March 28 2017

Leaving Impressions Behind

UK, eletter, Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Thought Leadership, Marketing Insight, Sports Marketing Agency London

By Henry Nash, Planning Director

Ever left an impression that captured not one person’s attention?  Personally, I find  nothing better than meeting someone for the fourth time, and quickly realising they have no recollection of you.  (I’m just not as interesting as I am in my own head.  I blame my Mother, or ‘Mummy’ as she still likes to be called).   Thankfully, the majority of brands are even greater masters of the unmemorable impression.  And, like me, they too have fallen into the trap of thinking they’re way more interesting than they actually are.  There is an obvious reason for this, as I’ll try to explain.

Let’s start with the most worn out anecdote of our times.  ‘The average person is exposed to 478,654.23 marketing messages EVERY day’.  Yet how many do you remember?  Unless you’re on your way to your first interview to work in advertising, the answer, I’m guessing, is close to f all. The vast majority are just tossed into the neuro waste pile entitled “irrelevance”, along with the 9 million other occurrences in the day that are swiftly forgotten without a second thought, rarely penetrating our consciousness.  From a marketers perspective, this counts as an impression.  How very droll.

Instead, as normal humans, we go about our day focusing on the things that actually matter in our lives.  Such as, ‘Oh no, I made eye contact with the oncoming charity mugger’, or ‘I hope the barista understands what a dry cappuccino is’, or ‘I wonder if my daughter will be sent home from preschool again today’.  Topics such as Brexit or Trump may even pop into your head as well.  As marketers, we’re sadly guilty of believing the guff we spout day in day out,  honestly thinking that people actually want to be communicated with and have a ‘brand relationship’.  It’s just not true.  Therefore, why don’t we start from the viewpoint that people don’t want to engage with us?  But if we’re dead set on intruding on their lives, we can at least make it worthwhile.    

Luckily for us (humans, not marketers), with so much irrelevance surrounding us in our daily lives, we’re fast evolving in becoming masters of filtering out the useful from the useless.   The bad news (for us marketers, not normal humans) is that we’re increasingly switching off our conscious brain that would normally be highly receptive to our surroundings and therefore marketing messages.  So much so that we’re virtually sleep walking for much of the day on autopilot mode.  In fact about 50% of our conscious day is spent ‘mind wandering’ according to Harvard University.  It doesn’t stop us functioning as efficient human beings, but it does mean that less and less penetrates our consciousness.  This is the bit that we (marketers, not humans) need to grasp.    

It’s the difference between hearing, and actually listening.  We’re all guilty of it, when someone is offering you directions and you’re nodding in agreement, but quickly realise you haven’t listened to a word they’ve said.   And it’s the same with our sight.  Seeing is different to watching.  When you’re driving on a motorway, and realise that you’ve been day dreaming, but somehow haven’t crashed the car.   You’ve noticed very little around you, but you’re still able to operate.  

The result of all this, is that people’s time, and therefore attention, is more valuable than ever.  To get someone to listen and/or watch us is not an easy feat anymore.  Yet, because we treat it as a given, it’s prone to being abused.  Instead, let’s face the facts and realise that we owe it to people to earn their attention.  Give them something that will enhance their everyday lives.  Even if it’s just for a few seconds.

 And how have we acted upon our precept? How does having the Champions League trophy shaved into the side of your head sound? Understandably terrible, but we had 500 mad fans walk away from our Mastercard barber shop at the Champions League fan park in Milan with haircuts ranging from Cristiano Ronaldo’s face to the bright red logo of Athletico trimmed onto their heads.  All in the cause of showing others how far they would go as fans for their beloved team.  Goes a bit further than leaving fans with a key ring or leaflet…

With regards to long lasting impressions, how about becoming the first alcoholic brand ever to outsell Pimms at Wimbledon? And what if you said that the brand to do that had a predisposition in the UK as being a beer brand for males heralded from the rougher side of the street? We helped position Stella Artois as a premium lager across the Wimbledon site, delivering over 61,000 plastic chalices across 4 bars and increasing brand visibility by 20% at the famous Wimbledon Long Bar. 

Don’t fall into the trap of earning meaningless impressions. Work harder to create earned attention (or call us).