Experience Advertising vs. The Real Thing

Get a load of this.

“Consumers expect a lot more from brands than ever before. They don’t simply want delivery of products or services. They want brands to engage with them in meaningful ways. They want experiences that deliver meaning and community. They expect their brands to bring them joy.”    

It’s from a recent Adweek article on Momentum Worldwide’s “We Know Experience 2.0” research  https://bit.ly/2JkPamz

I read it. 

I reread it. 

I registered the extensive nature of the study and the clout of the agency behind it.

And I still don’t buy it.

I don’t buy that people expect more from brands.

Or want to engage with them.

Or expect them to bring them joy.

Not really.

It seems to me that if you ask people a dumbass question like “Do you expect brands to bring you joy?” they’re almost certainly going to tell you, “Sure, why not”

Who wouldn’t?

Similarly, if you ask them, “Would you like brands to deliver meaningful experiences for your community?” is anyone surprised if the response is, “Yeah, that would be great, too.”

How about if they engaged you in “meaningful ways”?


Ask a leading question, get a misleading answer.

Here are some more choice insights from the same article:

83 percent of consumers believe it’s important for brands to take away stress or anxiety.

86 percent of consumers believe it is important for brands to make them feel better.

Does anyone actually believe that?

There are no prizes for guessing what the study’s conclusion is.

“Experiences matter and experiential needs to move to the center of all brand marketing plans. The future is about doing, not saying. Experiential makes brands authentic and real.”   

This is the kind of lazy thinking that nowadays passes for real thinking.

Real thinking isn’t easy.

It’s hard work.

It requires you to dig into a product or service and discover something compelling about it. 

How is it better, stronger, smarter, faster, greener, easier, or otherwise more useful, different, valuable, or beneficial than its competitors?

This takes time, effort, and patience.

Done well, it will result in work of substance, significance, and longevity. 

The proponents of lazy thinking can’t be bothered with any of this.

They’d much rather just make the answer an “experience” and be done with it.

It’s okay to have a set of values and a purpose that go above and beyond what it is you make and sell.

But sometimes people just want a hamburger.

Or a razor blade that gives them a close shave.

Or a car they know to be preferable to another.

And while it’s undoubtedly more satisfying to create an experience than it is to roll up your sleeves and deliver work that actually sells, the best does both.

As luck would have it, Coca Cola has a great new campaign that does exactly that.




A simple truth.

Powerfully told.

Based on an experience.

It’s the real thing.