Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sanctifying the Humble Mattress

Imagine for a moment that you're a mattress company looking to tell the story of one person's satisfaction with your product.

Do you try to find an insomniac who was cured by your product?
Maybe a couple whose love life was rekindled courtesy of your mattress?

If you're Flex Mattress, you take a more original approach.
You tell the story of a woman who uses your mattress on which to deliver her child in a home birth. Flex Mattress Commercial

But why would Flex Mattress feature such an uncommon use for their product? Why not cater the ad to their primary demographic: people looking for a good night's sleep?

First of all, sleeping is boring. It's a basic human function, we all do it but frankly, it's not very exciting. An ad based on sleeping would need to add humor or a bit of raciness to get noticed.

Secondly, the topic of homebirthing is controversial. We'll talk more about the value of controversy in a later post. Controversy is exciting! It gets people talking. And the more people you have talking about your product, the more exposure your company receives.

Flex Mattress could've made a funny ad or a racy ad but they decided instead to tell a very personal and poignant story through the eyes of one of their customers. Flex Mattress plays a humble part in this woman's decision to bring her child into the world in the comfort, safety and security of her own home. She wasn't their average customer but she was makes a great story.

Do you know your customers? Are you selling to just a nameless, faceless demographic or are you taking the time to really listen to who your customers are and how they use your product?

Honor your customers. Give them a voice. Let them tell a remarkable story about YOU!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Importance of Authenticity

Jack Neff posted this article
in Advertising Age in which he writes about Unilever’s use of social media to communicate their brand message. Some of you may remember reading about Unilever’s video campaign for Dove entitled, “Onslaught” that I wrote about a few posts back.

Unilever got the attention they were looking for - and more than they bargained for in the process.

Among the viewers of the Onslaught campaign were certain members of Greenpeace who produced a parody of the “Onslaught” video entitled Onslaughter
that criticized Dove and Unilever for their purported involvement in razing Indonesian rainforests through their purchases of palm oil.

Their complaint, according to the Greenpeace website states, “Unilever pretends to be an environmentally responsible company, but what it is actually responsible for is destroying areas of rainforest, driving species extinction and speeding up global warming. Being one of the biggest users of palm oil on the planet, Unilever must stop buying palm oil from these companies and call for a halt on the destruction of Indonesian forests to grow palm oil.

This is not the first time Unilever has been the focus of controversy. At approximately the same time the “Onslaught” campaign was launched, a campaign for another of Unilever’s brands, “Axe” was also released. Remember the scantily clad women that Unilever warned us about in the Onslaught video? They were all over the Axe campaign.

A mashup video of the two ads mockingly advised viewers to “Talk to your daughters before Unilever does.”

For years, manufacturers made false promises and invented fake identities and got away with it.

But no more.

Too many eyes are upon you. Too many ears are listening. Web 2.0 has made it so that all of us live in the proverbial fish bowl.

Try to be something you’re not in today’s Internet age and you WILL be exposed!

Authenticity is your only hope.

1) Don’t tell your customers that you care about things you don’t really care about. (Or that you care about them a lot when you only care about them a little bit.)

2) Don’t make promises you can’t deliver.

3) Once you've made promises on which you CAN deliver, don’t go back on them.

4) Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not.

To their credit, Unilever has entered into talks with Greenpeace and is now planning to adopt new targets for sustainable palm-oil sourcing.

They've learned the hard way the value of authenticity.

What about you?