Mashing up our lives

David Atkinson - Guardian MAA Article

Managing Partner David Atkinson was invited earlier this week by the MAA to contribute an article for The Guardian about the complex lives of consumers,
so we wanted to reproduce it here too:

On my first day of secondary school I was forced to decide – was I mod or rocker? I was too young to realize the enormity of the decision. Sure, the boundaries blurred and broke, but groups were set out that seminal day.

I was both, as it happens.

Today, such branches have splintered horizontally into an abundance of genres and vertically into a thousand interests. We are multi-faceted, our media fragmented, our influences diverse and even conflicting. Nothing is linear, everything is blurred. And the key lesson to brands is to mash up or step down.

If you don’t adapt to the way your consumers are conducting every facet of their lives in a “multi” way, dipping in and out of cultures, interests and channels, then you are finished. Brands need to act like butterflies, visiting different flowers to nourish themselves.

Samsung is one such brand. Whilst their marquee “interests” include Worldwide Olympic sponsorship and Chelsea and Bayern Munich football sponsorship, there’s smaller football clubs, baseball, volleyball and basketball teams, investments in gaming, a 20-year partnership with Crufts, sponsorship of One Direction and Take That and Robbie Williams tours.

And their CSR commitments include arts and cultural contributions globally.This diversity offers a million touchpoints and relevance to the broadest possible consumer base. Samsung is an omnichannel brand. Whilst cut-through is aided by longevity, respect is earned also through inventiveness and experimentation.

In retail, where ubiquity is both empowering and disconcerting, we have seen brands behaving like IT start ups and this approach keeps the likes of Walmart, M&S and Tesco (and their people) fresh and entrepreneurial. They develop and release a cannon of apps and channels to see how consumers play with them.Ultimately, no matter how much data is available, you never really know how consumers will adopt or play with your content.

We at Space practise this behaviour both with our clients and within our recruitment policy.With Desperados, the tequila-flavoured beer targeting 18-30 year old men, we curate events and experiences that merge drama, music,performance, sport, and dance – a real mash-up adventure.

As for Space people, we seek individuals with disparate interests and talents; far beyond “reading and socialising”. We help brands to be butterflies, because we are butterflies.

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