Philosophy & Competitive Advantages
How many times have you watched a commercial on TV and somewhere around 20 seconds into the 30 second spot you wondered what on earth they were driving at and even worse, who "they" were? And after the commercial was over, the advertiser's identity having finally been revealed to you at the last possible instant before the ending, did you still have no idea about the point they were trying to make? Is that the point? Has marketing at last decided to play the game "who ever is the most obscure wins?" Are we expected to build business on the assumption that millions of viewers will be so seduced by the mysterious drama before them that they'd not only remain glued to their seats, but they'd engage in sitting there actually thinking--trying to unravel a commercial hieroglyph? As I've watched some of these head scratchers, I've said to myself, "Well, I don't get it, but I'm no the target audience. Maybe they get it." But time after time, when I've asked those in the target (generally between ages 12 and 25), if they got it, they didn't get it, either. No two responses were alike, and very often there was no response at all. But they were not anguished that there was another thing they didn't understand. If it was obscure to them, they concluded there was no message intended. "It's just funny." Often, another response: "It's cool." As if "cool" was the answer to a marketer's dream. Cool how? Cool what? Is "cool" enough? Wouldn't it be cool if "cool" was viewed by advertisers not as substance, but simply for what it is--style? Certainly, people buy things because of what they feel, not necessarily by what they know. And if they feel cool wearing certain things, or driving certain things because other cool people with cool attitudes wear or drive them, that's cool. But is cool enough to sustain my loyalty for any length of time? Will "that's cool" quickly pass when the next cool thing comes along? I contend that cool needs context and context requires cognizance. I should have some inkling of why I'm to want something. Perhaps not the tortured "reason why" of package goods marketing-- perhaps not the layered primary, secondary, and tertiary benefits of marketers who can't figure out the single thing they need to say, so they try to say them all. But some little something. Some glimmer of why one bothers to make this thing, let alone why I should bother to buy it. That would be cool.