12. Animism

Concept: Animism

Animism is a conceptual technique that presents inaminate objects as though they are living things – moving like human beings, and often displaying human emotions. The root of the word is the same as animation, as in an animated cartoon – a drawing that comes to life. Often in cartoons, cats, dogs, horses and other animals are given human characteristics and behave like human beings. Bestowing human qualities on animals is known as anthropomorphism. Mickey Mouse is an example of anthropomorphism, however in the Sourcer’s Apprentice segment of “Fantasia “when his mop comes to life and begins to dance, we are seeing an instance of animism. From ancient tribal beliefs to “Herbie, The Love Bug,” animism is the magical belief that inanimate objects can come to life.

Product: Crown Royal

Background: Crown Royal is a Canadian Whiskey in an overall category known in the wine and spirits trade as “brown goods.” Canadian whiskies were a premium alternative to American blended whiskies, which have declined to an insignificant portion of the spirits market as “white goods,” particulary Vodkas and lately Tequilas, have become the dominant brands. Premium brown goods, bourbons and scotch whiskies, have increased in sales as vodka drinkers have begun to look for sophisticated alternatives, especially premium bourbons like Jack Daniels and straight malt scotch whiskies.

Visualization: Martini olives enviously eye a glass of Crown Royal

Interpretation: In an era when the most popular cocktail is the vodka martini, the olives in a martini glass are represented as two eyeballs (the pimentos are the pupils) almost leering at a glass of Crown Royal. Crown Royal is shown as an object of desire, the envy of common everyday cocktails.

Language: “Jealousy rears its ugly head.” A simple headline comments upon the visualization. The tone is ironic and enhances the visualization by describing an understandable human emotion. What is seen is re-inforced by what is said. The slogan on the bottom, “It’s about quality, not quantity,” is almost an extraneous thought. The quality is evident in the product’s packaging and the high tone look of the ad.

Brand Identity: A premium product with a heritage of sophistication. The brand makes an impressive gift because its packaging: a decanter like bottle that comes dressed in a velvet pouch. It could be considered evocative of an era when men wore smoking jackets and so did their whiskey bottles.

Individual Identity: A young adult developing knowledge about alternatives to white spirits.

Group Identity: consumers who wish to be recognized among those in the know about the very great variety of spirits. When presented as a gift, the recipiant is invited or initiated into the group of those who appreciate Crown Royal as an exceptional product.

Alignment: Status.


Concept: Animism

Product: Discover Card

Background: Originally created by Sears, Discover Card was a distant and minor competitor to Visa and Master Card. As an independent competitor, Discover (perhaps because its services and policies are not subject to the varying policies of the individual banks that license and issue both Master and Visa cards) has established a consistent and very high level of customer satisfaction. There is a constant competition carried on by all the individual banking corporations that offer Visa and Master cards for consumers to transfer their balances to each bank’s branded Visa or Master Card. Ideally, each card issuer would like to capture all of an individual’s debt (and the ensuing interest payments) to their own bank and consumers are long familiar with the instruction to destroy, by cutting, their former, dormant credit cards.

Discover has taken this destruction process and brought it to life by having scissors marching like soldiers with a mission – to destroy all of the consumer’s former cards – from which balances have been transferred. Many consumers believe that officially canceling a credit card can affect their credit rating and so many people would rather destroy their cards rather than cancel the accounts.

Visualization: In commercials and print ads, these scissors make this “termination with extreme prejudice” seem like a joyful way of striking back at the issuers of their former higher interest rate credit cards. The ads and commercials, allow the new or potential Discover card customers to assert their desire for vengeance through the amusing fantasy of the killer scissors.

Language: What if you could magically get rid of the things you dislike about credit cards?

Interpretation: While other credit card issuers advertiser the usefulness and wide-spread acceptance of their card, the scissors concepts of Discover invites the viewers to sublimate their resentment toward the banks and project Discover of a nicer, kinder, less gotcha charge card company.

Brand Identity: A credit card company with a very high level of customer service and straight-forward easy to understand offers. There is far less fine print, easier and friendlier communication, and the willingness to forgive a first time payment error. This kind of service is called “high customer touch.”

Individual Identity: Individuals looking for a better deal and way to simplify their finances.

Group Identity: Almost everyone who has seen introductory rates (sometimes 0% for a limited period) shoot up to as much as 30%, been assessed unreasonable fees, or received shabby treatment from other bank card issuers.

Alignment: Light hearted retribution.



© 2011 – Stanley Herbert Schulman


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