3 Things You Should Know About Relevance

Brands need to be “relevant” these days, though there’s never been a time when communications succeeded any other way.

But, like ideas about authenticity and engagement, it has many marketers running around as if they’ve discovered some magic elixir that requires the invention of new ideas, platforms, and measurement.

Er, no.

Merriam-Webster defines relevance (noun) as a relation to the matter at hand, and something that is practical and especially socially applicable.

That’s a pretty straightforward meaning, as far as definitions go, don’t you think?

Yet I’m amazed by how many companies fail to accomplish it with their communications. So here are 3 Things You Should Know About Relevance for you to consider before you script your next CEO talking points, or ante up for an expensively beautiful ad campaign:

First, it needs to be reasonable. Remember when Chrysler ran a few minutes’ worth of Clint Eastwood waxing poetic about America during the Super Bowl a few years ago? Of course, the state of the country was relevant to just about everyone watching the spot, but in “we all breathe oxygen” sort of way.

Why was it reasonable for Chrysler to opine on it? Because its ad agency probably made the case that it was intertwined with the brand’s DNA, or whatever. No matter that Levi’s, Coke, or pretty much any other client could have sponsored the same thing, since it didn’t have anything to do with selling.

Advertising that doesn’t sell…now there’s a truly novel invention.

Cadillac will do the exact same thing this weekend, when it debuts a spot on the Oscars that addresses America’s political divide (the first iteration of its “Dare Greatly” campaign featured a poet blathering about life, as a Caddy appeared lost driving through Manhattan).

“You can’t deny this. At the same time, you hear this, and you stop immediately. It gets your attention,” the company’s CMO explained in the New York Times.

The concept isn’t relevant; rather, it substitutes blunt, agnostic response for making a reasonable connection to Cadillac’s business. If relevance meant only getting peoples’ attention, holding a gun to a puppy’s head would be far more compelling…

You can read the entire essay at Linkedin