Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Return on Investment Is Dead. Long Live Return on Emotion.

Act 1

First, money was disconnected from economic and social reality. Euphoria, detached from common sense, swept over the financial markets.

It was intoxicating: “We’ll take, take again and keep on taking…. Who cares about the consequences?!” The world was heady with finance.

Marketing and communications accompanied that period of fervent individualism, promoting a desire for instant gratification and a denial of responsibility for the future.

Act 2

When the financial crisis hit, the world woke up with a hangover from a really bad trip. People looked at what had happened, rejected the golden calf and praised solidarity.

Community and human values returned to the forefront and revived a passion for conserving natural resources and taking pleasure in simple things.

Marketing and communications rode the wave of repentant humanity.

Act 3

However, repentance did not stop the forward march of reality. Repentance would get its comeuppance too at some point, and that point is now.

What’s next for marketing and communications?

Sharing and conserving natural resources are no longer the key concerns; society’s new creed is individual economic survival.

Everyone is concerned by personal survival. Solidarity has been overtaken by the fear of losing what we have—our jobs.

So what is the angle? What levers can marketing and advertising activate?

EPILOGUE

The solution is emotion. The staging of emotions that touch the heart, that remind us of what moved us in childhood: a mother’s smile, the encouraging expression of a teacher or the first glances of love—all of the feelings that have made up a person’s social experience since they were born.

Touching the heart, speaking to the soul, capturing the imagination. Marketing and communications strategies have a new role for the future: to help bring back emotion and feeling, the things that touch the heart and build social bonds.

Our contribution to our own crisis as marketing and communications experts can also be manifested through our actions to help rekindle the feelings of people who want to reconnect with their humanity.

If each of our actions contributes to that change, the brands we work for every day will be more respected, loved and charged with emotions that can enrich them with social, human and financial value. Emotion as the new lever for corporate value: This is our job. Try humanity-relevant actions. This is the future now.

Didier Stora is president of gyro Paris

Originally published at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network

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