Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Brand Loyalty, Brand Lunacy

The recent loss of a charger for my iPhone made me think about those brands whose loyal customers take brand loyalty to extreme. As I stood in the Apple store I marvelled at the glossy eyed stare of my fellow shoppers. Price sensitivity was not an issue here; desire for the brand and its products over ruled that. Apple, through its product ethos and marketing, has created in its hardcore customer base a personal investment in the brand. This is why people queue overnight when they release a new phone that looks exactly like the one in their pocket and the two other doppelgangers gathering dust in a drawer at home.

Apple is not alone in its ability to generate brand hysteria. Sony and Microsoft have done a similar job not with a DVD player and Excel but with the battle between the Playstation and Xbox games consoles. There is arguably very little technically different between the two but don’t put that on a web forum unless you want to be bombarded. The platforms and the games on them engender fanatical loyalty.

This is not a new phenomenon. Pepsi drinkers have been arguing with Coca Cola drinkers since forever. Brands that become a lifestyle also generate the same level of love. From Harley Davidson to sports brands such as Adidas, each one manages, through very careful and clever brand management, to find a way into the hearts and lifestyles of their chosen target markets.

The best example I can give of what happens if you get it right is Sriracha sauce. It has a simple website, no Facebook or Twitter profiles and does not do any advertising at all in the US where it’s based. Yet 20 million bottles of the hot sauce were sold in the US in 2012 alone. It, like Spanx, Rolls Royce and Krispy Crème doughnuts spend nothing on advertising and just concentrate on the product and the retail experience and let the brand advocates do to talking and buying. That’s careful brand management, a science and an art form.

Tim Youngman is director of marketing for Archant 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Its all gone 1984 again - the ad that launched Apple and changed an industry

Last week saw the 30th anniversary of a television advertisement that changed a company and an industry. It’s not often you can say that about a 30 second television ad but in the case of Apple’s “1984” ad aired during the 1984 Super Bowl it’s true.

The ad is a take off of the classic movie of the same name and was even directed by Ridley Scott. If you watch the ad today (I recommend you find it on YouTube), you may think it was very much an ad of its time. It was however the first major cinematic minimalist television campaign. Its tagline “Why 1984 Won't Be Like 1984", positioned Apple as a true alternative in the personal computer market. Within 3 months of the Super Bowl ad airing, $155 million worth of Macintoshes had been sold.

The ad is rated as one of the greatest of all time by industry types however it was almost never shown. When the ad was sent to a research company for testing it was panned by all the panellists who saw it. However in an extremely brave move, the exec at the agency that came up with the ad chose not to share those results with his bosses at the agency or Apple. That’s either ballsy or career suicide depending on the outcome.

When the ad was shown to Apple, Steve Jobs loved it and the rest of the Apple Board hated it but Jobs had his way and the ad aired. The rest as they say is history. The ad not only changed a company’s fortunes but also the advertising industry itself. It made the advertisement almost as compulsive viewing as the programme it disrupted. It was also one of the first ads to go viral being played on news shows across the globe gaining further publicity and airtime. It could have all been so different if that account manager had not had belief in his creative. He however went on to become CEO of the agency and then launch his own. Sometimes you have to just have the courage of your own convictions.

Tim Youngman is director of marketing for Archant.