Neo is advertising the fine art of separating people from their money?
I would say that it is an old misconception. Today, we are people driven, customer driven versus product driven. Businesses as well as advertisers look to consumers needs in order to offer them something useful or meaningful.
That takes an extremely clever use of wit from charismatic people that solve business challenges. Also, advertising people are people that want to be expressed, to talk for the world that they live in, to address subjects that are bigger than the business challenge, in the same moment they are addressing the business challenge. And you can do as such only by talking the truth.
Since you mention truth, what is the true purpose of advertising then?
The purpose of advertising is to support business. The purpose of business is to make money. The end result of business is to create jobs, to create a civilized way of life for people who might not otherwise be able to have a civilized way of life. Making money, creating wealth makes civilized life possible and if someone has been poor at a certain point in their life, they understand what that means.
Advertising is a facilitator in that equation. It allows businesses to be conducted in such a way that they have dignity and value. When I say value, I mean worth that becomes essential, fundamental. The kind of value that only Brands, more than businesses, have.
As we all know, any product itself can be matched, imitated if you like, by competitors in a matter of short time. Technology can be matched in a matter of 3 months. Cars, shoes, juices, even medicines can be matched in an even shorter time. But a Brand is the personification of the product, the Brand is what advertising has done to create within the mind of the consumer: a vision of that product. And this, cannot be matched.
Creating a Brand for a business is invaluable because it separates it from its competitors and it allows the consumer easier choice. Brands make choices very clear and very simple because they carry meaning and understanding in consumer’s mind.
So, the ultimate purpose of advertising is to conceive and create that meaning.
So advertising provides you with the freedom to choose?
Certainly, advertising provides you with the freedom to choose and advertising is information for the consumer. And that information can be used with great truth or it can be used to deceive. Most deceptions though are uncovered fairly quickly and, you know, one of the oldest axioms of the advertising business is, great advertising will kill a bad product.
It becomes more difficult when you have products that are hard to distinguish between.
Then advertising becomes important because the product itself is not used so much for its actual value as it is as a statement about the person. So, in a way advertising allows people to be who they want to be. Or attempt to be someone they aren’t.
How can you be successful selling a product?
I don’t think you can be successful selling a product.
Ok let me rephrase: how can you make money in advertising business?
You can make money for a short period of time by selling products. But I think you can become a big winner, long-term, if you sell brands.
Products have short lives.
Brands have everlasting life -or close to it, at least. Brands transcend products. I will give you an example. Back in 2001 I had a discussion with my Head Creative Director Mr. Liarmakopoulos. He was the guy that thought of claiming that a popular detergent of that time was fighting dirt better because of “blue and green dots”. The truth in that case was that the specific product was an innovation and it was better than the competition. But they couldn’t be persuasive.
Mr. Liarmakopoulos invented that gag. The company accepted the idea and they modified the product as such. Huge success for the product followed. At that time this product saw massive increase in sales and it became number one in the market.
Now, 25 years later, the sales of the specific product it is only about 2% of the sales of the total Brand while its variations, from liquids to concentrates and other products under the same Brand, consist of the rest of 98%: the Brand kept up with the needs of the people. But yet, the Brand is as powerful today as it was back when it was originally launched because they kept up with the foundations set by the original concept.
What I am saying is if you’re a marketer of brands and if you understand what a brand is versus a product then that is how you become successful in selling and make money for your clients and your agency.
It sounds like advertising people are a modern version of bankers…
I never really connected bankers to this but I think that is a really excellent point of view. I’ve always believed that advertising creates equity. It not only creates equity in your pocket, it creates equity in the mind.
Advertising -when building a brand- it creates an equity in the mind of the consumer that allows the product to be bought and bought at a premium, so that there will be money for research and development for the manufacturer and for profits, and so forth.
For example, the top selling product of Lancome is the the Advanced Genifique. The 100ml costs approx. 190$. I bet the real cost of the product to be produced is much, MUCH less than that. But keeping in mind that L’Oreal spent 985 million euros in research and development in 2019 alone in order to be able to bring that innovative product to the consumer, then that price makes sense doesn’t it?
So, in a way, yes you are right. You could say that advertising people are the bankers of the intellectual equity of the brand.
Finally, a personal question: why are you creative?
It’s obvious: think of the alternatives.