Defining Engagement Initiative

The ANA, the AAAA and the ARF have come together to define Engagement as:

"Turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context."

A turned-on customer results from stimulating co-creation, which leads to a more personal, deeper brand meaning. The co-creation concept originates in the work of Prof. Gerald Zaltman, who elaborates on it in the Emotional Response to Advertising White Paper and in his book, How Customers Think (Harvard Business School Press, 2003).

The broad definition of Engagement put forth by the ARF, AAAA, and the ANA last year was deliberately inclusive rather than exclusive. The desire of the initial Steering Committee, formed by the three associations to lead the Engagement work, was to offer a framework that fostered sharing of perspectives and knowledge, rather than a single, definitive approach to measuring and applying the Engagement construct. “It is simply too early to be fixed in our approach,” urged Kate Sirkin, EVP, Global Director of Research for Starcom MediaVest. The keen response to the Engagement Initiative, in terms of participation, reception to the White Papers (below, in Resources) and press attention to date indicates that inclusiveness was the right approach.


Although we erected the “big tent” definition of Engagement, the ARF has produced three White Papers offering dozens of alternative definitions and measurement procedures:

Engagement: Definitions and Anatomy  (March 2006)
Measures of Engagement, Volume I   (June 2006)
Measures of Engagement, Volume II   (March 2007)