After the Ad is Before the Ad
Thomas Elser, Bruce B. Gmbh, Stuttgart,
What is an office furniture manufacturer doing in the Gobi desert?
He's breaking new ground – in communication.
I am referring to a management training programme for ten German
managers in the Gobi desert, hosted by the office furniture manufacturer Sedus
Stoll – on the occasion of a new product line launch. The original briefing
was to develop a direct mailing aimed at buyers and decision-makers.
Now, why did we interpret the briefing more freely? What requirements
were necessary? How did we get there? What was the idea behind it? And, most
of all: On what communication strategy was it based? Or, to put it another way:
Why didn't the customer just throw us out after our presentation?
The real goal was to renovate a brand name, to infuse future
potential into a 130-year-old company without denying its history, and to find
a position that would be visible on its own in the competitive environment.
So, it was pretty much “business as usual” – and thus coupled
with the same problems “as usual”.
As we all know: Products are becoming more and more interchangeable.
For a while, design was the secret weapon used to rise above the competition.
This is becoming more and more difficult – from washbasins to water heaters,
cutlery to saltshakers, office chairs, pens, and television sets... all, or
at least most, manufacturers now enrich our lives with professional design.
Yet what does that mean? It means that interchangeability occurs
at a higher level these days. And design is a conditio sine qua non in several
areas, but not automatically a USP.
It is especially medium-sized firms whose budgets today hardly
allow brand imaging through classical advertising. This is primarily due to
the inferno of stimuli in the modern communications environment. The statistics
regarding the exponential increase in advertising messages over the last years
and decades are sufficiently well known.
So how does a product, a brand name, a company gain that essential
distinctiveness? How can you combine communicative efficiency with an eye for