Brands are commitment-phobes...

I dated a brand once.

We had a great time... lots of fun...  got really close right away, but then, suddenly, I got this note:

"Dear Charlie,

     You've been great to me and I really enjoyed the time we spent together... the money you spent on me... all the friends you've introduced me to, but now this marketing campaign is over and I feel like I need a change.  I'm afraid of just being the same brand all my life.  I'm not ready for this kind of commitment...  I hope you understand.



I should have realized it would happen.  Marketing slogans change.  Products get redesigned, usually, for the worse--alienating loyal users.  Its so hard to maintain a consistent relationship with a brand, because they're always changing... looking upstream, downstream, diversifying, etc. 

Its even worse in a world of sell side advertising where you pick the ads you want to run, because they're brands you like.  Then, they just get yanked from you when a campaign runs out.  That's because marketing is campaign driven.  It has an end.  It is seasonal... driven by television lineups, upfronts, etc.  Brands aren't consistent, and so users have little loyalty to the message.  Its only a matter of time before I stop obeying my thirst to drink Sprite or quenching my thirst to drink Gatorade (Is Gatorade even the "thirst quencher" anymore?  I don't remember.) and I'm doing some other action besides just drinking it.

So at some point, Careerbuilder is going to stop paying us to maintain Careerbuilder Monk-e-mails, even though consumers still want to send them.  I mean, are they supposed to run this forever?  Well, maybe...   Its an interesting problem...  certainly it will be a messy breakup...  just one day the "send to a friend" button disappears and your consumer says, "You won't make monkey for me anymore...   we haven't monkeyed around in weeks...  are you seeing another consumer??" 

Persistence in branding is going to be an issue in a sell-side MeVertised world where the consumers think they own the brand and they have to be told they were just "borrowing" it.... unless we see longer term commitments on the parts of brands.  Like, what happens if American Apparel loses interest in Second Life?  Will they close the store?