In his book "Understanding Media: The Extensions Of Man" (1964) Marshal McLuhan states that "the medium is the message". At the time he was trying to explain this concept people had a hard time understanding the theory behind it. However, using just the simple analogy of a light bulb really helped to flick the switch. The message is simple , the medium affects society not only by the content it delivered, but also by the characteristic of the medium itself.
If you take the concept of a light bulb it is merely just a glass ball, there isn't any physical content within. However, as a medium it has an implicit social effect in the way that it allows people to create a visible space at night. McLuhan states that "a light bulb creates an environment, merely by its presence"
Jessi Baker has made a vital connection between McLuhan's findings and the future of brand communications. Something I found very interesting in the article she wrote for Campaignlive , was the correlation that she explained between this somewhat old theory and today's current market.
Firstly, you need to think about marketing campaigns more like a story told by the marketer, brand and product itself. Everything done in a single campaign complements each other to try and convey this story to the consumer. Consumer needs are drastically changing and the way that this story need be told needs to be revolutionised. Now instead of just existing the medium should now be able to interact with consumers on a personal level.
This got me thinking about the timeline of brand communications , if we look back 100 years ago the only way consumers were really communicated with was through fancy packaging, the product itself and maybe the odd poster. The biggest revolution in brand communications came with media itself , fist the radio but mainly the television. This is where one way communication came on a mass scale , however, everyone knows that to communicate effectively it needs to be two way. Brands were telling people their story's but were they effective? Did consumers appreciate them?
I think that it is imperative that 2 way communication becomes a standard platform from which marketeers build from. The term I've heard a few times is "the hyper connected age of marketing", this basically means that we move on from simply trying to differentiate brands. This is an old strategy that will set brands up for failure in the long term, instead brands need to offer the consumer something that will genuinely make life better.
I heard a great example of this from Umair Haque with Nike's running shoes. Previously Nike would sell a pair of shoes with the concept that if you buy these shoes one day you might be able to run a marathon or jump as high as Michael Jordan. However, now with Nike plus helping runners to plot their runs, keep track of timings, help find running partners etc. They are now taking on the challenge of amplifying and enhancing human potential. If you buy a pair of Nike trainers and use Nike plus it will make you a better runner and they will help you to reach that goal of running the marathon you have always dreamed of.
This is the future of marketing.