Zaid Al-Zaidy: chief executive at Above & Beyond
Zaid Al-Zaidy: chief executive at Above & Beyond
A view from Zaid Al-Zaidy

Fight ad-blocking by building better products

Brands can only fend off "adblockalypse" by truly helping people live better lives, writes Zaid Al-Zaidy, chief executive at Above & Beyond.

Adblockalypse is destined to become a bigger and bigger issue for brands. Faced with a distinctly un-captive audience, actually investing in products and services with an audience’s genuine needs in mind is the surest way to succeed.

It’s all part of a necessary move towards brands becoming consumer focused. Advertisers need to truly look at what their audiences want and need and be led by this insight, rather than speaking to them from on high with pre-established ideas.

Those brands up for doing something that actually helps people or makes their lives less difficult are truly spoilt for choice.

Take, for example, exhausted new parents. It’s generally accepted that lack of sleep is part of the deal when you have a child. But the impact of sleep loss on the mind and body should not be underestimated. Sleep deprivation and the sound of crying babies are used to train US Navy Seals to deal with torture.

As babies tend to fall asleep on car journeys, some parents resort to strapping their kids into a car seat and driving them round through the night – a practice that inspired a Volkswagen ad a few years ago.

Now Renault has come up with a device for the home that recreates the feeling of being in a moving car. Renault in Argentina and Publicis Buenos Aires have made a high tech car seat platform that simulates the motion of a car engine and gently moves the seat around. Parents can control the seat via an app, choosing everything from the music the baby hears to the length of the journey and type of terrain.

The seat, which is at the prototype stage, could one day be the answer to a lot of parents’ sleepless nights. If it is successful and goes to market, Renault will be able to take credit for making many kids’ and adults’ lives a lot better – and there are few greater accolades for a brand.

Brands that "do" versus "say" are the ones that win. And there are plenty of "doers" out there if you happen to be looking for inspiration. Volvo "Life paint" is the (second) best advert for safety the car brand has done for years – the Van Damme fronted "Epic split" being my all time favourite. Dominos caught on to audience behaviour and responded by enabling customers to order pizza by emoji on Twitter and, of course, Nike nailed product innovation with the groundbreaking Nike+.

There is a user warning for brands wanting to get into this space, however. Brand loyalty might be a thing of the past, but retaining brand trust remains crucial, and brands need to avoid leading their audience to wonder whether what they are offering is real or not.

Unless your product ideas and inventions are genuinely going to be scaled up beyond the prototype and hype, and are not just gimmicks designed to win awards, audiences will see through you very quickly.

Zaid Al-Zaidy is chief executive at Above & Beyond.