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The Don of personalisation

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
September 15 2016,
updated
I make no secret of my love for Mad Men and an unhealthy obsession with Don Draper. I don’t know many marketers who don’t harbour similar feelings. Really we’re just hankering after the old days when those in advertising and marketing radiated glamour and prestige and wielded expense accounts to die for.

Memories and Nostalgia

Not feeling it? Try watching this clip where Draper pitches for the Kodak Eastman business.  Two of its world-weary executives have challenged Stirling Cooper to position its slide projector, or wheel as they refer to it, as “exciting technology”.

They doubt his ability and their own lack of enthusiasm shines out of them. But his presentation elevates this functional gadget, created in a lab which their colleagues struggle to tear themselves away from, to a time-machine. A tool which transports customers to a moment, or series of moments, when they felt “truly loved”. He uses nostalgia to create a sentimental bond between themselves and the product as they tap into a set of very personal and unique memories. And so the carousel was born!

 

The personal in personalisation

Always ahead of his time, our man Don had grasped the nature of personalisation. While using the “glittering lure” of technology to add a person’s name to something is a starting point, that alone merely denotes ownership. What his depiction of the carousel achieved was what we all strive for with our own products and service, a real and personal connection that the customer experiences on a deep emotional level.

 

Seeing the people behind the data

A few years ago we ran a campaign for ourselves. Promoting our personalised calendar offering to a target audience of marketing decision makers we asked them “What’s your style?”

By answering a series of six questions online (e.g. what’s your perfect holiday destination? On your bucket-list? etc.), respondents built a desk-calendar comprising images that truly reflected their own personality and interests. It had their name on, of course, but we quickly realised that wasn’t what made it special, it was that their calendar was wholly unique to them.

The campaign was a huge success and we felt we’d struck a chord with what customers were looking for. No time machine perhaps, and we don’t pretend to be the latest incarnation of Don Draper - just as well really as the New York Times famously branded him “an incorrigible alcoholic, an unrepentant adulterer, an inadequate parent and an identity thief

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