Advertisers Still Flunking the Emotional Attachment Test

Many companies are having a hard time creating an emotional attachment to their product. Typical advertising tricks fail to cover up that weakness according to an analysis published at BusinessWeek on Friday

Three recent and notable advertising efforts have brought to light the difference between companies that connect with the customer, or perhaps, regrettably, simply with themselves: AT&Tis;Cingular acquisition, Redenbacher Popcorn and Appleis iPhone

In the case of the AT&T/Cingular merger, all the announcements focused on the companies themselves, how excited the investors are, and what great plans the companies have. Marc Gobe, the Chairman and CEO of a New York branding firm, wrote: "Whereis the customer in all this? ... The brand promise in this mega-merger is mostly opaque, and thereis room to wonder what kind of benefit to consumers will be delivered by the management of those two generic stars."

Another lackluster ad campaign has been the resurrection of Orville Redenbacher who died 11 years ago. "The thinking behind the dramatic idea for this plain supermarket product," Gobe wrote, "was to create new appeal for the brand?and thus revive sales. But the hype fails to draw attention to the product itself and fails to create the critical emotional attachment to the product. One of the delusions is how far marketers will go in their belief that advertising alone will solve all their problems.

And then there is Apple.

Steve Jobis revelation of the Apple iPhone shook the world. Mr. Gobe continued, "The product and the design were the message that brought the audience to a frenzy. The iPhone reached all corners of the world in a nanosecond." Thatis because people instantly understood the difference between what they had and what they need. In contrast, many high tech products display a sense of contempt for consumers, but itis all covered up in their repackaged advertising tricks.

Apple always focuses on the experience of using the product. That leads naturally to an emotional attachment in recognition that it meets a need.

Mr. Gobe concluded, "By forgetting to focus on the way your product will be experienced, and failing to respond to peopleis need to be stimulated, you fail their expectations. No amount of money can buy the media to fix a boring product, no PR message will work once you lose that trust."