Article written by Darren Gilbert
According to Missing Link’s co-founder, Rich Mulholland, ‘slowareness’ is the art of slowing things down to create awareness. Said by him at Radioworks 2012, it’s a key term to remember when considering where we are as a society.
To say today’s world is fast-paced is an understatement. It’s one where countless brands are demanding the full attention of consumers. The problem of course, is that this is wishful thinking at best. As Craig Rodney, MD of Cerebra said at the same conference, people see advertising as an interruption. That’s not difficult to understand – it’s something that has been mentioned for a while now. However, he takes it a step further. While advertising is certainly an interruption, it can also be viewed as something even worse; an invasion.
Again, this should be a statement that those within or at least interested in advertising industry are aware of. However, how many brands/agencies really take hold of this idea and strive to find new ways to reach their audience without crossing that ‘invasion’ line? There are no doubt a few that do achieve this. Nando’s is one example. While its advertising is an interruption, it’s usually a welcome one. As Rodney continues, “The more interruptive it gets, the more we learn to block it out.” And this works on any medium. And you need to admit something else: you are selling to angry people.
So what is a possible solution? One is to look at the ad support revenue model. Another is to look at an example that has already embraced a different outlook, as Rodney does. For him, Red Bull fits this mould perfectly. “Red Bull is not only selling a product but also a lifestyle,” he says. Why? “[It is because] for them, selling a lifestyle is cooler.” But it is more than that – Red Bull is essentially producing content that people wants. As Rodney points out, and right so, “It doesn’t matter how [your consumers] consume content so long as it’s your content.”
However there needs to be more. For Mulholland, there is the need to shift from the current attention economy to a retention economy. Mulholland points to the example of advert for a car manufacturer titled ‘The Cog’. While it’s an advert that just about anyone will remember if someone describes it to them (its the one that involves parts of a car interacting with each other similar to that of a Rube Goldberg machine which ends with car driving down a small ramp), how many people know the car manufacturer behind the advert? Mulholland believes not many. If you don’t remember, see the ad here.
And that is the point that Mulholland is making – there is a rush to get the message out as quickly as possible and yet there is little to no effort at ensuring the retention of information. How many people honestly knew that ‘The Cog’ was for the Honda Accord before seeing the ad? As Mulholland points out, the internet has given the ‘reach’ (when speaking about reach and frequency in marketing terms) a steroid injection that is passing the point of relevance. “Fast is attention, slow is retention,” he says.
One good example of achieving both reach and frequency is the Johnnie Walker brand. Its six minute short film, titled The Man Who Walked Around the World focuses on one thing – that despite the changes in our society, it remains the same. “While things are changing, you need to stop trying to jump the curve,” says Mulholland. It’s a message that Johnnie Walker has been repeating almost since its beginning and it works. If I were to mention the slogan, ‘Keep Walking’, you’re most likely to know which brand I’m talking about without any further prompting.
Great ads might be great ads but they also need to be remembered, not for their idea but for who was advertising.
What do you think? Do you agree with the idea of ‘slowareness’?