Have you seen any movies set in the future, say Blade Runner or Minority Report? What do you notice about those films as it relates to the future of advertising? Yep, that all of that time in the future and advertising is still pretty pervasive. In fact, it's even more pervasive then it is today. Think of those giant billboards from Blade Runner or the famous (or infamous, depending on your POV) scene where retinal scanners welcome Tom Cruise to the Gap. The only future world I can think of without pervasive advertising is the one from Brave New World and there, they train you in-vitro to be a consumer. That's pretty pervasive.
Now I want you to think about the brands you use every day. Not just the big brands, but all the brands you use. Your car, computer, phone, phone service, washer & dryer, your food, your socks & underwear, your deodorant. All the brands you interact with on a regular basis.
Do you have relationships with any of those brands? Are you part the tribe of those brands? Or do you mainly use them and hope and expect that they will actually deliver based on what they do?
I've written about this before, but today listening to Seth Godin and seeing how people reacted to his presentation made me think about it again. Full disclosure, I am very envious of Seth and what he's built. I am. He's done an incredible job of building the Seth Godin brand. I've read many of his books and many of his blog posts and usually find them very helpful and inspiring.
But lately I've been questioning this whole relationship thing. I use Apple products, but I'm not really involved in the Apple tribe. And I definitely have a love/hate relationship with Apple. It's certainly passionate, but that passion isn't always positive.
I drive a Subaru Outback, which I love. It's the best car I've ever driven in the snow. I would recommend it without hesitation. But, I'm not part of the Subaru tribe. I've barely registered our Outback with the online Subaru groups.
My relationship with T-Mobile is sometimes OK. Its a little strained right now thanks to the fact that they want me to pay $329 for the new G2 phone when new customers can buy it for $199 and I'm thinking about moving to AT&T and getting an iPhone. I've really been trying to stay with T-Mobile, but the G1 just isn't cutting it any more and as much as I like android and a keyboard, for a $150 savings, I'll go back to the iPhone.
I'm pretty happy with my Fruit of the Loom, but there's no relationship there. Dog food we use, same way. Got a new Dyson and while it's started off strongly, I have to wait and see if it dies in a year like my other vacuums. Two dogs will do that to vacuums. And while I've almost always owned Nikon cameras I don't think I've ever visited a Nikon users group or anything like that. Maybe with the new S8000 I have since I'm still trying to figure some things out. Sydney loves mac & cheese, but she's not brand loyal at all.
But Seth said it's all about connections and if you make a boring product it's hard to connect. Hugh MacCleod has a cartoon (and a shirt I got at the GasPedal WOM event) that says advertising is the cost of being boring. And I started think that most of the products I use are pretty boring. And if boring products have no place in the connected world and they all went out of business, well that would send us into a pretty big economic disaster, wouldn't it?
So I'm wondering, how many brands really can create movements? I hear lots of examples of small companies that create local movements. Certainly companies like Apple, Lululemon Athletica, Trader Joes, Anthropologie and others have done very well creating relationships with their audience, so I know it's possible. But my socks & underwear? Not likely. And many other brands I deal with every day are like that too. Good, solid companies, but a movement? Not so sure.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Can every brand create a movement? And if brands can't create a movement or they don't have a tribe, does that mean they should be out of business? Don't get me wrong, I think all brands should strive to look for ways to engage their audiences. But I'm worried that we might be setting some pretty false expectations for brands to follow.