Arment Dietrich

Open 24 Hours: Marketing Messages Are Everywhere

By: Arment Dietrich | August 12, 2010 | 

Guest post by Kris Schindler, managing partner of Start-Thinking.

Our office is open 47 hours a week. During that time, our team members come and go, adhering to a variety of schedules, some full time and some part time. But each of us works 24 hours a day. I insist on it, and if you can’t or don’t want to, there’s not a place for you on our team.

As harsh as that sounds, consider this: The average consumer is exposed to thousands of marketing communications messages every day. The exposure is generated not only by the obvious channels like mainstream media and the online marketplace that expands almost exponentially every day, but also through music, art, film, and television, through overheard conversations, on posters and yard signs, and in hotel room bathrooms. Messages are everywhere; we can’t turn them off.

Have you stayed in a Hampton Inn lately? Its complimentary amenities by Purity Basics invite hotel guests to “Clean your body” and “Clean your face.” And its elevator signage is fun and whimsical. My team, even when vacationing, is expected to pick up on the message the hotelier is trying to send about its brand: “Come. Have fun. You don’t have to take yourself too seriously here.”

If you haven’t already, experience an Ozomatli concert. Band members were recently named U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassadors. When you experience them in concert, you understand why. These culture mashers are citizens of the world, consistently demonstrating that music is, as the band’s vocalist and trumpet player Asdru Sierra has said, “…the key to every culture, the beginning of an understanding.”

I laugh every time I think about election time a few years back. Our state was voting on the gay marriage issue at the same time a man who is very quietly homosexual was running for local office. I was amused by the number of people displaying yard signs that on the one hand voiced opposition to gay marriage while on the other (likely, unknowingly) endorsing a gay candidate. Were they ambivalent, or was the candidate omitting part of his brand narrative?

Very evident is the influence of the popular AMC series “Mad Men.” Retailer Banana Republic paid tribute to the series in its fall 2009 collection and is sponsoring a casting call for a walk-on role in Season 5. That’s a pretty strong indicator that the colors, textures, fashions, and overall tone of the show resonate with the mass audience.

Our job as professional communicators – regardless of the primary discipline in which we work – is to observe these messages and trends, interpret the booms and the busts, use our insight to provide effective solutions for our clients, and, for those of us who are really good at it, forecast the next big thing.

We don’t have much of a choice. We are working in a field that is rapidly changing as a result of consumers being plugged in 24 hours a day. To maintain a competitive edge, we must constantly be tuned in to what’s going on around us, and that means working 24 hours a day.

Kris Schindler is managing partner of Start-Thinking, a full-service creative communications agency headquartered in Wichita, Kansas. While others are spending the summer at the pool, Kris finds herself in the kitchen, trying out new recipes that make the most of her CSA subscription.

  • Great post Kris. I think we forget sometimes that even when we aren’t speaking to clients and customers, we are speaking to clients and customers. I try to implement this angle in my business as well because you never know when and how someone will encounter you. You only get to make a first impression once, but if after that if your impressions aren’t consistent, you’ll have some explaining to do to a lot of people.

    Great ideas here.

  • We once did an experiment in school where we tried to avoid media messages. We found that as much as we intentionally tried to avoid them, it was impossible to be free from their influence. What’s great about these kind of messages, is that we don’t even realize how much they influence us until we are forced to make a (purchasing, creative) decision.

  • Brilliant insight, as always, Kris! We operate under the simple notion that “Everything is media.” We don’t just talk about what we WANT to say to/for clients or how we WANT to say it but, instead, all the ways that our clients are already talking and what the message is. We have had meetings with clients to discuss their parking facilities accordingly. What a great “game” we chose to play when we entered this profession!

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  • As funny as this may sound, I don’t think of paying attention, assessing, assimilating and analyzing media (and marketing) as work. Honestly, it should be second nature. It’s an essential function of what we do. As Peter Drucker stated,”…business has two – and only two – functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation create value, all the rest are costs.”

    • I agree with you Bob, that being aware doesn’t seem like work. But I find that with the younger members of my team, I need to teach them to be aware and how to tie their observations back to work.

      • I’m with both of you … and agree with Kris that it’s our jobs to teach our younger colleagues how to be aware and tie their observations back to work. Everyone always makes fun of me because I always have great ideas after I ride my bike, but it’s also about having time to think about what we’re seeing and hearing, not just paying attention. I had a boss who kept a “popcorn” (meaning writing down ideas as they pop up) list and encouraged all of us to do the same. It took me about five years to realize what she meant and how valuable that was.

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