The hate of expectation: Why we judge next more harshly than now, and why we need to stop

(featured image source)

we watched and discussed the above case study (or a version of it) at our weekly plannery-type meeting a few weeks back.  whilst the tone of the discussion was generally positive, there was a nagging persistent line in the debate that went along the lines of “we’ve been here already, seen it before, done it now, enough already, time to move on” …

and it kinda bothered me, because here we have a brand that, rather than resting comfortably in the knowledge that it is generating awareness through sponsoring a property, is investing time and energy in using that platform to create experiences that can more deeply engage and entertain us.  and there’s a very real danger that our response is: “meh” … would we really rather that they had done this?

would we really rather that Skoda had invested time and energy in thirty second ads that they could broadcast at us with the intention of interrupting us?

or what about this effort for Yeo Valley from Blighty that broke a few weeks ago in the first live X-Factor final…

on the UK’s apparent emerging yogurt wars (who knew) – of which this above is no small part – JVW makes an interesting point in a post on his Smithery blog:

“…on a slightly more thoughtful note, I think it’s part of a slightly worrying, one-dimensional train-of-thought in agency land; the push for the ADVERSPECTACULAR, the greatest song and dance show it’s possible to put on in thirty seconds … (Although better in sixty.  Though, actually, it only really works as a ninety…)”

JVW’s valid point is that the entertaining ante can only be upped so much before we all collectively explode in a blast of entertainment on-upmanship that destroys us all.  but surely efforts to entertain, or educate, or be useful or create experiences – as opposed to just reach or interrupt us should be applauded?

I care a lot less that Skoda are following in Mini’s gamification footsteps than I care that a dozen other car brands aren’t trying to connect to me on my terms.  and I care a lot less that Yeo Valley are pushing the envelope on entertaining us than I care that a hundred other FMCG brands aren’t.

a discussion with the awesomness of Nicola prompted her to make the smart observation that we have higher expectations of the different.  we expect more from the new.  we demand better from the alternative.  and we judge the next infinitely more harshly than we judge the now.

part human nature, part the position media planning finds itself in as we settle into the 21st Century and part the pressures imposed by the collective jizz-fest of international awards … the danger is that we quite simply and quite wrongly carry a weight of expectation of brands and planning that tries to do different.

we let a thousand really quite average communications pass us by every day without a whimper, and mutter ‘meh’ at the next iteration of doing different.  when we should be celebrating…  every breakout, every brave investment decision, every do different, every ‘no one’s done it this way lets go’, every sledge-hammer taken to category grip conventions, every ‘why didn’t we think of that?’ and every ‘why not’ not ‘why’ should be a badge of honour for our industry.

the weight … the hate, of our collective expectation should be directed not at the brands that try to do different, but at those that don’t.

here’s that other yoghurty adventure should you be interested in taking sides in those yogurt wars … really though, the yogurt wars – yogurt brands are at war, just with each other and all, but still, who knew!?


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