The Vicarious Experience

I spoke on the subject of Customer Experience Management at the annual Marketing Profs retreat a few weeks ago. We talked alot about the concept I've been promoting for a few years called the "three word rule" and went through a list of brands that really understand the rule and how to apply it. Later on, the subject of Volvo came up, and unilaterally the one word that came up was "safety." Now, that's brand equity.

Volkswagen is now getting into the safety game with its "Safe Happens" campaign - and they're doing it with highly compelling advertising approach. Created by ad agency, Crispin & Porter, the ads feature every day people - much like yourself - experiencing car accidents. If you're paying attention, the ads drag you right into the accident in a participant's capacity.... and you'll vicariously experience the accident with the actors in the commercial. You'll also join in their relief that no one is hurt. It's very effective.

View a few of the ads by clicking here or here.

What Crispin and Porter are playing off of is the power of the vicarious experience. For example, we all know gossip and bad news are viral. What's important to remember is that customers that have a bad experience with your brand may enable others to vicariously experience the event through word-of-mouth.

I recently had a talk with a friend who likened waiting for help at the Apple Store to "waiting to be noticed by the cool kids in school." While she didn't like the experience much, she admitted she could not help but notice her desire to "be one of them." Cool by association, courtesy of the vicarious experience dynamic.

Vicarious experiences invite others to participate and engage the senses and the emotions. They motivate people to change, react, consider in a more tangible way. There's something to be learned for all of us in these examples.

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LEIGH DURST

LEIGH DURST
I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.

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