FRONT PAGE / POSTS
by Sandra Mardin| London, United Kingdom
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
tags: clients & brands, consumer culture, europe, making sense, sequencing
It is every brand’s goal to become a defining point in your, yet at the same time everyone’s, life story, in hope of building up emotional value, lifelong loyalty and becoming a myth. In anticipation of Facebook’s new profile interface, the Timeline: Tell your life story with a new kind of profile it’s worth noting how various brands have used the same strategy to creep into our lives.
One example is UK department store John Lewis's latest TV advert that showcases the role their electrical products have played in people’s lives over the years, played against a backdrop of iconic music tracks.
The advert consists of seven scenes, each representing a different era, ending with two teenagers enjoying a performance of ‘Shine On’ by the Kooks on the latest internet-enabled Sony Internet TV. The ‘seven scenes’ also resonate with Shakespeare’s legendary As You Like It speech (Act II Scene vii): “And one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages…”
KFC came up with a reverse timeline of a love story for their “Love is Forever” ad. It opens with an elderly couple dancing to Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ and becoming gradually younger until they eventually waltz back to childhood.
The timeline formula has also been used in the “Time Flies” advert for South Africa’s largest investment company, Alan Gray long term investment fund, which tells the story of a girl who grows up in a hurry, realising years later that time is priceless and shouldn’t be rushed.
On celebrating their 20 years’ presence in Russia, Mars have made an advert that provides a twist on the usual timeline theme. Their campaign It’s good that some dreams never come true features a young girl wishing when she grows up to “wear pink leggings and dance in the disco with a man in a crimson jacket”. Meanwhile, in another execution, a young boy wishes to “become a businessman, drive a Lada 6 and be married to a top model”.
The adverts then show a glimpse of what that may have looked like and fast-forwards to show the less ridiculous reality, reminding us of our silly childhood dreams that thankfully never materialised.
Another in the endless list of recycling the timeline formula attempts is last year’s Unilever campaign for its male grooming line Dove Men+Care, based on milestones including marriage and kids, in an attempt to challenge the stereotypes around “Real Men” and move away from traditional male grooming ads.
So, for brands, an effective way to become embedded in consumers’ lives is to act as ‘biographers’ – telling life stories and ‘being there’ at key symbolic stages. Facebook’s Timeline, giving consumers the chance to narrate and curate their own unfolding life stories, will bring further attention to these symbolic contact points between brands and biographies.
“Advertising is so powerful that we can describe our lives with it" – that's how Romanian advertising agency Next explain their campaign Advertising is a part of our life which managed to demonstrate the powerful storytelling potential of brands in intimate everyday situations. Their award-winning ‘Jealousy’ and ‘Refuse’ ad-stories both feature a dialogue which consists of listing brands.
The ‘Refuse’ dialogue is as follows:
A woman is chopping vegetables in the kitchen, when a man approaches and embraces her sensually.
Man: “Murfatlar Wine… Relaxa… Durex?”
Woman: “Nurofen… Libresse. “
‘Jealousy' offers a more intricate plot, as a woman accuses her husband of infidelity based on a list of growing brand-based suspicions: "Avon…Toyota…Novotel?"
What is most fascinating is that this dialogue doesn’t need translation in an age of global brands, where brandspeak is a common language. And if brands give us a way to tell our stories, from everyday interactions to overviews of life stages, perhaps one day we could even rewrite As You Like It just by listing brand names.
© 2011 Sandra Mardin