Undoing The Rules of Advertising

by | Oct 19, 2020 | 0 comments

Massive changes have altered, forever, the way we think about and create advertising. Once, unquestioned, the rules of advertising have been rendered useless… 

The Rules of Advertising Have Changed FOREVER!

Here’s What’s Replaced Them!

In the past, everyone involved in marketing and advertising followed five unflappable rules. Over the last decade, these rules have been uprooted and re-imagined.

Rule #1 – Half the money spent on advertising is wasted, but I don’t know which half. 

Today, digital technology provides us the ability to pinpoint audiences and accurately track their responses to marketing messages at every step in the purchasing journey. Want to know which half of your ad budget is working, just check the analytics.

Rule #2 – The answer is advertising. Now what is the question?

From the 1930s until the 2010s mass media drove virtually all marketing decisions. If you wanted higher sales, you bought more media. But the digital domain changed all that — by allowing brands to have frequent and more ‘conversations’ with consumers. This has fostered deeper relationships that go beyond the transaction of the sale. A great example, REI (the outdoor activity company),  runs the “Opt Outside”  program, when it closes all its stores and urges customers not to shop on Black Friday but to take the day and do something outside. This gesture has worked wonders for REI in solidifying the brand with its customers. Check out this video…


Rule #3 – The consumer wants to see a ‘like’ image of themselves in your advertising.

This rule was code for ‘put good-looking white people in your ads.”  Today brands seek to diversify as survey after survey have shown that advertisers who present racial and gender mix achieve greater market share and higher viewer acceptance of their ads. Nike, has pushed this notion farther than any other brand with huge positive results from its primary market – urban youth.

Rule #4 – E-commerce will never replace the in-store experience.

Penny’s, Brooks Brothers, Barney’s,  J. Crew, Ann Taylor, and Sears all went bankrupt last year and there are many others. Online purchasing has become the norm.  What is becoming clear is that the future of retailing lies in combining the convenience of online buying with the tactile experience of in-store shopping. For example, Walmart has become a robust online competitor to Amazon but maintains its mega-stores which have performed consistently better than competitors, such as Target. 

Rule #5 – Big brands have no interest in small ad agencies.

In the past, the large Madison avenue ad agencies provided every marketing function to their clients. This has now changed. Big brands are now reaching out to small ad firms. These firms have savvy and talent to attack with a different outlook.  This has changed and energized the marketing  world. This trend will continue as creative types are drawn to these smaller more agile firms.

The days of the Madison Ave. “Mad Men”  of the 1950s/60s, when many of the Rules of Advertising took shape, are long gone. The Rules have been rewritten and now the algorithm reigns supreme.

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Categories: Marketing

By Jim Lavorato

Jim Lavorato is the founder of 4M Performance which is designed to assist businesses to survive and thrive in these uncertain times. Jim launched an entertainment-related company in 1988. He was at the forefront in cinema technology and helped spearhead the movie industry's transition to digital presentation and distribution. He also co-founded the Arboreal Group, an environmental consultancy. He has published articles on the motion picture and media industries and is a contributing editor for ScreenTrade magazine and writes a blog "Cinema Mucho Gusto". He is a certified SCORE Mentor in the SCORE Greater Phoenix Chapter and lives in Scottsdale, AZ. Learn more about Jim in his "About" page.

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