Any reputable psychologist will tell you that “emotional connections” are the key to happy, healthy interpersonal relationships. Indeed, a complete inability to make emotional connections with other people is a severe flaw and the defining characteristic of a sociopath.
But what about an inability to forge emotional connections with wealthy multinational corporate brands who are trying to make money off of you? I apparently suffer from this condition, and was brutally reminded of my emotionally stunted state when I read this update from the world of marketing news:
Washington, D.C. (Oct. 10, 2013) - APCO Insight, the global opinion research consultancy at APCO Worldwide, revealed today its list of the 100 Most Loved Companies. The Walt Disney Company tops the list followed by Yahoo!, Google and Sony respectively.
APCO's proprietary Emotional LinkingSM model served as the basis for evaluating the companies by measuring consumers' emotional attachment to brands along eight dimensions, providing companies with a roadmap to understanding consumer expectations in an actionable way.
Um … okay. Maybe their definition of “love” differs from my own? Because love does not focus on value, quality and convenience, but consumers dealing with companies should.
I’d never dump my One True Love in exchange for a newer model just because the latter offers to reduce my monthly transportation costs by five percent, but if a new car could do that I’d discard my old one without so much as a Dear John letter. I’ll put up with a boring weekend if my OTL is sick abed, even spend extra time, money and effort to buy my OTL some medicine and fruit juice if necessary, but one boring, costly, inconvenient weekend at a vacation resort is enough for me to tell the resort company “We’re through.”
"The best brands are those that build a strong, enduring emotional attachment with consumers," said Bryan Dumont, president, APCO Insight. "In addition to acting as a highly predictive tool for consumers' purchase choices, the Emotional Linking model has proven to be an excellent way to help companies retool their campaigns to build stronger emotional attachments between their key audiences and their brands."
Any reputable psychologist will tell you that facial expressions are an important means by which human beings forge emotional links with others—Baby smiles for the first time, Mama’s heart melts in response and blah blah blah strengthening the emotional link ‘twixt mother and child, for example.
So it’s probably ironic that, on the same day Disney made APCO-generated headlines for being the most loved and emotionally linked company in the world, Disney also got a headline in the Christian Science Monitor when writer Mark Sappenfield published a fascinating article titled “New Disney princess outrage: Is ‘Frozen’ only for ‘pretty’ girls?”
The story immediately generated online controversy, but the bulk of the uproar wasn’t over the unsurprising revelation that Disney princesses tend to be pretty; instead, attention focused on a Disney animator’s admission that the company will downplay characters’ facial expressions to emphasize its standards of beauty.
Slate’s Double X blog summarized it as, “Women are hard to animate because they have emotions, says Disney,” while Opposing Views gave it the headline “Disney animator admits to sacrificing emotional range in princesses to ‘keep them pretty’.”
So maybe that’s why I haven’t made a deep emotional connection with the Disney corporation. Or maybe it’s because my emotional wellspring is already flowing toward actual people I know—friends, family, neighbors, OTL—and the idea that consumers are supposed to have deep emotional attachments with the companies who make their stuff is just a cynical marketing ploy.