Friday, August 31, 2007

Pushing the envelope

I recently moved house and as such had to sign up with a new energy supplier. The one that was best suited to me was a new supplier I had never heard of.

Now the first piece of marketing I see from them is the letter that arrives in the mail a few days later. The envelope has in big letters:

We're excited about gas and electricity.
Even if you're not.

This is kind of a weird statement, I believe, when you are introducing yourself to a new customer. OK, great, they're passionate about what they do. I'll give them credit for that. But why mention anything about whether I am excited or not. That's not important. Are they belittling me?

Again, I think I can see what they are getting at. They know that I might not be excited but they are not saying that's OK. It is irrelevant and something they shouldn't say to a new customer who has never used your services before.

I don't know if they bothered testing this before they started using the line. Did they test it on new customers as well as existing customers? I would guess that this envelope is just their standard envelope and that the company doesn't have a different one for sending info to new customers. But I think something a little more 'warm and fuzzy' might be appropriate.

They are showing passion but it isn't quite working.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Branding: Are we being conned by capitalism?

Ross Gittins, the Sydney Morning Herald's Economics Editor normally writes about economic policies, etc but in yesterday's paper he wrote a piece - Why we put tickets on ourselves - that young people today "don't consider they're giving the brand free advertising" when wearing clothing and accessories which are heavily branded. He says that they are not interested in "what they're doing for the brand, it's what the brand's doing for them."

His conclusion to the piece is that "you have to be pretty shallow to imagine your identity and personality is something you can buy, wear or drive. A victim of materialism, in fact."

"And if such delusions prompt you to run up huge credit card debts or work long hours in a job you don't like while neglecting your family, you've been conned by capitalism," he says.

It certainly is food for thought for us marketers. While you may not agree with everything that Ross Gittins says in this piece I think it is worthwhile taking a step back from our roles, especially in B2C and look at whether we are being socially responsible. Are we acting in the best interests of society.

It is very easy to get caught up in what we do, in our KPIs, bonuses, in the success or otherwise of our businesses that we sometimes forget about the impact our marketing and products have on the end users, whether it be good or bad.

Obviously this is part of a much broader social debate around marketing which we might discuss further in the future.