Monday, August 24, 2009

Has Dave shown us how the web can be a little more human

One of my friends who is working over at glue recently sent me a campaign he is working on at the moment called davegoestoskane for the Swedish Tourism board. They have created a funny little cockney cab driver character called Dave that they have sent to Skane in the south of Sweden to give their audience a better understanding of the area. There are some quite amusing videos on youtube, he is on twitter and facebook.

Agencies have been using characters for years. But what I think is really interesting is how the web is really starting to allow these characters to become more real and even closer to the audience. Which I think is helping brands to become more human.

Im sure we have all sat in meetings hearing from ad agencies how people want images they can aspire too. Because after all, people really want to aspire to be like models in the ads in Vogue magazine. Im sure id be happy if my daughter did. (I dont have a daughter, but if I did Im sure it would just upset me). But although Im sure most digital agencies are building their film production capabilities to make more money. The positive of the situation is the quality of the films are getting even better, but it also mixes really well with what clay shirky calls the messiness, openiess and human characteristics of the web.

Building up these amusing characters and giving them a platform to speak to the brand's audience, I think starts to address some of the barriers that advertising can in fact create as opposed to break down. The creation of the 'ivory tower' mentality of being better than the average person that uses their brand.

For example, Nike has an awesome set of unbelievable athletes on its roster, which have been in some unbelievable ads over the years. But does putting Cesc Fabregas on an interactive show online make the brand seem more human, than those old 80's and 90's ads. Can the fact that you can get closer to the player add to the appeal of the brand. Almost speaking to a human makes it almost feel like a real relationship.

Here is a couple of interesting questions on the topic
  • Would the campaign be as effective without the huge and fun online presence ? Alesandr has more friends than Cheryl Cole or Wayne Rooney might I remind you.
  • Does having a character like Dave for the Swedish Tourist board purely online and not on a TV ad make it more attainable and cut closer to the audience, than a TV campaign.
  • Does scores like sentiment, fan pages, friends etc mean more human than, reach and frequency
I think its a really interesting time as these campaigns explode and we start to ask ourselves these questions for clients. Maybe we should start to treat our measurement in more human qualities than reach, frequency and awareness. So we can actually measure the value of our relationship and even allow them to measure their relationship with us.

1 comment:

Paul McEnany said...

Nice post, Mike. We've actually been discussing that a lot lately for a client that has a central character for most their advertising, too.

If we're dealing with Tony the Tiger or whatever, all we had to do is make him a little funny, give him a weird accent and an odd appreciation for the product, and you're done. But now we've got all this space to give them context, "real" lives, interests, flaws even.

And that's where it drives me crazy when we split too much between who does traditional ads and who does digital work. If the digital folks are going to make a character move from 2d to 3d, isn't that way too important to not get everyone involved?

Anyway, thanks Mike...