Thursday, 4 August 2016

On the cover of the Rolling Stone

A long time ago, in the last century, I travelled to Los Angeles with some colleagues on business. At the weekend, we took a trip to Universal Studios and had great amusement in a magazine cover-shooting booth, dressing up and becoming cover girls and boys for Cosmopolitan, Playgirl et al.

How quaint that seems now! Technology means that we can get our name or picture on just about anything these days, in a matter of seconds and at minimal cost. Brands have been picking up on this for a few years now. The 'Share a Coke' promotion was the biggy, and since then many brands have followed suit.

At Christmas, Oreo capitalised on the craze for colouring books with 'You make the wrap, we send the pack', a promotion whereby people could design a gift wrap online. This summer, Lay's have had a 'Lay's Summer Days' promotion partnering with Instagram. The first 200,000 to register online with a special code got to have their summer photo printed on a packet of crisps.

A marketing spokesperson for Frito-Lay commented: 'Engaging our consumers is really important to us, so we want to continue to give them a voice and a way to connect with our brand in a meaningful way ... during the summer Lay's plays an important role in their lives and in their moments.'

An aside: Marketing people - please imagine a 'patronisometer' whenever you speak to the press. You are not 'giving them a voice' - people who buy crisps are generally not bound and gagged with duct tape, imprisoned in some inhumane jail.

Moving on, closer to home. At my local dm I noticed the Sofortsticker service. In-store, in a matter of seconds, you can knock up a sticky label with a photo for your homemade jam or for a personalised gift - a bottle of mouthwash or tube of hair-removal cream, maybe?

Although Ms Frito-Lay thinks that a packet of crisps plays an important role in people's lives and 'moments' (come on, make up your mind!) I think that may be over-doing it. What are you going to do with a greasy, empty, crisp bag with a photo of your kids in the paddling pool? Chuck it out, most likely. It's a throwaway thing, just as that sort of personalisation is a throwaway idea. One of those ideas people have because they have heard 'individuality is a megatrend', and because they can - due to technology.

But there are instances where this idea is used in a thoughtful, imaginative and meaningful way. Who wouldn't want one of these?

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