"When you go on your first date, you don't pop the question," Mr. Gerber said during a panel discussion yesterday at Advertising Week. "It's about listening, respect and creating a dialogue. Then, once you've established trust, you seal the deal."
Mr. Gerber was one of five panelists at the Direct Marketing Association's "Blurring Part II -- Building Synergies in a New Era of Multimedia/Multichannel Marketing," a sequel to last year's "Blurring the Lines." Held in the McGraw Hill Gallery, the panel was moderated by Richard Rosen, president-CEO of AlloyRed Brand-Interaction Marketing & Advertising.
If Mr. Gerber's dating analogy seemed old-fashioned, the new methods of building brand loyalty are anything but.
The pyramid scheme on which brand interaction is based has been completely flipped, Mr. Rosen said. Instead of emphasizing brands over consumers, the new model stresses the importance of interaction and engagement with the consumer.
"There has been an enormous shift," said Wendy Lurrie, exec VP-general manager at Draft FCB. "Consumers are demanding to be marketed to in a way that is very relevant and personal to them. There's much more pressure on accountability."
On a personal level
Mr. Rosen, for example, has been marketed to on a personal level ever since he registered his 1990 Saab on the company's website. "Now, every time I log on, it asks me if I want a new Saab," he said.
"See," Mr. Gerber added, "that's just like asking: 'Do you want to marry me?'"