In his latest column for B&T, co-founder of Perth creative solutions agency Meerkats, Mike Edmonds (pictured below), says many brands of gone from being our friends to playing too close to the creepy space…
Your grandparents will remember a time when brands were like our little economic buddies. They paid for quiz shows to be made so TV could start at three o’clock instead of five. They printed handy road maps and gave them to us for free. They announced their new products with three minute live ads that explained all the new features, simply and intelligently.
Today, the majority of brands have all but given up on authentic comradeship; y’know, being genuinely interested in us, helping us in times of need, treating us with honesty and respect. Instead, most have evolved into a desperate kind of fake friend who will go to any length to make you like them.
They watch you when you sleep
Brands are now professional stalkers. Think about it: they find out where we live, where we work, where we go on weekends, what we wear, what we think of gender equality and how many times we brush our teeth and have sex. They pay people to watch us shop and travel and eat lunch.
They then use this information to empathise with our worries (“Embarrassed by ugly toe nails?”), mirror our values (“We believe every body shape is beautiful”) and tap into our self-image issues (“Just because you’re a mother doesn’t mean you’ve stopped being a woman”).
It’s like making a cool new friend who laughs at your jokes, listens to your problems and really seems to get you, only to find out it’s because they want to sell you Amway. The good news is, we consumers are now very good at outing this two-faced behaviour.
We know what they’re up to
The duplicity of most brands has become so obvious it’s almost embarrassing. Consumers are hugely more savvy about branding today than in our grandparents’ day. We’ve watched Gruen and Mad Men. We’ve been bitten more than twice. We know the motives they present in ad breaks and news interviews aren’t necessarily the real motives of the owners and shareholders.
What’s more, social media allows us to expose brands-behaving-badly instantly and globally. We effectively live in a transparent world where there is no distinction anymore between a company and its brand image.
And yet brands maintain this sad charade, acting like children who have been found with a sweet brown mess all over their faces yet still deny they stole the chocolate bar.
So, why are they doing it?
It could be the hordes of new competitors embracing new production technologies and copying anything your favourite brand makes, only cheaper. It could be the explosion in the battle for your attention, with hundreds of new media channels appearing on our TV’s, phones and toilet walls. Or it could be because the internet has triggered a million new virtual brands to compete with the real world ones.
Whatever the triggers, the response is remarkably similar: companies have stopped looking inside their own imaginations to decide what they believe is in our best interests. In the desperate quest to meet that quarterly profit target they have given up on their own beliefs and passions. And instead, simply throw their hands in the air and ask us consumers what we want.
Time for the truth
It’s time companies stopped hiding behind brand image. It’s time they stopped pretending to only be driven by what we want. It’s time they rediscovered the vision and confidence to tell us what they believe what the world needs. We consumers tend to stick with brands who don’t sugarcoat or deceive, but tell us the truth, warts and all and let us decide for ourselves. Just like we do with friends.
Verizon Media’s talent program has come to an end for the third year, closing with a hybrid pitch-off event for Musicians Making A Difference (MMAD). The Verizon Media Academy class of 2021, made up of 44 emerging leaders from across Australia and New Zealand media, advertising and marketing industry, were given just one hour to […]
Social purpose organisation UnLtd’s Big Games competition has raised a combined $85,000 for children and young people at risk. Running over five weeks, the competition involved 32 teams from across the advertising, marketing and media industries battling it out virtually for a chance to qualify for the Rocket League final. The tournament culminated in a […]
Stan has announced that the Stan Original Film Transfusion commenced filming in Sydney earlier this week and will premiere on Stan in 2022. Transfusion is a taut, muscular thriller starring Sam Worthington (Avatar) as Ryan Logan, a former Special Forces operative, who is battling to cope with life after the loss of his wife and is thrust […]
According to a decade of data collected by iStock, Australian brands turned to imagery depicting outdated gender stereotypes during the pandemic. Tracking the keyword ‘women’, iStock by Getty Images found that in 2020, ANZ brands and businesses reverted to gender stereotypes. Images of mothers home-schooling were used at almost twice the rate of images of […]
Schwartz Media is congratulating Maddison Connaughton on her three years as editor of The Saturday Paper. Connaughton has decided to finish up her editorship this month. “It’s been an honour to edit the paper,” Connaughton said. “The Saturday Paper is one of the brightest voices in Australian media and I have been happy to see […]
Research from EdBbirdie using Spotify data has identified the most popular songs to study to. After analysing thousands of studying and homework playlists on Spotify, American singer Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘drivers license’ came out as top song to study to. It featured on 48 study playlists, while other top songs included ‘Ophelia’ by The Lumineers, ‘Falling’ […]
Dayna Stewart is the Business Director – Digital Marketing, Media & Creative Services at The Nudge Group. Here, she discusses the challenges that come with building a successful marketing team when working remotely. Before COVID-19 changed the way businesses work, most marketing teams spent their days together in a meeting room collaborating on the next […]
The line-up for the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Festival has been announced as the legendary event returns live in Las Vegas in September. This year, the epic two-day lineup for the iHeartRadio Music Festival main stage will feature performances by Billie Eilish, Cheap Trick, Coldplay, Dua Lipa, Florida Georgia Line, Journey, Khalid, Lil Baby, Maroon 5, Nelly, […]
Shop! ANZ is calling on shopper and retail marketing professionals from all retail related disciplines to participate in the first ANZ Shopper and Retail Marketing Industry Survey in four years. This important research provides a guide of where the retail marketing industry in Australia and New Zealand has come from and what is anticipated to […]