By Geri Butner (@geributner)
While many people were already traveling to their beach destination of choice the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, a lucky group of industry professionals gathered at the American Marketing Association’s CMO Roundtable for a few drinks, a little networking and an all-star panel of marketing executives. The heads of marketing for the Boston Red Sox, Life is Good, Liberty Mutual and Bausch & Lomb took the stage with the moderator, David Rich of George P. Johnson, and what followed was one of the more interesting panels I’ve attended.
While Adam Grossman of the Red Sox and David Oksman of Life Is Good seemed to be the crowd favorites, Paul Alexander of Liberty Mutual and Steve Robins of Bausch & Lomb were not to be overlooked. The diversity in perspectives about marketing your company and brand were evident throughout the discussion, but what was really interesting was to see what everyone seemed to agree on: the importance of appealing to emotion.
Emotion, you ask? What does that have to do with anything? Paul put it well when he said, “Brands that know their essence, what their primary emotion is and run with it, those brands make genuine connections with the people they are trying to reach, as well as with like-minded businesses.” Adam Grossman elaborated, saying that “When people are buying tickets using logic, it’s not that great for us. We want them to purchase tickets because of an emotional tie, and we want their experience at the game to run deep.”
David shared the founding story of Life Is Good, which if you haven’t read, you definitely should here. It’s an inspiring story about two guys who just wanted to make a difference and sell a few t-shirts, and because they listened to people’s emotional reaction to an image, they are wildly successful. People relate to their brand on a deep level, and their consumer base is more of a community than anything else.
With more than half of the conversation during this panel surrounding the importance of appealing to the correct emotion for your brand in a genuine way, it makes me wonder if we’re considering the emotional appeal of a campaign enough in our strategy. I can’t remember the last time someone openly took into consideration how the strategy behind a campaign made them feel. Is it relevant and effective? Is it timely? Does it get across the brand message? These are the questions we ask. But what about people’s gut reactions?
In an increasingly analytical, logical and black-and-white world, I wonder if we are we slowly starting to consider emotional appeal less and less in our industry. With the overwhelming increase in online communication and social media in the past decade, are we still appealing to the emotions that run deep? Or are we leaving it out of our message in 140 characters or less?