“How advertising can become a friend whose company you enjoy, rather than just an annoying salesman who sticks his foot in the door”

Having written in yesterday’s blog post about consumer conversations – and the ones a brand owner wouldn’t want, I came across this brilliant headline. It’s above an essay by Belgian digital creative Sam de Volder in a book I thoroughly recommend – Digital Advertising: Past, Present and Future, edited by Patrick Burgoyne and Daniele Fiandaca from Creative Social.

The headline is hard to beat as a summary of the tension between companies that still put out old fashioned irritating, foghorn advertising, and advertisers that actually seem to relish giving the consumer something to like. De Volder has a term for what the sympathetic advertiser offers. He calls it “Branded Utility”.

Sam’s examples:

 • Nike+

• Ikea providing trolleys that carry multiple trays in their cafes

• H&M’s virtual fitting room

• Fiat eco:Drive

• BMW: free audio books

I could also add from the current crop:

• M&S and most of the supermarkets, with their imaginative complete meal offers, which are also great value

• Sky Plus: how civilised not only to be able to record two programmes, but to time shift the end of a programme to make time for supper

• NatWest: however cynical we have all become about bankers, they do seem to be making changes that help

De Volder makes one other simple but persuasive point – in traditional advertising it is the brand owner conducting the orchestra. Whereas in digital advertising it is the consumer who has to make the first move. If they get no reward response……no dice.

We are back to our preference for conversations over being shouted at. Advertising imitates life. Funny that.