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Franck Saëlens  

VP Head of Strategy

Y&R Paris  



Dear Brands, you are under pressure. Of course you still need Brand Love, but it’s no longer enough to be loved. The same for Differentiation. Since Mappings are over-crowded, being different no longer makes a difference. No, today, to be loved and desirable, you must be Useful.

Are you being Useful?

Useful to our lives, to me, to my wife, to my neighbor who needs to borrow an electric drill… Useful to the world, to those in need, the others too. Thus, be useful. Mars decided to invest 1 billion euros in ecology, and the friendly benevolent M&M’s became wind turbine advocates. Because you absolutely have to be useful.

The players of the new digital economy have given a new meaning to the value of usefulness. Yes, indeed, usefulness has gained the status of value. Who could have imagined, just 10 years ago, that this word, clearly one of the least glamourous in the dictionary, would become the star of every marketing strategy? Above all, one of the non-negotiable needs of Millennials, these demanding consumers of the new millennium. But wait, aren’t we all Millennials in 2017?

The Care Revolution

Under the influence of GAFA, with everything available at the click of a button, Care Customers has become the new motto. Uber-ization is nothing more or less than another way to make life easier. So, we love it, especially when our doors are opened for us. Who cares if it is not that caring when it comes to society.  After years of the tyranny of happiness, welcome to the tyranny of care :  I want to be the center of your attention. Thus, to the value of usefulness, now you need to add the value of care. And that’s true, whatever the market. Do you know which image item has increased the most for coffee, thanks to Nespresso ? It’s not taste or quality, it is the famous care customers. What else ?

What are you Giving, not Selling ?

It’s not enough to be useful to my life, to suit my daily routine, but if as well you could, dear brand, equally serve others, the planet, the environment or world peace. Just look at Burger King and our friends at Y&R Auckland, who, with Operation McWhopper, mobilized crowds and sparked conversations about unity and world peace. (To the recognition of a creative effectiveness Gold Lion at the Cannes Awards 2017). It’s true, it is a friendly way to spread good, goodness and good vibes. And it works. Because you have to know, dear brands, in this new world, when you give, you get back. There is justice after all.

Is Usage killing Image ?

It is one of the big problems of the 70’s brands which were built first on Image value. In my time, I dreamed of travelling the world in my Levi’s. If I have to listen to today’s branding rankings, we now dream of a good Pay-pal instead ! While Cola Cola is doing its best to keep its level of esteem from slipping. And according to the same brand rankings, Dyson seems to have become more desirable than Audi. Yes my friends, It is hard to believe. But the proof is in how men are stopping in malls in broad daylight, under the astonished gazes of their wives, to test the latest vacuum cleaner of the Brand. I have to say that the technological romance is outstanding, but we are only talking about vacuums and hairdryers. The value of usefulness, I’m telling you !

Amazon vs Apple.

It’s for all the same reasons that Amazon is in all likelihood going to win the next battle of GAFA. Apple has cultivated for 15 years empowerment, and the famous I want, I can, at your fingertips. With the bonus value of badging, this value of the object of desire that you show off and makes you feel special. But, it seems, that in this new era of usefulness, service and usage value, Miss Amazon, is seen as more caring than Mr Apple. So it’s highly likely, that in facing the choice of my first Home Assistant, the care value might make all the difference. Everyone gets their turn.

As for me, I remain convinced that Love is not dead.

On the condition, that it’s useful. Of course.