Brands Don’t “Get” Mobile, And Techies Don’t “Get” Brands

Rei Inamoto, Chief Creative Officer at AKQA argues in Contagious that brands do not “get” mobile.

Brands are in the business of connecting with consumers. If there is one medium that’s perfectly suited for connecting with people, there is nothing better than mobile. It’s intimate, immediate and inimitable.

Yet, in the marketing and advertising world, no one is getting it.

…In many advertising campaigns, mobile is often treated as one of the check boxes, if at all – and so were websites or even digital at large for a long time. In the agency-client dynamic, the work gets shown to clients in meetings and presentations – often as words, pictures, and as slides. Or even as films. That’s where mobile suffers – in client presentations and in award show judging.

Mobile is best when used. It’s great at enhancing the moment on the go. When human psyche is fused with human behavior in context, it can be magical. But it’s never shown or presented in that context.

All of which serves to remind me that advances in technology move much faster than advances in marketing. Marketers and agencies can’t keep pace with these changes, no matter how many steps they take to remedy the situation. This becomes even more obvious when you look at small- to medium-sized businesses. No self-respecting brand manager at Coca-Cola or PepsiCo, for instance, wants to be caught unaware of the latest and greatest tech innovation, but that’s not true in small companies. In fact, there are millions of small companies that do not have a Facebook page, Twitter account, blog or mobile website. And it’s not that they don’t need these things, it’s that the managers/owners don’t know much about the possibilities available in these formats, nor do they know how to create or manage them.

Meanwhile, the press and experts in digital shops continue to push for innovation by writing articles on geolocation and the like, but the conversation is, in many cases, way too far ahead of where the market is. Which is a shame because many businesses need these advantages that technology and social media marketing brings. Take a restaurant or hotel, as two examples. Both desperately need websites that work well on a handheld device. Yet, the list of restaurants and hotels that do not have this basic feature in place is long indeed.

[UPDATE] I did a quick survey of my local grocery stores websites from my iPhone last night. Only two were optimized for mobile–Whole Foods and New Seasons Market. Albertsons, Safeway, Zupans and Market of Choice were not, although Safeway gets a star for making their locations (but no other content) mobile-enabled.



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.