It’s amazing how much dialogue from commercials, You Tube posts, TV programmes and movies my kids can quote verbatim. They’re both completely solid on a huge range of material from the Lombard Direct loans advertising (“Want a low-cost loan at your convenience?”), to pretty much all of Dodgeball and Anchorman, to whole episodes of Flight of the Conchords and The IT Crowd, to large chunks, if not the whole, of the Fast And The Furious films.
One small bit of the latter which even I can do is the crucial scene in Fast And The Furious Tokyo Drift where the Japanese villain addresses the American hero: “We are not so different, you and I. Except … I know where I berong. Do you know where you berong?”
Real-life events trigger this little speech in my brain surprisingly often, the most recent occasion being a Financial Services Forum event last week addressing the subject of brand tracking. At the beginning, I asked the audience – about 60 or 70 people, mostly in fairly senior marketing roles at smaller or mid-sized financial services companies – how many of them thought that their companies were truly brand-centric, and had an appreciation at all levels that the central business challenge they face is the need to add value to their brand or brands.
Literally only one or two hands went up, so I went on to make the obvious comparison with firms in other parts of the consumer economy. Cutting my advertising teeth as I did many years ago on a zero-sum-game combination of Mars confectionery and Colgate toothpaste, I grew up accepting the unchallenged assumption that building brand value was the primary purpose of consumer-facing companies. And yet, thirty-odd years later, only a single-figure percentage of financial services companies shares the same view.
This is one of those blogs that ends in a question. Are we in fact so different, you and I? Are Mars and Procters right to see business primarily in terms of brand management, and financial services companies wrong not to do so? Or are there in fact sufficiently substantial differences between the two that those in each group are right to see things the way they do?
I must admit, I can’t see what those sufficiently substantial differences might be. Of course I can see that financial services companies have to deal with a whole lot of issues that other consumer-facing companies don’t, and indeed vice versa – but I can’t see anything substantial enough to result in a different primary aim.
Interested in anyone’s thoughts on this. You know how to reach me. Or, in Tokyo Drift-speak, where I berong.