From a technical standpointI must admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Coca Cola and pressed for an answer I would probably say it’s my favourite brand. They a company that mastered the notion of focussing on reach and recency. They are, in nearly every country in the world ubiquitous. Absolutely omnipresent. A true heuristic, conveying instantly a tightly defined and vivid set of mental associations.
My heart sank when I saw the ad above at the cinema this weekend.
It reeks of modern, faddish brand thinking and planning. In this instance, an increasingly popular idea around the value of defining a brand’s purpose; understanding or postulating it’s raison d’etre – an idea which justifies it’s role in a consumers life above and beyond selling them stuff and taking their money.
Now, that’s not to say that defining a brand’s purpose is a totally futile exercise. For what little my opinion is worth, I love it as an idea. I’ve written about my admiration for Hiut a number of times, I’ve written about ‘belief’ and purpose models for brands a lot. For some brands, such as Hiut, it’s a useful idea – something which can drive and motivate the entire organisation and give people a reason to buy your products when you operate in a commoditised market.
But, Coke? It’s fizzy sugar water. Come on. Saying that it gives people reasons to believe in a better world may be overstating the case somewhat (and that’s before you get into any ethical or health issues that surround the product and it’s manufacture). Coca Cola is getting along just fine deploying a classic marketing and brand building approach building recency and reach, maintaining and building mental presence and associations. Why complicate things?
The problem – I think – is that ideas, amongst advertising practitioners, are treated like paradigms – that is to say, the only available solution at any one time. We desperately try to fit all manor of brands into all manor of faddish archetypes and templates, when actually we should be treating these ideas like tools in a tool box. Using the right one for the right task, not like a man who only owns a hammer. As we know, a man who owns only a hammer tends to treat everything like a nail.
Does my toilet cleaner need to be engaging in a conversation with me?
Does my biro need a community formed around it? Can it, even?
Does my fizzy pop need a purpose other than quenching my thirst or tasting nice each and every time i buy it?
Arguably the answer to all these questions is no, but perhaps that opinion wouldnt be the most fashionable now, would it?