“I know I waste half the money I spend on advertising,” department store pioneer John Wanamaker said. “The problem is, I don’t know which half.”
Advertisements are a paid form of showcasing your brand whereas Publicity is a non paid form of visibility or awareness. Advertisements is supposed to presell a brand. However smart advertisers stir publicity. Take a cheap beer James Ready for example. What was their tagline while they were advertising on billboards? “Help keep James Ready a buck. SHARE OUR BILLBOARD.” And soon there were people posting their messages and sponsoring the billboard. One such message read “Hey Rick, I haven’t forgotten. LINDA.” It won a category in cannes and created tremendous amounts of publicity.
The importance of advertising is overrated in our times and rightly so! There are so many brands trying to outwit each other and one needs to be ahead on the awareness factor. Whats the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of chocolate? Probably, Cadburys. Hence I am more inclined to buy that without probably searching for other brands. Hence you need to be positioned in the mind of your customer. Always!
But is advertising absolutely mandatory for a brands success? Not exactly. Take the case of Godrej no 1 soap. It has now climbed to the third position in a Rs 7500 crore soap market behind heavyweights, Lifebuoy and Lux. And how much does it spend on advertising? Just about 1% of sales, whereas the trend is close to 13-15% in FMCG. Similarly, The body shop was a result of publicity, Walmart has one the most minimal percentage of its revenues spent on its advertisements, Starbucks again follows the same idea, In its first ten years, it spent just 10 million dollars on advertisement. Its sales are more than 2.6 billion dollars.
Brand managers forget that advertising never creates a brand. I have seen a lot of instances when the first thing people want to do when a new product is launched is create awareness, no issues till here, but how? They want to advertise and reach to millions. Not a bright strategy.
It is always publicity that creates a brand and nothing is stronger than word of mouth publicity. Advertising may be needed to maintain but never to create, especially if you are dealing with shoestring budgets and advertising is treated as expenditure rather than an investment.
Successful brands are those that you talk about among yourself and to others. Ask an example of a global brand and coca cola comes the pat reply in any management school. Say fast food and there are plethora of hands raised wanting to give an example of how McDonalds does everything right.
If advertising could help then Miller would have been one of the leading brands in beer. It spent close to 50 million dollars to launch its miller regular and no publicity. RESULT: No increase in sales and 50 million dollars down the drain. Now compare the 50 million spent versus 10 million by Starbucks!
There are lot of issues with advertising today that will be taker on in another post that reduces the efficacy. Clutter in televisions, convenience of alternate mediums, dearth of creativity etc are some factors contributing to its ineffectiveness. Marketers have to realise that on-the screen efforts need to be supported by off-screen backup too just like what Axe did it brilliantly with its ‘call me’ campaign.