Why is the advertising industry afraid of what it does best? Selling has become the great lost art of the advertising world, and it’s all because of “purpose”.
The advertising industry has lost many stars recently; Dan Wieden and George Lois, and more recently Jeremy Bullmore and Fay Weldon. Thinking about the cultural works created by these stories, I wondered if we were now good enough at some of the important lessons we learned from their campaigns.
From Weldon’s “Go to work on an egg” campaign and Lois’ story line “I want my MTV” to Wieden’s “Just do it” for Nike, these campaigns are catchy, memorable, and resellable. they are pleasing for their effectiveness. Such is the case with Nike today.
While creativity should abound in our industry, in the world of advertising, sales is seen as a word of shame. Why have we turned our backs on comedy, big brand characters, clever writing, and endless fun campaigns?
At some point we lost our grip on some of the most effective techniques that advertising uses to increase its customer base. While we used to talk about the five strategic approaches (feature, logical benefit, emotional benefit, location and role) that brands can take to sell products, in recent years we’ve been stuck with performance that turns into purpose over time. We seem to have forgotten all the other things we used to do so well.
Herein lies the root of the misunderstanding of brand purpose. Thinking about the role that a brand can play in people’s lives in the past; It evoked ideas such as IKEA – “Everyday wonder”, Apple – “Think different” and Cadbury – “a glass and a half full of happiness”.
Since the purpose is to dominate the role, the brand today is especially; focused more on the CSR campaigns that we often see at award ceremonies, in a distorted way, such as fake relationships or charitable partnerships with good intentions.
While it’s an interesting task, it creates the same, pricey, unmemorable and ineffective ads. Take John Lewis’s 2022 Christmas campaign, which aims to raise awareness and support for looked after children.
It’s great that John Lewis is working with Action for Children and Who’s Cares. Scotland will support their work, but why is this the subject of the Christmas campaign?
Undoubtedly, retailers’ Christmas ads will be subtle this year, but are they as deceptive and effective as 2011’s “The long wait”, which positioned John Lewis as the place to buy gifts you can’t wait to give? It was a magical work that touched us emotionally but also delivered a great selling message.
There are so many great techniques that advertising has used over the years that we will only get to one. For example, these five strategic methods; It can serve as an emotional level for your idea, which opens up many different ways to connect, be remembered, and sell.
Without them we would not have seen some of the most famous and influential works in the industry. Thinking about a simple product aspect led us to “Punched mint” for Polo, while finding logical benefits gave us one of the great slogans of the last 30 years for Ronseal: “Does what it says on the tin”.
Having a place in the minds of consumers was demonstrated by Land Rover, while emotional benefits created the “You’re so Moneysupermarket” campaign.
Commercial and fun ads like Old Spice’s “The man your man could smell like” ad, Cadbury and Nike campaigns don’t start with a meaningful or purposeful message. It’s the job of brands who know who they are and what they offer, to try to sell products while entertaining people.
As we face the cost-of-living crisis, advertisers will be caught between conflicting forces: They will need to retain customers by avoiding appearing too naive about switching products. If you hold a purpose that is secretly associated with your brand or product, it’s cheating.
The best products will weather the storm; Actively fulfilling Apple’s mission of “creating the best products that improve people’s lives,” it puts on a powerful display packed with product features. But the good news for others is: There are many ways to connect, change behavior, and engage with audiences without gaining brand purpose or a larger role in consumers’ lives. That’s right, Gen Z cares about how brands work in the world, but they also want to have fun (just spend 10 minutes on TikTok).
Whatever else happens in the world, people still need and use things. The role of advertising is to sell them whatever they need. Perhaps the difficult economic situation we are facing will remind us that there are all kinds of ways to make good ads, and maybe now is a good time to bring them back.
FCB Inferno CCO
This content was first published in the 131st issue of Campaign Turkey.