It USED to be love

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This passed weekend I trekked to Flushing Queens for my annual pilgrimage to the US Open. While I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing the love of my life, and big time heartthrob, Rafa Nadal, I did see some other tennis greats. Yeah Serena!

Amidst the swarming fans and the 120 mile an hour serves, the one thing that stood out to me the most was the “it must be love” US Open campaign.

I mean this somewhat facetiously. I loved it when it first debuted a few years back, but in 2011, I’m looking for something more.

Let’s talk about love, shall we? Love is one of the top 12 most persuasive words in the English language. Its usage is encouraged in sales pitches and campaigns of mass persuasion. Love, is the king of all emotions…what is left after love? To convey an emotion with greater strength than love, we’d have to make up a word. Like love squared. But since love is the ultimate emotion, we can’t even square it, because there is nothing beyond it.

Love is a tricky word to throw around in 2011. Love is eternal, but consumers are not. They are ever evolving and expect their brands to evolve with them. And the biggest challenge with generation y is keeping up with their evolving tastes and fast-paced and always-on lifestyles.

The campaign highlights the sacrifices tennis champions have made to become athletes, often giving up other loves, for this chief love. A lovely story. Truly. But isn’t it the same story you’ve been telling for 3 years running? Boring.

And the genesis for the campaign? The falling rate of tennis players and viewers. Approximately 34% less people enjoy the sport of tennis than they did when the sport was at its peak in the 1970’s.

“Our strategy is to use our professional assets to leverage more participation in the game…Hooking viewers at a more emotional level, as the current ads hope to, could build an audience and, consequently, put more racquets in hands” says U.S.T.A. Chief Marketing Officer, Harlan Stone.

To reignite people’s love for tennis, or to capture a new consumer, the “it must be love” is missing one truly important 3-letter word. YOU. The single most persuasive word in the English language. Today consumers, more than ever, want to hear what this means for THEM. Yes, we feel inspired by tremendous athletes; yes we know the gravity of the word love.

But what is in this for ME?

Truly compelling emotional stories tug on my heartstrings because they relate to me, benefit me and enhance my life.

I see a part 2 to this campaign. Call me, Harlan.

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