Would you rather create a connection or sell a product?

We’ve been talking about emotion selling products for so long now, that it’s almost become second nature to most brands. Create a story, tell the narrative, use emotion and create experinces for your consumers and eventually, they will buy. However, a recent report from Marketing Week highlights that in some instances brands have invested in customer experience and they’ve seen sales dip. It’s not paying off anymore. It got us thinking, is it just a temporary lull in sales, or are consumers cottoning on to the fact that brands are essentially trying to manipulate their emotions and they’re no longer buying? And if that is the case, do we give up on our emotional stories and hit them with the traditional hard sell?

A few weeks ago we wrote about the recent Trivago campaign and how it was as basic as you could get, but how it also was a phenomenal success, and now looking back we’re wondering if that was a premonition to the next trend to hit the advertising world. Maybe it is time to strip it all back, take away the bells and whistles and just tell people what the product is. McDonalds recently did this in their coffee advert, poking fun at the culture of customer experience and instead, delivered a great coffee without all the fuss. Using humour to insinuate that if the product is good enough, it will sell itself.

After much debate in the house of Live & Breathe, incidentally, over many cups of coffee, the prevailing thought was this; we can’t do without the emotion because we’ve gone too far down the garden path to turn back now. Even if we could, we don’t think we would. Whether we like it or not, and regardless of the dips in performance that inevitably will come, emotion is the foundation of everything we do. Even the McDonalds advert is using humour and peoples’ frustration with hipster culture to create a sell. There is a clear emotional pull, and emotion doesn’t mean weeping over the latest heartbreak advert. It’s often something that resonates within us to create a feeling of affinity with a brand. But a feeling is what it does indeed create.

If brands start churning out advertising campaigns that hark back to ye olde days of television when a gruff voice over hurriedly described the product in thirty seconds or less, the chances are that sales will plummet. Because advertising today isn’t about grabbing attention like it once was. If attention was all you had to get you’d be laughing all the way to the bank. Instead, we’re tasked with winning hearts and minds. Engaging consumers in ways we haven’t previously, as well as trying to get their attention in a world that is nosier than it has ever been. Describing a product just won’t cut it.

Emotion will. Some kind of shared feeling. A connection. A community that bands together in their frustrations. A sense of belonging and family. Something, that tells people you are not alone, we all feel like this, and we’re a brand that will help you feel better. That’s essentially what it all comes down to, and you can strip back your advertising and marketing strategies all you like, but you still need to covey those feelings if you hope to shift your product off the shelves.

Reining premium supreme

Believe it or not, people are willing to pay for premium. But there’s no magic tricks or hypnotism involved to prise cash out of hands – it’s just down to basic marketing techniques. Snazzy logos, brand values and piggybacking are examples of how businesses crawl up the premium ladder, but there are simpler ways.

It may sound obvious, but a high price equals a premium product. The price tag is a quick way for customers to judge the quality without too much research. Before Starbucks swooped into the world of coffee, a cuppa joe would cost a quarter of their going price. How do Starbucks get away with it? Although their coffee is far from revolutionary, the higher price tag makes it appear a cut above the rest. Consumers love the brand, it’s globally recognisable and people are happy to pay more for the Starbucks experience. Each coffee shop’s interior is slick and the fancy Italian terms ‘grande’ and ‘venti’ attract the more culturally aware coffee lover.

Let’s be honest; people do judge books by their covers, and it’s the same with brands. A good logo is key, but through relentless repetition a brand should also be recognised for its colour palette, shape or even its concept. Some examples? Chanel, Veuve Clicquot, Mercedes… We know you’re picturing them right now.

Another strategy is to build the perception of a brand’s superiority to justify the high prices. Through product development and new technology, brands can beat competitors by demonstrating how they can provide something a little better. For cleaning products, this may mean developing a ‘three-in-one’ solution or a product scientifically proven to last longer than cheaper alternatives. Premium also means tapping into your audience and knowing what the word means to them. Nowadays, consumers are willing to pay more for organic produce or a brand that shouts about their eco-friendly credentials, or a business that supports a charity or the local economy. For some customers, aligning values is a unique type of luxury.

Too much choice can be overwhelming, so these days simplicity can also mean luxury. New research revealed 62% of consumers will pay more for a simple experience. Supermarket brand Aldi offers a simple shopping experience without presenting complicated promotions. This means customers don’t have to dilly dally by choosing between seven different types of butter. The idea is that customers can finish their weekly shop in under 30 minutes. Time is a luxury and Aldi understands this – they have empathy for the customer and they want to make life easier.

Brand partnerships are also a fantastic way to reinforce a premium label. When Singapore Airlines commissioned BMW to redesign their cabins they immediately became associated with the staple luxury brand. This way, Singapore Airlines capitalised on their partner’s already solid reputation.

Unlike mass brands, premium brands are more interested in honing in on a specific group through focused marketing. This reinforces the idea that the customer belongs to an elite group and the brand becomes a status symbol. A good example of this Ferrari who rarely take out huge advertising campaigns, but they sponsor the Grand Prix instead, targeting a select few.

All in all, through marketing initiatives, a premium brand should constantly remind the consumer of their original promise when they signed up in the first place, whether that’s ease, quality, prestige or a memorable experience.

Storytelling with VR

VR is the shiny new toy of the marketing world. All kinds of brands have experimented from food to fashion to travel, so it’s by no means limited to tech geeks. In a world where we’ve seen it all, this is a jazzy new way for brands to dazzle consumers and show they’re ahead of the game. Boiled down, VR is essentially another storytelling tool, but due to high costs, there’s even more pressure for the narrative to be effective.

A recent study found that people are more likely to buy from brands that use virtual reality. Primarily, this is because people like brands who have the balls to give it a go. A Greenlight VR survey revealed 71% of people thought VR makes brands seem “forward-thinking and modern.”

So when does this work best? For high-end products or experiences that seem almost unattainable: enter aspirational VR. Travelling is personal, often emotional, and damn expensive, so it’s no surprise that planes, trains and automobiles have been some of the first to play with VR. The average consumer may never afford to drive a Mercedes along Pacific Coast Highway or fly business class on a United Airlines flight, so these brands gave them the opportunity to do so. Marriott has also been dabbling in VR where users were enveloped by full-body experiences, including a sprinkling of water from the Hawaiian coast. VR provides consumers with a titillating taste of luxury without the price tag. If it’s done right, VR can awaken something in the most stingy of customers and they’ll be itching to try it for real.

Brands also use VR to present another dimension to their company. For fashion lovers, Topshop’s ‘Catwalk Experience’ gave consumers the chance to watch from the front row with the industry’s elite. This takes the fashion label beyond a new Saturday night outfit into an unforgettable experience; once the dress has worn out, the memory will remain. With TOMS, for every product purchased they help a person in need, but it’s hard to get this message across through a pair of shoes. So, through VR, users could travel to a remote village in Peru and witness one of TOMS ‘giving trips’. This really pulled on the heartstrings and was a reminder that a TOMs purchase is also an act of altruism.

 

VR is also a great way to show that a brand has a sense of humour (regardless of whether they even need the PR). Ikea’s virtual kitchen meant that users could poke around someone else’s home (a voyeur’s dream) and also have a go at slinging meatballs. Whereas Oreo created an animated ‘Wonder Vault’ that took users through a Willy Wonka style land full of gushing milk rivers and chocolate canyons. Why? It doesn’t even matter – both went viral.

It’s also important to remember that VR can be wonderfully creative as an art form beyond the ridiculous and plain absurd. Last year, Somerset House worked with Icelandic singer Bjork to curate an exhibition around her new album. Users were treated to a 360-degree Bjork immersion as she danced around each viewer. In one room, users were plunged into the dark pink depths of Bjork’s mouth, where her pulsating vocal chords and tongue undulated above.

The overarching goal of VR is to provide an empathic experience so consumers can really ‘feel’ a brand in a tangible way. For any brands looking into VR, remember quality is of the utmost importance; the stunt won’t work if the VR doesn’t feel authentic. Brands can’t cut corners with VR – they need to spend the cash. Something else to consider is distribution as these experiences require consumers turning up to an event, or at the very least, downloading an app. Getting the word out is more important than ever, and the experience has to be enticing enough to convince an RSVP or the click of a ‘download’. Brands have to shout loud and make access to the experience as easy as possible. I mean, without an eager audience ready to delve into the world of VR, what’s the point?

Don’t leave me this way

We never thought we’d say this, but customers don’t want to be left alone. Which is a huge jump from the times of door to door salesmen and annoying calls that you would invariably hang up on the minute they launched into their scripted sales offering. That’s not to say they want adverts thrown at them every second of every day, they definitely don’t want that. Who does! But rather, they want contact. They want to be able to reach brands. To have conversations and be heard. Consumers buying into brands often take ownership of those brands and feel there is an inherent right, as a loyal customer, to have an opinion. You used to have to go to the AGM for that on that one day in the year, but now social media has essentially brought the AGM online, every single day.

We could sit here then and talk about Omni-channel or multi-channel all day long, but you already know that. This isn’t about what channels a brand will exist on, but rather how will they connect with their people. After all, customers are just people who are craving connection and interaction in an oversaturated digital world, and today, we want those connections from brands in ways we haven’t previously. Essentially, how do you reduce the gap between online and offline to notice your consumers?

And the gap does need to be reduced. A brand’s aim is to get everyone they want to have conversation with in the same room. That may be a hypothetical online room, but in doing so it builds loyalty and establishes relationships. A brand is no longer an inanimate object, but a beating heart with its own voice, personality and quirks. Inanimate objects don’t sell.

Naturally, creating that room will involve online channels, content, physical interactions, retail spaces and even artificial intelligence. We need to stop narrowing ourselves down to specific channels, but rather, use every single thing in the armory to create an experience for customers that brings them into the brand and provides beautiful customer experience. That could start with AI driven customer engagement tools to identify problems, to easy access online, to 24hour chat bots, to human manned social accounts, then a conversation with a sales person in store and a follow up thank you via a tweet. The possibilities are endless for brands and with so much at our disposal, the question is why aren’t more brands doing this better? We’ve got the tools to make our consumers feel more loved and cared for than our current partners are, and yet there are still so many instances of brands falling short, delivering halfhearted customer experiences when the opportunity for greatness is within their grasp.

Brands need to align their internal process to support an all-encompassing customer experience. That requires buy-in from management and ensuring you have the infrastructure in place to support what you’re trying to do. Customer service is more than a wish and a prayer, but a strategy and process that needs to be woven into the entire organisation. It does not happen by accident and maintaining a consistent experience saves lives. Okay, that may be a little dramatic, but it does save your customers and your customers save your brand. So one way or another, they’re saving your life. Because when a customer has a bad experience, as they inevitably will because we’re all humans and even the best brands make human mistakes and you can’t control every little thing. Maybe the barista in Pret is having a terrible day and they did deliver bad service, it happens, we all know this.

So, when those bad experience do happen, your ‘everything strategy’ will be the thing that retains that customer for life, as opposed to letting them go and tell all their friends what a terrible time they had in your shop. Those things eventually spread and not even the best brands can afford that kind of press. It’s time to be there for our customers, in every little way we can.

Repetition vs quality

Does something go viral because it’s good, because it genuinely struck a chord at exactly the right cultural time, or does it go viral because enough paid advertising has gone into it? As we sit in our office watching the latest Hotel Trivago advert, our team argues (mostly over one another) as to the merits of this advert and how genius it is, if at all. And apparently, we’re not the only ones to be raising our voices about it, as professionals across the industry have either stuck up for the ad or damned it to hell. It has become one of those adverts that splits the room.

If you’re unfamiliar with the adverts, we can only assume that you’ve been living in a remote village in the Sahara Desert with absolutely no access to wifi or technology, and that’s cool, but for the rest of you, you’ll recognise the dark-haired woman in a blue shirt offering you the lowest prices in hotels. They’re plastered in just about every Underground station, on busses across the country and every spare billboard going. They’re everywhere, and because they’re everywhere, they’ve slipped into the psyche of the British public and we’re all googling ‘hotel Trivago’ the minute the word holiday is mentioned. They work. They do what they’re supposed to and as far as marketing and advertisements go, this is a roaring success, whether the British public like it or not.

In contentious times when brands are fearful of getting slapped on the wrist by angry Twitter users, or following in the footsteps of the Pepsi/Jenner debacle, there is a comfort to such a safe marketing campaign. There’s barely anything to it and therefore there’s nothing to be offended by. No one will complain that it made light of their concerns or beliefs, and there won’t be a media outcry because it piggybacked onto socio-political issues. And often, when it’s hard to get brands to agree to anything at all, there is something to be said for this style of marketing. Because actually, not everything has to push buttons right, and nor does every campaign have to be a contender for 18 Lions and the Cannes festival (Fearless Girl we’re looking at you). And in a time of business and consumers choosing to switch off from adverts, throwing the same message at them repeatedly can be effective. Not to mention this can be done with a hotel search engine because it’s practical, quick, efficient and people want to get a deal. They’re already convinced to use a platform like this, especially in a comparison culture. The site practically sells itself and knows what it is. It doesn’t need to be an emotional five-minute video story to get customers to use their site. That would probably be more of an overkill than the (what seems like) 300 Trivago posters that are plastered around Kings Cross station.

That’s not to say that storytelling and creativity aren’t important. They’re the life blood of this industry and yes, agencies do have a responsibility to push themselves creatively to always be producing their best work for clients. (Clearly, no one was pushed creatively over at Trivago. Creativity might not even have come into it). But it’s well to recognise that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Sure, Trivago could have poured thousands of pounds into the creative direction of the campaign and even produced a short film that became one of the most shared ads of the year, but why spend the money when you don’t have to. Perhaps the genius of this advert is that they recognised that they didn’t need to jump through every creative hoop, and spend every dime and dollar. It works just fine as it is and really, does anyone want more from their hotel search engine comparison site advert? Let’s be real, probably not.

The olden days of television

The olden days used to mean the Victorian era, a horse and cart and probably a penny farthing. But that’s now considered pre-historic and the olden days are just a flash away to the 60s when the television sets of the nation ruled entire families. When huddling around the sitting room to watch the only bit of entertainment was still considered exciting and companies were in their heyday of advertising. With just one thirty second advert sales could skyrocket by 100%, and that didn’t have to even be a prime-time slot or during the Superbowl. Everyone was there, because there was nowhere else to go.

But now there is somewhere else to go, in fact, there’s a million other places consumers can get their brand kicks from, and the television watched their once loyal viewers skip over to Netflix, Amazon Prime and other online streaming services. Busier days and longer nights means people don’t have the same time they once did, and we’ve now got the ability to pause our television sets and so comes absolute control over what we watch. We no longer have to grin and bear the adverts anymore, or get up and make a cuppa every time the break rolls around. More importantly, we no longer watch adverts that push a hard sell, after all, we don’t have to.

While that’s great for us consumers down on the ground, businesses and brands have a trickier time of capturing attention spans and so it’s time to consider what that means for advertising and sales.

To a generation that is upwardly mobile with disposable incomes, i.e. the honey pot of marketing and advertising, television needs to be integrated with other channels to continue a long life. It’s not dead, and it’s not going anywhere soon, but there is an evolution that needs to happen. Especially for brands who have previously relied solely on 30 second TV ads.

It’s one of the reasons an Omni-channel experience is so important for businesses today, as well as social/online presence, and not to mention a robust content strategy that can tell a story. Which is exactly what it all comes down to. Telling an emotional and poignant story that viewers can connect with. The age of the hard sell is over and we want to have all our heart strings pulled on as we watch something that resembles a short film, only to find out at the very end that a product or service was involved. Which is why so many agencies are employing scriptwriters and movie makers as part of their creative teams. Stories are shared. Passed on. Last a lifetime. We tell our lives in stories, remember in stories and connect with other stories. Your typical laundry powder advertisement has probably never been shared and barley lasts its allotted time on screen let alone a lifetime, and it’s not a story anyone will remember.

The television sets of the nation might have hailed from another time, and their heyday might be over, but that doesn’t mean they’re not relevant and don’t have a place. They’re still there. Huge chunks of the country still gather around it every night as a form of social interaction. It remains the one thing that still knits a household together, whether it’s a family with teenagers and grandparents, or a student house filled with personalities. The kitchen table and the television are the center of gravity in homes, and brands can still capitalise on that. They can still tell their story, they just have to raise their game and tell a different kind of story.

Pissing into the wind

To be completely honest with you, we don’t know why anyone would piss into the wind. It quite literally makes no sense and will only leave you wet and smelly, which are never good things on their own and together are a terrible combination. But as the old sayings go; stare down the barrel of a gun, piss into the wind, brave the elements, he who dares wins and the list goes on and on. In short, be brave. Have courage. Step out of the confines of comfort and into the unknown. Something any agency struggles to do with overbearing clients, who are really only that way because they fear the repercussions of a world who will tweet their displeasure in a heartbeat. Meanwhile, ad and marketing agencies are desperately trying to coax their clients into trying something new as we all realize that it takes more drastic means to get the consumers attention these days.

And we’ll be straight with you, it is hard. Trying to get brands to take off the stabilizers and ride free and solo in the wild is like trying to climb Everest without any oxygen. You waste a lot of breath arguing and you can never go too far as after all, you don’t want to lose them as a client. So the question really is, what can you do/say, to make clients feel more comfortable while you’re kicking them out of their comfort zones?

1.  Encourage them to be a leader

It’s amazing how many brands want to copy other brands once something has been done. Or they want to do something provocative once it’s no longer provocative and controversial. For example, once Apple brought out their Mac vs PC campaign, hundreds of other brands tried to copy the concept and apply it to their own products. But oftentimes these campaigns are successful because they’re the first ones to do it and anything that follows afterwards is just a crap copy. There’s power in conquering unknown territory. Encourage your clients to be the Columbus in this scenario. (Even though we know he didn’t really discover anything new).

2.  Have the uncomfortable conversations

Heaps of agencies forget to do this or rather, shy away from doing this because they don’t want the answers. But having those conversations at the beginning of a relationship will essentially mean less rejection later on. Find out what the organisation is worried about. What things they want to stay away from. If they’ve been bitten in the past before with a campaign. What topics are taboo and how much leeway you really have to play with. Even find out who are the naysayers in the business and have conversations with them. It’s easy to get a brief and run away with a creative idea before finding out what kinks will pop up later to trip you up. It’s better to get it all out on the table at the very start.

3.  Go back in history

Show your clients the campaigns that have become cult classics, and the campaigns that have been the biggest flops. Find brands that did flop with ad campaigns and document how they survived anyway. It seems like an odd way to go about it, but show your clients that really, what’s the worst that could happen? For example, for all of Pepsi’s flopped campaigns and the amount of times they’ve had to apologies, they’re not going anywhere. Or even Protein World who sparked controversy, but did incredibly well from it. Often, we are afraid of the unknown, so make it known to your clients.

The truth is, we live in a world that is desensitized to advertising and marketing campaigns. Consumers can switch them off, mute and block anything they don’t want to see and we have a very small window of opportunity to catch their attention. We cannot afford to be anything but brave anymore. We can do nothing but piss into the wind (metaphorically of course and never literally).

The emotional revolution

They told us the revolution wouldn’t be televised, but when it came to the emotional revolution in advertising and marketing, they lied. Because that’s exactly where the revolution happened as somewhere between the quintessentially British stiff upper lip and the iconic Samsung ads, consumers lost their shi*t for emotional storytelling. Gone were the old school ‘don’t show any emotion’ naysayers, replaced instead with brands who understood that the way into the wallets of consumers was directly through their heart.

The trend of emotional advertising has only gone from strength to strength as brands spend as much of their marketing budgets as they can humanizing themselves. There is the understanding that people no longer want a cold, robotic brand to service them their every need. The hard sell is gone. Replaced by soft edges, warm stories and the tears of avid consumers.

Arguably there is no one who does this better than Samsung whose Hearing Hands advert became an overnight viral success as you could quite audibly hear potential customers choking up. They followed it up a few years later with their most recent We’ll Take Care Of You four minute film that didn’t leave a dry eye in the house. They’re telling their customers stories, and often these customers are underrepresented without a voice, and in doing so Samsung becomes the hero in this particular tale. And a human one at that.

Admittedly, not every brand has the marketing budget of giants, and not every brand needs a four-minute film that will make you want to reach out to every person you’ve ever loved. Sometimes, and often, it is the small inconsequential things that make us human. The quirks and habits as well as the odd behavior. For example, the farmers over at the Happy Egg Company sing to their chickens. That’s not even an exaggeration from us, and we’re good friends with those guys so we have it on good authority. Their ad campaigns all center around providing happy and playful environments for their chickens so that they lay tasty eggs. Because naturally happy things are tastier things. It’s a small emotional point, but highlighting it provides a human story behind their brand name, and it’s those human connections consumers are craving these days.

And they’re craving them at every single touchpoint and so the real challenge for brands, especially within the retail space these days, is to convey those small emotional touches consistently throughout the consumer journey.

Naturally, there is some debate about the moral implications of manipulating emotions when trying to shift a product or service, and there may be some valid points floating around out there. Which is why coupling a cognitive message with emotional touches will always be the saving grace for any brand looking to excel and connect with consumers in the market place. It is not enough to be heavily emotional without substance behind it, and nor is it okay to be overly ‘professional’ without adding elements of humanity to your brand.

Above all, it’s important to recognize that this isn’t a difficult thing to achieve. This humanness that brands are striving to achieve is far easier than keeping everything locked away behind the veneer of corporate ‘professionalism.’ The revolution has arrived my friends. It’s here and thriving and it’s time to start getting emotional.

The power of personalisation

We’re all slightly self-obsessed. I bet you think this post is about you, don’t you? Brands have clocked onto this and are forever striving to make the customer feel special. By offering a curated service or product, the brand acknowledges each individual’s weird and wonderful quirks. Done correctly, you’ll maintain loyal customers, but also intrigue new ones.

Why does it work so well? Firstly, time is precious. If a product is made exactly the way a customer knows they need it, there’s a lower chance of returning or exchanging the order. If an online supermarket already has a customer’s favourite grocery products ready to go, this avoids spending hours in a heaving store.

Also, everyone loves a brag on social. In the past when brands have successfully pulled off personalised products, a social media buzz has ensued. Capitalism has moved beyond simply owning a product and proving ourselves via material worth, now we cultivate our own online brands through our purchase decisions. Of course the best example of this is Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. In the US, it resulted in increased sales volume for the first time in roughly four years. You can also customise your own Share a Coke bottle online; this means the more obscure names get a slice of the action, so Felicias and Bartholomews rejoice.

Consumers also like to stick to what they know. If a customer already trusts a certain shoe brand’s quality, they may stick with the familiar but change it up with a new version of their favourite trainer. This worked well with NIKEiD where customers were invited to ‘Create your signature shoe.’ By granting the customer more agency in how the product looks, they’ve already invested a deeper personal interest.

Spotify’s ‘Discover Weekly’ provides a personal playlist of 30 songs, curated and released each Monday based on a listener’s habits. Within the first 10 months of launching, Discover Weekly saw 5 billion song plays. This brilliant service plants lesser known songs in our laps; perfect for lazy listeners who thrive off ‘I knew them before they were famous’ bragging rights. In the beauty world, the sheer volume of products available overwhelming so the bespoke trend is hitting makeup bags too. If we’re going to plaster cosmetics over bodies, we want to know they suit our skin down to a tee. The most stellar example is Amazon’s on point (verging on creepy) personalised service. Every customer’s homepage is littered with finely targeted recommendations ‘For a Night In.’ They’ve nailed the curated customer experience, helping them discover something new by tempting users with dreamy basket fillers.

How do brands follow suit? It’s important to make an impact but avoid diluting the message. For bigger companies, their strong logos are recognisable so they can afford to play with customisation. Smaller brands be wary. With marketing tactics, permission is important, otherwise it can seem aggressive and insincere. Retail brands should categorise their users; a customised email or ‘recommended for you’ list may seem unnerving if you’ve only clicked on the site once. For a regular user, this could come across as extremely impressive – the same way your favourite waiter knows your name and wine preference before you even order. Above all, make sure the recommendations are helpful and relevant, rather than off-putting. Brands need to find the sweet spot between offering a bespoke service whilst conserving both their reputations and relationships.

 

Uncomfortable sofas; design & comfort

Our MD over here at Live & Breathe has a really uncomfortable sofa. We all know this, not because we’ve traipsed through his house testing his furniture, but because we’re subjected to his rambling complaints about just how terrible his sofa really is on a regular basis. And while we use it to mostly tease him about having to sit on the floor in his own home because the sofa is that bad, it was also the subject of the office debate this week. By debate, we obviously mean that time someone was struggling through hump day and started a random conversation that everyone then pitched in, which then turned into a huge argument and a lot of shouting before we all agreed it was the end of the day and we should go to the pub (you know how it goes).

But our noisy shouting over one another did reveal one thing; a unanimous agreement that over the years, we’ve seen our clients favour design over comfort and ease. Back in the day quality came first, followed by comfort, price and then design. But the rise of companies like Apple and a cultural fascination for cool tech products has pushed design to the top of the list, often at the expense of comfort. Which is exactly why our MD has an incredible looking sofa, that is an absolute pain, quite literally, to sit on.

We all want cool products that look amazing, and because we throw away our products more and more, comfort isn’t such a big deal anymore. Once upon a time you’d buy a sofa or mattress every ten years, if that. Now we’re swapping out our furniture every six years and considering it a good run. And while initially that might look like a good deal for brands, being known for discomfort is never a good thing and over time it will be detrimental to a business.

And the solution here isn’t that brands need to choose design or comfort, because the truth is they can both exit and ad agencies can help that happen. Discussing their latest campaign IKEA’s UK marketing boss Laurent Tiersen explained that they invest in a long-term partnership with their agency that exists across all departments, from creative to media, and they develop products together. Collaboration is happening across every single aspect of a product to create something that works entirely for customers. Because what’s the point in making a product there’s no market for, or for trying to market an uncomfortable product. You’ll always be working against the tide and making life more difficult for yourself, when really there’s absolutely no need.

Naturally we’re cheering IKEA on because we’re always banging on about greater collaboration between brands and ad agencies. Nothing exists in isolation, especially not in this current world, and the only way to stay relevant and appealing is to accept that everything connects to one another. If agencies start to work with their clients at the beginning stages, lending their expertise of the market and what it needs, brands will create products that are relevant, beautiful and comfortable. Because the truth is they can have it all, and there’s no need for any of us to be sitting on shit sofas when there’s a more comfortable way of living.