Monday, 1 March 2010

Compliant consumers

I have read rather a lot of papers and articles recently about the huge change that is sweeping over "the consumer" as a result of the real-time, mobile media opportunities that surround us.

Most of these articles are well-written and cleverly argued but I have to admit to getting a little weary when I read yet again about the nature of this vast change. Because those of us in the business long enough to remember have been there and done that. 19 years ago, in fact.

Apparently, "the consumer" is no longer going to let herself be "conditioned" by brand messages. Her passivity and compliance will be a thing of the past. And "we advertisers" must stop thinking in terms of transmitting messages and be careful with our over-use of military vocabulary.

It's now 19 years since Hall & Partners introduced their Framework model of the different ways that brand communications can work. Back in those days, three main types were classified - Persuasion, Salience and Involvement. These correspond roughly to three modes of perception - through the intellect, the senses or the emotions. Implicit was the idea that people "did something" with the content, rather than soaking it up passively. I had a quick look at Hall & Partners' website and this is exactly the way in which they have developed their thinking - persuasion leads to search, involvement leads to play, salience leads to share and so on.

It all goes back to something very wise I read somewhere along the way. Media change, but people don't. Not really.

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