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The Experience Brands Weekly #132

Brand action in the age of the troll

In acknowledgment of Donald Trump, the arch Twitter troll himself, Nicola Kemp in Campaign magazine this week published a fine article on ‘Marketing in the age of the troll’. Among many ideas a clear line emerged; the modern brand must accept it can’t control its perception, the crowd will mould it and manipulate it. Worse, trolls will distort it. 

Meaning has become absurdly slippery in the age of social media. Rather than advertising taking a cynical shift with the times to adopt the campaign tactics of Donald Trump, the article finds a more principled conclusion. 

It suggests a clear sense of brand purpose may be the counter to the distorting lens of social media. 

Going further AMV Head of Cultural Strategy, Gerard Crichlow, argues, “we’ll have to be better at helping brands understand the context of conversations and create better content that benefits the world.”

But there’s some confusion at the heart of the article, while it reaches for brand purpose as a beacon for a semantically slippery world, it also flirts with the idea that traditional advertising techniques may be more important than ever. It quotes Kantar Media’s A J Walker who says: “In the Twitter age having the pithiest phrase and the best tag is crucial. It is about simplicity and salience.” 

No doubt these remain crucial tools in the world of advertising but unless the ad strategists drop Stephen King in favour of Dimitri Syrkin their medium may be increasingly unsuited to the messaging environment of the times. 

We frequently argue in these pages that brand purpose must be demonstrated through action, not words. That, at a time when brand meaning is shaped and reshaped in the 24-7 dialogue of social media, the only way to assure a straight line in brand strategy is through brand action and the experiences a customer has of a brand. Action, in this sense, influences the otherwise unreachable dialogue of the crowd who give meaning to the brand.

If the article wants to promote purpose as a socially positive role for brands in dark times, there has to be an acknowledgement that purpose will struggle to take on the trolls at their own game. 

It is only through actions that create value for people (whether that be a unique digital service experience, a delightful high street presence or a genuine contribution to society and culture) that purpose can cut through the polarising digital noise of 2017. 

Maybe then you can work on the pithy strapline to advertise that promise.





Airbnb create “outside-in” pop-up house to promote new Trips feature

Airbnb is backing its new Trips feature that it rolled out in London and 11 other cities last year, and plans to roll out into 51 cities in total by the end of this year. The feature allows visitors to not only book accommodation but also book local experiences through the service. To promote it in London Airbnb have turned a house inside out in order to highlight the importance of the openness that can be achieved through travel (something they feel is particularly important following Brexit and Trump’s election).

The ‘outside-in’ house has been created with colour brand Pantone and sees the inside of a home in Clerkenwell transformed with outdoor features, including a greenhouse, garden bedroom and a kitchen containing various herbs and botanical structures. Guests to the house will be able to partake in an abundance of added experiences ranging from about the various plants in the house in a botanist class, a running session with a personal trainer and a lesson on how to make gin from scratch. Guests will also be provided with teas, juices and other produce from local companies.

Overnight stays can be booked via Airbnb from the 27th – 30th January for £200.



Kraft Heinz begin campaign to establish 'Smunday' as a new national holiday

Kraft Heinz has decided this year to not spend a massive advertising budget on the Super Bowl, but instead is giving all of its salaried employees the day off on Monday February 6th, the day after Super Bowl LI. The company isn’t just stopping there though as it wants others to do the same, therefore, it has created an online petition to create a new national holiday called ‘Smunday’. Super Bowl Monday is said to cost America in about $1 billion in lost productivity, with more than 16 million people calling in sick.

The decision to not invest in a big advert that will have to compete with a mass of others is an interesting one by the business. Is the happiness of their employees really at the heart of the decision or is it just a clever PR play?