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A Marketing Metaphor


Posted on February 26, 2007

By Timot McGonagle

During my early career I worked as an account executive for an international cosmetics firm.  I carry the knowledge gained with me to this day.

The cosmetic industry was one of the first to realize that they were selling image and experience as much as product. Customers were buying into the glamour and lifestyle the company created.

New lines were dramatically unveiled at the annual sales meeting. We learned that every element of the packaging had a subtle meaning that supported the larger brand image The excitement was infectious as we carried the message back to our home territories, our accounts and ultimately our individual customers.

A Marketing Metaphor

Today, when I approach the challenge of creating a marketing communication experience for a corporation, I immediately turn to the product and the experience surrounding that product.  The metaphor I use is “Back into the Box.”

Imagine taking the box from one of the client’s products?  The exterior is covered with elements both literal and subliminal to communicate the brand message. You slit the side of the box, turn it inside out and close it again. All the information once on the outside is contained within.

Now cut a door into this box.  You are left with the prototype for your event and a space filled with a brand experience.

Where’s the box?

“Back into the Box” goes beyond a literal interpretation. If your client sells a service rather than a physical product the analogy still holds. You must discover tangible elements around the service.

I always request copies of all related media, advertising and press releases.  This request includes photos or renderings of store installations and/or POP displays.  Anything qualifies that will help me to understand the client’s goals.  I want to immerse myself into the product or service in order to come away with the subtle details that will make for a great event.

The Twofold Advantage

Companies spend millions on product development and marketing.  As a producer, with both marketing and design degrees, I value that investment. I feel a responsibility to honor the hard work of the product development and marketing departments.

This dedication provides a twofold advantage.  First, I get a head start on the physical design of the event.  Color, texture, pattern, media and even catering choices become easier.  It is a pleasant challenge to come up with innovative ways to incorporate the company message.

Secondly, by closely aligning your production to the overall company message you become a literal and experiential extension of the brand. In this day of multiple television channels and countless media options, more traditional advertising must be augmented with experience. 

Marketing communication and event environments provide an unusual level of audience control with the advantage of immediate feedback.  Your target audience leaves with a more complete knowledge that bonds information with experience.

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