It’s the next thing out of most people’s mouths the moment I tell them I work in marketing. They hate ads, there are too many of them, and who’s got time to watch television or read mainstream media these days anyway?
Coke’s new campaign direction feels like a push back towards product-focused advertising. The decision to move away from the more abstract concept of happiness towards a campaign that focuses much more specifically on the taste and the bottle begs the question: are marketers trying to be too clever? With all the focus on searching for purpose, have we forgotten that we’re here to sell?
Any brand manager worth their salt is looking to cultivate and manage a brand that is noticed and valued. But how far should a brand go in that quest for distinctiveness? Interestingly, the answer doesn’t just come down to taste.
A recent conversation with a client looking for a brand agency was a reminder of just how little of its own dog food the industry eats. Her assertion that “they all look the same and say the same things” highlighted just how difficult brand differentiation is. It’s so hard in fact that even those who claim to do it for a living struggle to do it for themselves.
Marketers are under enormous pressure to get cut-through. Thing is – where’s the cut off point? How do you decide whether the claims you’re making are justified and how do you know you have pushed the boat out too far? Putting aside the legal considerations (not my space), here are four simple ways to filter what you should and shouldn’t say:
The “Ice Bucket Challenge”, the viral awareness campaign to raise money for ALS, has swept the world in the past month or so, raising over $100 million for a cause that was previously under-profiled, and flooding social media, so to speak, with videos of people from all walks of life pouring ice-cold water over themselves.
I’m intrigued by the number of people who insist they don’t believe in marketing, that no-one takes any notice of it and that they don’t have time to engage with brands. Until … they have something they want to tell the world. Then, suddenly, marketing – specifically their marketing – is interesting, exciting and something they know will work once they reach people. “Everyone will want to hear.”
Recently, in a thought-provoking post on why the PR industry, advertising and the mainstream and hybrid media need to work in a much more integrated way, Richard Edelman made this deceptively simple observation, “Ads are inherently more effective when you have something to say.” And therein lies the crux. In a world where it’s never been harder to get people’s attention, too many brands have nothing in their DNA and in their messages that brings a smile to the faces of consumers. They exist. But there is no Long Idea. There is nothing iconic. There are no delicious insights. As a result, their marketing is often just information and, hard as it is for many brand managers to hear this, pure-play marketing information is flatline from an excitement point of view. Presence, top of mind, awareness – whatever you want to call it – is a far cry from being interesting. Impressions mean nothing if brands fail to impress. Before anyone says it, this is not about budget. It’s really about having the imagination and …
A number of years ago, Stephen Dubner asked which industry makes the most misleading ads? His personal opinion was the companies that advertise closets. As he says, they always seem to be pieces of furniture that are bathed in sunlight, and that are owned by people who have three pairs of identical and very clean pants or skirts, but never anything unshapely like an accordion, or hockey stick.
A study by Catalina Marketing appears to cast significant doubt over a veritable pillar of media marketing. Demographic targeting, it seems, often falls wide of the mark. Catalina researchers looked at 10 brands targeted at households headed by women ages 25 to 54. They found that, on average, just 15 percent of the ads playing in those households reach the people that account for 80 percent of sales.