There is an interesting "snobbery" being perpetuated in the marketing industry in Romania. We have two channels of communication which are being programatically ignored by most advertisers and most agencies: HI5 and OTV (local tabloid channel with huge audience). HI5 is, by all accounts, the largest online community in the country. Yet because people choose to feature silly images of themselves, which do no resemble the hygienic families in our ads, HI5 is deemed off-limits for any self respecting brand.
Now, HI5 is finally being monitored by the official meter in Romania - SATI - and the first reactions (on Twitter) are telltale: people are scared. We feel invaded by a world we feel alien and we resent the attempt by this "outsider" to fall within the limits of our prejudices. From now on there will be no rational reason to reject HI5. When monitored reach is huge brand compatibility is hard to invoke. So HI5 has made a clear step towards credibility.
Yet the questions remains: how will brands navigate this world they have nothing in common with? We make advertising for perfect human beings, for picture-perfect families and sometimes for funny people. But we have never made communication for people who do not relate to Grey's Anatomy, who prefer cheap novellas and listen to manele (local oriental-like music) on a daily basis. We do not know how to communicate with people who do not like Discovery. The edgiest we have ever gone is a tele-novella featuring gypsies on a national channel. But when edgy for us is premium for them, what will we do?
1. My first guess is that some extensive research should be done. On more than the "protected" demographic of Bucharest, where even the back of the neighborhood boyz are mainstream material. We need to understand what we are dealing with in point of cultural references and align our own with the ones of our target.
2. Second we need to understand that communicating for this target is not beneath us, that it does not make us worse people BUT rather it makes us better professionals.
3. And finally, we must internalize the idea that communication can reflect OR inspire and we can either give them what they know or show them something else they might like and we can live with.
I have a feeling of unease writing this, since I use "them" as a term of alterity, as if this target is somehow alien to what is mainstream and common. In the statistics of things though, and SATI will prove it, it seems that we are "them" and they are the norm.
communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.