Archives/ Monthly Archives/ January 2014

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When a good impression takes the biscuit

This is about sales. About selling something that the customer can’t really trial. Like a night in a hotel. Or a meal in a fancy restaurant. Or a wedding, which is really a mix of the two.

Having got engaged myself over Christmas, I came out all guns blazing this January. I was going to nail this wedding in a week or two. After all, it can’t be that different from all the events I’ve organised down the years.

So far it isn’t. So far I’ve been met with attentive, knowledgeable wedding coordinators intent on seducing myself and herself into opting for their chambers over the next one. All seeking to create the allure of a summer wedding on a dank morning in January. All anxious to make a good impression.

Actually, not really. The good ones – having asked for my betrothed’s name before we arrive (that’s a note bene) – make a fuzz over the all-important ring. Now that’s a good start to a sale. After all, it’s not me who will be deciding this. And then there’s the perfunctory tea and biscuits to help settle us down. Here’s the opportunity to differentiate. To wow the impressionable couple with creations freshly made that morning by the esteemed pastry chef. They’ll hear a lot about the culinary credentials of the team in the kitchen. Here’s the chance to show it, to go beyond the words and the pictures in the glossy brochures. None has, not so far. And so, to my mind, a critical customer touch point has gone begging.

We hear all the time how first impressions last, and brands spend plenty in creating a pre-purchase ‘experience’ as a result. In the search for a wedding venue, it’s no different. In most cases there’s probably over €10 grand on the line. Every couple is looking for that something special. Let it start with a not so humble biscuit.

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Love/Hate: the one that got away

No, I don’t mean Frano or Tommy, or whoever else from Nidge’s cadres failed to end up on the anticipated pyre at the conclusion of series four. I mean the sponsorship opportunity.

Up to one million pairs of eyeballs – mine among them – were riveted to this irresistible mix of entertainment and gore that must surely rank as the stand-out programme of 2013. Why, then, did adland simply look away?

Ok, so advertisers weren’t quite as sheepish as our infamous MBA dentist. At least they hung about in the ad breaks around each programme. But that was a safe enough distance to avoid guilt by association. Closer to the action they would not dare venture: no brand would ally itself to the programme directly, as sponsor.

If anyone from among the marketing masses can claim any medals for bravery it is Kia, who ran a weekly competition and probably did quite well out of it in exposure terms.

It’s a strange one – an entertainment form that appears off limits for brands, but clearly not for their customers. Perish the thought, could it be for once a case of the brand custodians being misaligned with their customers’ needs and wants? Actually brands have always been a bit sanctimonious, embracing aspirational ‘values’ which any consumer with a bit of fun in them would run a mile from.  Or maybe we do expect the labels we consume to be so upstanding, above the voyeurism to which we are all prey?

Still, I think they missed a trick. To admire the drama of Love/Hate is not to admire the violence it portrays. First and foremost, the series is great art. And those in adland know that’s worth supporting, risks and all.

‘AN Other, sponsors of great Sunday drama on RTE’ … surely no one should get the bullet for that?