the cab ride to reality. Or why it’s no wonder no one might be listening.


It took 45 minutes. A cab ride from Paris to the eurostar terminal. For the first time in a few years I was forced…

The nice gentleman at the front was listening to his radio program.not loud enough that I could hear, but loud enough to bugg me. After getting bored with trying to have it less loud, I decided to drop my paper and go for the reverse strategy.
Can you put it louder please. Overkilled with joy he went for loud…
A few minutes later, the advertising broke. 5 minutes of pure misery. Since I was not in command unlike in my own car, no switching possible.
So I just had to sit and hear.
And it felt like people screaming at me to get me to do something.
But what had they done for me I thought? Bought expensive airtime, yes, and made my time listening to them a misery,also yes.
After another 15 minutes the nice ads were back again.
Goodness I’m in advertising so I quickly took my pen out and decided to take notes. 10 brands talking at me. Two of which competitors. In total if I remove the legal gubledigook, 37 messages to take in: brand name, key function, price…
Now does anyone think for a second. Do they stand much chance to really get heard? How much luck is it going to take for anything to be remembered from these 5minutes?1 chance out of 37? Every 20 minutes?
It seems my colleagues know this, so to increase their chance they scream. Loud. And fast. But the louder and faster, the more I, the listener was shutting down.

Not that I want to criticise radio advertising. But it’s worth thinking for a second.
As an advertiser leaving a good memorable trace cannot be simply up to luck. Take the test yourself. Why would you bother listening? Why would you bother remembering? And how will you feel as the message barges into your car/home/city…?

This is not just a matter of courtesy and efficiency. It’s about the future of brands in our new digital world.
The ad break was the equivalent of some perfect stranger putting his head into the cab and screaming nonsense at me. And it did not feel good.

In the digital age this seems so out of place. We’re getting used not to tolerate. We’re getting used to beeing listened to. We’re getting used to brands going well beyond this to deliver a real service.

So we have a simple choice to make. Stop screaming, or stop beeing listened to.

Tell people something they can talk about or end up ignored.

Or even better join their conversation with something that will help them.

The hard news is that this is a difficult change, the good news is that communications will get human, again.


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