as the Tangrams Awards and Young Spikes competitions will all take place in February 2021. In […]
Following a rigorous round of online judging by 133 industry experts, The Communications Council today announced that 88 finalists from 24 agencies on behalf of 36 clients have made it into Round Two of the Australian Effie Awards. Finalists will now compete for Effies, Australia’s only awards based on proven advertising effectiveness – across 26 […]
Integral Ad Science (IAS) today announced the launch of “Channel Science”, an industry-leading partnership between Channel Factory and IAS. The Channel Science solution helps advertisers to leverage both companies’ technologies through a single product to ensure their YouTube campaigns are brand-safe, brand-suitable, and performance-optimized. More than ever before, advertisers are searching for ways to streamline their media buying and improve […]
WPP AUNZ has launched its inaugural podcast series, led by WPP AUNZ Chief Strategy Officer, Rose Herceg (pictured). The podcast series will focus on the company’s recent thought leadership study: Secrets & Lies Chapter 4, Humanity & the Machine. Aired over the next few weeks, each discussion will take a deep dive into exploring the role […]
Westpac Group today announced it has partnered with Verizon Media’s Omnichannel DSP across its entire brand portfolio including Westpac Bank, St George Bank, Bank of Melbourne and Bank of South Australia. The new partnership gives Westpac Group access to Verizon Media’s end-to-end strategic marketing and planning capabilities including: first-party data based audience insights; full-service omnichannel […]
Network 10 is set to undergo a massive restructure, leaving a number of high-profile journalists out of a job, including Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Natarsha Belling and Tim Bailey, B&T understands. As first reported on The Sydney Morning Herald, the restructure was announced to staff on Tuesday. As part of the restructuring, the presentation of the weekday […]