Chief Marketing Officer for McDonald’s, Larry Light, declared ‘an end to brand positioning as we know it’ in 2004:
Instead of using one execution for one big idea, Light envisions taking one big idea and presenting it to consumers in a “multidimensional, multilayered and multifaceted way,” such as the “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign. Light has called this new way of marketing for McDonald’s “Brand Journalism,” where McDonald’s tries to communicate with consumers individually over a period of time across a multitude of media.
The “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign speaks distinctly to different audiences based on age group, lifestyle, interests and cultural preferences. It is with this “Brand Journalism” that McDonald’s is able to weave into consumers’ lives and catch their attention at the most niche level.”
In what he calls the ‘Age of I’ he states that consumers want to be identified as individuals, rather than simply targeted by mass marketing. Consequently they’ve switched their focus to product placement, advergaming (advertisements within video games) and integrating their message into pop culture music.
Integrated marcoms disciplines used to be as simple as direct marketing, advertising, public relations and sales promotion.
New Media allows you to track when a consumer:
Opens your email (and how many times)
Clicks on any of the links in it; which links and how often.
Forward it to friends (and illegal software could also then pick up their email address)
Out of the traditional tactics, only direct mail is remotely trackable.
Traditional Tactics New Media Equivalent Print ad Web banner ad or advergaming TV commercial Webisode coupled with word of mouth Direct mail E-mail Press release Search engine marketing Sales promotion Behaviourally targeted pop-ups
SEO – he suggests keyword stuffing. Now it means meeting W3C standards, ensuring keywords are mentioned early in the copy and several times (maintaining semantic standards), and having top quality links into your site from topic related websites.
Paid inclusion in natural listings (pretty much a scam as companies cannot guarantee results)
Paid placement in sponsored listings – like Google Adwords
They tend to fall into two categories, content (1) and links (2+3). Many of the techniques he lists are collectively known as ‘spamdexing’ techniques.
i.e. trying to influence how a search engine indexes it’s results to boost the position of your own website. These days spamdexing is a sure way to have your site removed from a search engine’s results pages.
Establish pertinent product offerings and relevant comms
Establish & maintain a strong brand across everything
Creative design that stands out from the competition
Give customers something to talk about so they become your sales force
Broader critical theory
From Ferdinand De Saussure - Structuralism (1916 – to circa 1960s)
The search for the underlying patterns of thought in all forms of human activity.
Language is not a list of names of things, but a system of signs, consisting of a signifier (‘acoustic image’) and a signified (‘a concept’)
Marcel Mauss – The Gift 1924
Gift giving and exchange display both self-interest and a concern for others which simultaneously reinforces both of these human attributes making it popular, and a good propagator.
Roland Barthes – Death of the Author 1968 (Poststructuralism/ Postmodernism)
The author is no longer the primary source of the semantic meaning for any text.
Vance Packard – The Hidden Persuaders 1957
Examines the manipulation of expectations and manufacturing desire for products
Adam Curtis – The Century of the Self 2002
How Freud’s concept of the unconscious is used to make us consume
Jorge Luis Borges – Exactitude in Science - 1946
In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.
Jean Baudrillard – Simulation & Simulacra - 1985
The consumer society is dominated by a system of object-signs (eg. consumer goods & gadgets) which circulate endlessly and constitute an order of signification which can be compared to the signs of Saussure’s linguistics system. The use-value of the object (i.e. GPS on the iPhone) is less important than their ability to signify the status of the consumer. Ownership of a specific mobile phone allows one to do a specific number of functions, but also signifies membership of a social group.
In a post-industrial society where the importance of economic production is in decline, it is consumption that binds society together.
Jean Baudrillard – Simulation & Simulacra – 1985 cont.
In Symbolic Exchange and Death (1976) , Baudrillard argues in the era of postmodernity, signs are replaced by simulacra, and the real by hyperreality.
This concept of hyperreality means a situation where the conscious mind cannot distinguish reality from fantasy. Popular examples are Disneyland, and the McDonalds brand representing cheap exactly replicated food produced ad infinitum, which of course isn’t the actuality of going to a McDonalds. Another good example is how a casino attempts to make itself seem as fake and unreal as possible (hence mini-Eiffel towers, etc) so that your conscious mind objects less to handing over irrational amounts of money for chips. Similarly in Ikea, they don’t have any windows or other reminders of the outside world to help promote a surreal sense of removal from it, and the source of where your money comes from. eg. Fulfillment being found in owning a branded good, rather than the object’s inherent value for being well-made or useful.
“ Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory - precession of simulacra - it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map.”
Jean Baudrillard – Simulation & Simulacra – 1985 cont.
“ Individuals are no longer citizens, eager to maximise their civil rights, nor proletarians, anticipating the onset of communism. They are rather consumers, and hence the prey of objects as defined by ‘the code’.”
Baudrillard proposes this confusion of reality with simulacra comes from:
Contemporary media which obfuscates which goods serve our needs, and for which goods we have had needs generated for. Think manufacturing demand and the Hidden Persuaders. Particularly internet, TV, film & print.
Exchange value where the abstraction to a monetary exchange based world renders value meaningless. Relative value is only defined in terms of financial cost, rather than usefulness or beauty.
Multinational Capitalism which has divorced goods from the resources required to make them.
Urbanisation (as above). We experience the world as fish fingers, not as trout we have fished for ourselves.
Language & ideology are both now freely used in the public sphere to obfuscate rather than reveal reality. i.e. our politicians lie more than ever before.
Zygmunt Bauman – 1982
Consumption and consumer culture have taken on the central role in the economy that once belonged to work. Consumption becomes the social link between the life-world of individuals and the purposeful rationality of the whole system. The exacerbated individualism that results leads to even further social fragmentation.
Daniel Miller – The Comfort of Things 2008
The big fear is that as modern life becomes more ‘modern’, it actually fragments society into mere isolated individualisms and loses any sense of purpose or order.
The liberal market is a threat to society as it reduces us to individuals who merely express ourselves to the degree that we choose a particular commodity. Although perhaps we could be united by the ideological commitment to the market itself?