Lessons for brands on how to deliver the fantasy.

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar

Was I the only one who sprayed out my coffee in surprise when I opened up Flipboard (you MUST get this app) and was struck by the headline “Katie Holmes Divorces Tom Cruise”?  It’s well documented that Hollywood marriages are Tom Cruise-short.  But this one I didn’t see coming; particularly the part about Katie doing the dumping.   I won’t get into why we think this happened (coughcoughscientologycoughcough) but some would say if you took a peek behind the curtain you probably would have seen it coming.  But why peek and see the dirty bits when it’s more fun to see the fantasy.  I wanted to believe “TomKat” were going to live happily ever after.  Just like I want to believe that behind the kitchen doors of a busy restaurant lies a clean, orderly, everything-wrapped-in-sterile-plastic space where they prepare my food.  Or backstage at a theatre all the actors are not naked, makeup-smeared, grumpy and frantic.  I just want to see  the fancy dining room and pretty costumes. 

Brands are also about the fantasy.  We are marketing lovers, living behind the scenes of brands, but we also love the show:  buff up the packaging, tighten up the promotions, polish the advertising…IT’S SHOW TIME!  Yes, we need those who uncover the inexcusable (child labour, environmental hazards).  But I’ll leave them to it.  The rest of us want to  believe the product will positively impact our lives, the people behind it are smart and trustworthy, and the company gives back to the community. 

So what should brands do?  NLTSYRTTD of course!  In a restaurant a waiter should Never Let Them See You Running Through The Door – you deal with the chaos in the kitchen, make sure the food is perfect, compose yourself and calmly enter the dining room presenting the best food possible.  The customer doesn’t want to know what sweaty mess is going on back there, they just want the entire experience to be amazing.  People talk these days about authenticity.   Yes, brands need to deliver that too. That waiter better really care about how you think your meal is. And that better be real beef in your burger.  But that’s as far as it goes.  Keep your dirty bit to yourself and offer up the fantasy.  I’ll leave you with an iconic example from the 80s:  Chanel #5’s “Share the Fantasy” ad (directed by Ridley Scott by the way).