Earlier this week I found myself in a full elevator packed with about five adults and two young girls not older than seven years old. Six of the seven adults including myself were staring at our phones scrolling through everything from Facebook to Twitter and email. (It bears noting that the 7th jackass among us seemed to be incessantly blinking at the elevator's digital floor display behind a pair of very debonair Google Glass.) But what truly caught my eye were these two young ladies with no digital devices speaking to one another and checking us all out head to toe. It was as if they channeled both the critical eye of Rachel Zoe and the cosmopolitan independence of Eloise at the Plaza. Without the distraction of a smart phone in hand, they instead seemed to take in this ride to the 43rd floor as an experience. They observed, they commented, and they processed the moment around them without being fed content from a twitter feed but instead relied on what spoke to them and earned their attention organically.
In that moment I envied those girls. Even with two boys of my own it was only in that moment where I realized that children are actually the perfect filter for the brands that exist around us. Sure the average kid is inundated with television commercials for toys and action figures that run on the children's networks, but when they walk outside, they are absorbing the world in a very innocent way that requires brands to speak quite differently to demand the attention of a young consumer or influencer. Without a phone, iPad, computer or the ability to read at the speed required for a passing bus billboard, brands must truly shed their typical strategies in order to speak to these young influencers without really speaking at all.
So it made me think, at least as an exercise,....how would I advise the brands I work with to communicate their messages if they lost the power to do so digitally or with any heavy text. How could they demonstrate the efficacy or the superiority of their product or reliability of their company to a seven year old?
Recently, I've become somewhat obsessed with P&G's Olympic Mom commercials. With barely any script but with emotionally charged moments of love and support, P&G reminds us why we trust them. Because they "get" us. They feel what we feel. In a 40-second spot, we follow athletes who come of age while we laugh, gasp and even come close to shedding a tear as we watch their moments of glory. In this commercial there is no product promoted, no hero shot and no comparison to the other brands. In this spot P&G got naked. They shed their traditional model of marketing to simply connect with us emotionally and intimately.
So this week, I'm putting away my devices a bit more. I'm going to walk the streets, take the trains and ride the elevators with eyes wide open just to see what brands speak to me without even saying a word.