Welcome to the “Experience based Advertising”

by Didier Marlier on Saturday November 15th, 2014

I understand that, if you are London based, you may have come across this type of surprising advertising (I suggest you switch the sound off as the comment is in French and unnecessarily disruptive).

The first three extracts made me reflect: Rather than requesting a “passive consumption” mode from the public, they engage it, through being emotionally part of the experience. Looking at the terrified or amused faces of the participants, one may rapidly conclude that they were more than just intellectually involved: They had strong emotions.

Some years ago, Pine and Gilmore wrote an excellent book called “The Experience Economy”. They challenged their readers to realize that the focus of their offer soon wouldn’t be products, services not even “provices and serducts” as MIT professor Michael Schrage coined the term in a 1996 article of Fast Company. They would sell an experience. And they were right: What do we look at nowadays when traveling by plane? A whole experience. The same for our hotels. What do your customers and clients rate and evaluate you against? A whole experience. I had no particular interest in Mercedes cars. Another sporty German brand was my cult, until I experienced two unsuccessful and unpleasant occurrences with the experience they provided me. During one of them, I ended up at a Mercedes dealership, in Soignies (South of Brussels) Garage Monnier. Everything, coming from the experience of pushing the door and being welcomed by smiles and people really wanting your business, to the generosity and competence that the place exuded, the blend of young and dynamic people and older and more experienced employees, everything had something reassuring. I cannot tell what it was, the products (the wonderful Mercedes models exposed including the new Gullwing), the service (they immediately took care of my car and fixed its problem) or was it rather the whole experience, blending products, service and… a smell of Logos (clarity, competence), Ethos (impeccable behaviours from all and apparently a strong organizational culture) and Pathos (passion: people enjoyed the work they were doing, very obviously). The whole experience gave me such a level of trust and identification to the brand that, no doubts, when time will come, I will switch to Mercedes. If this happens at car selling levels, why wouldn’t it with Banks, Professional Services firms, hospitals, Business Schools, but also chemical firms and plants, mining companies etc.?

Daniel Kahneman (on whom I published a post in 2010) is the 2002 Nobel Prize of Economics. He demonstrated that our emotional memory takes over from our factual memory. No doubts that, the people at the bus stop on this clip here above, will not remember lots of facts but will keep, for a very long time, vivid emotions of their experience.

Other than the very wide and “game changing” impact that will require to transform your company from trading goods and services to one which will be experienced based, I can see two other immediate applications:

  • When a leader seeks to engage her people, now that she know that emotions will grant a stronger impact than facts, what will she chose in the future? Will she stay, within her comfort zone, and broadcast from the top of a pedestal, numbers, facts and data or will she try something else,for example ensuring that her sacred time with her team will be a true experience, working on the three levers of intellectual clarity, competences, behaviours, exemplarity, passion and emotions?
  • If you run the leadership development effort of your organization, will you continue to send your executives to a universe that cuts them off from real life experience (Business School classrooms), working on artificial and removed from the truth instruments (case studies) with a tranquilizing “Deus ex machina” (read Professor), who will give them the solution at the end, or will you create a true learning environment, where people co-create, where there isn’t the fake assurance that the solution to the problem is in a 32 pages long case but somewhere in the much wider universe. Will people only learn through models and intellect or will they also live, feel, sense in order to vividly remember? The most frequent skepticism we hear about standard trainings and business school courses is that “nothing sticks”… What would Daniel Kahneman say about this? Provide the participants a powerful emotional memory about their experience.

This short revolution in advertising seems indicative that getting people’s interest and remembrance only through slogans and static means are on the decline. We need to engage them in active co-creation, provide them with an experience that touches not only their intellect but also their senses and emotions.

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4 Responses to “Welcome to the “Experience based Advertising””

  1. Fully agree that experience, emotions and senses are the right ingredients especially in a world in crisis rather depressed and where human relations tend to be dematerialized.

    • Thank you dear CĂ©cile,I think I should/could have developed something along those lines as well. Thank you for your intuition! Hope you are well…

  2. Fantastic! Thanks Didier – gerat to have you back in motion! Wish you the best!

    • Thank you Aage, your feedback is always welcome and encouraging. I hope we may reconnect soon


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