Dear Strongbow


Dear Strongbow,

Thank you for your “Hard Earned” positioning – it’s made me think about the massively important, apparently simple, but all too often confused (and confusing) topic of “targeting”.

It seems to me that you’re in the fortunate position where you couldn’t be clearer about your approach to targeting:

But what about all the brands out there who need to navigate the complexities and vagaries of human “aspiration”, for whom it’s not quite so straightforward?

  • If a brand knows that more than 2/3rds of its volume is consumed by adults, but it’s  been a “kids brand” since the year dot, should it switch its approach to targeting?
  • Is it better to hold up the mirror to reality in advertising (e.g. Maltesers) or to take consumers to an aspirational fantasy world (e.g. Bounty and/or Flake)?
  • Do fat / old / ugly etc people want to be reminded of that fact or will they feel alienated by brands that sweep the realities of their situation under the carpet?
  • Is it credible to show glamourous young things sporting incontinence pants or just patronising?
  • Will changing the approach to targeting alienate those that have historically consumed the brand, even if it does bring in new consumers in the future?

Two very famous and much discussed – if somewhat hackneyed – Unilever examples come to mind:

Axe/Lynx where the User Target is (I’m guessing) 14-18 year old boys, but the Brand Positioning / Image Target is 20-something men.

And Dove with its Campaign for Real Beauty where the received wisdom of the mainstrean category (i.e. differentiating between Brand Positioning / Image Target (unattainable models, actresses, celebrities etc) and User Target (people you might actually know)) was turned on its head.

So thanks Strongbow for reminding me how important it is to be clear about the difference between User Target and Brand Positioning / Image Target.

On a different note, thanks for making me think about “demonisation” and “stereotyping” in branding and advertising with your follow-up executions:

I’m assuming that this is a viral campaign only, intended to do the rounds within your User Target and Brand Positioning / Image Target, but I think it’s inherently risky for a brand to demonise any group quite so overtly, no matter how deserving of criticism they are.

Sure it makes for a good ad / viral that everyone can jeer along to and agree with today, but I’m not so sure it does such a great job for your brand values /personality / tone of voice, in the long-term.

I’m not defending bankers for one moment, I’m merely observing that it’s a risky approach, that inspires some awkward questions about your brand personality – who are you going to pick on next, can I really trust you, are you actually as nice as you seem, do you hate me for not being you?

In a bit of a 7.50am BBC Radio4 “Thought for the Day” moment, the phrase “let he who is without sin, cast the first stone” springs to mind.

Thanks

Ned

 


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