2014 Blog Greatest Hits: The Most Controversial Suggestion In Advertising

I copied this idea from Bob Hoffman, kind of (thanks Bob!). To save our addled minds from having to navigate the fug of pre-Christmas booze to come up with something worth reading, over the next couple of days I'm going to be posting up the most popular posts from 2014. The first is this, The Most Controversial Suggestion In Advertising...

The Most Controversial Suggestion In Advertising?

“Make the product the centre of your advertising.”

It doesn’t sound that controversial does it? But it seems that if you want to use advertising to get more people to buy your product more of the time, your average agency person is likely to sigh and exclaim, “You just don’t get it, do you?”

That’s possibly because the idea of giving people a reason why they might buy your product is out of fashion in the advertising industry. It appears that even the idea of featuring the product at all has become deeply unfashionable in agencies.

Fashionable planners and creatives argue that all products are the same, so it’s just down to getting people to ”connect with your brand”. And they believe that advertising can influence consumers’ attitudes to the brand enough to change their buying behaviour.

Because they think your target audience are stupid.

They think of consumers as emotional zombies who lack decision-making abilities and buy only on feelings. They attempt to woo them with fluffy, happy-clappy ads and emotional mood-pieces that leave no place for the thing that would actually be of interest to the viewer (whisper it: the product).

It’s a point of view that is all-pervasive in the advertising industry.

The trouble is, they’re wrong.
Consumers are people. People like us, people like you.
And they’re way smarter than most advertising people give them credit for.

They know when advertising is being condescending and disingenuous. They’re intelligent and discerning, and deserve to be treated as intelligent and discerning.

We think advertising should treat people with more respect. It should provide them with a good reason to try your product, whilst being charming, engaging and entertaining. We don’t think that all products are the same. We think that’s lazy thinking from people who would rather be making some award-winning film than selling your product anyway.

Our simple belief is that the best way to grow a business or brand is to sell more products. (That’s pretty much how all great brands have been built.) That buying behaviour influences attitudes far more than attitudes influence buying behaviour.

And so the best way advertising can help is by communicating to people why the product might be of benefit to them, what they’ll get out of it. It should be honest and true to the product – and treat the consumer with intelligence and respect.

And it should do all of that in an entertaining, engaging, memorable way. And crucially – in a way that is distinctive in the category. (Because sometimes products are similar – and the way you communicate the benefit gives you the edge.)

We sometimes meet marketing directors and CEOs who feel a sense of relief as we show them that it is possible to feature their products in good advertising, whilst doing a strong job for the brand. (The secret is that every ad says something about the brand, whether you like it or not. The tone, character and approach of your advertising influences what people think about your brand, even if the focus is on what makes the product of benefit to them.)

This all hardly sounds like rocket science I know, but it’s the equivalent of shouting “Jehovah” in advertising agencies today.

And it isn’t just theory. We’ve been taking this approach on behalf of our clients for the last eight years. Putting their products at the centre of eye-catching entertaining, distinctive advertising. Making them the star of the show, not just a walk-on at the end.

We’ve helped to consistently increase sales, and grow their brands in the process. People tend to come to us when they feel they have good products that just aren’t getting the advertising they deserve.

If that sounds familiar to you, maybe we should talk.

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