Media Redefined: Netflix & the quest for calm
by Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) Advertisers are missing a trick by not understanding that, in this crazy, busy world, all consumers are searching for are calm places.
3am at the airport
It was 3am in the morning at Dubai airport and I was trying desperately to get some sleep on an uncomfortable semi-lounger. For a brief moment, I felt I had at last found peace when a loudspeaker began screaming out some flight details — on and off every few minutes for the next four hours. I boarded the next plane punch-drunk.
Most airports have now done away with this highly irritating practice because they have understood two key things:
- That passengers are adults and need to take accountability for getting on a plane, and
- That being at an airport should be a pleasurable experience — and, if it is, passengers will come earlier and hopefully spend more.
Now we’re in World Cup season, I’m reminded of the Hyundai/Maroon 5 controversy during last year’s FIFA World Cup. A combination of opening and closing billboards, squeezebacks and ads — all with the same soundtrack and visuals — dominated the broadcast coverage. In fact, it’s all I remember; who won the tournament again?
Does it make sense?
There was a lot of negative commentary and it made me think: Are advertisers really considering the mindsets of current consumers and the moments that they’re more likely to comprehend a message? Does it really still make sense to club away with a big blunt bat?
I recently started using Netflix. Switching between it and DStv, one thing becomes very clear: Netflix is a calm place. Other than being in control, the design, the sounds as you navigate and general interface all make it a hugely enjoyable space. After a stressful day at work, it’s a happy place. The DStv experience is the opposite.
It isn’t the ad themselves, which I know, being in the business, are well thought-out pieces of communication (barring a few obvious exceptions, which include DStv promos). It’s the way they interrupt at inopportune times, repeat on each other and seem to do everything to take away from the experience of enjoying really good content.
This cuts to the core of the challenge brands find themselves in at the moment: How to reach consumers who now, more than ever, definitely don’t want to be interrupted.
The solution is to identify the new calm spaces that everyone is retreating into. Streaming services, podcasts, paywalled longform journalism — the list is growing. More importantly, brands need to find a way of living in these spaces that adds to the experience– not scream and shout for attention. They need to live with the content, not fight against it.
This requires a fundamental strategic shift. Brands that don’t understand this new quest for calm and how to operate in these spaces are going to struggle to survive.
Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) is managing director of Connect, an M&C Saatchi Company, with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Martin has spent 18 years in the industry, and has previously worked at Ogilvy and was MD of MEC Nota Bene in Cape Town. He contributes the monthly “Media Redefined” column, in which he challenges norms in the media space, to MarkLives.com.