What it says on the tin
I finally realised what the movie Inception is all about: advertising. In it Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) and his team work hard to plant an idea in a man’s head. They know, however, that it is not enough to simply rock up in the first and best dream he has and tell him about it; they have to go deeper into his mind to plant the seed of the idea. It doesn’t suffice to tell someone what to believe; they have to be convinced it was their idea in the first place. And that is a whole different ballgame. Some in the dream-team thinks it is impossible. But as Dom knows from numerous advertising campaigns, impossible is nothing and can’t is one letter too many (their ideas, not his). Only by getting to know the subject intimately, and understand the thoughts and feelings that inform his actions, are they able to plant the seed which later turns into the idea and behaviour they wanted in the first place.
And as changing ideas is what advertising is all about, brands must stop preaching and start planting the seeds of their well-meant messaging. Allow the customers to discover ideas themselves, to actually feel them. Only then will they truly believe it, and only then may they change their behaviour accordingly. Many ads these days confuse proposition/end-line with desired outcome. These campaigns may drive a bit of traffic, turn a bit of stock or get you some facebook likes, but to achieve any long-term effect, new ideas must be discovered by the customers.
All brands can do is facilitate and guide this discovery, and the same way that I think Inception is really about advertising, brands won’t always get it right when trusting the customers to think for themselves.