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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Content is the Message

Recently I've been wondering if some marketers are becoming too keen to embrace the latest digital trends and forgetting what they’re in the business for – i.e. nurturing brand relationships.

I've just come across an article on brand-e with a brilliantly wry quote from a social media expert who tells us that clients come to her with the demand: 'I want one. I want a social media - that is literally what people say.”

And it really seems to be the case these days that so much attention is given to perfecting the medium that the message isn't getting its fair share.

I did some groups recently about the emerging trend of branded film. When brands got it right consumers were very positive. They valued the effort brands made to captivate them with strong, creative storytelling that matched the high production values and technical effects. Disappointment rose when branded films were visually stunning and technically impressive but weak in their storyline. “It’s just a waste of time” was the verdict.

If it hadn't been for the context of the group these people never would have watched the films to the end! What’s more, the brands that got it wrong were perceived to be jumping on a bandwagon and trying to “catch-up” with other brands participating in the trend. When a brand’s desire to be part of a media trend is transparent to consumers there is a real issue. And I think that issue is with the content/message quality not being good enough.

So in short, I think industry conversations should focus more on content. Cool media with rubbish content doesn’t engage jaded consumers. Marshall McLuhan was wrong - you can't just rely on the medium, the content is the message.