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Branded utilities

Or branded applications. Whatever you want to call it. It seems to be the new buzzword at the moment. Virals are dead, long live branded utilities.

But what I find intriguing is that they have been around for more than a century. They used to be the best way to reach a mass audience and get people to care about your products, as well as building your brands. Then TV arrived and suddenly, branded utilities became obsolete. It was all about TV spots. But then something new happened again. The Internet. And advertisers to realise if they want people to care again about their brand and products, they need to provide something useful or interesting. Back to square one.

Famous examples of branded utilities:

1) The Guinness book of records (1957).

From Wiki “On 10 November 1951, Sir Hugh Beaver, then the managing director of the Guinness Brewery, went on a shooting party in North Slob, by the River Slaney in County Wexford, Ireland. He became involved in an argument: which was the fastest game bird in Europe, the golden plover or the grouse? That evening at Castlebridge House, he realized that it was impossible to confirm in reference books whether or not the golden plover was Europe’s fastest game bird.[2]

Beaver thought that there must be numerous other questions debated nightly in the 81,400 pubs in Britain and Ireland, but there was no book with which to settle arguments about records. He realized then that a book supplying the answers to this sort of question might prove popular.”

Now that’s got everything. Consumer insight, great creativity, and strong link to the product. Everything a modern planner should be doing.

I wonder why Guinness is actually not leveraging this asset more in its communication.

(image from Modern Mechanix)

2) Michelin. The king of branded utilities.

From Wiki again: “In 1900, André Michelin published the first edition of a guide to France to help drivers maintain their cars, find decent lodging, and eat well while touring. It included addresses of things like gasoline distributors, garages, tire stockists, and public toilets.”

“The guide’s restaurant ratings using Michelin stars are probably the most recognized and influential culinary ratings in western Europe.”

It’s just genius stuff. My company builds tyres. People couldn’t care less about tyres. How could we make them care about us? Dont just advertise ‘my tyres are the best’, but make your consumers’ experience of driving better. Become the ultimate driving companion.

That’s probably why they also created the Michelin maps. You can’t buy a map of France, without it being a Michelin map.

More to come.

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  1. May 17, 2010 at 2:52 am

    I genuinely enjoyed reading through this write-up.Many thanks.

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