When speaking at TED, Kevin Kelly threw out a belief that most of us accept as fact these days: Attention is currency. Certainly everyone is clamoring for it. There’s not a consensus, even from Yankelovich, as to how many marketers clamor for us to take notice of their messages each day, but estimates range from 3,000 to 5,000 as you probably know.
However, the number is not the point.
The point is that we feel inundated, bombarded, ambushed (ever noticed how many battle descriptions are used with this statistic?) and occasionally overwhelmed by it all. The point is that all these messages are fighting for ever-diminishing head space and that this head space is precious property that we keep promising to give to truly important stuff like the loves of our lives and the meaning of life and our ultimate contribution to the world. If only we could find the time. But we can’t because, at least in my case, first we have to figure out whether it’s our day to run carpool and, if so, whether we’re supposed to be at the soccer field or the football field.
The point is, that calling our attention “currency” completely devalues it.
We are ultimately what we give the most of our attention to. My attention, your attention, is one of the most precious pieces of ourselves we can give away.
So why do marketers keep thinking it’s OK to steal it?
If you’re trying to get my ATTENTION as a precursor for creating INTENTION to buy, tricking me into watching an ad or making noise just to get noticed is not the way to go my friend. It just pisses me off.
The latest attempted purse snatching was done by Australian agency Naked on behalf of a men’s jacket maker called, appropriately enough, Witchery. It was covered well by Marketing Profs and others and there’s been a lot of talk about whether it’s ethical for advertisers to use the sort of trickery that Witchery did so well and, as someone who has been in advertising for 20 years, listening to ad folks talk ethics is always amusing.
But ethics is not the point.
The point is that it’s misguided, ineffective advertising. Unless ALL you want is attention. In which case, that and three bucks will get you a coffee. And my undying aversion to your brand.
The average guy or gal on the street is not spending a lot of time worrying about whether the most recent fake viral video was moral. They’re momentarily irritated and then off to the next thing on their never-ending ‘to-do’ list. (A stop to pick up that jacket won’t be one of them.)
If you want access to my headspace, the cost of entry is that you give me something worth putting there and remembering. And no, it’s not enough just to be entertaining. For a look at how to do a viral video that’s worth watching, honest and successful, see JC Penny’s, Dog House. Want to know why?
Hold that thought……