“Happy *** Day, dear Consumer “.

But are we really part of their celebrations?

It’s Valentines month & brands are all out professing their love ; some not too successfully .The Japanese brand Loft & Woolworth’s South Africa have been recently criticized for their Valentine day ads stereotyping women.Loft finally pulled down the ad & even issue an apology.

There is the obvious & pertinent issue of sexism in marketing here.

But this also highlights the desperate need brands seem to have to be ‘part of the conversation’ .Which makes sense if your brand motto is aligned with the conversation or when you have something new or interesting to say. But most brands don’t and that’s ok but why this desperation to be heard?!

And frankly being heard doesn’t isn’t the same as being bought.

Marketeers have somehow convinced themselves that in this culture where consumers are perpetually busy, where attention is scarce , what every celebration requires is every brand adding to the noise on that same day.

And I am sure many a times this works too. But the massive amount of $$$ spent will give you returns any time of the year. The question is not the returns but whether those returns are justifiable for the spends?

Do we really believe customers won’t go & shop during Valentines day or Christmas if we don’t advertise.

Because it may just slip their mind if we don’t ?

India is no different. Recently during Republic day various brands-from insurance to cement to pharmacies to everyone decide to show their national colours. A few months later I am sure a bunch of them will show their Holi colours ,then celebrate independence day, Diwali, Eid, Christmas etc with us.

It’s a year long celebration and brands are the (uninvited) guests !

It’s become so comical that I remember one agency head who used to use the same two Diwali creatives across 15–20 clients of his. His logic “who checks these anyway on Facebook or Twitter”.

And that’s true ! How many of the fanbase will take time out on their holiday to go through their newsfeed and glance not at wishes / posts from their friends or family but from some brand ?

Some brands go beyond .Like ParleG , last independence day spoke about a soldier’s sacrifice as ‘Desh ka Parle G’ (Translated: “the country’s biscuit”) .

I remember a friend from the army being dumbfounded “ did they really compare us to a biscuit?? “

But the more important question is what does a biscuit brand have to do with the army? Nationalism? Borders ? Even if the ad is good people will remember the ad but hardly the brand. Because there is no context.

But ParleG isn’t the only one.

The ad space in India or globally is littered with brands who are desperately trying to push their message onto our celebrations. What’s changing is the occasion but rarely the context in the conversation.

One rare brand which managed to build context around an occasion/event was UberEats in Australia. Check these out :

Instead of forcing themselves onto a cause or an event ,they CLEVERLY integrated with the storyline.

Instead of a standard celebrity endorsing a product during the ad break they got into details like having a similar outfit or in the case of Kyrgios spinning his actual injury with the narrative of the script.

The lesson here is not to be brand which is trying to pander to everyone and every occasion, trying to use every ‘ touch point’ to talk to a customer because frankly a consumer doesn’t like that.

He or she isn’t picking up the newspaper or watching TV or scrolling through her newsfeed for your wish or greeting. In fact chances are your message or video is coming in between what she wants to see.

Respect that, respect your brand’s own individuality and align with events / causes you believe in or are connected to your brand’s identity. And most importantly if you can’t be interesting, relevant or at least clever like UberEats above then there is really no point..

Ex- Founder :Both B2C & B2B businesses | Teacher & Consultant-Business,Branding & Digital | Guest Author