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Culture and Product

It’s been a long-standing theory of mine that advertising is shifting from talk to product, and while I realize that other people are beginning to adhere to the same line of thinking, I’m not sure anyone has clearly articulated why this is happening and how culture is the driving force. The shift from talking about products to creating products comes back to one simple need. Talk value.

1) Between technological capabilities, creative minds, and social media platforms, products have become so compelling and influential that you don’t need advertising. The product, and the experience of the product, is enough to drive game-changing organic conversation in a world that is bonkers about “SOCIAL MEDIA”.

2) Often, brands don’t have something innate or differentiating worth talking about in advertising (that isn’t a major stretch), so something new is created in the way of a true product, to bring new life to the brand and give people something to talk about.

Think about etsy.Culturally, we are moving away from big business and slick products and people are valuing local small businesses more than ever. Enter Rob Kalin, artist, photographer and carpenter, who sees this cultural trend and the lack of opportunity or platform for individuals to make a living selling their wares, and welcome etsy.com, coined as “the world’s most vibrant handmade marketplace”. The site, or should I say product, was created in 2005 by three twenty-something guys on a limited budget, and now the site is pulling in over 300K new members and selling $34,000,000.00+ monthly. Yes, 34 million dollars monthly. No advertising, just a smart culturally aware and innovative product that is worthy of major talk value.

Secondly, think about USAA.An insurance company. And yes, I know there is a lot of love for USAA – (after all, it’s totally true that they know what it means to serve) but at the end of the day it’s still an insurance company and thereby is not really known for giving the world something to talk about. Then they created the USAA mobile app that introduced on the go check depositing which makes huge sense for them as a brand (they don’t have local branches)- and also gave the world, especially their competitors, something to talk about.

So in closing- a few important things to walk away with: 1) the importance of talk value 2) the value of understanding and appreciating culture as the driving force that it is, and 3) the shift from talk to product. As always- I leave you with the question: What does this information mean to your brand?

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