Advertising changed more in the last fifteen years than in the previous fifty. The introduction of digital marketing and the tools that allowed targeting and measuring performance established new standards for the business. Suddenly you could spend less and more targeted to talk to your ideal customer.
And guess what.
At first, it worked. Big Time.
Brands were built overnight via social media. People were clicking at ads and converting. And money started pouring in on these platforms.
But, there is always a but. Over time the digital ads stopped working. The easy excuse is that people became blind to them or, even worse, installed tools to avoid them. The reality is that a crucial factor of the brand-building process was left out. Persuasion.
In an interview with LBB’s Addison Capper, Sir John Hegarty described the issue brilliantly.
“It has to understand that there are two factors: persuasion and promotion. What we’ve become obsessed with over the last 20 years is promotion. Virtually all social media is promotion: promote, promote, promote, promote. They’ve given up on persuasion: I have to persuade you that this is a great brand. There’s a great line: a brand is made not just by the people who buy it, but also by the people who know about it. That is so important, and we’ve forgotten that lesson. Take Rolls Royce. I’m sure neither you or I will ever buy a Rolls Royce. But we know who they are. We know what they stand for. We know what values they have. Therefore, it adds to their value and their desirability. We’ve forgotten that.
Just as we, as creative people, have forgotten to look back at the history of advertising, I think marketing people today have forgotten how to build a great brand. And somehow, we’re going to have to get back to that.”
Simply put, we stopped creating real brand value through advertising. Look at any “social media darling brand” that emerged and disappeared fast. Remember mahabis slippers? They were all the rage. From zero to success and back to zero. Why? Because they only promoted. None of their advertising was focused on creating an authentic brand connection. And when slipper season passed, we forgot about them and moved on.