You Can Choose To Add Value, Or Fast Become Invisible

I’m juggling two excellent posts about the pressing need for branded utility in the digital space. One post is from Patricia McDonald, Planning Partner at CHI. In a guest appearance on BBH Labs she says:

The very idea that marketing can add value is nigh-on heretical in a digital landscape where the prevailing attitude is that marketing is irrelevant at best and pollution at best. But it wasn’t ever thus…a significant proportion of the UK population used to agree that the advertising was almost as good as the programmes. The idea that advertising enhanced our viewing experience-in the way that a cartoon or newsreel enhanced early cinema experiences-wasn’t a ludicrous one. Much has changed in the media landscape but the goal of enhancing-rather than leaching value from-an experience is surely one we must believe in and commit to more than ever.

The other post is from Jessica Berta, Copywriter at Big Spaceship. Berta compares the state of media affairs today with the E.M. Forster short story, The Machine Stops.

In Forster’s world, silence is disturbing because people don’t know what to do without technology. We’re far more creative than that. Our problem is we don’t know what not to do with it. Taking a step back from technology and figuring out what people want and how they behave is a necessary first step in developing products and services that will delight and withstand.

When I was with BFG Communications, we used to say we want our work to “surprise and delight.” But I like Berta’s “delight and withstand” too. Even the best marketing messages have little, to no, longevity. The mediascape is moving too fast. For consumers to come back again there has to be a compelling reason, and the pitch to buy is rarely, if ever, going to be the reason.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.