The advertising message as a parasitic appendage

The new e.On advertising

"Are you on?" this question has been asked by many, and today you see those who are "on" can be seen at every bus stop. The energy company eon is taking a new approach with its advertising campaign www.I-am-on.De new ways. The strategists have consciously or unconsciously reached deep into the bag of tricks of memetics. What memetics is and how memes behave has already been discussed here several times (memetics and economy). This theory tries to explain communication in a parasitic way and celebrates its explanatory successes with an idiosyncratic point of view. Information units are in the context living beings, which infect human brains and live in them without paying rent.

The advertising message as a parasitic appendage

The independent multiplication of memes makes this approach particularly interesting for the advertising industry. The information spreads by word of mouth, without the need for a company to rent an advertising space. Classical advertising battles are usually pyrrhic victories, much wind around little success.

Scattering losses

People are inundated with advertising messages, whether on television, billboards, radio or in daily newspapers. With the time man dulls, he perceives only what interests him. The free advertising leaflets land directly in the trash, in the advertising break the attention is given to the cow cupboard and at the bus stop one concentrates on the timetable or gets upset about fellow passengers.

In the advertising language we talk about scattering losses. Unfortunately, they increase as advertising becomes the focus of attention. The gaze plays a miserable game of hide and seek with advertising. Where it shifts, attention disappears. In accordance with murphy’s law, people always look where advertising is not.

The businessmen have always had to deal with this dilemma, and the trickier one has always won. Cosmetics manufacturers are flooding their consumers with an enormous number of advertising minutes, and concert promoters are sticking a hundred posters next to each other – at some point, it simply has to be seen.

Advertising with what is more interesting than the advertised product

Germany’s major energy supplier has solved the problem in a different way. Its posters don’t talk about electricity, but about people who are under power. They are contemporaries who are switched on to achieve honorable goals with their energy: a mother who raised a disabled child, a motorcyclist who learned to walk again after an accident, or a cab driver who delivered to flood victims in dresden.

Here’s what might be more interesting than the electricity that looks the same from every socket anyway. Whoever markets the homogeneous good electricity has a difficult task anyway. A few years ago, our colleagues at yellostrom had the audacity to seriously claim that electricity is yellow. What actually sounded like a joke was in reality a terrific market success.

Back to the reds, they don’t stand out because of the paradox of colored electricity, they don’t stand out at all. They have understood that communication, just like life in nature, is organized in a parasitic way. The information creeps into the brain at the place, where another information does not already dispute its storage place. It finds a gap only there, where the other memes have not already built up a certain immunity against the new. The information only has a chance where it meets the interest of the recipient and thus undermines the defensive attitude.

When someone "on" is on, he realizes his dreams with passion or gets up again after a setback, this is more likely to stick in a brain than the price of a kilowatt hour of electricity. Once the information is there, it can multiply through communication. When people have used their passion for others, they may talk about it. This was certainly the case with jesus, who healed through the laying on of hands, and today the book about his life is still a bestseller. In the case of the campaign with on-peoples, it is a vision of the future to include on-peoples in history or to infect the whole population with them.

But this still does not solve the problem of advertising. Advertising should not be a dead art, but should bring money into the coffers. An advertisement that only shows people who have turned words into deeds with their willpower does not sell electricity.

Advertising effect as a waste product

Parasitic communication settles into brains and multiplies like a disease. In nature, parasites organize themselves in chains, one feeds on the other. (michel serres1) the rat feeds in the pantry of the tax lessee and the tax lessee collects his taxes from the taxpayer. Every animal, no matter how small, still has smaller creatures sitting in its fur, consuming there skin remains or other excrements.

This is also how the communication in the on-community is designed, with the advertising message stuck on the back as a small appendix. It is simply dragged along and benefits from the fact that a completely different communication content is communicated. The company logo is only visible in the corner. People are "on", they show their assertiveness with "new energy". The actual product is talked about only in passing, in a very subtle way.

The advertising effect is thus the waste product of something completely different. The advertising message creeps into the mind as if through a trojan horse. Unnoticed advertising is perceived, which one did not want to perceive at all. The slogan "eon – new energy" is thus a parasitic appendage, an appendix, to a much coarser meme complex dealing with assertive personalities.

To start such a campaign is risky, to reduce one’s own advertising space and time in such a way is courageous, a viable marketing controlling had never allowed this to happen. As the company has retrenched with its own advertising messages, the advertising message must use this strategy to cheat its way around the population’s cognitive advertising blockade. Is the advertising message "i am on" once in the heads, it is the question, in how far this information spreads in space and time further and thereby the appendage "eon makes energy that you can also buy" follows.

History will show the final success and how far this will be reflected in hard truth is perhaps also beyond an exact quantifiability. The start of the campaign exceeded all expectations. Many thousands of citizens applied and enriched the online community with their contributions. 80% of the people in germany know that eon is behind the campaign, so they have reached almost everyone you can reach with the message.

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