We all have our favorite TV shows which could range from cooking programs to comedy to action, and as with any product there are reasons we like them. This could be the personality of the presenter, the nature of the content, the script writing, but whatever it is that makes us warm to the show we end up becoming a loyal follower watching season upon season.
The more we watch, the more we become attached. We start relating to the characters, the situations they are in and perhaps even see ourselves in some of the characters.
This blog is about when these shows become so large they have global audiences picked up by networks across the globe with a loyal following that leads to all the stars becoming multi-millionaires but with one lead ‘Personality Brand!’
The question is: Can a show ever survive in the same format when the stars have become bigger than the show itself as they are the brand and then they leave?
This is the reason behind this blog as there have been a few shows recently that you could ask this about with the first one to discuss being; Two and Half Men.
Now Charlie Sheen was by no means a perfect man outside of the show, but his character in the show was basically his life outside of the show which played perfectly to all the headlines at the time that constantly circled around. All this led to Charlie Sheen as a brand existing both inside and outside the show, so the show was no longer just a show but more of a showpiece for the star. In essence the Charlie Sheen brand and the show had merged as one!
But what happens then when you try and split the two? The simple answer is the brand fails as you have split it. This became abundantly clear when Ashton Kutcher took over. A very successful and popular actor and possibly the best choice, but even with only a single cast member changing the show failed and what of Charlie Sheen? Well his new series Anger Management though like his previous brand has what can only be described as had a luke warm success. It now seems all forced and far less natural than previously, the brand has died and they should have just moved on not try to recreate the same show in a different skin.
Now let’s come back across the Atlantic to discuss Top Gear. Three presenters, one show with one dominant person / brand as Jeremy Clarkson. These were not the original presenters or trio but it was the one that gelled and created Top Gear what it WAS not what it IS!
Jeremy as the dominant band and sub brands of Richard Hammond and James May plus content that suited them built the brand and made it the most downloaded TV show in the world at the time. Can anyone even remember when Jason Dawe was there prior to James? Much like with Charlie Sheen the headlines outside of the show all added to the brand and their personalities; Jeremey’s inframammary comments, Richard crashing etc.
So now what happens when you change the brand? In come a raft of new presenters, each as their own brand and a slightly changed format that was basically a dialed down version of the previous. Chris Evans as a fantastic popular radio and TV host was the lead supported by a strong cast of Matt Le Blanc, Rory Reid, Sabine Shmitz, Chris Harris and Eddie Jordan. With a stella cast as this, surly it should be a hit? Well no it has all but failed. The personality brand of Jeremey Clarkson was stronger than the brand of Top Gear. The show can continue but will never be the same, so why try and make it so?
Now the personality brand cannot just stand alone and make the show as the trio moving to ‘The Grand Tour’ has proved and previously with Anger Management. The brand is a mixture of the content and the personalities that bring it to life and relatable to us as viewers, with a right combination you have the brand. Remove any section and the brand pulls apart.
Would ‘Friends’ or ‘The Big Bang Theory’ ever survived with a change in the cast, the simple answer is no.
Thus, the learnings I would take from this is, that when the show’s personality brand has moved on the brand is done, let it rest in peace as reinventing it wont work. It is not the Parent Brand any more it is a sub sub sub brand and will never be as engaging with the audience.
So here is to the waiting for the next show we can all fall in love with and relate to rather than the networks trying to flog a dead horse!
In the last post if you read it, you will know that I ranted and raved about how brands can over promise in their advertising but let you down considerably on the actual experience.
The brand I was talking about at that time was Red Lobster a popular seafood chain across the world.
Now it is time to compliment a place on their experience, not a big brand like Red Lobster but a small pub in Colliers Wood, although it is part of a chain.
In October we want back to London for a wedding which is a whole other story and visited my wife’s sister who lives in Colliers Wood, they also have two children; a young boy and a girl. Now with us that makes a combination of four adults, and four young and very energetic children which is possibly every restaurants nightmare.
Anyone who has gone out with a group this size I am sure will agree it is actually quite hard to find a nice place to eat with such a large number and young children, they would prefer not to have the business and do not setup their eateries to be able to accommodate accordingly.
Now we always visit my wife’s sister when we are in London and go out to eat so have experienced this difficulty more than once. On our last visit I was very pleasantly surprised by what I found at The Hungry Horse a local pub in Colliers Wood, when we went to have an evening family dinner.
Rather than pulling back from the family audience this place has embraced it even though they are essentially a pub.
What they have done is:
1. Have a menu that offers great value so as such a large group you are not spending £400 on eating out and the food quality and portions are great for the price and varied enough to offer a real choice.
2. The seating is designed to accommodate large families; they have actually installed small flat screen TV’s in the side of the booth playing children’s channels.
3. Though it is pub, the seating is set away from the bar and the seats spaced out enough for the children to not feel cramped and varied enough to accommodate large families through to couples.
4. Last but not least the staff were fantastic, very friendly, helpful and welcomed the children rather than thinking ‘oh my god, what a pain…’
So in summary we had a very relaxed meal with the four children all sat in a booth with their own meals while the adults were on a separate table having adult conversations and maybe a tipple or two. (After all it was a birthday celebration!)
And how did they achieve this? Well they are not being pretentious at all as a brand, they acknowledge what they are and rather than over promising and under delivering they concentrate on keeping it simple and just delivering a nice place to have a meal and / or a drink no matter if you are a young couple or a large family.
The end result is that they are busy every night of the week which is not what many pubs or restaurants in England can now claim. I would not have given The Hungry Horse a second glance before this but based on the experience next time I am in London and we are looking for a place to go we would now walk through their doors.
So what is the point behind this post? Essentially it is saying that it is not the surface gloss that makes the brand but what lies beneath it when you actually experience the brand, and personally I wish more brands realized this and concentrated on the end experience rather than the fluff. After all that is what will make you go back. All the great advertising in the world does not actually deliver the true brand experience as is demonstrated by Red Lobster.
Finally, credit then to The Hungry Horse then in Colliers Wood for delivering an experience that puts you on our map and look forward to hopefully having another great experience soon.
Now off to find the equivalent in Jamaica.
Now I work in advertising and have produced too many campaigns to count or name over my time in the industry. But it’s always interesting to sit on the other side of the table and see if what is really being advertised is in fact reality.
The brand I going to concentrate on in this post is Red Lobster. For those of you who don’t know Red Lobster, it is essentially what would be described as a global Sea Food Casual dining chain with over 705 locations worldwide. It is very successful and to be honest you can’t fault the advertising, and therefore the reason behind the post.
Now I have travelled a lot and eaten in many different casual restaurant chains like the Red Lobster, Outback, Chilies, Olive Garden, TGI etc, I know classy! But when you travel on business you can eat a lot alone and places like this offer different food at reasonable prices and it means you are not stuck in the hotel room or a fast food joint. So I admit I do look out for the ads to see what they have on, Lobster Fest, Steak season etc.
If you like seafood and you see the Red Lobster advertising it does sell it well to you, it’s colorful, well shot, energetic and themed to drive you in for a specific season e.g. crab season.
But does this tell the whole story? Shooting food is difficult and preparing food for advertising is a unique task (believe me I used to produce a weekly food magazine for a major grocery chain so I know!) Proof in point is higher end restaurants have now started asking customers to sop taking pictures and placing them on Instagram as the images do not represent the dish well enough! However in my eyes, Red Lobster does it well. Perhaps too well.
When you see a commercial and buy into it you expect it to be delivered at the actual brand experience, so, you would not want to see a commercial advertising a toy for say $5.99 and you go to the store and its $10.99.
Advertising food is the same, you see this beautifully prepared seafood, lots of butter for the lobster, the plate clean and stacked full of delicious sea food so you decide to pay them a visit. This time it was at the outlet in Sebring, Florida. We were with my sister’s family and my wife and I had a craving for seafood, but my sister was adamant she would never go to Red Lobster again as her last experience was bloody awful.
After some brotherly persuasion she agreed and in we went, after all what could go wrong? There was about a 10 minute wait for the table which I can never understand as when we were shown the table the place was about 10% full.
We ordered drinks and then they came back for the food order. Post this another table to the left came in with about 6 people and ordered after us. The drinks arrived and we waited and waited, food actually turned up to the table that had arrived after us.
My sister called the waiter over and enquired about the food, he went off to check. Another lady came back to apologize, it seems our order had not even been placed with the kitchen, so we had to reorder as she was now looking after us and promised all would be OK. By know it had been over an hr.
Another 30 minutes went by and we enquired again, the manager came over to apologize as it seemed this lady had mucked up as well. She offered us free drinks while we waited, which was appreciated. Another 30 minutes plus and the food finally started to come out, and placed in front of us, much to the relief of the children However to our dismay, we were now still about three dishes short, the manager came over and said to the waitress just bring out whatever they have. In the end not only did we not end up with the incorrect dished but too many as they literally just brought out whatever was prepared at that time. (We were the only table now that needed food). So two servers and the manager and still the wrong dishes!
Now let’s put every else aside and remind ourselves the fact we went to Red Lobster was the promise of delicious looking sea food like the commercial, so did the food look like that once it finally arrived. In a nutshell no, I think a McDonalds would have been better presented and closer to their commercials. So the promise of delicious seafood never materialized in reality and I am sure my sister now had a knowing smirk saying; told you so!
Not only this, just when we thought it could not get worse, they literally started cleaning up the restaurant around us, with a girl moving our legs to hoover under the table! When we asked to stop she said I need to finish to get out of here!
And this is the point, we went there on the brand promise of great seafood that looked as delicious as the commercials, the reality was not only poor food poorly presented but poor service. To give credit the manager they did not charge us and offered coupons as well, which we did not accept as Red Lobster unfortunately is no longer on the shopping list of casual dining for us.
So brands, please let’s not oversell, in marketing we are making promises to consumers that the end product needs to deliver. By over promising and under delivering all we are doing is turning customers into non customers.
Now it’s off to the Outback for dinner to see if they live up the hype, let’s hope I don’t need to write about that.
Please feel free to share the post and I would love to hear about any similar experiences you have had.
I have written previously about how my children have formed an association to their first brands thought it would be interesting for me to now think about my childhood brands and why I recall them fondly to this day.
Of course when I was a child marketing was not as prolific as it now, digital did not exist and there were only 3 channels on the TV which stopped at midnight. Remember when you actually sat as a family at a dinner table and discussed what had happened through the day or actually played with toys more than a single day!
It seems nothing lasts as long as it used to. As a child my parents would talk about having a washing machine for 15 years, a garden fork for 20 years, this no longer seems to the case. Can it be down to the influx of credit and being able to buy anything on HP or a Credit card? Or is it simply the fact products no longer last as long as they used to. Today you will be lucky if your smartphone lasts more than 12 months or your children’s toy can stand more than several hours of play. Interestingly I was listening to this topic being discussed on the radio the other day where a discussion was had around why modern products just do not last anymore. No one had the answer.
So back to the topic of childhood brands. I know if you ask my children to name a toy brand it would be hard for them to answer, part of this I suspect is the fact they are part of what is being labelled ‘The Throwaway Generation’. They are swapping their toys so much as none last that long, they don’t have time to build stories and emotional attachments to them.
What I mean by this is that great brands make great stories. This is how you remember the brand through the story you attach to it. Therefore how can children’s brands hope to own a place in the child’s heart and minds if they break after the first use? A case in point! My son got a great remote control car for his 7th birthday, it was a futuristic 4 x 4 vehicle, had these all terrain legs and basically no terrain could stop it, I even wanted a go. So all excited they go outside with their friends and within the first battery charge the wheel mounting had broken. So much for durability! Since then it’s sat in a cupboard uncharged and I know the brand will never hold a place of fondness in my children’s hearts.
Back to myself and brands that hold a fond memory in my heart. I will start off with a basic FMCG product called Lilt. Not everyone will remember this product. I think my mother was ahead of her time as she did not want a freezer and only wanted fresh fruit, vegetables and meat brought from the local village shops, nothing frozen or processed. Only Saturday and Sunday evening was when we got treats, for example a mars bar cut into 6 pieces (not a whole one each)
However when we went and visited my grandmother in Kent, on the dinner table there was always a bottle of Lilt, which yes we could drink! To this day I still can remember the taste of grapefruit and pineapple and the excitement in my eyes when it was being poured into my glass and the fizz of the bubbles. Ironically it was about tropical tastes like the Caribbean and I now live in Jamaica, perhaps that is why I smile.
But it’s not just the actual event of consuming the product that is creating the fondness of the brand but the association of being at my grandmothers. Walking on the beach and speaking into an overflow pipe to scare people in the bathroom all adds to the sense of the occasion and Lilt being a part of that experience. Yes we had drinks at home, but can I recall any of the brands, the simple answer is no!
But what about toy brands? Perhaps the one that holds most fondness in my heart is Tonka, it was rugged and built out of real steel. They were made to last and last they did. It was yellow and had a lifting tail box for the dirt, gravel whatever to roll down and out. No matter how old I got and how much I put that truck through, it absorbed it all. And the best part, it is now at my parents’ house and when we visit (which we must do more often) my children now play with that same truck! And yes it even lasts the habits of the modern throwaway generation! So not only do I have stories to tell about that truck but my children will have as well. Wonder how many modern toys we have my children will be able to say the same about?
Memories of this truck came back last week when I was in a toy shop with the boys and saw a modern Tonka truck, I saw myself playing in the back garden covered in mud without a care in the world. It was interesting to note on the box it said; “made with real steel” so still playing on the ruggedness. However I could not hide my disappointment in picking it up, it did not have the feel of my 20 year old truck and would doubt it would not last what I put mine through.
So brands and the stories we tell about them create the emotional attachment. Perhaps if more brands especially children’s brands were built to last to allow these memories to be formed, it would allow the modern generation to not be called 'The Throw Away generation’. After all, is it there fault products now just fall apart?
Now take a moment from you busy life, just sit back and think about a favourite childhood brand, bet a smile will form on your face. Is that not what building a brand is all about?
Coca Cola as we know, is one of the most successful brands in the world with strong recall and preference across the globe. Despite the best efforts of Pepsi and numerous other brands entering into the foray, nothing has yet managed to topple this. Virgin Coke in a Marylyn Monroe styled bottle made no leeway and was soon discounted. Coke is seems is one of those brands that has successfully endured the passage of time and gets passed down generation to generation.
Speaking personally for myself I am a Coke fan and nothing beats a cold glass of Coke on a warm day. Ironically though I spent 10+ years living and working in countries where Pepsi does supersede Coke, namely the Middle East. It seems the sweeter taste of Pepsi is preferred there, personally I can’t touch it, Coke is the Real Thing.
To the story. Last weekend was my son’s birthday and there were a range of children aged 5 to 12 from a different range of Nationalities – European / Indian / Jamaica. On the table there was a variety of snack and drinks laid out for the children which was manned by myself to help serve the children a cold beverage. Living in Jamaica the drinks have to be cold.
Spread out on the table were a variety of things from popcorn to fruits to fruit juice, to water to soda. Now the soda is there for the adults and there was a very large bowl with ice, full of chilled fruit juice drinks. The fruit juice had brightly coloured packaging attractive to children with characters on and looked more appealing than the soda bottles which were a single 2lt bottle of Coke and a single 2lt bottle of Ting. (Ting is a local Jamaican soda, basically sparking Grapefruit soda.)
So the table is laid out, the drinks are cold, the snacks are ready, the clown is dressed and the children arrive. Games and screaming start, photos are taken etc. etc. Then after 10 mins of running the first child comes to the table, the children’s juices and waters are set so they can just grab and run, no need for the adult service. Up they come to the table, “Can I have a drink please?” I was asked. “Of course” I say, “Would you like water or juice?” “Can I please have Coca Cola” the child replied. I had to explain this was for adults and the juice and water is for children.
They look disappointed and sad as if having a Coke was the most important thing for them at the party. Now don’t forget it’s not just a soda they want, but a Coke. So this was the first, then another child same thing, then another child same thing. It was Coke or nothing, can it really be that important for a child?
It got me to thinking the power of the Coca Cola brand, even a 5 year old is asking for a Coca Cola above all else. Now we all live in Jamaica and Coke’s advertising is not prolific and Pepsi is a very strong brand here. Yet out of all the choices they automatically went for a Coke. Bear in mind beside the Coke Bottle was a Ting Bottle yet no one asking for this, and it’s local!
It’s amazing to see how children as they grow up just fixate on brands and whether Coke realizes it or not is having its appeal being passed down from generation to generation from a very young age. Thereby it seems securing its future for generations to come.
Despite the bad publicity attributed to soda (recently in the UK they announced children are consumer their body weight in sugar!) nothing is deterring the youth no matter how hard the parents or governments try. People I know adamantly say no to all sodas for their children and on the one occasion they say yes, you should see the child’s eyes light up. What do you think will happen when they are old enough to buy their own products, they will automatically go for the soda – lets experience the freedom! Here is a screen shot from Google – Topic – Children drinking Coca Cola! Isn’t it scary?
Perhaps it’s a very clever marketing tactic by the powers that be. Allow it to be made the bad boy and everyone will want it. If you say no to a child they immediately want it more. Now soda is the bad boy and Coke being the leading soda is the worst of them all. Even when I was in school 30 years ago they placed a tooth in a cup of cola to show the end result. Nothing it seems has changed.
So perhaps rather than making soda the bad boys of the snack neighborhood where all it seems to be doing is making children want it more, generation after generation, we stop and think about how we can stop or at least reduce the desirability other than parents saying “no that is bad for you”. It’s obvious the children are not listening! After all what happens when you say to your child, here have a carrot it’s good for you! Perhaps this is tactic we should try?
Living in the Caribbean there is a considerable amount of influence that comes across from America, from products to the TV programs and of course the advertising, more importantly the advertising of the drug companies.
Never in the world of advertising and in any category, are ads so implicitly focused on issues we as humans might be suffering and how they have the wonderful cure that will allow people to run through sunny fields, eat what they want, run and play tennis no matter the age, etc etc. Other advertising is more macro and plays on other basic human needs such as taste, entertainment etc but satisfy a more short term immediate need, without promising to change our lives forever.
So what’s the issue then, are these not all these products something great that we need, and will change our lives forever? It’s not that, it’s more the context of the advertising that I am going to discuss and is it really necessary for them to be the way they are?
It’s something I have been thinking for a while, why oh why are these ads so mundane and seem to be written by the same person, obviously stuck in a broom cupboard with no exposure to the real world that exists around them. Considering the plethora of products available and the incessant advertising you see of these ads on America TV, surely someone could have come up with a different formula by now?
Having been thinking about this for a while, I thought surely I cannot be the only one to have this opinion and sure enough I am not. Forbes (just one of many) wrote an article nearly three years ago, asking is it time for the drug companies to stop advertising? If only they had read the article and listened, American advertising might have been able to move forward.
It’s not just the pain of having to sit through these night after night but thinking about the people actually behind them. You could just imagine the creative brief:
Well it’s very simple.
We start off with an unfortunate person describing their symptoms and how life is bad, then they take xxxx and suddenly the clouds part, the sun shines and they are playing tennis or ball, all worry free.
You think wow this is great, this must be fantastic, and then it happens. The VOICE OVER!
While the sun is shining and you see the previously afflicted person now experiencing life to the full all at the same time being warned, how by taking this product you may suffer from kidney failure, blood clots, brain hemorrhaging, death etc etc.
The story carries on, the sun is still shining and finally cuts back to the positives of the product with the final cut – the product shot.
WOW, I don’t know what is worse, the actual condition or how by taking a presumed cure it may actually kill me!
Obviously there are legalities that need to be followed and if you are suffering from the ailment then this might seem like the miracle you need. However working in marketing myself every time I see these ads, I ask myself the same question: Surely there must be a different way?
By now they are now just wall paper, you don’t even listen and at best they are just comical, I suspect not just for me but for millions of others So please, please, please if you work on these ads, do what your paid to do and that is be creative, not follow a run of the mill storyboard that everyone is and get paid a fortune to do it.
So if you all agree, lets club together, write a new script, send it off and all become millionaires.
I suspect this this a question as parents we have asked ourselves a lot, do we buy certain toys / presents for our children through the results of marketing or pester power by our children themselves and are they really needed?
We at home have an undeniable large amount of toys for the two boys from larger things like electric bikes to the very small single Hot Wheel’s car. If I am honest they have too much, and I suspect around 90 plus percent have not been played with more than sixty minutes each. So why then do we keep buying things? Is it the fact that we as parents get pulled in by the numerous ads as we are forced to watch with children’s programs or is it the influence brands have on our children which turns into pester power at home or while out shopping?
Children nowadays are bombarded much like ourselves through numerous channels with a far greater range of brands and products than we ever were as children, when Action Man and Tonka were it. Consider what happens now? They play a game on the tablet and an ad pops up, they sit on the internet searching educational YouTube videos and ads pop up, they watch children’s TV and every 5 minutes there is an ad break and Christmas its seems is brought forward every year, so now it just merges into one long event. On top of this you have seasonal activities like Halloween, Easter, it’s no wonder they seems to constantly desire more and more.
All of this has an effect. When I was a child presents happened twice a year; on your birthday and at Christmas, in between you got treats not presents. This however does seem to be the case anymore for a lot of children, and this has meant that the joy of birthday and Christmas seems to have been lost to some extent. It certainly has been diminished for ours with toys being given all year round.
I have therefore found myself asking more and more why, and did we let this happen? Are we one of a multitude of families reacting to the multiple marketing messages we get every day? Do they need these toys, are we victims to a certain extent of the ‘must have’ complex built by marketing and pester power?
Believe me it’s not like we massively spoil our children and compared to other children we know, we might even be considered restrained. However things like travelling a lot has had an effect, with ‘guilt presents’ from the returning daddy (not good if you used to travel virtually every week) and being an expat with visitors and family giving presents, have all accumulated to toys becoming a regular occurrence.
Add to this the world of children’s brands and for them becoming a norm to our world, something I certainly did not realise till an old friend visited and wanted to bring a gift for the boys. I mentioned they like Ninja Turtles and Power Ranges to an answer of ‘What are those?’ I had forgotten there is a world outside of children’s brands that people actually exist in! However a quick Google and our friend was well informed and actually got 2 great gifts that lasted well over the hr. and are still favoured today!
So why did I start to think about this and question ourselves? Well yesterday we were having a BBQ and a game started with the boys which literally consisted off an empty Tropicana container and throwing it to each other in different ways; up high, spinner etc. This lasted well over an hr and they had as much fun as the most expensive toy they have with their pile of toys was not even looked at through this game.
To add to this it’s also been a long weekend here in Jamaica with the boys at home for 4 days and the younger one entertaining himself for hrs. over several days with literally a large cardboard box, toilet tissue and plain sheets of paper on which he drew scary faces to create a booby trap to avoid us getting his things.
We have always known it and perhaps lost our way a bit with the multitude of toys now available, but surely the power of a child’s imagination is the best toy they have got.
So should we not try and forget sometimes all the marketing and brands we are bombarded with on a regular basis and get back to good old basics. A simple object and their imagination. It’s not that they will never get another branded toy but next time I know I will be making more effort in thinking about how we can get them to use best toy they have and it’s for life – their imagination
This year rather than stressing about have they got what they have seen on TV or an ad while playing on an app, perhaps the biggest surprise could be a cardboard box and the fire this stirs in their imagination...
Just wonder how many of us would be brave enough to do this? Try doing s search on 'cardboard box children activites' and you will be surprised the volume of content that exits.
In summary brands have already realised this insight with several commercials based on it and perhaps the reason why toys are always placed in cardboard boxes? The one I like best is from a courier company where you see the child unpacking the present at Christmas, only to place aside the contents and play with the empty cardboard box. A classic and one that says all I have above in 30 seconds!
In my last blog I wrote about my children’s first love of brands, how they fell in love and became lifelong advocates of a yellow horse and a simple tick, with no marketing gimmicks but purely through the innocence of a child’s mind and what they felt gave them something.
At this time of a child’s development is it fascinating seeing how they respond and interact with brands, there is nothing but innocent product desire. With both our children when we were buying them things like walkers, toys etc we would show 2 choices and let them decide. Which one they pointed to was the one we purchased, did they understand what we were asking, we could not say. What we can say though is that they always used these products extensively, there was no outside force affecting their decisions. I can safely say this innocence has now been lost forever and there is no going back.
Years ago I used to work on a children’s brands, it was the time when the term tweenagers had materialized, basically pre-teens having a desire to act and have the brands and products teenagers have. In short a desire for the child to become older as quickly as possible, however we all know we then reverse our psychology to wanting stay younger for as long as possible. Are we never happy for where we are in our stage of life?
Working on these brands it was all about creating a desire in the playground where every child wants what the other one has and turns this into pester power when they go home to the parents. At this stage we are talking about 8 to 11 year olds, nowhere near where my children are yet but it seems I am suffering the same fate and can understand how this story from my past is now me.
To cut a long story short, we had ran a Jurassic Park 3 promotion on a major FMCG brand, while out grocery shopping little did I realize it at the time but I witnessed my future! There was a poor mother with a child literally screaming they wanted the product I ran the promotion on as their friend had it at school, the mother clearly did not want the product but finally gave in just to keep her child quiet. How many times have we experienced this?
What age does the change happen and does it happen to early? The innocence of a brand has already been lost to my 4 year old, who will see an advert on television and just blurt out, ‘Daddy can I have that please’, not even knowing what it really is and why he even might want it. It’s not just that, even now it’s all become about what his friends have and why he has not got the same and then we add another layer which is his older brother. Of course he looks up to his older brother (18 months) and cannot accept why he cannot have the same even if it’s not right for him at that stage of development.
So what does this all add up to? Well, what I am experiencing is that my children literally from about the age of 2 or 3 started to be directly influenced by outside forces that creates a false desire for a brand or product. Imagine if I showed them a choice of 2 products now, it would not be based on innocence of youth but what have their friends have or what would make their friends jealous in the playground or has my brother got it? It’s no longer the innocence of seeing a flashy red sports car and falling for that yellow horse or the simplicity of a logo that is a tick.
It’s now all about a flashy ad, what their friends or brother have. I can understand completely why their school insist on all non-branded attire, they have official uniforms but for example the sports day shoes have to be plain white with no branding. At this sensitive age where they have lost the innocence and now it’s all about everyone else, it saves us parents a considerable amount of headaches.
The question is, are we marketing too early to children and not allowing them to be children and just revel in their basic product desire, rather than creating this false desire of what everyone else has. I just wonder how many toys, cereals, clothes etc they have that they only wanted for reasons beside their own and we as parents have given in and purchased them?
Food for thought and one that could have saved me and countless other parents a lot of money…
As a family man, much of my inspiration in life comes from my wife and children. As they’ve grow up, I’ve observed my sons falling in love with their first two brands and this provided me with a case study on brands and their appeal.
As marketers, we talk about relevancy in campaigns. When designing logos we come up with a whole array of rationalizing from style to color meanings. When pitching to clients however, it does not always need to be this complicated. Watching my children and how brands and marketing have and are impacting their lives fascinates me. It is marketing in its most raw form, until they reach a certain age.
Both my children were born in Dubai and the first two brands they fell in love with were Ferrari and Nike, and this is still the case today At times, this did not make it easy for me, as they wanted daddy to only buy them Nike and have a Ferrari as the family car! So how did they become so attached to these brands? Living in Dubai they saw lots of flash cars and clothing brands every day, so why did they chose these two?
With Ferrari, the colour red and the style of the car resonated with my boys and it was the very first brand that delivered a WOW factor for them. It was nothing to do with 0-60 times, top speed or price tag. It was simply WOW from a design and colour perspective. Like your first love, the Ferrari brand will be with them for life, with my youngest son promising to buy daddy a Ferrari when he is older - they still can’t understand why we have not got one as a family car.
With Nike it was a different experience to Ferrari. There was no WOW factor. With Nike, my sons helped me see the power a single logo can impact on someone from birth onwards. The Nike tick is so simple and easy that it stands out even for children, perhaps especially for children. It was the first logo they understood as a brand and once they associated the tick with Nike and sportswear, it was all they wanted. They would then spot the tick everywhere, saying “Daddy – look, that man has the same shoes as me.” So their first sports shoes were Nike and their first football boots were Nike. From a simple logo that a child could recognise, Nike managed to build a customer for life - it is that simple!
Now we live in the Caribbean, the boys see less of these brands. To this day however, if they see a red sports car, its ‘look daddy Ferrari’ and when we are in a store, Nike is the brand they move to. What continues to amaze me is that my boys became brand advocates for these two brands without being exposed to any marketing material or messages. Their lifelong advocacy and loyalty was sealed purely on the wow factor and the power of a simple logo that is easily recognisable above all others and not due to any marketing campaign.
So let’s all stop and think for a second about the first brands we all fell in love with and why, it would be great to hear the stories.
In summary what I have taken from this observation through the human interest of marketing is the question we should be asking ourselves: 'Is the marketing simple enough for children to understand and resonate with whether it be a logo or a full brand launch and create brand advocates from a young age?'
My name is Daymonde and I am a multiple award winning international marketer. After graduating in Applied Economics, I started my career In London working in Market Research. Graduating during the financial crash meant it was not the best degree to have but my passion was always marketing and advertising so I looked to move into that field.