“Getting a product known isn’t the answer. Getting it WANTED is the answer.” Some of the best-known product names have failed.” — Bill Bernbach
Hollywood has largely equated the idea of being wanted in America with criminality. Whether it is westerns or gangster flicks or TV’s John Walsh, we typically associate this word with the desire to capture the most despicable and dangerous of criminals.
Bill Bernbach drew a distinction in advertising, pointing out during the Mad Men era that just spending ad dollars to make a product known is foolhardy, because it is ephemeral and can all go away in a flash. Getting a product or service wanted, on the other hand, is about building a deep desire among consumers who recognize, look out for and are fascinated by the brand.
As a 20-year vet of Bernbach’s agency and a devotee of his teaching, I couldn’t help but link the title of Wunderman’s new study labeled, “Wantedness” to the quote above from Bernbach’s little grey book on what makes great advertising. Reinforcing Bernbach’s insight from decades ago, Wantedness concludes that brand managers need to consider not only how their brand competes in their category but also how it stacks up in culture against the most wanted brands – like Amazon, Netflix and Starbucks. There is a depth of consumer experience and engagement that sets a higher benchmark for all brands.
Oh, but we’re cans of soup, rolls of toilet paper and dog food in CPG. We can’t deliver those kinds of experiences in CPG! But the best do and will. They recognize and leverage the full scope of the brand’s engagement with its consumers. Whether that’s Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, combining the appeal of personalization with the shareability of social, making the brand experience reverberate way beyond the point of purchase or consumption. Or the recent announcement of Mars’ purchase of VCA, connecting 39 brands in the Mars petcare portfolio with 800 pet hospitals and 60 diagnostic clinics (VCA is Veterinary Centers of America, owner of Banfield Pet Hospitals). The total value of the deal is put at $9.1 billion. The opportunity for Mars is to go well beyond, adding hospital and diagnostic revenues to pet food revenues. The 1 + 1 = 3 is to serve pets and pet parents across a lifetime of touchpoints and use data to enable a far more valuable experience around pet health.
Don’t have billions with which to create a deeper experience with your CPG brand? Check out how Back to the Roots has turned every CPG product it makes into a full-on experience, from their more whimsical and early products like ready-to-grow Mushroom Farm and Garden-in-a-Jar kits to their new biodynamic wheat cereal wherein each time you post a photo of your kid eating the cereal, they’ll donate a box to a school cafeteria. The brand gets its unbridled energy from its founders and staff, and they get their enthusiasm from the deeply engaging products they innovate. They create wanted brands.
Perhaps the “Wanted — Dead or Alive” posters of western myth had it right. Our CPG brands, no matter how well known, can passively die on shelf. Seems to me “Dead” was the preferred and easier choice of most lawmen. Or, we can take the tougher, more creative path and give our brands new life in the deeper, shareable experiences beyond the shelf that make them deeply valued and wanted.