Brand Sluts, Consumers and Attention

As “consumers” or CUSTOMERS (thanks Jerry), we’ve been targets to be advertised at, our eyeballs have been made ‘sticky’ to keep us viewing pages, and we’ve been positioned, demographically skewed, psychographically sliced and surveyed until it hurts.

Now, my fellow Clue-train riders, we’re being accused of being “Brand Sluts.” No more august publication than the NY Post has noted in yesterday’s paper, (gracefully left for me on my seat by a fellow commuter who thought I would find the article important):

Consumers are showing little or no loyalty when it comes to sticking with a company or product, and they’re increasingly prone to hopping from one brand to another when they feel bored or get a better offer.

The problem is so widespread — and of such concern to marketers — that ad agency JWT has popularized a “half-joking” term to describe it: brand sluts. The whole notion is heartbreaking for advertisers, who talk endlessly about estalishing a “relationship” that will keep consumers coming back.

Ah. I think I’ve found the problem. See, consumers just consume. So, if you put out more attractive food, they’ll go elsewhere. Ironic that the JWT folks who are responsible for creating ads for companies in order to pull customers away from the attention and brands of their competitors are bawling now that these tactics of advertisting AT CONSUMERS and not talking TO CUSTOMERS makes us disloyal. That might lead to (gasp) new and different ad campaigns that would win us back! More spending. Better CPMs. Better targeted executions. I was also shocked, shocked, to find gambling at RIck’s as well.

Hearing Dave Winer on the Attentiontech podcast last week say that advertising was so “20th century” and that there was no room for ads in RSS feeds made me choke a little. But, upon further considering his more expanded-upon thoughts, and those of Steve Gillmor around Attention Trust, I’m beginning to see that not only is the ad model completely broken, but that there really is no mending it.

I never see ads on TV, unless I choose to (thanks Tivo!). I tune them out on web pages too. But I seek out commerical information all the time. Will some combination of search, social networks, Attention “gestures” as Gillmor likes to say, and companies like Seth Goldstein’s “” allow us CUSTOMERS to offer our attentioon, ask for what we want and get it?

Sounds a lot more like dating with intent to marry than acting like a slut. And in our society, isn’t it much more important to value the sanctity of marriage? (Ironic insert here).