In the last episode of the first season of Mad Men, a television series focused on the world of advertising that aired exactly fifteen years ago, Don Draper makes a presentation for Kodak which has remained in the history of TV series as one of the highest moments of the genre. The product is a slide projector that is not a simple wheel, it is a carousel, a carousel of emotions, a time machine that takes us back and forth and, above all, takes us to a place where we wish we were again: “a place where we know we are loved”. Don Draper uses photographs of his own family to convince the client to choose his own creative idea for the company, with a semantic preamble on the term nostalgia: "Nostalgia: it's delicate but potent...", obtaining unanimous approval .
Don Draper, however, among the many other things he said in seven seasons, maintained that advertising is based on only one thing: happiness. Perhaps today we could say that yes, emotion is important, the gimmick too, but the real leap to get noticed in the sea of contents, marketing or not, lies in virality. From this point of view, the dissonance of the Esselunga advert arises from an effective misunderstanding. The intent was that of the carousel, nostalgic, delicate, the result is controversy. In a certain sense, Esselunga's objective was to take us on a ride on that merry-go-round of nostalgia, fueling the mythopoeia of this depersonalised but fundamental place, the supermarket, within which everyone finds what they need: in the case of Emma, an excuse to get her parents back together.
The anti-white mill or pro-traditional family?
The controversy arises from the sociocultural filter that each of us applies in deciphering the reality that surrounds us. If on the one hand there are those who appreciated the good feelings and interpreted the film-advert as a contemporary and melancholy glimpse of a current Italian family facing separation, on the other hand, there are those who contest the advert by pointing it out as the representation of a stereotype that recalls the necessary need for a traditional, united family unit. And perhaps this is precisely what the film manages to bring out: the different perceptions that each of us individually had from the commercial. Yes, because the experiences, whether positive or negative during growth, have influenced our emotions, our vision, our sensitivity, more simply our world.
Another point of controversy is the so-called brand activism.
Products and services that are communicated according to the sensitivity towards the causes of marketing managers are destined to turn out to be commercial flops. Unless the aforementioned sensitivities also coincide with those of their consumers, which can certainly happen for some brands (see Adidas and Ikea for example).Following current trends - which, as fashions, are ineluctably transitory - can at most bring a temporary benefit, but only if our ideological positioning coincides with that of the majority of our consumers.
In all other cases you risk hitting a wall. The fact that a brand must pursue its "ideals" of brand activism even if these clash with the majority ideas of its audience is a strategic error.A brand should not have a Hegelian approach to business: its purpose is not the universal good, it is not an ethical state but a supermarket. Brand activism works only when it proposes values that coincide with those of the majority of consumers and, if these values are sedimented in the brand image and are not a temporary "washing" to chase the trend topics at the top of the media and political agency . Looking at your target consumers and not at trends should be the basis of every marketing strategy. The market is large and there is room for every idea, taste and trend.
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