Imagine it’s morning and you’ve just got up. You walk into the kitchen wearing a bathrobe. You feel like you hear some sounds, like a lot of voices talking quietly at once. You check the radio. You look at your phone. You concentrate on where the sounds are coming from. The voices seem to be coming from the fridge. Carefully open the fridge. The sound gets louder and you get terrified. It’s pretty lively in the fridge. The brands are talking to you.
In the chaos, you can’t hear anything in particular because brands are talking over each other. Each product in the fridge ignores the others and tries to engage with you in conversation.
The milk carton is wondering what your breakfast looks like. You’re supposed to take a picture of it and send it in. Ketchup claims to have a gift for you to make your Christmas even more joyous, you’re supposed to guess which one. The beer wants you to know that it’s time to celebrate. What are you waiting for, it says, you have to hurry to the pub. Butter asks how many kinds of cookies you have already baked for Christmas. Chocolate says it has found its key to morning relaxation and what do you say? Insta-cream wants you to draw what coffee means to you.
Language and communication were probably a major evolutionary advantage for homo sapiens. But in case we hear non-living things speaking to us modern psychiatry diagnoses us a state that requires hospitalized care and chronic medication.
If the utopia of social media marketing reached the stage of merging the digital and physical worlds, brands would be talking to us all the time. Only, no one wants to talk to brands. Having chat with your toothpaste or beer is a pretty creepy thing to do.
The utopia of the engagement model has convinced us for nearly a decade that TV advertising is old and dysfunctional. And we believed it. For a while, margarine began to lead over butter. And only a few conservative consumers didn’t want to get it. Yet any nutritionist would have told them the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. It took time, but eventually we found the value of butter again, and margarine returned to where it belongs – among junk food.