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The Zeitgeist

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“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.” 
– Yoda reminds Luke of the problem with trying too hard to predict the future 

Today I was going to write about ‘how to run a meeting’, but I’ve opted to save that for next week. 
 
During my travels this week, I’ve had a lot of time to think. I’ve written and spoken to all of you about personalization and how it will be the dominant marketing paradigm for the foreseeable future. I want to take a moment and refine that thought for each of you as you consider how we can better support our clients, and more importantly how we develop our solutions for personalization. There has been a lot of great work in the past few weeks producing papers on our business and technical solutions – thank you to everyone for all of the efforts, it is driving our business to a new level! 
 
There is a concept used in advertising called the “Zeitgeist”. It’s a word that comes from some fairly heady German philosophy, which translated means “the spirit of the age” or the “spirit of the times”. It refers to an invisible agent or force dominating the characteristics of a culture. In advertising, there are iconic ad campaigns that seem to resonate with the masses at a visceral level. These campaigns are effective because they speak to the culture well beyond the normal frequency and reach the strategy of showing a commercial every 10 minutes. They become a metaphor representing the cultural ethos… think internet memes. As a creative director, the goal has always been to combine imagery, writing, and music into a campaign that reaches the masses at their core. Each of us has a favorite TV commercial that we remember and can recite by heart. 
 
There has been a lot of talk about how politics have become tribal – groups of people banding together around a common theme or perspective. As those groups begin to share with one another, they create an echo chamber and continue a process of finding and selecting content that they agree with. This is known as confirmation bias. The internet and social media have allowed us to define ourselves into ever more discrete groups. There is a community for virtually every topic of human interest in the world. You are a unique combination of interests and ideas; since all the information of the world is available through the internet, you will explore, evolve, and change over the course of your life. Each of us has our own Zeitgeist, a spirit of the times that guides our choice for the experience. 
 
Now that we are all connected and our choice of experience is self-determined, a customer experience strategy designed for the masses is folly. Do not confuse efficiency with intimacy; we can enhance digital experiences to make them more effective, but that doesn’t build a brand the way an emotional connection does. Many of us have participated in discussions about the long lines at Disneyland and yet it’s still a brand experience like no other in the world. The real opportunity is to understand people, which is now possible through powerful analytical tools – and to deliver the content “Experiences” that speak to their Zeitgeist. Our software partnerships have given us the platform to deliver personalization on a global scale. Now it’s up to us to continue to develop and refine our techniques for helping our clients achieve the goal of reaching each of their customer’s hearts through personalization.  
 
Let’s go be great, 
Brad