The Goal of True Advertising
Clients come to us looking for marketing or advertising, two terms that have become synonymous in the modern business vernacular. A business owner comes in asking for digital marketing, for example, and our first question is always, “What is your goal?” It’s important to clarify the goal before we move forward with a strategy. You’ll understand why later in this article.
As our culture grows, our target audiences expand, and most importantly, businesses’ needs for connecting with an ever-changing marketplace increase, are we losing the meaning of true advertising? Why does a client want to go viral on social media? Why do they think this is their year to expand to television advertising? What do they expect to gain from a new advertising campaign?
What is true advertising?
The purpose of advertising sometimes gets muddled in the conversation. Let’s examine Apple’s latest “Mother Nature” spot as an example.
We look at it with our collective 50+ years in the marketing business and say, it is amazing. It was, without question, produced creatively according to Apple’s brand standards. However, did it move consumers to buy any Apple products? More likely, it was just an expensive attempt to assure already loyal customers that Apple is doing what is socially expected.
As expected, Apple created another great-looking spot that created a buzz, sparked shares, and added page likes to solidify their own brand. Kudos to Rhys Thomas for an outstanding in-house production. It’s in sync with the brand. It’s cool. It’s edgy. It reminds you who Apple is, similar to the 1984 Macintosh commercials.
But what about the call to action? Did this spot motivate anyone to ease their carbon footprint by running out to buy a new Apple Watch, iPad, or MacBook? Probably not. This spot is a talking point across social networks and tech industry followers. It’s like art for art’s sake. It doesn’t do anything. It simple is something.
Is that advertising?
Producing award-winning collateral for nationally recognized brands is an accomplishment some agencies celebrate and other agencies aspire to. But is that the goal of true advertising? Affecting the relationship between customers and brands, in the traditional sense, requires an inspiration to act toward growing the brand. Simply put, good advertising wins new customers, whether it wins awards or not.
As marketers, we are held to one simple standard: results. We can create all the shiny spots, Facebook posts, and memorable ads we want. They can generate water-cooler conversations and buzz. They can go viral. But at the end of the day if the efforts aren’t driving results and revenue, it’s not true advertising.
At Framework Branding, we view advertising and marketing much like a painter views a blank canvas: it simply is a starting point. It’s the foundation of what a brand is, can be, what it needs to change, or how it can remain relevant.
Who sets the standard?
We grew up on watching Darrin Stephens in Bewitched coming home from a day at work sketching ads. We followed Michael and Elliott’s attempts to build an ad agency landing great clients based on their work while shooting a Nerf ball at the wall on Thirtysomething. We revered Don Draper on Mad Men for those passionate presentations he gave to win accounts.
What we never got to see on TV, and had to imagine, was the day-to-day partnership between the starring marketers and their clients. For all the scheming, drawing and pontificating, the real magic happened behind the scenes when Darrin, Michael and Elliott, and Don produced branding collateral and campaigns that increased revenue for their clients.
True advertising is defined by its results for the client. Increasing revenue is the gritty part of advertising, not the glamorous side, but it is the only goal that really counts. If we win an award along the way, that’s just a bonus.