This is a post by Sam Ford, Director of Digital Strategy for Peppercom, a PR agency.
As my little girl grows up and gets interested in television and “brands” that appeal to her, I can’t help but think of those of my own early childhood. The brand she is exposed to the most is Sesame Street: It started with her diapers, moved into plush animals, and has manifested into a full-blown television love, fueled by the show’s release of a “Best of…” of its first 40 years on the air.
For me, Sesame Street existed right alongside one of the most revered figures in television history: Fred Rogers.
So, consider this a bit of a refresher course: the lessons marketing can learn from “the neighborhood”:
1.) Relationship-Building Trumps Flashiness:
It’s hard to imagine a children’s show getting less flashy than Fred Rogers. Most of the time, it was him directly addressing his viewers. He took us on trips to see a few guests. And he had people stop by. Even his “make-believe world” was of the decidedly low-tech sort. Yet, I don’t remember ever feeling bored when spending time with Mr. Rogers, because he replaced that flashiness by building an honest relationship with his viewers, by making the show constantly address “our” concerns…at least as best a television personality might do in the days of a one-way medium.
2.) Don’t Promise More Intimacy than You Can Deliver:
A few months back, I distinctly remember stumbling upon an episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood in a hotel room somewhere when the most extraordinary thing happened: Fred looked into the camera, and he said something along the lines of, “I’ve really enjoyed talking with you this week. I hope I have answered a few of the questions you’ve had. I really wish I could know each and every one of you personally, but unfortunately this television show is the only way we have to talk. If you have other questions that I haven’t answered, find someone you love and who loves you in your own life and ask them.” Really, is there a more perfect mindset that brands should take, online or off?
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