Thought Box



by Monojit Lahiri September 13 2022, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins, 11 secs

Replacing his film journo’s cap for the Ad-man’s hat, Monojit Lahiri explores the hidden virtues of love as a brand… and emerges with some startling revelations.

Never in recorded history has there been a more desperate desire and need for love. Quickly translated, it means the love-market has never been so huge and inviting!

Act 1. Scene 1.  Enter Irony, through a simple but loaded question: Isn’t it truly intriguing that the most hymned, celebrated and revered emotion on planet Earth is, alas, allocated just one day in the year for remembrance (Valentine’s Day) when hard-sell, heart-sell goes on a maniacal overdrive? That done, on every other day, this emotion is slung back in the deep freeze with technological prowess, pricing coups, strategic alliance et al, grabbing the spotlight?

Cynics and pin-striped collar-down marketers may scoff at this line of thought, but obviously these sophisticated, myopic cavemen are a universe away from the new, exciting world of the ‘Attraction Economy’, which explores the terrain created through narratives that are both engaging and insightful and connect directly with the heart. Champions of this movement believe that the old, ghisa-pita branding practices have become stultified and need to be put to sleep with love-affairs with the brand, the new name of the game.   

Look around and see for yourself the scene exploding with people longing to invest in love, emotion, imagination and feeling with one huge stumbling block. They are clueless about how to hit which button! Declares an amused Corporate Consultant, “They are caught flat-footed in the challenge of translating love into a palpable and tangible act that is warm and credible.” 

To real people, it is not rocket science. It’s about getting back to basics. Junking those bulky reports and research studies, and leveraging this emotion as a strategic device for consumer-connect. Then watch the bottom-line soar! Actually, there are three outstanding attributes that define this template. Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy.

Mystery is about stories, metaphors, dreams and symbols, a space where past, present and future becomes one. Also, it is what keeps long-term relationships alive.

Sensuality keeps the five senses on a red alert for new textures, intriguing scents and tastes, great music, spell-binding imagery.

Intimacy invokes empathy, commitment, passion - the small, perfect gesture. These connections win intense loyalty and are remembered long after features and benefits have faded away. With intimacy comes the feeling of brand ownership. We all know the power of mystery, sensuality and intimacy from our personal journeys.

This could beg the question, “Why should relationships in business be any different?” The answer is simple. Business too needs the three traits that define transactions. Mystery draws together stories, metaphors and dreams that give a relationship texture. Not surprisingly, after the metric mania of the 20th century, mystery is again taking center stage. What we don’t know starts to be as critical as what we do know. Who wants to be squirted with perfume as they walk into a store? This formulaic spray-and-bray is just a symptom of a much bigger malaise - passion trimmed into efficiency. Inspiration pulled back to a positive attitude and love diluted to LIKE. By focusing on mystery, sensuality and intimacy, business-as-usual can be transformed as a powerfully, emotionally-driven selling idea.

Insightful and clued-in communicators have always understood, recognized and cashed in on this emotion intelligently to escape from the ‘commodity trap’ to place brands where they belong - center stage! This is a hallowed space reserved totally for charismatic brands - Pepsi, Coke, Reebok, Nike, Apple, Fevicol, Tanishq, Vodafone, Airtel, Lux, HDFC, Archies, which inspire passion and loyalties that are non-negotiable. What better time than today’s cynical and complex times to get love back on track? Reaffirm what smart emo-driven marketers have always believed: In the war between reason and emotion, get your facts straight. Reason leads to conclusion.  Emotion drives action!

Finally, if fun, sensuality, mystery and intimacy enthrall, engage, entertain, enrich and empower life, why should they be blinkered off from the communication thrust related to trade and commerce, business and industry?  Aren’t they driven to people? Why not substitute the dumb, impersonal, corporatized passion-trimmed-into-efficiency mode with a strong, personal and emotional connect? Starbucks, Cafe Coffee Day, Barista and the new bank (ICICI) ads seem to be doing it, brilliantly, all the time.

They’ve understood that the rules of the game have changed.  It’s no longer only about consumer contact programs; it’s about hanging out and being involved. Not about taking notes, but taking the pulse. Also, they’ve recognized that the research guys, after researching the hell out of what they believe needs to be researched, have conveniently ignored the rest. The truth is, everything of value cannot be probed, dissected, analyzed, scanned and researched for the right answer. Why? Because then we are in danger, as one perceptive pundit brilliantly put it, of being exactly wrong instead of being approximately right. Of placing consumers at the base of the pyramid rather than the center, of mistaking the figures on our hands for the beat of our hearts.

So, what’s the takeaway? Basically, we need to stop talking about love and emotion and set it to work, blend it to the rampaging, new age emotion economy. The entertainment industry is a brilliant setting, it appeals to our creative, unconscious and intuitive side - zones that operate beyond rationality and rules, celebrating storytelling mystery and metaphor.

At the end of the day: Is love a Mango? A four-letter word? A many splendored thing? The April rose that only grows in early spring? Nature’s way of giving a reason to living, the golden crown that makes a man a king?  You decide, but yes, the jury is out and the popular consensus is that, everything considered, love is indeed the CEO that presides over all constituencies and target groups simply because it unfailingly conquers the most significant, critical, precious, sacrosanct and empowering territory of all - your heart!

Hey guys, give love a chance ...!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.