Bland brand – are you the equivalent of magnolia wallpaper?

I know I shouldn’t have been surprised. As somebody who walks around with his iPhone so close to him that it would need to be surgically removed, the findings of a new study into Britain’s online habits still produced some startling statistics.

The Internet Advertising Bureau’s Digital Adspend report found that consumers now average 43 hours a month online, equivalent to one in every 12 waking minutes of their lives – fuelling a record six months’ spend of £3.04bn by advertisers. Almost a quarter of this time is spent on entertainment whilst social networks and blogging take up 12 per cent of the total.

With smartphone penetration having reached two-thirds of the population, engaging with consumers in the virtual world is perhaps even more important than engaging with them in the real world.

This is both an opportunity and a challenge for marketers and brands. I am currently reading an excellent book “Predatory Thinking – A Masterclass in Out-thinking The Competition” by the veteran ad man Dave Trott (

In it Trott tells a series of stories each of which provides a marketing lesson. At the end of one particular story, he provides a series of salutary statistics that we should all be aware of. Although the stats relate to advertising, the message is relevant to all marketers and all businesses seeking to achieve cut-through in their marketing to reach stakeholders and other target audiences.

Trott writes that £18.3 billion a year is spent in the UK on all forms of advertising; 4% is remembered positively, 7% is remembered negatively and 89% is not remembered at all. That 89% means that £16.3 billion is being wasted and the marketing activity it is funding is not being noticed at all.

Too many companies want to play it safe; too many are content for their marketing activity to be like wallpaper: present, nice but unremarkable. Now it’s time to not only think about who you want to target and what you want to say to them, but also how you are going to engage with them. The challenge to businesses and marketers targeting the smartphone generation (and that’s pretty much all of us) is to be bolder, be noticed and be talked about. This is the approach we are endeavouring to take for ourselves and for our clients – we’ll show you soon the fruits of our labour.

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