In my hunt for good podcasting fodder, I was leafing through Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s The Year Ahead 2016 issue. When I landed on a full-page spread by BASF, which I thought made audio and stereo equipment, I came across this tagline:
We create chemistry that makes more power love a cleaner drive.
Eh? I read it again and again and still could not decipher whether it was referring to computer hard drives (as the left vertical image was of a super highway often depicted as the speeding Ethernet), or whether it was the clean fuel as depicted on the right vertical image in the ad. The blue heart conjoining the two images then made me wonder if ‘chemistry’ was the entendre for ‘love.’
Message Mapping Master
You know I’m a message mapping master? Why you say? Because I branded myself as such due to the breadth of experience I have helping companies and organizations determine positioning to customers and stakeholders. To give you more proof, I probably have created 30-50 message maps in my time (which may mean nothing to you).
And, thus, I’m getting to my point…this love in business thing BASF is touting all over the place? I’m not on board.
Love In Business
I’m not sure if you’re taking note, but everywhere I look someone is tossing love in business. There are hearts and loves fests going on in marketing all over. When I came up with ‘heart marketing’ as the core theme for my podcast with John Gregory Olson called The Heart of Marketing, it was after a long planning session that it made sense. We would address the heart of things, the core of your business, and whether you’re being genuine and authentic. And, it works with perfect sense. In fact, John and I are defining the Pillars of Heart Marketing for your business to live by. To me that’s authentic, genuine, real (they all mean the same thing, right?), and it is true heart marketing.
For BASF? Not so much. As a 150-year-old anything, it’s hard to imagine the booming thunder of hearts and love giggles at company headquarters. I kind of imagine the booming thunder of dinosaur paws clomping through the hallways.
Which brings me to my ultimate curiosity quest.
If BASF has a ‘We Create Chemistry that…” campaign in a looking ahead ad in BusinessWeek, what else is behind door number three? I was so confused by the headline in the ad, and saw in the VERY fine print of the ad the url to explore more, www.wecreatechemistry.com, and off I went…to my utter dismay. There were more double-entendre ridden campaigns on the chemistry site and I still didn’t find out the WHAT of BASF. I scrolled down to the footer and finally located the parent site for BASF and learned that this corporation makes chemicals. Who knew?
So, I just beat up on BASF, but it’s not my fault. It’s its. (Heh, I’ve never had that chance to write a sentence like that!) So, let me get to the core of the story with my marketing tips for B-to-B campaigns. Feel free to argue freely with me, or more.
- If your entity is 150-years-old, should ‘love’ be part of a campaign strategy? For me, it’s grasping for straws and a lifeline to rejuvenate an archaic brand. Granted, I’m a consumer and perhaps not a customer; however, I am a marketer, and this doesn’t feel right.
- When adding a tagline or headline to an advertising campaign, it’s perfectly customary to be creative. To be confusingly creative is another story, however.
- Speaking of story, the fine print of the ad in Bloomberg BusinessWeek is the exact same copy on the BASF We Create Chemistry website. Why would the advertising team do that? What’s the appeal? I was so confused about the message in the ad that I had hoped the fine print (which was extremely too small) would explain; it didn’t. I was on a quest to assuage my curiosity, but the website didn’t help; it confounded (enough for me to immediately sit and write a blog post).
- The absence of story. While I did not sit to watch all the videos and click behind the wonderful photography on the BASF secondary site, the absence of story on the website did not lure me in to click and stay on the site. As a marketer, storytelling has become more important, especially with a brand as established as 150 years.
- Imagine I was a B-to-B customer. What is the call to action you’d want me to have? What navigation path would you want me as a prospect to take on your website? You need to think like a new visitor and what reaction they may have when they open your site the first time. If you’re aiming to develop a relationship with a prospect and have them opt-in to something you’re offering, give me some cookie crumbs to follow to the pot of gold.
BASF is huge and global. I’m sure the marketing team is also large. And, don’t forget that agency partnership which likely created this campaign. None of that matters because I have been trained to be smart, too, and if I have a visceral reaction to this ‘chemistry’ love in business campaign, imagine how the customers feel.