Jeff Goldblum’s bare chest just smothered your fancy new buzzword

By Milan Semelak, global chief disruption officer

July 19, 2018 | 5 min read

So Jeff Goldblum just popped up, bare-chested, by Tower Bridge. Inflatable, yes, but he still made me swoon.

jeff goldblum

Tying in with Jurassic Park’s 25th anniversary, the 25ft homage to one of cinema’s most meme-worthy moments arrived to promote Now TV’s £9.99 cinema pass. It doesn’t matter that Jurassic Park’s 25th anniversary was actually last month. It doesn’t matter that Jurassic Park has nothing to do with London.

It worked. It’s ludicrous, but it worked.

Because that’s what people want. People, in this case, want a 25ft Jeff Goldblum statue. But most agencies haven’t really caught on yet. They don’t have a 25ft Jeff Goldblum statue – or the equivalent, whatever that may be for the brand they’re working with.

Most agencies are too busy crawling through a toilet clogged right to the back with airy-fairy buzzword bullshit.

They fetishise the future, focusing on the tech delivering the creative rather than the creative itself. They insist that AI really is as advanced as it is in the movies (it isn’t). They’re thinking of augmented reality, virtual reality, this far-away reality, this hypothetical reality. They seem to forget about the actual reality people live in.

The public don’t particularly care about how they’ll be better targeted in 10, 15, 20 years’ time. It’s just noise. Waffle. Nothingness.

But they do think: ‘Wow, that Jeff Goldblum thing’s cool. I’m gonna get a picture with it. £9.99 for that Now TV pass is pretty decent, too. I might get it. God, Jeff Goldblum’s still a fox, isn’t he? As if he’s 65 years old.’

They don’t think like this because they’re dumb, or lack the foresight to consider the convenience new technology will grant them. They think like this because they’re actual human beings who want to be engaged in a creative way, in the moment, the here and now.

I mean, it’s obvious, but its worth reminding ourselves of this simple tenet: our job is to craft real, tangible value for brands.

And value is exactly that. It’s worth. It’s how a potential customer perceives the offering, how they rank it against the 637352823738328 other things they’re exposed to on any given day.

To create value, there needs to be an actual cause to connect with people in the real world, and in turn, a cause for them to connect with the brand. And they need to be able to connect conveniently.

Agencies need to gear work towards the customer finding it, smelling it, taking it home with them, saving it for years to come, telling their grandchildren about it, leaving it in their will.

Promotions, propositions and platform positioning all need to be geared around how and why the customer values the brand. Not around a fancy buzzword created by some hungover guy in a boardroom meeting; a buzzword the other attendees were too hungover to call out and say, ‘That’s… that’s not actually very good, is it?’

And what is a brand, really? Much like the concept of value, a brand is very simple when you deconstruct it. It’s just a collection of ideas, afforded market power by the value and attention customers decide it deserves. If you’re mathematically inclined, my equation looks like this: brand = value x attention.

Without value, agencies just pump out media noise – useless for brands, and generally done much better by entertainment providers. Without the ability to grab attention, hitting people in the right way, in the right place, at the right time, the brand is just a theory that curls up and dies in the Powerpoint deck.

The successful brand lives in people’s minds. And it’s going to stay there longer if it impacts them in the real world, driving them to do stuff, to engage, to actually buy whatever’s being sold.

I reiterate: if you’re not creating value, you’re just creating noise. People don’t like too much noise. They can buy a pair of earplugs really cheap these days.

But they don’t see an 25ft Jeff Goldblum statue every day.

Milan Semelak is global chief disruption officer at Oliver


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