What started as a formal presentation to the Duke Marketing Club quickly evolved into an informal, sitting-on-the-edge-of-the-desk conversation between McKinney Chief Creative Officer Jonathan Cude and the students in attendance. Instead of fancy charts and wanking on about creativity, Cude opted to get real, real fast.

 

“The truth is, people don’t care about brands, they care about themselves,” he said, and students readily agreed, stating they are not loyal to brands like generations before. “As a marketer, if you haven’t tied your brand to a person’s hopes, dreams and desires, nobody will give a shit.”

 

He shared Laslow’s hierarchy of needs. Essentials like breathing, food, water, sex and sleep make up the base of the pyramid, with things like security, health, friendship and family in the middle, followed by self-esteem, confidence, morality, creativity and spontaneity at the top. 

“There are only a certain number of things people really want (or need) from life — let alone from a brand,” he said. “The strongest brands get this. That's why they connect what they do with fulfilling at least one of those needs. And the higher up you go on the pyramid, the better your chance to make an emotional connection.”

Cude shared campaigns he admired, and he talked about a couple that flatlined with consumers. And students were quick to point out why. They were Dukies, after all.