VMLY&R Middle East
Thu, 05 Nov 2015 17:55:33 GMT
Initially I wanted to compare how walking down the Vegas ‘Strip’ is a lot like brand activation in today’s market. Meaning that today’s consumer is happily trudging through the glittering lights of our saturated market place. Taking it all in, looking for the most stand-out, attractive, value for money deal, when we all know that’s just not true.
So let's be real about this.
Throughout my LIAisons experience, jetlag sucked the soul out of me. I was awake by 4am most mornings. So on Thursday I decided to take advantage of it and head to downtown as the sun was rising, keen to spice up my perspective of Vegas.
It was sad and somber and trashy - just what I’d hoped for. I decided to walk from Fremont Street, along Las Vegas Boulevard up to ‘The Strip’.
Along the way I picked up a few friends.
The first one, I’d later discover, could be referred to as a ‘chulo’. He sucked his teeth and came right in to sniff my shoulder. A great start with not another soul in sight.
Further along, the next charming individual I came across was a builder - how clichéd. From across the street and 10 floors up he hollered ‘how’d you like to be a Momma, little lady?’ As if. Fuck off Santa - the resemblance was uncanny.
Along the boulevard, just past the Little White Chapel I walked toward an older gentleman sitting on a verandah. He was filthy, toothless and certainly ‘high as a kite’, ‘Good mornin’ ma’am’. I nodded to return the gesture, only to see that he was exposing himself, expressionless and bold. My dour Scottish, scholastic experience had prepared me well for this moment. I brazenly walked on.
My next encounter made quite the entrance. He swerved right across from the other side of the road and told me with ‘movie-star-like’ delivery that I was ‘in the wrong neighborhood’ (with a toss of his crinkly, silver pony tail). Though he’d love to give me a ride somewhere safe - him being an off duty cop, of course. Granted I had certainly misjudged the time of day. Two hours later and I’m sure that street would be more than safe, bustling with fanny-packed grannies and off-duty strippers in tracksuit bottoms heading home. For now, the streets were dead. I asked to see some ID, feeling all ‘street-wise’ and after a mad fumble he produced what I’m sure, was a completely legal marijuana license.
Nice try, but you Sir, are neurotic.
At this point with the Stratosphere Casino entrance only 30ft away, I decided to ‘leg it’. Several interesting encounters, not a sip of coffee and it wasn’t even 8am. I’d had enough.
In retrospect I hated the whole thing. I got some great photos but I just didn’t want to be bothered as I went about my business - especially by a bunch of obnoxious, raving lunatics.
So if we’re going to talk about brand activation, let's start by comparing ourselves to the perverted nutters of Vegas. People not only don’t want to hear or see us, when they do they tend to find us offensive. We are on the back streets of Vegas and we can’t assume that our consumers are hookers just because they give us an accidental side-glance across the street.
We shouldn’t be sniffing our consumers' shoulders while they scroll through Facebook, coaxing them to ‘like’ or ‘share’. Nor should we be shouting our brand propositions down at them from across the shopping aisles and expect them to be interested in our product.
Since we know today’s consumer ‘gets it’ we need to earn their respect and their attention. In short, we need to take a different approach. We need to rediscover our brand’s truths. And ask ourselves over and over ‘what does this brand stand for and what are they experts in?’. Then we can start to give the right message in the right place at the right time again. We need to stop trying to engage consumers in places and ways they'd rather not be engaged and actually be interesting and relevant to them. Let’s amp-up our brand’s honesty, and be clear to consumers about who they are.
We need to get back into using a more human approach, based less on pre-planned brand strategies. We are an industry based on people, and unless we readdress that, and become more relatable I’m not sure how else we can grow our brands.
So, if I had a preference for one of those Vegas characters, it would probably be the homeless chap. Even though he was just as repulsive as the other guys that morning, he was honest and I knew where I stood.
At the very least he looked me straight in the eye.
God knows I looked in his.
Elizabeth Dewar is Art Director at Geometry Global Dubai