Can Brands Bottle Some Royal Wedding Mania?

The world and its events move past us at such a frenetic pace these days that the wedding between William and Kate seems like eons ago. Even though it's been nearly two months since this momentous event, I, for one, can still recapture a little of the sense of wonder and awe I felt at watching it. Having since talked to a number of friends and acquaintances about the wedding and what made it so immensely watchable, I have come to the conclusion that it all boils down to one simple, little word: Inspiration.

The source of the inspiration surrounding the royal wedding seemed to come from its ability to reassure us that at some level "dreams really do come true." Most of us who grew up believing in the happy endings of Disney-type stories such as "Beauty and the Beast," "Cinderella" or "Sleeping Beauty" have become jaded over the years with a tendency to say, "That only happens in fairy stories." The Royal Wedding gave us all a real-life fairy story to replace the one that had ended in ruin between Charles and Diana, and the ability to at least partially believe again that wishes do come true.



So if we as human beings are so wonderfully open and susceptible to believing in the possibility of dreams coming true, why do so many marketers -- especially those targeting women -- keep their brands so heavily mired in grim reality?

One of the eight sources of Mojo that we talk about at Interplay is "Inspiration," something that is incredibly powerful but for many marketers rather elusive. Perhaps it is so elusive because of the over-dependence on consumer insights that tend brands toward focusing on "what is" rather than "what could be."

I hate to use an overly documented example of a brand that has so successfully captured a sense of "what could be" for their audience, but it is perhaps the clearest case that exists -- and that is Nike. Nike with its ubiquitous swoosh has become synonymous with a brand that has understood for a long time the power of inspiring its consumers to reach new heights and be the best athlete, or perhaps just the best person, that they can be.

A classic example of an inspirational commercial is Nike's "I Can" -- of course, using a well-known song by the Verve doesn't hurt, but it still has the effect on its audience of making us want to run out and buy a pair of Nikes so that we can participate in a little of the "happy ending" associated with fulfilling our dreams that is communicated in the spot.

So the question is, why do a few categories feel they inspire their audience while so many -- especially those targeted at women -- get so bogged down with holding up a mirror to our day-to-day reality? I have often talked to clients about the fact that women don't really want to be seen as "moms" who have nothing better to do but to clean their houses and put hot meals on the table, but would rather be seen as "women with children" who have rich lives full of possibilities with motherhood being just one aspect of their reality.

Conversely, many of the brands that do try to capture a sense of inspiration when talking to women fall into the dieting and weight-loss category with the presumption that the only thing that women want to be inspired to do is to be a thinner version of themselves.

Of course, if your brand is a household cleaner or a bar soap, you may have a hard time imagining that you can make it as inspirational as Nike, but on the other hand, it depends how one defines "inspiration" for the category in question. I found a Johnson & Johnson commercial, which was made a couple of years ago and showed a father engaging in parenthood as much as a mother would, to be very inspirational. It may not happen in every household, but my experience has shown that women like to believe that it can happen even when their own spouses are still playing poker rather than changing diapers.

So back to our collective fascination with the Royal Wedding and its implication for marketers.

The fact that so many people turned out to watch the wedding and are keenly following the lives of William and Kate is a clear indication that we are still desperate to believe in fairy tales. Any brands out there that can find a smart way to make us temporarily forget some of the grubbier and more tedious parts of our own realities and hope for better things around the corner will be well placed to attract some of the same enthusiasm and loyalty that Will and Kate currently have going for them.

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