09/24/2013 10:24 am ET Updated Nov 25, 2013

Navigating The Garden Of Temptations

With the continuing proliferation and fragmentation of media channels and platforms, the world is full of opportunity for the adventurous brand. And these days, most brands want to be adventurous. Like a kid in a candy store, gazing at the tantalizing choices before him, there is the temptation to run around and grab everything. But as we all know, too much choice can be a bad thing.

At TBWA\CHIAT\DAY, we believe that in order to help our clients build markets we need to establish the brand's framework and context. What does the brand believe? How should the brand behave? These two questions become the barometer for all actions taken on behalf of the brand.

As you consider the vast opportunities that exist for your brand, be careful to avoid the traps that lead to bad behavior. As with human fallibility, there are multiple ways that brands can demonstrate poor judgment. We'll look at four.


While enthusiasm and experimentation are to be applauded, that doesn't mean you jump into every welcoming bedroom. Likewise, leaping into every possible channel or platform because the door's open isn't the sign of a smart brand. Being seen everywhere doesn't equate with relevant engagement or being liked. Having a quiver of celebrities at your disposal doesn't make you an icon. As with people, brands that make purposeful choices, ones that are considered and well thought out should be respected. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Brands who are indiscriminate often deploy a "throw it at the wall, and hope it sticks" strategy. And we all know that hope is not a strategy.


A bit of banter in a bar over a football game is fine. When it becomes a fight in a parking lot, however, it's not so acceptable. While brands should be expected to take on their competitors, there's a fine line between playful jibes and personal insults. Last week Microsoft was forced to delete seven sarcastic videos mocking Apple's latest iPhones. Tech bloggers and the social community rushed to berate the videos, finding them to be "pathetic and offensive." A statement released by Microsoft explained: "The videos were intended to be a lighthearted poke at our friends from Cupertino. But they were off mark, and we've decided to pull them down." Knowing how to balance this fine line is critical. If you don't, you will hear about it -- and the reaction will be quick and loud.

Showing off

For every Red Bull that grabs our attention by a never-seen-before event that redefines both human potential and brand behavior, there are many brands jumping around on the dance floor, inviting you to party at an underground location, contribute to an extreme-ironing art project, or solve a global interactive jigsaw puzzle. Brands can be amazing entertainers, but often the lure of music/art/luxury is too seductive, offering a lot of sparkle and noise, but little connection to the brand's purpose.


Just because we're talking doesn't mean I need to know every little detail about your life. Brands that start a personal connection and then flood you with news, offers, updates and invites to secret, crowd-sourced, extreme-ironing art puzzles can make you regret you ever began that conversation. When content becomes boring, irrelevant or just too frequent, brands risk abusing their relationships with the people they've put time in to connect with.

In a world where the opportunities are multiple and seductive, it's tempting to OD. Many brands behave judiciously, playfully and productively, while others go too far: these are the gluttons and the brawlers, the exhibitionists, the posers, the egoists. We don't seek out these kinds of friends. The same logic would suggest that these are not qualities audiences seek out in brands.

Brands whose belief and behavior are clearly defined will find it easier to navigate today's candy store without getting stuck in the aisles.