Written by Matt Hayes, Planning intern at ZAK.

You don’t care. I don’t care.
Yet we’re both thinking away about it right now.
I mean, you’ve got the bread and the sausage, surely it is?
But wait, does a bun count? Fuck.

We are living in an age where the bombardment of advertising messages that we are exposed to everyday is just far too much for our minds to process; we block out the irrelevant, forget the generic and straight up ignore the mundane. This is for the simple fact that our attention is a scarce resource, we sparingly choose where to allocate it, whilst an array of brands, family, friends and colleagues jostle with their best pitches to try and win a chunk.

But pitch as we might, I feel we’re getting it way off.

Brands consistently claim that their goal is to be relevant to their audience, to garner their attention, trying to access and be a part of culture on the way. Yet they will persist on putting out content directing consumers what to do, as they try and jump on the wave of and borrow fame from a movement where they have no right nor place. Yet we’ve spent generations detesting being told what’s what, with our filter for inauthentic bullshit stronger than ever – so why do so many brands believe they’ll engage us as they continue to churn out the same old stuff?

Don’t tell me what to think, make me think.

Remember the last time something really made you take a step back and left you lost in thought? The last time a collection of words made you feel understood?

I do, I was hooked.

In fact, I must at this point ‘fess up that it was this moment and discovery that inspired the title of this piece; Instagram sensation, Notes to Strangers (you can check them out here) – the embodiment of getting what I’m droning on about, down to a tee. Not only did it turn my head, but I feel there’s a lot that brands can learn from the viral page that posts handwritten notes. Ranging from the inspiring to the challenging and mindful, the page shows just how powerful thought provocation can be in capturing the attention, imagination and emotion of the public – even in a hectic space like London. Making us think inspires us to share, inspires us to create and incites our inner feelings, it makes us feel connected, understood and well,
bloody human.

Let’s end the ignored; dig into emotions, explore cultural tension and break away from the mundane. I want you to motivate me, inspire me, make me question the way things are done – what might my life be missing? Not only then will you stand out from the crowd, earn authenticity and capture eyeballs but you will create a message that allows the audience to feel like they’ve arrived at the conclusion themselves (even if the brand has dropped you a massive hint), which is surely much more powerful and effective.

So whether a hot dog is a sandwich or not, let’s stop being wieners – here’s to the work that provokes thought, challenges perceptions and identifies the tensions in our lives.

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