Robots and Goosebumps: Storytelling in a Digital Age

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I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to talk on a panel about the Evolution of Brand at this year’s Seattle AMA MarketMix conference.  I get to talk about my absolute favorite subject – emotions. In particular, we’re talking about how the use of emotions in advertising has changed as marketing a brand has evolved. It’s called Robots and Goosebumps. I wish I’d come up with that, but I didn’t. Maybe Jim Copacino did – he’s moderating.  Because I’m the video guy, I’ll be talking about the video angle, but there will be people on the panel from UI/UX, digital advertising, and more traditional marketers, as well. I can’t wait.

What’s an Emotion?

First of all, what’s an emotion? It’s really a shared value masquerading as a feeling. When someone makes a video that makes you get all teary, basically they’ve shared a value. They felt strongly about that puppy, and you do, so, we’re like the same. We should exchange some goods. 

How Video Fits In

Video’s role continues to basically be at the top of the funnel. Someone has to do the heavy lifting of setting this tone. Nothing can do it as well as a pig getting a speeding ticket, or Snoop Dog in a rotoscoped, animated ad for Him’s. 

But the slick video kinda stops there. Other video you might use on this campaign would be the behind the scenes on how they made the primary video that gets used on social, or the same pig begging you not to click on Youtube. It’s no longer enough to just chop something up. For good targeting, you’ve got to iterate, and to focus according to your medium.

What Happens After the Video

Clean and quirky – just like you.

Beyond this, smart modern brands are harnessing every single aspect of the customer journey to continue subtly influence the emotion of their customer. Sure, it might start with a TV ad that feels clever and cool, hence sharing the “let’s all be clever and cool” value, but then that feeling is continued on the front page of the website, into the copy of the email you get welcoming you to the brand, and finally the packaging around whatever it is you might buy. And this is just the top level stuff.

Increasingly, you’ll see clever little emotional cues in the very user interface of the website. While you’re waiting for something to load, they’ll have a clever saying that fits the vibe of their brand. They are subtly reminding you – you’re in the right place, this is something you want to do, we’re like you and you’re like us. They’re not taking the opportunity to sell you more stuff, they are reinforcing a feeling a shared set of values. 

GEICO is Always a Good Example to Follow

A fun brand to consider is always GEICO. They’re ads say, “we get it, let’s not mess around, we’re selling you something, you know that because you’re smart, so let’s have some fun.” Basically, the emotion is self-awareness. This is why the lizard is sort of a wise guy, why the YouTube pre-roll makes fun of the fact you’re about to click, and why the social is often just one quick gag that barely has anything to do with insurance. They know you get it, that’s the whole emotion – making you feel smart, after all, you’re going to save 15%. 

When you get to buying the GEICO product, the emotion doesn’t change. The website is quick and doesn’t waste your time with extraneous imagery of families safe, or cars in accidents, they just sell you the insurance as fast and easily as they can. There’s wizard instead of a form, that kind of thing. The UX follows the emotional journey. 

Not much to see here. Just get down to business.

And finally, I’m happy to say as a customer (okay, is this a commercial) when you get in an accident they treat you the same way. It’s quick, courteous and you get your money, no big deal. They get it. If they mess with YOU you’re gonna walk next time. Nobody does.

This is the best emotional advertising of all – the actual customer experience. As long as it’s in line with what was originally promised, the whole cycle can start again, albeit reinforced with one big final emotional experience.

That Tingling Feeling? That means it’s working

There is a sort of trust that this stuff works. Shared values are hard to quantify. Probably social engagement metrics are the closest, but even they will never show the true picture. At the end of the day, you’ve got to believe enough in the values you’re espousing and that get you emotionally riled up, to put it out there and see what comes back. If it makes you feel good, it oughta make the others in your shared value group feel good, too. You’re gonna get together.

Got ideas and thoughts around this? Come to MarketMix 2019 and share them with us.

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We’re going for the emotions. Joy, sorrow, laughter, love - we want it all. And we want to work with people that understand that language. Partners who will challenge us to be better and push us to grow, so when we share it with the world, we've made something that matters.