In today’s social market landscape never has the consumer adage of “What’s it in for me?” been more key in all communications. Today, Brand must be upfront, in the consumer’s line of vision, without selling. Brand must engage with intent, with less frills, less sell and more substance. Social Brand has enabled this. Today ‘advertising’ through the social channels must be informative, educational and add value. The concept of Social Brand has emerged, trumping all other frivolous communications. I am not saying that traditional media is out, quite the contrary, it has a very strong future. It will finally evolve to the place that it should have always been… revenue generating. The emergence of social media with its marketing intimacy and emergence of inbound marketing has proven to be the catalyst for Traditional media. Entertainment value is no longer enough… mind you, the creative of advertising should never have been the focal point of advertising… and now it can’t be, because it is no longer relevant. From a brand’s point of view, it should never have been about creative, because creative doesn’t translate into revenue. Mark Stevens who wrote the book Your Marketing Sucks stated it very clearly: “Marketing that doesn’t suck should be about the revenue, not about how beautiful the advertisement is”.
From the advertising agency’s point of view, the Traditional ad (broadcast, print or out of home) needs to be tied more succinctly to Brand Persona and what the brand is communicating within its other platforms, such as social media channels. It has to be more functional. Being a Chief Creative Officer with a strong heritage of marketing and business, ad evaluation has always been about brand context. My team constantly mimics me “Are we asking the consumer to do too many calisthenics to get to the point?“. It always irks me when I see an advertisement (print, radio, TV, out of home) where the creative won over the brand… when the creative premise/idea/visual was so beautiful that it won out over the primary objective of what the ad was actually supposed to achieve. Answer these few questions when you see an ad that has captivated your attention:
- What is the Brand? (Does it have presence, seen or stated? Does it inspire you to remember it?)
- What is the single message the ad has communicated? (What is the message? Does it speak to the Brand’s Basic Premise and its reason to believe?)
- Does the message hold any relevance for you? (Are they speaking to you, the intended Target Market, in the way you wish to be addressed? Are you the Target Market?)
If you can’t answer all these questions succinctly, then the advertising has failed. Over the years, I have seen ads that are clever and witty, utilizing the latest and greatest animation techniques to create a thing of real beauty… it almost becomes a piece of art – so much so that they win awards, as they are award-winning creative. But do they win sales for the client, for the Brand? That really should be the metrics to measure the success of an advertising campaign. My creative philosophy has always stemmed from my marketing background. As such, when we are brainstorming sessions at 3H, the objective is written out, clearly on the big LCD screen. All creative ideas are scrutinized against the objective and more often than not, the objective is to increase sales.
Don’t get me wrong, there are ads that are beautifully conceptualized, executed and very brand relevant. But, more often than not, advertising loses the perspective that it’s there to promote Brand and deliver on sales, not creative. Achieving the delicate balance of creative and brand… adding in a strong understanding of target psychographics is never easy… but believe me it’s totally doable! Clear concise messaging, with strong benefits, executed with a seamless strategy relevant to the target market is what brand advertising should be all about.