Empowering tech for consumers | HT Brand Leadership Series

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Insight of the month

Empowering tech for consumers

  • Amer Jaleel
  • May 08, 2019

Someone asked me recently: how does tech need to empower marketing? And, that set off a train of thoughts that were the antithesis of that question.

How does marketing need to empower tech?

Here’s what I think—tech and marketing have recently got married, and they are on their honeymoon. That means they both are in love with each other insanely. But I think they have forgotten that they have taken the consumer along on this honeymoon. And, while the two are making out at every given chance, the poor consumer is getting either ignored or irritated or both.

How marketing can empower tech, I think, is about some simple rules.

One, stop chasing the consumer around. What this couch that I once searched for, for a friend is doing on my mobile phone screen since that day is driving me and the rest of the consuming brood, bananas. Marketing is doing things that is putting consumers off tech. If that keeps happening, then the entire idea behind digital marketing is going to fall flat. If people get so turned off that they start avoiding digital platforms, then what will marketing do by being there?
Second, stop targeting the consumer so blatantly and nakedly. Recently I turned Chairman and I know how many real estate companies, financial companies and purveyors of luxury products have woken up to me. I feel completely defenceless, exposed, and, worst of all, judged! I’m sure there are people who have put on weight or lost weight, who are crossing a certain age bar or, say, those who have looked up organic products on the net. And, how do they feel the moment they start getting products and services with the knowing smile from these brands? (I know, you little guy, you just put on the extra 5 kg, but daddy has the answer for you. Ohh, f**k off!)

And, more commonly, marketing can empower tech or tech-enabled platforms just by making them a bit more smooth and seamless. Every time one scrolls down a phone screen, there’s something popping. You’ve barely finished reading one line, when the entire article disappears, only to return when the cookie policy disclaimers or other advertising material has loaded itself on the screen. I think Chitrahaar and, with it, television would’ve died if the songs had to be buffered while the ads loaded themselves on the ECTV of yore.

And, one more final point aimed at the lesser humans, as we have come to think of them, our dear bots. A large majority of these are there to prove that the consumer marketing cell of the organisation is technologically advanced. I know the evolution of these bots is happening at a speed far outpacing human evolution, and there is not just logic being worked into them but also empathy and warmth. But go a bit easy, guys. If you are not totally sure of the way your bot is going to behave, then don’t mess with the Zohan, dude. They are not getting a second chance from anybody.

I honestly feel it’s still the early days of the amazing things that tech will be doing for us and to us, but the overenthusiasm with which we are trying to adopt it is causing us stress. We don’t want most of what is going to turn out to be revolutionary tech look like the metaphorical toy in the hands of a monkey.

Let’s do it. But let’s do what we can do really well. So, yeah, that’s what I mean by saying marketing should be empowering tech, for the sake of the very consumers they are chasing.

Amer Jaleel
Group CCO & Chairman, MullenLowe Lintas Group

Amer began his career with Bates (then Clarion) in 1994. In 2002, he joined Lowe Lintas as a Creative Director and rose to become the National Creative Director. Jaleel has built brands such as Micromax and Havells from scratch, and has also conceived and led the journey of Tata Tea’s ‘Jaago Re’ movement.