Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How to Communicate a Clear Message: An Ad by KLM

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines just released a new video showcasing a social experiment they conducted. What if someone was in your personal space? Would you feel uncomfortable? Of course you would. This simple and easy to understand video explains that KLM knows what it's like to feel uncomfortable with someone in that protected space. The real message - we listen, we get you and we have a new program on European Business Class flights. Personally, I was sold with the new perk of an empty seat next to me. Now that's priceless. 

Yes, this video summarizes a new program. But it's with simplicity of human behavior and a soothing pace that makes this perfectly toned ad a winner. But this is just an ad, right? Well I of course think about how to apply this to employees of an organization. What if we set a soothing tone, listened more intently and said we get you to our employees? It would be one step closer to engaging our colleagues - honest and simple. Now watch for yourself.  



Andy Jankowski said...

Great post Christopher. It's amazing the power a singular, clear message visually communicated. This is more than just an ad. It is a way to connect emotionally with the company and an integral part of creating a human company brand. I completely agree that there is an opportunity to do this more internally. The more human a company and its management seem the more employees engage. Thanks for posting.

James Lubin said...

Nice example, Christopher. This spot works for two primary reasons that we should all try to emulate when strategically thinking about message delivery, especially in a brand-associated context.

First, the message framing is universal. The spot could easily be recut without sound or in a different language and be just as effective. (Try it out on mute!)And the point is clear despite visual cues that would only be noticed by a European audience (e.g. Dutch signage, InterCity transit logos). Unless the viewer is part of a culture where perceptions of personal space are different (have you been in the Tokyo subway recently?), it is immediately relatable.

Even more important, the ad plays on a fundamental human emotion (anxiety), the most powerful arrow in an advertiser's quiver. The psychological heuristics immediately evoke a set of negative personal memories and associations from the viewer, which are put to rest (literally) by KLM's solution at the end of the spot.

Moreover, it's delivered in a way that is funny and uncontrived - even down to handheld/unSteadycam shots that look like they're spontaneous - and we're left with the impression that KLM is on the side of Everyman. The approach is not so much one of selling something, but of placing the brand firmly in the same attitudinal camp as their customers. And that's a big win.

Now if only I can get them to free up one of those choice seats with my FF miles, I'll be all set...

Christopher said...

Andy - You're right, this is so much more than an ad. I also agree that these simple, humanized messages would make a great impact internally. Have you seen any examples like this used internally?

James - You bring up some good points - universal framing, emotionally-based, and funny aspects really connect overall. This spot was smart as it felt a friend, someone that understands me. Have you tried something like this in your communications or projects?