In today's world, Passion is truly one of the most under-appreciated and most important elements of a relationship or a marketing campaign. Passion is what unites a community and motivates the individual. Passion is what has kept Apple alive for many years and Passion is what has quickly converted the iPod into a cultural icon (listen to any iPod owner talk about how cool it is and you'll know what I mean). Passion is ingrained into BMW's brand (the Passion for driving). Passion is the foundation of Nike and what they built their entire brand upon ("Just Do It". 'Nuff said).
Passion is what encourages word-of-mouth for companies. The explanation of a great product that is new and/or satisfies the needs of the population is important. The price point of that product is necessary to balance the demand with the supply. Where the product is available and how many people know about the product is also important. Passion is necessary though as Passion instills loyalty. Passion encourages community, and the Internet is the ultimate expression of community.
All of the brands mentioned above (Apple, BMW, Nike) have made excellent use of the Internet. Their advertising does not exist solely structured within ad units, but it is expressed in numerous other forms. BMW films, Nike's numerous sites, Apple's iTunes. Each of these is another execution of a concept that instills Passion in their brands.
A truly effective advertising effort in today's marketplace needs to consider community and needs to incorporate Passion. Advertising agencies are continually strapped for their time, but as many people have recently started to recognize, the added value that your agency brings to the table is beyond the executional aspects of reaching customers in a cost effective manner, but should extend into the responsibilities of identifying your customer's desires and satisfying their Passion. It is Brand Marketing extended to include the evolving dynamic of today.
Identifying the needs and desires of the customer are where the added value of the agency is apparent. Through deeper research and incorporation of focus groups to better understand the perceived benefits of the product, we can start to understand what will incite loyalty from the customer. Harnessing this type of learning to be applied to a messaging strategy is important, but more important is the translation of this learning into creating a behavior for your customer. Apple identified the market for the iPod, understood their customer's behavior and understood that a service such as iTunes would be of value. Why has the Apple service been so successful in comparison with the other failed efforts of the past few years? I would argue that it was due to Passion. Apple has built a Passionate and very loyal customer base, so when the service launched it was initially launched for Mac's only, understanding that these users would flock to check it out. They understood the desire of their audience and built a product that satisfied them.
If you are in the process of developing an interactive campaign, evaluate the messaging, the placement of the advertisements and the experience they will have upon visiting your site on the metric of Passion. It is an intangible element, but the best opportunity for feedback is from your customers themselves. If you encourage their feedback and encourage their role in the brand, then their Passion will be developed and harnessed as a tool for your success. The advertising itself should reflect this Passion and invite them to a deeper, richer experience on the site. If there is an offline opportunity to extend this Passion, then it should do so as well.
When you evaluate your agency, one of the elements you always consider is their Passion for the business, so why not expect that Passion be applied in the execution of the message to the customer as well? Why not expect that your advertising will create a reaction and inspire your customers?