Why the new easyJet digital thingy is all about fantasy

The real opportunity that the digital / data space presents is the ability to target behaviours rather than people. I am not sure that many marketers realise this yet. As evidence I would present the latest initiative from easyJet called Look and Book.

easyJet has a CMO who is 5 months into the job – i.e. about the amount of time necessary to dump the previous CMOs agency / campaign, roll-out a new ad and develop a bright shiny new digi-data thingy. Look and Book is that new shiny thing (the new campaign aired 14 September). In the words of the new CMO “You will be able to take a photograph from, say, Instagram and find that destination on our app and go straight on to booking”.

I give it 12 months tops (3 months to discover that it is not driving sales, 3 months to try and shout louder about it in order to make it drive sales, 3 months of living in denial, 3 months for the CMO to plan how to move-on without losing face).

Why? At one level it is app/data-driven-techno-gizmology for the sake of pretending to be at the cutting edge of app/data-driven-techno-gizmology. At another level it is just about channel-chasing and product placement. Instagram is seen as the current hot channel, Instagram is all about photos, so let’s find a way of bridging across from photos to our product. Simples.

Except that Instagram is not a channel. In common with all the new social thingies, Instagram is much better understood as a form of behaviour. To use it effectively (if indeed you use it at all) you have to align the real-time behaviours of people using Instagram with the behaviours that correspond to the purchase behaviour implicit in your customer journey. This, in fact, is the future of data in marketing – behaviour identification and response, rather than simply using data to craft increasingly ‘personalised’ (fragmented) messages.

This is not the way marketers are accustomed to operating. In traditional marketing we aligned product messages with customer demographics and media location. It wasn’t necessarily ideal, but it was necessary because this was the way the channels were structured – and in traditional marketing the channels were the boss. When people sat in front of a screen watching the The Apprentice their behaviour is “I want to watch some obnoxious wannabees be humiliated by an obnoxious hasbeen” not “I want to buy a car”. None-the-less it made sense for a car manufacturer to interrupt their experience with a message about a car if research showed that these were the types of people who buy this car and that The Apprentice represents a media location where a large group of such people can be gathered together. It is an approach based on targeting people on account of who they are and where they are, not what they are doing.

The digital space presents the opportunity to target people according to what they are doing – behaviours. This is where Look and Book falls down. It is insufficiently attentive to behaviour and grounded instead in the old-fashioned channel-dependant idea of demographics and interruption. Are there actually people out there who will see a photo of some location and think “Ooh, that looks nice, I would like to go there, I wonder where it is, let’s hope that EasyJet flies there and, if they do and I can afford it, let’s get out my phone (having previously subscribed to the Look and Book app), take a screen shot and book it now”? That’s the behaviour this initiative is aligned against – but I suspect it is a fantasy behaviour. In the real world there are just too many reasons why this is not going to happen, primarily that people almost never simply look and book.

Look and Book is actually an initiative designed to make the new CMO look cool, be on the latest hot platform, use data and digital thingies and deliver an ‘enhanced, data-driven, seamless, integrated, customer experience’ (‘cos that’s what you want when you want to go to Magaluf). It is an idea that is defined by the channel it wishes to sits within rather than an idea that defines the channels it could sit within (channel-defining ideas being the future in my opinion – see the Nike Kaepernick campaign).

However, you can easily see how you could make the ad for Look and Book (in fact this may form part of the ‘let’s shout about Look and Book’ component inherent in its predicted demise), but behaviours of people in ads are very rarely the behaviours of people in the real world – which is partly the point of advertising.

By the way, you should check-out the new ad, which is designed to “deliver a big dollop of emotion”. Hmm – looks like just another non-differentiated category ad to me. As part of a new CEO’s inevitable re-structuring easyJet has also recently separated the marketing function from the sales function. Hmm – looks like they might have actually separated marketing from sales to me.

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