Some miss the days of “expensive advertising”

times-squareA New York agency man writes here that “the very act of investing in TV, buying a premium billboard, taking an ad in Vogue, became brand building … because of the cost, not despite” and he regrets the “spiral of decline” that online investment represents.

Expensive advertising versus cheap advertising? This is not of course a measure of effectiveness, quality or return on investment.  And, as the saying goes, you need horses for courses.

I believe that there are only 2 kinds of “good” advertising: advertising that creates desire and advertising that harvests the demand created by desire.

The IPA have unpicked this to an extent in the latest epic from Binet and Field; “The long and the short of it”, but Brand Responsive communication strategies have been a practice at MediaCom since before the internet (yes, I too can of course remember that far back!) Brand advertising and response advertising must work together in balance.  Empirical neutral media planning must balance the two with some overlap between them (think Venn diagram: some desire building ads also drive immediate short term sales and some harvesting demand ads create long term desire and build the brand).

The two different kinds of advertising require different creative approaches, different media approaches, have different measurement challenges and drive different expectations in the audience.  We all know this, it is common sense.  If you see a long film for a prestige car in a cinema you have different expectations of it from the banner ad for the same brand driving you to a site where you can book a test drive, request a brochure or configure model specifications.  The two should also be measured and judged differently.  To confuse them is unhelpful.  As Binet and Field state one set of success metrics does not necessarily define or predict the other: “Brands should pursue a balance score card of metrics, capable of monitoring both long term and short term effects, and be aware that it is not always immediately clear whether a leading indicator is a more reliable predictor of success.”

In terms of targeting too, it is a mistake to apply the discipline of advertising that harvests demand to the discipline of creating desire and vice versa.  A few years ago I chaired a panel at one of our conferences where Mark Howe of Google, Jeremy Bullmore of WPP (and Campaign) and Paddy Barwise, LBS, debated which of the new developments in media should supplant heritage practices.  Howe focussed on the Zero Moment of Truth and elimination of wastage that Google could offer.  Bullmore gave his opinion that if the marketing team at a luxury car successfully eliminated all wastage and only targeted people who were about to buy a BMW in the next 3 months, then eventually nobody would want to buy a BMW in the next 3 months as part of the motivation for owning a new luxury marque is the prestige it carries in the minds of those who cannot afford to buy one.  Eliminate wastage at your peril.  “Wastage” needs redefining.  Short term or long term? Actual prospective purchasers or those in their peer group who will endorse their purchase?

The balance will change by sector, by audience and by brand strategy.  But the balance between building desire and harvesting demand is a necessary consideration for every brand.


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