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Always Say Who You Are

Link: Brand Autopsy: Always Say Who You Are.

The marketing brains behind  Starbucks ads have been dissecting the new AOL ad campaign [via the excellent Brand Autopsy].  The AOL campaign is based on the strapline "want a better internet?", where a number of diferent users are seen to tell AOL what they want them to deliver.  In taking a stance to say what it is not i.e. it does not curently have the features and functions that the audience in the ads are asking for, it risks, according to the authors, being associated with what it is not rather than what it is.  This goes against traditional marketing.  However, I think AOL’s strategy could work.  It shows them to be a company that listens and by admitting that the internet for many is a complex concept that has not got all the utility users desire, AOL are taking the point of view of their [prospective] audience.  In the words of their Chief Marketing Officer:

"We needed to transform AOL from a ‘one product, one size fits all’ dial-up brand into an online services company that’s relevant across a number of segments."

Providing services of value to people rather than just saying here’s your broadband pipe – you go figure it out, can be a good thing and differentiates AOL from the ISPs competing on price alone.  Of course the other way to look at this would be to argue that AOL is simply trying to sell stuff that doesn’t work and that’s there fault. 

As the digital market in Britain matures and yet the digital divide remains, creative ways to make stuff more relevant to people through the provision of new [web] services are going to have to be thought up.  Saying "we have what you need, come and get it" when most people don’t need it, or don’t know that they need it, won’t wash. 

(10/11 Correction to earlier post which stated that the authors were the creators of Starbucks.  Meant to say the creators of Starbucks marketing campaigns!  Sorry!)