Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A bigger idea than advertising

The other day I was asked the difference between branding and advertising. It’s a good question. At Saatchi & Saatchi we believe advertising is just one of the many ways that brands come alive to consumers. Successful brands draw on experiences in-store, great service, events, and conversations online and off-line. But over the last five or so years we have seen a major power shift - it’s not about what brands can use to reach consumers, it’s about what consumers are prepared to engage with. They have taken control of brands and the advertising industry is starting to get the picture.

Slowly. People are no longer interested in being preached to about functional benefits and features. In their lives they are looking for connections and that’s what they expect from brands they care about. We call those brands Lovemarks. We are heading from the Attention Economy to the Attraction Economy where Lovemarks thrive. In the Attraction Economy, advertising agencies have to step up and out, or be buried. We changed Saatchi & Saatchi from an advertising agency to an Ideas Company many years ago so our focus is on compelling, exciting ideas to attract consumers. They don’t spend any time considering the differences between brands and advertising, so we don’t either.


Susan956 said...

Ok.. I observe some internal contradictions in this article. I am also led to ask for more information.

In what way have consumers taken control of brands compared to say ten years ago?

I suspect there are more avenues now, greater media, for consumers to express about brands (and indeed about advertising) but does this equate 'control' as such?

In order to answer this I think the consumer may need to hear how his/her voice is influential e.g. by way of research outcomes et al HOWEVER as I have commented here previously, there are gaps in this research. Certainly I see problematic consumer research practices and very little ethnographic/insight research conducted.

And, as I have also commented previously, advertising/branding is more often than not city centric. I therefore doubt the rural consumer feels in charge of branding although I'd probably make some concessions to products like cattle pour ons and the like which need to be responsive to 'on the ground' issues.

Lovemarks has been regularly described as moving beyond brands but is also generally contextualised as a form of brand.

So, there seems to be a grey zone here. Nothing necessarily wrong with that although grey areas make assertions problematic.

I see Lovemarks - referring now to the Lovemarks list and how it is constructed and dealt with - as brands. However, Lovemarks are narrative, connectivity brands and I think it useful to arrive at phrasing like this because it more clearly distinguishes what makes Lovemarks different from the milieu.

The article ends with a strong assertion re consumers not considering difference between the two concepts mentioned. As a statement I agree with that *however* there are caveats. Firstly we are often influenced by concepts/issues/auras et al without necessarily cognating the same. We like a painting or we don't. Most of us won't buy into the deeper analysis of painting style and media used and so on. YET, the artist may have considered all these elements in the construction of the work.

There is, is other words, considerations that occur 'behind the scenes' (that may need to occur) that the consumer or client never really knows about or may be *consciously* aware of but that are important nonetheless.

I've also mentioned on this blog the issue of highly aesthetic ads that fail. As works of art they are superb and I've often thought individual ads I've seen are worthy of a gallery showing (idea innovation). At the same time I've walked away from the ad with no memory as such of the product. It could have been a travel ad, a car ad, a music ad...???

Many Aussies may recall the "wheredoyagetit" series of ads run many years ago. They drove you mad and were awful *however* you remembered the source and what was being advertised.

A set of ultra expensive, beautifully aesthetic ads and a cheaply made, grating ad and the latter was the one that delivered the product message.

In this case does the consumer care about branding or advertising per se? No. I would argue not. And yet, the consumer, if stopped and asked to consider, WILL offer more intelligent commentary on these matters than may be expected.

Across my life two ads stand out. One was a Harris Coffee and Tea ad that would have been shown on television perhaps 35 years ago. I know it won advertising awards in Australia. Wonderful advertisement and brand delivery.

The second ad was for a greeting card company. It showed a woman watching an elderly neighbour going out each day to her mailbox and finding nothing. In the end the observer sends a greeting card and makes the older woman's day. There is a connection shown in the ad and a sense of hope after incredible poignancy.

I don't recall the name of the specific card company BUT I've always looked at cards since this time with a new eye. To me this was about advertising a generic brand item and doing it very well.

So, such advertising ideas emerge from..what? From understanding connection, evocation, message delivery and I'm sure specialist knowledge re advertising.

This is where I'd love discussion because I enjoy throwing an idea or three out there and then hearing what others have to say and re-examining my contentions.

Kempton said...

Hi Kevin,

Although I think I know what you said here about Lovemarks by heart now, it is still nice to read you say it all in one place.

Of course, the business side of me is more interested in the transformation of the way Saatchi and Saatchi made money (from a strictly service advertising company to becoming a "business partner"/ideas company). Of course, my memory sucks and I might have got things mixed up.

Hi Susan,

I personally find having copies of Kevin's books: Lovemarks & Lovemarks Effect to be essential and very helpful in understanding what Kevin is talking about. It is a very insightful book.

If you like to watch some Kevin videos, I have blogged and linked two here,


BELOT said...

Max Weber, the founder of modern sociology, developed The Three Component Theory of Stratification where he presents a varied approach to social stratificaction that reflects the interaction between power, prestige and wealth.

The evolution of advertising towards branding is the evolution of prime information towards image-prestige of brands carrying a bunch of hidden values brought by a number of symbols. The mnemonic method is widely used here.

The result is an unconscious customer`s looking for Weber`s “power” through a Status Situation represented by different brands.

Branding is only possible in a welfare society where the basic and second needs are largely surpassed.

Susan956 said...

Consul... Highly interesting socio-cultural comment. When you look through this blog and some associated along similar lines, you really have to concede wealth plays a reasonably large part in what is being discussed and portrayed.

For anyone who knows Australia well, they will know what I am saying when I pose that I have spent two hours recently on two separate days in Centrelink Redfern. Shall I say that doing this is highly educative about another polar (as opposed to wealth) sector of society entirely.

Here status symbols are minimal however they do exist and symbols are a form of power. Yet some symbols I saw despised and others grudgingly admired. Now that in itself is fascinating to observe.

To some extent Consul, isn't like often about image or how we want to be protrayed? I know I prefer to be seen as someone who does and can relate to all strata of society and this desire in itself is an image isn't it? I know a woman who works her whole life to be seen as a high flyer who would, at best, drive a porche through Redfern and not look to the left or the right. She would have no desire at all to connect with this area.


I'm glad you raised this issue though and touched base with matters not often raised here as such.

Susan956 said...

Hi Kempton,

I've 'seen/heard' Kevin on one of the links he provided here to Geitgeist but that is all. I commented on that in one of these blog articles. Thanks for other links.

Have you looked up his books on Amazon and read the critiques and some of the highly critical comments?

What say you to those?

In part I ask because I'm not sure great ideas always emerge from soft ground. I'm certainly not convinced we evolve as people from maintenance of soft ground. And I'd prefer to think Kevin is evolving (a thinker prepared to take on critical discourse) than not. I've just complimented him in saying that..but this doesn't mean I won't be critical either. Just as I would not expect him to hold back if I produced shoddy work etc (No, I don't work for him..I'm talking generically).

Kempton said...

Hello Susan,

You are one prolific commentator. I thought I write a lot but you clearly write a lot more than I do. (big smile) Now, do you have a blog? And can you link to your blog so we can read your views on topics of your own choosing?

Now, you have many questions so I won't be able to answer them all. But I will focus on one.

"Have you looked up his books on Amazon and read the critiques and some of the highly critical comments? What say you to those?"

First of all, let me say one thing. Kevin can be wrong sometimes. It will be rather boring if every word by Kevin is right and every views of Kevin are insightful (to me anyway). We are all humans.

If I had learned one thing from the world class professors that taught me and the great people I read, it is this -- even they have questions, even they can be confused sometimes. I have to say the above because of what I am going to say next.

Susan, I think Albert Einstein might have said this, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." And do you know Einstein's theories were opposed by many many scientists (I think a 100 of them) in the world at the time?

Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinions and I won't repeat them here. But you have to judge for yourself if you can learn something from the Kevin's books? If not, then the books are not for you. I love and learned a lot from Kevin's two Lovemarks books. (mind you, how much I remember or understand is a mystery (smile))

Susan, will you do me a favour by going to the library or a bookstore to pick up Kevin's book and spend a few minutes to see if you can learn from the book? Ultimately let your own experiences be the judge and skip the Amazon's comments. That's all.

Here is a concluding story. Years ago, a wise math professor of mine saw that I was reading a math book for fun. (smile) He asked, "Have you read the original research paper that the theory is based on?" I said, "Well, not really." The prof then recommended this, "Why don't you read straight from the master himself?" Since then, in fields of studies that I am intrigued enough, I try to read directly from the masters themselves. So far, it had been great experiences for me to read directly from the masters without the sometimes confusing and unnecessary interpretations of others. Case in point, if I want to know what Warren Buffet thinks, I read his company's annual reports or articles written by him. I skip the middlemen/ladies. (smile)

Now, back to those "highly critical comments" in Amazon, well, you can trust unknown strangers. Or do you want to trust your own eyes and mind? Again, I am cheap, so check out the book from library or scan them in the bookstore. Since I don't work for Kevin (yet (smile)), Amazon, nor the book publisher, I don't really care if you buy the book or not. But it will be sad for me if your views of Kevin's books (the pair of books on Lovemarks) are based on reviews by, in my humble opinion, "mediocre minds".

Happy learning,

Susan956 said...

Kempton..when my book is published in 2008, by all means purchase it and read my chapter on covert and overt mechanisms used by people online to try and control others.

davidsartof said...

O! How I do love an interesting conversation!

I have neither read the books nor examined ratings. I merely read what is before me. I am healthily skeptical concerning anything - particularly books written by authors that do not leave open questions about there content. A good book to me will leave more questions than provide answers! But this is a personal view.

I am neither marketeer (nor advertiser for that matter) but I must admit to finding internal contradictions in Kevin's statements. I could write an essay on the statement

"Slowly. People are no longer interested in being preached to about functional benefits and features."

You could read my own blog (davidsartof.blogspot) to see how that essay might look. Or you continue with your own (collectively independent) beliefs.

As I say - interesting! Now, who's for an exploration into the desert?

Susan956 said...

David.. I as instantly reminded of that Groucho Marx scene where he puts on the pith hat and adopts a seriously explorative visage..onwards! :) I was also amused at the article today...reminded me of a certain woman dressed as a bag lady :) I may have to tell it..