Cyndi Lauper was right: money changes everything. At least that’s what I was told in some informal surveys yesterday. I asked a series of questions to better understand people’s perspectives on products and brands and endorsements. My questions came after reading a bit more of The King of Madison Avenue, about David Ogilvy, and the rise of advertising. First, here’s what I asked:
What brands would you love to have the chance to represent passionately?
Most people had fast answers: Apple, Peets Coffee, One Laptop Per Child, Lexus. They were comfortable talking about the brands they loved, and sharing their enthusiasm.
I added a second question.
Now, if the brand paid you for the pleasure of representing them, does that change the equation? Would people’s view of your support change?
People bristled at once. Very few people suggested that this was an okay relationship. Most felt that by adding money, the opinion of the advocate was suspect. Interesting, eh?
Go another step:
So if I love Canadian Club, and could promote the hell out of it, the company should pay Crispin Porter Bogusky to make the ads?
Some people saw my point, but others held to the “money changes everything” equation. Press further:
Celebrities endorse brands for money. Do you feel they’re legit? Does it influence you?
Oh no. Not at all. Most people said that Tiger Woods wouldn’t tell you what to do. That’s not what Lindstrom tells us in Buyology, but why should I quibble?
The Larger Confusion
So let’s review:
- People would love to endorse and support the brands they love.
- People would be suspect of money changed hands related to that.
- People don’t trust celebrity endorsements.
- Advertising supposedly doesn’t work (if you listen to some).
See how those don’t really add up?
Or rather, what seems to be the next obvious step for brands would be just to build relationships of acknowledgment and appreciation between their passionate fans, but never incent them in any clear and obvious way. I imagine my PR friends like Todd Defren would be okay with that. He likes earned media.
But what does it mean overall?
I’m of the mind that content marketing is one way to supplement the declining impact of advertising. I believe the best possible minds to provide passion and insight into brands would be the customers who use them (not all customers, but those who intersect neatly the Venn diagrams of “can make decent media of some kind” and “really passionate about a product”). And yet, at least on the surface, this seems to upset or rile people.
What’s your take on it all? What am I finding here? What’s the view from your side of the street?
Photo credit quaziefoto