Before joining the PR industry, I used to work in MI6. I was head hunted in the spring of ‘96 by a scout at Cambridge, predominantly due to my passable Arabic and for having a face that ‘blends in to a crowd’. Like many who joined the service, a sense of wanting to help my country drew me like a magnet into the secret world.
This of course, is utter nonsense. I went to Bradford University, got a “C” in French (le magnetophone a sur la table) and joined Weber Shandwick’s graduate scheme. I do however own every Bond film on DVD and once met Roger Moore in a Mayfair restaurant.
The fabricated story is far more entertaining than the truth, it’s more sharable. It’s populist rather than precise. In 2017, our global Relevance Review found that consumers are rewarding populist brands with their hard-earned money, much in the way they rewarded populist politicians with their votes.
Our study of 13,000 people across four continents sought to discover how brands can maintain their relevance. Being relevant dramatically increases the efficiency and efficacy of your communications. The results are startling. People around the world desire their ideal brand to be trustworthy, ethical, honest and truthful. In reality, people feel let down.
Market leading brands are missing our expectations by a mile. Instead of delivering on truth, we perceive brands to be more relevant due to their popular, entertaining behavior. And so we continue to consume, share and engage with them. We’re glued to social media as a source of news, yet we know many stories to be fake. It seems that truth is having its moment of truth.
So what does this all mean? Is it OK to mislead your customers in the manner of a political primary? Of course not. A race for relevance without authenticity quickly leads to ruin. Just look at the battered brands that have (miss) appropriated causes of late. It doesn’t have to be this way. Brands must find a relevant voice that delivers on consumer’s expectations.
Returning to the industry of spying, a recipe for relevant content may be to borrow from the Bond franchise; populist but with knowing wink of humor. From Connery to Craig, each actor is relevant to their times. Other characters born out of the cold war have hardly lasted the distance.
So seek out relevance, and you will not be ignored or forgotten. Because really, who does remember Napoleon Solo?