04 Aug In Search of a Promotional Context
When I was a young man with very many, young children, I watched a lot of PBS cable. I memorized all the Sesame Street songs from RUBBER DUCKY to ABC-DEF-GHI.
I’m watching more PBS again, this time via streaming, and now I find myself memorizing Viking River Cruises and Ralph Lauren commercials. Hearing them so many times, it can’t be helped, nor the opportunity to study and reflect on them. At least they are clear and coherent.
What strikes me about both is the rich context. The word context is rooted in Latin meaning weaving together, like a tapestry. Viking weaves together music, narration, and images (many ironically from aerial cameras) to create a context of the wonderments of travel, discovery, and splendor of foreign or historic cultures. Ralph Lauren uses images, narrative by Ralph Lauren himself, and music to place the viewer in the context of the creative process of an apparel designer. What’s most interesting to me is that he explains that in order to design for a woman, he creates a world around her which he calls the “World of Ralph Lauren.” He’s creating a context for her to excel. The context suggests everything that belongs and also what doesn’t.
Creating a context — an environment, a world — to showcase your products and services where your brand excels is also an imaginative way to think about brand positioning. Consider the ideal environment in which your product excels. Answering the question why it excels will reveal your strongest position. Picture this ideal environment and then build a complete campaign, using a variety of media, within that context and wrap that around the product, just as Ralph Lauren wraps a world around his imaginary customer.
A current example at MKTX is Evluma, which designs, manufactures and sells LED outdoor area lights to electric utilities serving rural communities. Their unique reliability features really excel in the country because rural utilities have to travel up to 100 miles to replace a failed lighting component. So that’s why, for Evluma, the images, music and narration are all in the context of things rural, from imagery to values.