October's post for Advertising Week
As far as I can see, literally every single tourist that has ever been to New Zealand has been to Queenstown. And not without reason - a gorgeous lake surrounded by mountains, perfectly situated for skiing come winter and wine tasting in the summer. And that doesn't even mention the fact that it's one of, if not THE, adventure sports capital of the world.
Sufficed to say there's a reason Queenstown is so popular. But ask anyone what they did in QT and I would put money on them all having taken part in a backpackers ritual in New Zealand. You won't find this place on any tourist posters. In fact, you won't find it on any posters at all. It doesn't advertise on TV. And don't even start on digital. Sure it has a website, but everyone does these days, and it's Facebook presence is lacklustre at best. So how on earth does anyone know about this mystical place?
Fergburger prides itself of having some of the best burgers in the whole world. And they're good. Seriously good. So good, in fact, I illustrated the one I ate (see below - but that's beside the point). Fergburger seems to have created a whole identity for itself as one of the best burger joints in the world purely through word of mouth. This is the most valuable praise a brand can enjoy - that people come to them uninformed by advertising, and like it enough to then pass it forward.
Word of mouth is no global phenomenon of course - anyone who goes travelling knows that the best places aren't in the guide books, you ask the locals. But I've personally never seen somewhere that literally EVERYONE who has been to a city has had a shared experience like this. That's right children - sit back and marvel at a world of social media BEFORE the internet. One where people in 1950s dress told each other "oh you MUST see…." instead of Foursquare telling all their Facebook friends where they'd just been (conceptually - not literally).
So how do you, similar brand of a lower standard but with a huge marketing budget, latch onto this kind of wonderful free advertising? That's the best thing about it. You don't. You can't. You take that money you have, and invest it in making your product the absolute best thing since eggs on a burger. And you be nice. Then maybe people will pass on the good word. Customers don't respond well to mean people.
I can't help but feel that if more brands adopted this kind of thought process, and if we became more demanding of brand and less willing to accept adequacy, the world would just be a little bit more interesting. Sure there would be less Starbucks - but I'd have a coffee from that new place down the road. I heard it's great.
So with that, dear readers, I offer you a challenge. This week, ask someone else who lives in your city (but doesn't eat with you regularly) for somewhere nice to eat that's off the beaten track. Try it. And let me know how you get on.