Thursday, May 22, 2008

Great Branding: helping people connect with the intangible PART THREE

We've covered this topic from a couple of angles.

Verizon Wireless using a spokesperson who leads a workforce army to embody the network and comprehensive coverage ("Can you hear me now? Good.")

Staples creating customer value and perceived differentiation through the use of the Easy Button device.

As we move on to cover other aspects of effective branding practice, we close this chapter with a classic example, courtesy of Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

In terms of execution, the genius behind their work in 2005 for the Anti-smoking Lobby was in how it took disturbing aspects of smoking that people had become inured to and made it tangible.

Everyone knows that tobacco causes cancer. Everyone knows that people who smoke die. The problem was that no one had found a disruptive way to make it accessible to the people that matter most: teenagers that are in a crucial experimental, proving themselves phase of life who are developing habits.

1200 people a day die from smoking related issues. This number too though is abstract. It's the equivalent of about four jumbo jets crashing, but this does not bring home the horror of the scale.

Body bags are an highly charged image, infused with emotion in our culture. They are not a common sight yet are highly familiar, from media coverage of soldiers killed at war being returned home as well as domestic tragedies like traffic accidents.

By using body bags - the sight and sheer number of them - CP+B put the issue on lips of the very people they were seeking to influence.

Behind the exeuctional brilliance though, was some terrific strategic work without which the great work wouldn't have happened.

The very authoritarian `Don't smoke,' message of past anti-tobacco ads backfired because young people tend to do exactly what they are told not to.


Smoking is not about cigarettes, but about rebellion. Kids know smoking is something their parents prefer they wouldn't do, so a cigarette is the ultimate statement of
autonomy - `I'm willing to put my life in jeopardy.'


Kids need a common enemy, and kids hate more than anything to be lied to, and hate to be manipulated." The "truth" campaign did just that, telling teenagers that if they smoke, they're playing into the hands of Big Tobacco.

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