John Grant (THE)

Posted by on Nov 30, 2006 in Uncategorized | One Comment


Grant is a genius.

He’s one of those rare fellas in the world of marketing who just keeps thinking and thinking.

His blog has any number of really interesting and stimulating thoughts on stuff. And he – like Russell D – he rarely fails to get my brain in gear, whether or not I agree with him.

There’s a truly fantastic speech posted on automotive consumer engagement. And some great comments.

But it got me thinking. So here’s a cross post of from me, today.

“Engagement” is one of those marketing ideas that is very plastic (like the hoary old “brand” word). In fact, it’s now so ubiquitous that it resembles the plastic waste in many Asian cities – I just got 1.86m items on google for “consumer engagement” alone. The US is currently awash with the term – the Advertising Week summit in October had a 2 day jamboree hosted by the ARF and the AAAA task force to unveil their latest attempt at defining ‘emotional engagement’.

And I suppose it’s so successful because it addresses an abiding set of problems and helps us converse about them – stuff like the shocking truth that most people aren’t that bothered about most products and services or marketing that they are exposed to. Or what to do about it.

Clearly it would be better – wouldn’t it? – if folk out there in consumerland took rather more interest in our clients and their stuff (and the stuff we do for them). Sometimes it just feels like they don’t appreciate us or our efforts on behalf our clients. It’s enough to make a boy feel unwanted – and that tells me reams about what’s really going on here. We’re working on the basis that our clients and their stuff should rightfully be at the centre of most people’s lives. Anything less is “unacceptable”.

John, you hint at the underlying truth in your last comment – most people are more interested in the real stuff of life – each other and shared interests/passions/beliefs. Brand ‘relationships’ are (almost) always going to be secondary to this real stuff; we’re happily misleading ourselves if we think otherwise.

Rather than get caught up in marketing solutions to improving engagement with individual consumers why don’t we stop, take a deep breath and admit that real life is – to paraphrase Thomas Schelling – about responding to a context which consists of other people responding to a context which consists of other people responding to a context etc etc (repeat to fade).

So what to do?

Of course, we could encourage business just to do better stuff that is worth bothering with (that old idea…).

Or we might accept that reaching beyond the individual to the human social world in which they live is the only hope…being “useful” as you say, in the social reality of real lives.

But until then let’s be careful what ideas lie behind all this “engagement” talk. I know why we do it (I do it, too) and not lose sight of the truth of human lives

But don’t just listen to me. See what the others have to say.

1 Comment

  1. John Grant
    December 13, 2006

    Hi Mark, I’ve decided you’re right. I am now calling it MARKETING ENTHUSIASM
    (see recent post). Let me know what you think :J