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Attention, Please

Dec 31 2013, 01:01 IST
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SummaryIf a brand can’t hold the consumer’s attention with a surprise or with news that is relevant to her life or with an emotionally moving story or with a reward for pressing a button through channels that she uses, there is scant hope for the brand’s message

The Oxford English Dictionary gives the first recorded use of the phrase, “elephant in the room” as a simile, as The New York Times used it on June 20, 1959: “Financing schools has become a problem about equal to having an elephant in the living room. It’s so big you just can’t ignore it.”

In September 2004, the number of mobile phone connections crossed the number of fixed line connections in India. In August 2012, mobile internet usage overtook fixed-line Internet usage. In 2013, the percentage of smartphones crossed 10% of all mobile phones by volume, that is, according to experts, the tipping point for smartphone growth.

Combine this with the fact that in research after research, consumers of every nationality confirm that the source of information they trust the most is other consumers, ahead of respected newspapers and TV channels and and their famous editors.

This combination of an exploding hand-held personalised computer aka smartphone in the hands of 58 million Indians in 2013 (and 264 million in 2016) and the tendency to trust each other rather than listen to brands peddling their messages means the “elephant in the room” is now the “Attention Market”.

If a brand can’t hold the consumer’s attention with a surprise or with news that is relevant to her life or with an emotionally moving story or with a reward for pressing a button through channels that she uses, there is scant hope for the brand’s message. It will end up as very expensive and a very loud shout in an empty media desert.

The old sequence of communication effects -- “awareness creates liking which creates action which creates value for brand” is invalid. The new sequence reads: “Brand creates something valuable which creates awareness which creates liking which creates action.”

Thankfully, there are many smart Indian brand owners and their equally smart brand engagement partners (earlier referred to as ad agencies) who have paid homage to the elephant in the room and created a buzz by hijacking the consumer’s attention long enough to suspend disbelief about brands.

Our picks used exactly such an hierarchy of effects to create a buzz in the attention market.

Channel V

Though I am several decades away from being referred to as a youth, I have, as a brand strategist, watched Channel V evolve from a wannabe MTV to a cool, witty challenger to MTV to now a channel devoted to the trials and tribulations of

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