As we rounded the corner in the center of the ancient city, he stopped in his tracks, awestruck. Dumbfounded as the Duomo came into view, my third eldest stood wide eyed and speechless.
Scraping the sky to communicate its message, it overwhelms, transfixes and impresses the bystander. Leaving no choice but to revel in its magnitude. Tears are a common occurrence, as are the commensurate goose bumps.
The viewer’s speechlessness speaks volumes.
Not the immersive virtual reality experience, Alexa’s ability to order and deliver our favorite microwave munchie or the self-driving, gull wing vehicle. None of these amazing, disruptive technological advances stops us in our tracks the same way the long-gone architect’s vision does.
What is it that causes us to react so viscerally? Is it scale and mass? Material or message? Is it age and history?
As marketers, we hope (and pray) our work engages audiences to do something. We have endless resources and ways to reach consumers. We have expanding technological prowess at our fingertips and a highly educated workforce eager to impress. We seek to deliver messages every day that move people to awe and, ultimately, to action.
On a recent trip to the Caribbean, I was reminded again of this fascination with, well, fascination. How do we capture someone’s attention strongly enough that we motivate them not just to be awestruck, but to take action? Buy something? Visit somewhere?
In this case it wasn’t an ancient building or massive structure. In contrast, it was a simple shack on a beach and the humble fried fish served beneath it one sunny afternoon. Caught just steps away, artfully seasoned in this ramshackle structure on a remote beach in the middle of the Caribbean.
The authenticity of the boat that brought us to this oasis, the rustic kitchen, and the purity of the experience reminded me of how even the simple, the small and the inconsequential could have the power to leave us awestruck. Touching our emotions at the DNA level.
Marketers need to think about the viewer in the piazza and the fish in the shack. Not here-today-gone-tomorrow flash and sizzle and slick campaign that feeds the ego of the creative. While the ostentatious may deliver a small blip on the radar, it lacks the emotion, the longevity, the raw humanity that an authentic message elicits.
These moments of awe – simple and majestic alike – connect us to our humanness. They remind us that we are living, breathing, feeling biological organisms that respond to environments using sense and feeling and emotion.
As marketers, we need to study the awe these seemingly contradictory moments evoke. We need to remember to be unapologetically human in how we try and motivate people to do something. We need to remember the human moments that strike deep and true.
We need to remember to find humanity in our messages.