A lot is said about targeted advertising. That it reaches only the right people, at just the right time. That it is the perfect push, sending across the message to the perfect target audience, at that point in his or her day when they just couldn’t have done without your product. That there is more bang for buck, and that relevant advertising saves spill-over.
So no toddler will ever watch a shaving cream ad, or a teenager a diaper ad, or a married couple a college ad, or an old couple a new house ad.
Which brings us to the spill-over effect called aspiration.
Many of us grew up watching beer ads that we instinctively reached for once we crossed over to the drinking age. The bikes on our must-have lists continue to be dreams, but they have been parked there since the time our legs couldn’t reach the gear-shift. Someday, the teen out there will be a father who will see a diaper brand at a retail store and pick it up as a feeling of familiarity will run through his veins, unknown to him, as he watches it on the store shelf. A woman who just got married will take one look at a spice brand and without knowing exactly where she had seen it last, will pick it up, connecting it loosely with her childhood days.
It is well known now that the internet has narrowed our vision, killed our spirit of exploration by serving up things according to our known interests. And if treated by brands only as a means of targeting to minimise spill-overs, it might stop reaching people who would have otherwise grown up dreaming of it, aspiring to own it some day.
Which doesn’t quite mean that targetting is all bad, or misplaced. But it has a role to play. The medium itself needs to go beyond, and start sooner. And deliberately reach out to an audience that may not be in the buying stage, but is in one that will make it aspire to brands, and dream of holding them some day.
Or we will soon run out of brands, and only have trends that pass on with a generation.