Never mind the brand bollocks, here’s experiential marketing…

Not sure what he’d have made of this. Not a lot, probably.

Now, I’m not a very big Sex Pistols fan (sorry Marcus), to be honest. A bit before my time – and I think they’re one of those bands you have to have either been alive during their ascendency, or have some tie to their music, and I have neither (that said, I love the Clash).

But I thought it’d be useful to discuss what made them such a good band in light of what the ad community finds itself in at the moment – what would appear to be the battle between conventional branding and experience.

The Sex Pistols, as I’ve said above, to me, are all about the raw, visceral experience, something which is magnified by actually being there. Now, there are other forms of music (yes, some of the Clash’s stuff), which don’t really require the ‘being there’ experience.

And I think the same is true of advertising.

Let’s have a look at the current ad du jour, that of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk:

And there have been a few comments already from respective ad bloggers.

First of all, let’s consider this in light of what we know already. Cadbury’s DM is the first choice in consumers’ minds. Market leading, yada yada. So, just how much conventional planning does there need to be for something like this? People get their entertainment experience, and it makes people laugh.

Look at one of the youtube comments: “I think it’s just a fun advert, nice and simple – Just like dairy milk! 😛

And let’s consider it in light of when the media was sold – during Big Brother, ultimately the best example of throw away entertainment today. So it fits its target audience, who just want to be entertained; no sort of intellectual posturing will work here.

What is potentially troubling to those who don’t like the ad, it would seem, is that there’s no obvious connnection between the product and the ad. The worry is that it won’t do anything for Cadbury’s sales, but get people talking about the gorilla drumming. I’d love to see the recall stats for this ad. But does any of this matter for Cadbury, who are number one anyway?

Let me tie this post together. Bluntly, I think there’s a bit of a dichotomy between conventional brand planning and the more fast and loose experiential work at the moment. Additionally, I think both are beginning to inform on each other – the Cadbury’s ad is an experience, pure and simple, and more and more experiential work is adopting more brand cues – look at some of the work Iris have done for Sony Ericsson (most notably ‘Gig in the Sky’ and ‘Night Tennis’).

Unlike a lot of the people in the threads posted earlier, I’m not worried about planning’s role in all of this – surely, its role was to advise how best to reach the target audience for Cadbury’s DM (I’m guessing 15-30 year olds, but I could be wrong) and what would maximise salesamongst this age group. Now, I’d love to see what the sales figures are like afterwards, just to see if planning/advertising is changing beyond just meeting business expectations, as Marcus proposes here.

Brands, it would seem, have the greatest success when they latch onto a zeitgeist, or create one themselves. Both experential marketing and ‘normal’ branding can do this – but it may lead to the conventional lines of what planning is changing. And it perhaps asks a bigger question – does this matter?

Are we getting into ‘Ads for Ads sake’ territory here?

I don’t think so, but one thing’s for sure – the devices we are using to inform our audiences are blurring the techniques that underly it all.

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