I’m not a PR expert. I’m not an advertising expert. But I’m a consumer.

And it seems to me – as a consumer – that something has changed in the past few years.

The hard “buy this product – it will change you life” message seems to have softened. Or at least, the way the message is delivered has softened.

where have all the straplines gone?

Nearly every business and organisation used to have a strapline that promised something great.

Councils and government were always talking about “making life better” or “creating happiness” and so on.

Global brands urged us to “think different”. To “just do it.”

But it feels like a lot organisations – including some of the biggest brands in the world – have quietly retired these once iconic marketing phrases. Or at least wound down their usage.

And instead of saying “our product will change your life”, they’re saying “look at what these other people thought of our product.”

Signposting, instead of hard-selling dialogue with customers.

I’m beginning to wonder why that might be?

consumer awareness

Maybe it just feels dated now?

Or maybe, in a socially-connected age when opinions, product-experiences and reviews are just a smart-phone away, consumer awareness (and scepticism?) has increased.

Perhaps we don’t trust organisations to appraise their own product or idea (perhaps we never did, but had no choice until now?). We want to know what other people think.

Maybe savvy organisations know that.

And in local government, maybe it’s even more important that we embrace these changes.

People trust public-sector organisations to provide reliable, factual, useful information.

But maybe they don’t trust subjective commentary about how good things are?

If a council says “this is a brilliant place to live, work, grow a business” and so on, a lot people are going to respond with “you would say that…it’s your job to say that and to help to make it a great place for these things.”

So for me, shouting loudest and longest doesn’t cut the mustard any more. For me, it’s not sensitive or thoughtful enough.

banging the drum for wrexham

In Wrexham, we’re communicating our message just like everyone else.

We want people to know that this is a great place to grow a business, to study, live, visit and so on. I know because I live here. And I’m a consumer.

But a lot of our work has shifted away from the bold rhetoric of a few years ago.

We try to sign-post audiences to what other people are saying.

Instead of tweeting ‘Wrexham is brilliant’ every five minutes, we sign-post to media stories, social content, blogs and other sources that communicate our message for us.

Content posted by product-users if you like – people who’ve experienced Wrexham and have an opinion.

We write case studies that focus on the success and experiences of different businesses here, and so on.

Businesses like Moneypenny, Brother or UCML.

This feels right.

Just shouting loud and long about how great you are doesn’t work any more.

on the flip-side…

There’s an irony here.

As advertisers and marketing people have softened their sales pitch, we – as individuals – have started to hard-sell ourselves in a way that never used to be possible.

People have always said things to try and look good in front of their friends and peers. That’s human nature.

But social media has amplified that.

So much so that the phrase ‘humble brag’ has entered the English language – used to describe bragging (usually online) that’s couched in false self-deprecation.

“So surprised to be invited to speak at the Conference of Something Massively Important. Little old me?!” That sort of thing.

So – as advertisers have grown more humility – we’ve lost some of ours.