I get to spend many of my working days facilitating ideation sessions for marketing clients. The focus is often on finding new ways to encourage consumers to emotionally engage with brands. This can be through value propositions which almost always leads to initiatives around customers experiencing the brand when they are at their best. If the brand gets the opportunity to make a deeper connection with the consumer it gets permission to possibly shift perceptions and encourage behavioural change too.
For these work shops I to use real brand case studies and popular culture examples to illustrate what great or poor looks like. Borat has often appeared – poor. As has the Flow scene from The Hustler – great. I have a high regard for Dove and B&Q also as beacons of excellence to draw inspiration from. But from now on these example will be on the silver medal place. For I have found a new gold example – and it’s the London 2012 Olympics.
Here is a spectacle which only weeks ago the media frenzy was centered around the unforeseen problems. But over the last 2-3 weeks something quite beautiful has happened. The media has shifted column inches and opinion from a focus on failure to one of fulfillment. Given the way the story can be crafted to suit the journalists viewpoint or publications agenda, that’s no small feat. So what is different about this story which means many commentators are twisting 180 more swiftly than Beth Tweddle? In my opinion, it’s back to the point I started with. When consumers experience the brand at it’s best, it creates a deeper memory connection than any naysayer can hope to achieve.
I attended the games so have seen how in this instance how the experience was delivered. As we arrived at the Olympic Park with great expectation and some concern about organisation (fed by the media I add), we expected some hiccups. But from the first, “Welcome to the games. This will be a great day in your life” comment from a chirpy (and they were all chirpy) game maker volunteer outside Stratford station, we knew as consumers, this experience would create such a positive impression that all other views held would melt away. In a digitised world, whether you have a retail presence or not, human interaction is key for brands – and here they got it so right. I met a volunteer on Wednesday back in his civvi outfit as a researcher. He was full of praise for the organisers and the training he received. He we also given a new pair of Adidas trainers and a Swatch watch. What a smart move – tipping the odds to ensure the volunteers felt proud and looked together creating an army of brand ambassadors.
So with the mood of the nation euphoric the media had to concede there wasn’t a negative story people would want to read and they had to change direction. These consecutive issues of The Week illustrate perfectly how quickly media mood shifted. From a ‘can we pull it off?’ headline to a ‘the greatest show on earth?’ and finally to a ‘Britain’s Golden Games’ (note without a question mark).
Looking back why did we ever doubt it? Well because at the time we were being bombarded by messages of pessimism from all media corners. But as soon as we experienced it for ourselves and heard back from friends and family, we as consumers came to our senses and trusted our own judgement again.
The memories of the athletes achievements will linger for a lifetime. The legacy of the Olympics will spread through schools across the land and rejuvenate parts of East London. For me as a marketer, this example reaffirms the ‘power of positive customer experience’ and its ability to overpower other marketing messages. Looking back at the occasion the game makers and the venues were the embodiment of the Olympic brand. It all integrated effortlessly (because of the effort put in) to create a deeper connection than any brand prime time TV ads, gamification apps or PR stories typically deliver.
As Lord Coe would have put i,t had he been a brand manager, “As a brand, when it came to making a deep emotional connection with the customer; we did it right”.
Posted by Christopher Brooks
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