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The impact of love on marketing

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Love conquers all.

Do you remember the love Bug computer virus that swept the world a few years back? It proved that even the most hard-bitten business professionals will instantly open up an e-mail attachment simply because it came with cuts straight through alertness, cognitive processes, training, security protocols and, yep, good old common sense.

“Oob, someone out there loves me! Who, who/” Think about this as a tick: The Love Bug didn’t attack computer systems so much as human emotion, human optimism, human vulnerability, human hope.

“I love you.”

It was all over in seconds. Over 80 million computers worldwide melted down from the heart.

In lives increasingly experienced via monitors, there’s a hunger for genuine empathy and direct, personal contact, people live in a cold, scary and often heartless world.

Companies fire them. Spouses divorce them. Institutions stitch them up. Fear stalks the daily news. There’s no one to turn to. So people want to surround themselves with sensuality.
This is the real evolution from old to new economy for marketers. Logical is being replaced by likeable.

The notion of buyers and sellers is being replaced by a relationship that is better described as fan and celebrity.

This transformation requires a new set of balances – not only about brand, advertising and marketing, but also about leadership, authenticity and the human spirit. Emotion is no longer a “nice-to-have” for business; rather it is the living, beating heart.

People are eager to bring more emotion, more emotion, more spirit, more inspiration and, yes, more love into the way they do business. But they still find it tough to put Love in action.

That’s where the idea of Love marks comes in – a Saatchi & Saatchi idea that puts Love into business and keeps it bubbling all around it.

I started to talk Love because of one big question that would not go away. What comes after brands? Brands have had a dream run pumping the global economy.

They have defined and grown marketing by boosting its complexity and scale. They have spread out around the globe and come back home again.

The journey from products to trademarks to brands is one of the 20th century. Now this journey is coming to an end and it’s too late for Brand-Aid. Trademarks have long been table-stakes. Now brands too are table-stakes.

Both are useful in the quest for differentiation and are still vital to survival, but they are not winning game – breaker.

It is time to admit it. Brands are dead. They are struggling to deal with the demand for innovation, flexibility and speed, together with the necessity to build close relationships with consumers.

A powerful dynamic has been driving business for decades and brands are trapped in its path. It’s a relentless process, turning what we truly value into the commonplace.

Commodification – the process that erodes distinctions, rapidly cycles through innovations and pushes for higher standards of performance and quality because that is what everybody else is doing.

Everyone in business is wrestling with this problem in one guise or another. The inevitable result?

Pressure on margins and on price at the very time consumers are pushing in the other direction.

They are more demanding, less loyal, profoundly cynical and tough to convince of anything.

Most people nod at the suggestion that traditional transactions need to be transformed into relationships but they don’t know what to do next.

My advice is to get your nose out of reports and statistics and look to emotional connections.

And, of course, look most closely at the strongest emotional connection of all – love. Love is the path way to deep emotional connections within businesses, with consumers, with partners, with allies. Here are eight insights that show the role Love is born to play.

Love Creates Lovemarks
Some brands are so far ahead of the pack that they have become not just “Super Brands” or “Brands plus.” They have escaped the commodity trap and evolved into something different altogether.

Charles Darwin would have got it straight off. Fish to lizard.
Monkey to man. Product to Trademark. Trademark to Brand. Brand to lovemark.

Lovemarks are a game-breaking opportunity to reinvent branding. They place brands where they should be, at the emotional heart. Lovemarks inspire locality beyond reason.

At Saatchi & Saatchi we have been evolving Lovemarks for the past four years. We have focused the entire company on where we want to go with them.

As an Ideas Company, it is simple: “To create and perpetuate Lovemarks through the power of our ideas.” Lovemarks is about attitude, belief and action.

The name itself is provocative, non-negotiable. Saying “love” and believing in love come with the territory. “Enjoymarks” or “Admiration marks” were never going to get the job done.

Lovemarks are personal. They can be local or global or anywhere in between. Whatever the scale, they stand out from the crowd. Lovemarks are the charismatic brands that people love and fiercely protect.

If you made a list of Lovemarks, it would be different from mine because that is the nature of Love.

Love Inspires People
All the stuff we pushed out of business in the last century needs to feel what is important personally, not just analyze it in others. We need to transform management with Inspiration and engage both head and heart.

This is exactly what Love can do. A study of neural activity at Emory University, Atlanta, revealed that the small act of co-operating with another person, of choosing trust over cynicism, generosity over selfishness, makes the brain light up with quiet joy.

We love to love. The lead author of the study, Dr Gregory S. Berns, admitted that “The results were really surprising to us.” And that is the problem.

We expect the dark and suspicious side of human nature to dominate, and discount the possibility that qualities like Love and Inspiration work best.

Our traditional understanding of management has been very limited. No wonder women have found it so tough to fit in.

Success today has to be about more than management and doing thigs right. And it has to be about more than leadership and doing right things.

What do all leaders need to succeed? Followers. Who wants to admit to having “born to follow” tattooed on their back?

Success in business today depends not on management or on leadership but on inspiration – and at its best, Inspiration is about Love.

Just as they exclude Love, most people push Inspiration out of their lives. What a terrible loss.

Inspiration awakens people to their potential and shows them what they can be and what they can achieve.

Inspiration is contagious and arouses people’s commitment to exceed their personal best – not just to beat their sales targets or the competition.

Love is the pathway to deep emotional connections within businesses, with consumers, with partners and allies.

Great products, great ideas, great anything can only come from Inspired people with passion and emotion. They need to have what I call the “I s” and the “ES.”

• I for Ideas, Imagination, Intuition and Insight.
• E for Enchantment, Emotion, Empathy and Excitement.

Turning up the temperature in your business means more energy and Inspiration, and nothing turns up the temperature like Love.

Love Brings Back Emotion
We can all feel it. Emotion is back in vogue. In the grand old brand days, emotion was a clip-on. Brands flourished in the rational world of benefits.

The advertising team was there to pipe on some emotional icing – and that was that. But over the past two decades, science moved deeper in the human mind.

It turned out that the human brain is more complex, more densely connected and more mysterious than any of us dreamt.

Study after study has proved that if the emotion centers of our brain are damaged in some way, we don’t just lose the ability to laugh or cry.

We lose the ability to make decisions. The neurologist Donald Calne puts it brilliantly: “The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions.” More emotion equals more action. That’s what the “motion” part of emotion is all about.

Now there is a big loud alarm bell for every business right there. Emotion and reason are intertwined, but when they conflict – emotion wins every time.

Without the fleeting and intense stimulus of emotion, rational thought winds down and disintegrates.

Emotion is an unlimited resource. It controls our rationality and guides our decision-making.

There are no limits to its power. It’s always there, waiting to be plugged into. And you certainly can’t ignore it by declaring that your products are in a “low-involvement category.” What a cop-out!

We need to stop talking about emotion and set it to work. We need to jump into the emotion economy.

There are many openings into this economy but it is now obvious that entertainment is gaining ground fast.

According to the US Consumer Expenditure survey, the total spend for entertainment per household increased 20.8% over the last decade.

Entertainment appeals to our unconscious, intuitive and creative mind that operates beyond rationality and rules. Emotion and story-telling, mystery and metaphor are all central players in Lovemarks.

Love Gives Respect New Meaning
I talk more about Love than Respect because we all do Respect so much better. We have made huge investments in performance, innovation, quality, trust and all the rest for decades.

And we would all agree that we made fantastic progress. The problem is that it was all in one direction towards what I call the “er” words – newer, brighter, stronger, faster.

And the really big problem is that they take us head on against the most frightening “er” world of all: Cheaper.

This is what happens to you when you slip down the value chain. You become eager to give away more for less just to stay in the game even worse you put all your effort into what has just become table-stakes. Lots of puff for not much stuff.

In the 21st century, great performance is no more than what consumers expect and demand.

Cars start first time, the fries are always crisp and the dishes shine. Today every one has to earn Respect just to stay in the game.

Now the new challenge is Love, and Love demands the same investment and the same rigor we brought to the capture of Respect.
Our client Toyota gets it. Don Esmond at Toyota USA crystallised the new Toyota challenge: “It’s time to move from the most respected car company in America to the most loved.”

Love needs Respect right from the start. Without it, we’re not talking about Love; we’re talking about a fad or infatuation – compelling and fun but certainly not capable of inspiring loyalty of any kind.

Love Draws on Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy
We all know the power of mystery, sensuality and intimacy from our own lives. The obvious next question, then, is “Why should relationships in business be any different? My answer is simple. They are not.

Business too needs mystery, sensuality and intimacy. Mystery draws together the stories, metaphors and dreams that give a relationship texture.

Not surprisingly, after the metric mania of the 20th century, mystery is again taking centre-stage.

What we don’t know starts to be as important as what we do know. The five senses pull us towards sensuality – vision, sound, smell, touch, taste. This is how human beings experience the world.

Sensuality is a portal to the emotions and intimacy, where thinking and feeling come together most closely; the art of knowing the right thing to do is called empathy.

Some companies have created experiences that have used mystery, sensuality and intimacy brilliantly.

Think of the expertly integrated experience Starbucks has sent out around world. Other companies have created experiences that are horribly wrong for human beings.

Let’s take a simple example. Who wants to be squired with perfume as they walk into a store? Name me and not my wife.

This formulaic spray-and-bray is just a symptom of a much bigger problem – passion trimmed into efficiency.

Inspiration pulled back to a positive attitude and Love diluted to “like”. By focusing on mystery, sensuality and intimacy, business-as-usual can be transformed with new emotions and new ideas.

The Stanford economist Paul Romer likes to say that big competitive advantages in the marketplace always come from “better recipes, not just more cooking.” Love has got to be the most well-tested recipe of all.

Love connects with Consumers
Consumers are the heart of any enterprise, and at last, businesses are starting to realize it. People want control over their lives.

They are more sophisticated and, best of all, they keep changing. This is the new consumer.

To respond to this new reality requires a profound shift in how to develop ideas and insights that can truly touch consumers. What has the power to get us there? The emotional commotions created by love.

Our new evolved consumers want to connect in more ways with brands. They are looking for new emotional connections.

More people are living alone and it is projected that far more will be alone over the coming decade.

In the UK today, seven million adults live alone – three times as many as 40 years ago – and it is projected that, by 2020, one-person households will make up 40% of total households.

Forget Rober D. putnam’s famous ‘”bowling alone”. People are eating alone, exercising alone and waking alone.

To touch these customers directly you need to listen to them. That’s how you can feel the shifts in temperature, not just read about them in market research reports.

Most businesses never get that close. They set up a program of consumer contact, rather than taking the pulse.
Invest in Love and you can connect with people and you can cultivate enduring relationships.

In their most evolved from, these relationships give consumers a direct impact on design, production, distribution and marketing, and give you an extraordinary new opportunity to create long-time value.

Love Revivers Market Research
Researchers turned down a dead end a decade or so ago and they have been struggling to read the sings ever since, once they had corralled what could be measured, everything that couldn’t was simply ignore.

The problem was, of course, that everything of value cannot be measured. In fact, not much of value can be.

As the British industrialist John Banham once said; “we are in danger of valuing most highly those things that we can measure most accurately. As a result we are in danger of being exactly wrong rather than approximately right.”

A further problem is that the information gathered by most conventional research methods has become a commodity.

All the big players have access to pretty much the same information. All the big players have access to pretty much the same information.

And not only do they have the same data, they have the same processes for dealing, with it. That’s not where the game is going to be won and it is certainly no help in creating emotional connections with consumers.

We need research to help us discover what we don’t know. And then we need research to inspire us to go further and deeper.

We need research to absorb many perspectives – and make sense of them. And, most of all, we need research that puts consumers at the centre rather than at the base of a very large pyramid.

This is the only kind of research that will come close enough to Love and to emotional connections to make a difference.

To have a meaningful understanding of consumers demands creativity and insights as well as accuracy and depth.

Always remember that Love is one way. You can’t analyse their love without committing your own.

If you stand to one side as an objective observer you will get the results you deserve. I’m looking for research that counts the beats of your heart rather than the fingers of your hand.

Love Loves the Local
People live in the local. They live in real, distinctive places and they love it there. I have never met a global consumer and I never expect to.

We define ourselves by our differences. Differences have huge value because they are the energy of powerful emotional connections.

This is the game local brands can play so brilliantly. This is also the challenge for brands with international markets.

AG. Lafley, CEO of procter & Gamble, believes that in 10 years, P&G’S toughest competitors will be focused local companies.

Tell that to the global Godzillas. Mounting evidence is on their side. Take the assault on China.

Emerging markets remain critical to growth. There are millions and millions of people wanting to take part in the ease, opportunity and spirit of the modern. But they want it their way.

International corporations do not have to retreat. Billion-dollar brands remain an inspiring goal. We certainly want more of them for our clients! We just have to get smarter.

“Think global, act local” is back-to-front. And “Act global, think local” is not much better Starting with the local is absolutely right, but “think” is all wrong.

”Think” is not action, “Think” is not fast or transforming, emotional or inspiring. What works better? “Act local, go global” – action at both levels.

Only Love inspires loyalty beyond reason. Lovemarks are a very simple idea. They come from deep inside what every human being wants and needs most – Love.

How paradoxical that the loyalty beyond reason we are searching for should be only a heartbeat away from each of us.

Keywords: brand, advertising, marketing, Commodification, love, lovemarks, branding, brand, emotion, reason, sensuality,


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