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Defining ‘Consumer Engagement’

There is much talk in the Advertising Communication Industry about consumer and brand ‘engagement’.

What does that actually mean and how is it achieved meaningfully when millions of people globally regard all online advertising content as intrusive and unwanted?

Currently 25% of Internet users use ‘Ad blockers’ and 309 million people (16% of the world’s 1.9 billion smartphone users) are blocking advertising content on the mobile web and have clearly taken the very conscious step of ‘disengaging’ from so-called ‘brand content’.

As various commentators have pointed out this the largest boycott of anything in the history of humanity.

A Question of Relevance

To talk about ‘Consumer Engagement’ is probably more apt and relevant than to talk vacuously about ‘Brand Content’. If so called ‘content’ is not engaging, it is worthless to a brand anyway, and totally irrelevant to any meaningful discussion about online, integrated or any associated brand communication.

The Myth of Consumer ‘Brand Love’

As many Communication specialists have pointed out, the notion that consumers are so much in love with their favourite brands, that they can’t wait to have conversations about and with them and social interactions online is a complete myth. The billion plus people globally engaged in social media want to engage with each other not brands.

In fact, the Havas Media Company’s recent survey revealed that in the U.S. and U.K. people could not care less if 92% of the brands currently available disappeared tomorrow.

Brand Goodwill and Consumer Kinship

The challenge therefore, is to look beyond the marketing and advertising clichés and hype and find issues of real interest and value for consumers that brands can promote with genuine goodwill.

An effective way of connecting with consumers on their level is through brand communication campaigns that offer the intergradation of social media options that enable consumers to voluntarily access interactive brand participation in a form of their choice.

Twitter, Vine, Integra, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapchat all offer effective and increasingly innovative brand communication integration opportunities. Whether starting that conversation happens on a computer, a mobile device, or TV is not that crucial.

Much more important than on which screen consumers are reached, is how rewarding the user experience is in actively engaging with the brand communication campaign message and consumer promise.

It can be successfully done as the following campaign proves.

John Lewis, Monty’s Christmas.

Advertising Agency: adam&eve DDB, London

Monty’s Christmas sparked 212,000 tweets, plus 165,000 ‘shares’ on Facebook, and increased web traffic by an extra 14 million visits. Online views across all social channels totaled 29 million of which 22 million came from YouTube.

568 Million Impressions

Overall the campaign delivered a staggering 568 million impressions and won a Cannes Advertising Festival of Creativity Grand Prix for Advertising Effectiveness and the commercial won a Grand Prix for Film Craft.

People engaged with ‘Monty’ online and social media also allowed fans to continue following the story online. A ‘Monty App’ hit the top spot in the ‘iTunes Kids’ chart, with more than 500,000 interactive sessions.

Valuable Lessons From The ‘Monty’ Campaign

  1. To create brand advertising that people listen to and talk about it has to be something they want to watch and share. This is so blatantly obvious that one wonders why so many brands ignore doing so. We cannot command consumer attention, we must earn it. It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to know that if advertising bores or irritates people, they will block, skip or avoid them.
  2. Nothing interests, involves and moves people more than a great story. Media technology offers new, more immersive ways to tell stories. ‘Monty’ drew people into his world, and consequently into John Lewis stores.
  3. Creating Characters can be hugely effective in bringing stories to life in our imagination. Something we have all probabaly experieced at one time or another. For me the characters of A. A. Milne’s stories in my youth of Winnie the Pooh are still endearing to me to this day.
  4. Most advertising treats emotion as a means to an end, a way of getting the “message” across. In the ‘Monty’ campaign however, the feeling was the message. The huge profits it generated show just how motivating emotions can be.

Insightful Creativity

None of the ‘Monty’ advertising campaign successes would have been possible without insightful and painstakingly crafted creative work. ‘Monty’ is compelling proof that creativity is the key to adverting communication effectiveness and the only possible solution to the ‘Ad-blocker’ disingagement onslaught.