Back in the 90s we had presentations given to us regularly about the power of direct mail. Funnily enough, the direct mail that worked best was personalised. It wasn’t revolutionary, it was just that “Dear Homeowner” was to become a thing of the past.

If the shop sign says "Irrelevant Bargains Within" the novelty soon wears off.

Of course, the un-tailored communication is still omnipresent: it still spams into our letterbox and our inbox. Living Social, Cudo and other group buying sites (the GroupOn wannabes) are good examples of this. Price is the only driver. The subject matter might as well say “irrelevant bargains within”.

It’s just common sense not to disrespect your customer and treat them like an impersonal idiot. It’s not the equivalent to forgetting someone’s name, its the equivalent of saying I choose not to acknowledge you.

Of note, there have been two recent campaigns that really embrace the opposite of this. They go beyond basic common sense. Not only do they deliver the ability to be personalised but also they deliver the ability to engage with the brand before you’ve even bought it. The result, I imagine will be record, rocketing sales.

“Share a Coke With...” Coca-Cola created a campaign which had a benefit for every possible stakeholder... and beyond.

Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke with” campaign is built upon insights across a range of key areas:

Brand: the brand is there to make us happy; sharing sure is happy.

Category: the campaign strongly positions the brand as category leader.

Retail: the retailer has every reason to stock more of this product than any competitive product.

Shopper: the shopper may not have wanted to buy Coke, but who is so cold hearted that they would buy one for their kid of the same name.

Consumer: the good, old-fashioned sense of belonging is rewarded – we exist because Coke says we exist. Hey, our name’s on a bottle.

Personalisation: if it has your name on it, you'll buy it. The "share a coke with" campaign; my lad's "we are bonds" submission, his initials: WRCW

Scope for continued innovation. Have you met someone who feels miffed that their name didn’t feature? Well, it’s okay now since “in

participating Westfields” you too can have your very own bottle to share. That’s glamour on a Coke bottle.

More recently, the Aussie tee-shirts and undies brand (Intimates & Apparel, perhaps?) Bonds, has gone all-out on their loveable campaign, The Birthday Project, hosted at where we all give our faces to future campaigns for the company in exchange for the chance towin a tee-shirt and to “own” a page with your own birthdate on it. My little boy’s tee is on its way! Glamour on a tee shirt.

Gil Scott-Heron penned the hit song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” in 1970. The line went:

The revolution will not go better with Coke.

The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.

The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

Gil Scott-Heron's statement&protest song 1970

But even now the revolution is being televised. Everybody is still broadcasting …few are listening.*

Only, the smart brands are putting the consumer into the driver’s seat, rather than purely broadcasting at them. Even many online display ads are trying to capture our attention rather they should be getting us to do something. Let’s do as Gil predicted, let’s join that revolution, the one that won’t be televised.

Good ads get us to laugh. Great ads get us to do something. Good ads change attitude. Great ads change behaviour. Great ads put us – as consumers – back into the driving seat.

Is your advertising good or is it great?

* UPDATE: Of course the broadcast media have a (big) place in the communications mix. But they are not necessarily home for the big idea. Awareness is vital. But it’s no longer where the comms should start. See previous post about the All-New Path-to-Purchase