I recently had a pretty big life change. I was turned into a zombie.
Now before you pity me, I gotta say, it’s not so bad. Turns out brains are pretty great, and I really don’t mind the nomadic lifestyle. I mean, did you see Nomadland? Frances McDormand gets it.
What I do mind is the fact that most brands have been really annoying me lately; they just don't seem to understand how to talk to me anymore. Let me explain.
Some brands missed the memo I was zombified
In my former life, I loved a good salad—those leafy greens really did it for me. Nothing overly complicated—think baby kale, cranberries and juicy pears, with candied walnuts and gorgonzola, drizzled to perfection with balsamic vinaigrette. Salads helped me maintain a trim figure and avoid the brain fog of a carb-heavy lunch.
Nowadays, as red meat has become more dominant in my food pyramid, many brands seem out of touch with my dietary preferences and restrictions. I frequent zombie subreddits and read articles like “The health benefits of a keto diet.” I mean, I think my recent click history and offline behaviors would scream for themselves.
What kills me is that I keep getting ads, emails, texts and more from grocery stores and restaurants telling me to "Grab a healthy, easy lunch option," or “Try our new vegetarian friendlier menu!” Over my dead body!
I also used to wear suits all the time. I dressed to impress. Now, my day-to-day is a little … messier than it used to be. Not to mention suits can be pretty stiff—I’m looking for clothes with a bit more stretch and movement. And, let’s be honest, designer brands are no longer a viable option for me. It’s hard to admit: I feel a little sad every time I see an ad that reminds me of my old life, digging up the past.
By this point, brands should have realized that I'm not the same customer I used to be. Sure, I might not be breathing, but I’m living my best life by embracing who I am in the moment. I wish brands would do the same: I’m more in the market for tracksuits than business suits these days.
Other brands only see me as a zombie—and nothing else
While some brands seem completely oblivious to my huge life change, others are only focused on it.
They advertise to me using stereotypes; like I’m just part of a horde or segment of “look-a-likes,” and don’t see me as an individual. My name is Jonathan, not “zombie.”
For example, one streaming service just keeps recommending zombie-centric horror movies to me: Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, anything with Gary Busey, etc.
But, I’m more complex than that. Even though I’m now a member of the undead, my love for Dancing With the Stars never died. At the end of a long day, all I want to do is kick up what’s left of my feet and unwind with some sequin gowns and foxtrot. And I may be on the run, but I don’t live under a rock: I can’t get enough of Squid Game—it’s rather appetizing.
Brands could know all of this if they just connected my viewing behaviors between my old smart TV and my new devices - I've embraced mobile-first, out of necessity, but my streaming accounts are still registered with the same email.
And, another thing: Lots of brands just advertise to me around Halloween. They think I only rise from the dead when the veil thins, but the truth is that’s just my busy season. I’m a year-round kind of creature.
Is it too much to ask for information about popular winter tourist destinations, spring cleaning products or score premium seats for Grateful Dead’s summer tour?
Brands that can’t keep up? They’re dead to me
Listen, I know it’s not easy to identify people correctly. For a long time, I would wait around for my next meal, expecting someone to show up. Let's just say that I was pretty hangry, pretty often; perhaps like a lot of brand marketers might feel today.
But I think we’d both be happier if you (and your trusted partner) used your first-party data, real-time technology and expertise to personalize my experiences and respect who I am today; not who I was or what I did before. In a privacy-centric way, of course: I can’t have that information leaked. Angry mobs, obviously. I’m no expert, but it seems like these guys are pretty good at it.
Get to know zombies and the living for who we are. And by that, I mean who we are now. People change, things happen. My buddy just got engaged; I got turned into a zombie—we all go through shifts.
But it’s time to bury dead segments and cookies; the wasteful, brain-dead advertisements for suits, salads and Halloween gear and embrace the world of living, breathing data and connected identity to turn this cranky zombie into a happy customer.