Opening speaker Fru Hazlitt, MD Commercial (Online and Interactive) for ITV debated against the motion. Fru made the point that customers don’t want to be the friend of brands if they act like a stalker, strange or weird. However, a lot depends on the brand and how they behave. She did believe though that went brands get it right, it can be incredibly powerful.
Opening speaker Fru Hazlitt, MD Commercial (Online and Interactive) for ITV debated against the motion. Fru made the point that customers don’t want to be the friend of brands if they act like a stalker, strange or weird. However at lot depends on the brand and how they behave. She did however believe that went brands get it right, it can be incredibly powerful. One impressive example cited was that the last episode of the programme Broadchurch accounted for 2/3 of all tweets in the UK during the hour the show was broadcast. Fru believes that in this world of interactivity, most customers actually do want a relationship with brands however; the trick is to understand the relationship and not to be a needy friend or nosy parker.
The next speaker Philippa Share, CMO, at Microsoft gave a powerful argument for the motion. She explained that although we’re a nation of screen addicts not one ‘type’ of screen is king. She believes that different devices have different personalities. So for example:
* Tablet is ‘The Wizard’ – fun and innovative.
* PC is ‘The Sage’ – provides information and is trustworthy.
* TV is ‘The Everyman’ – entertaining and relaxing.
* Mobile is ‘The Lover’ – intimate and personal.
Our devices reflect that consumer needs are becoming fast and fun and free. Therefore brands need to be useful, entertaining and helpful but then disappear and not overstay their welcome.
The next two speakers John Bartleson, Global Digital Marketing Director of Telefónica and Chris Maples, VP, of Spotify argued both for and against the motion which made things interesting, if a little confusing! John’s main point was that consumer habits change faster than most agile organisations.
Chris felt that “in order to build a genuine dialogue with consumers a brand has to be authentic.” He also made the point that people have totally different personalities with their different devices when it comes to music.
The final speaker Jon Silk, Head of European Digital Strategy, at Bite summarised the speakers’ main points and made clear that to succeed with social media marketing, brands cannot be an awful friend.
Justin Pearse, Bite’s Head of Innovation chaired a lively panel discussion which was followed by an audience vote on the motion. 61% of people who attended agreed, customers don’t want to be your friend.
With this in mind what are the lessons for luxury brands? Happily, many luxury brands are lucky to have a far more intimate relationship with their customers than mainstream brands who consumers see as commodities. In addition, luxury brands often have the ability to tell rich and interactive stories around their heritage and craftsmanship.
One final thought to reflect on from today’s event, if this debate was focused on luxury brands would we be asking – Do Luxury Brands Want Their Customers To Be Their Friends?