Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Is advertising enough to build a brand these days?

Is advertising enough to build a brand these days?

Intuitively this feels like a stupid question. Surely the answer is no, right? Today, brands are complex. Each interaction we have with the brand leaves an impression on us. Yes, their advertising is important, but our relationship with brands is a lot more two-way than before. If we're not happy, we can contact the brand. We can even contact the CEO if we please and we expect a response.

I remarked recently about Aer Lingus on why they would spend a load of cash on a TV ad to make us like them more, if their communication on their website gives us a different message.

But it would be wrong to completely dismiss advertising. When done well, it can do wonders.

I don't know how good Godfather's Pizza actually is compared to, say, 4-star pizza. But I have a higher perception of it. They feel like a higher quality outfit to me. I don't order in pizza much so my perception of Godfather's Pizza is based almost entirely on the brand image they have carefully crafted through their TV advertising. Their 'We know where you live' theme is very clever and their agency Bloom manage to be very creative even when constrained to 10-second stings like above.

And in fact, my perception may be inaccurate.

A friend of mine recently called the offices of both Godfather's and 4-star pizza - and found 4-star to be much better organised. She was surprised. We both were. She expected the opposite. She thought Godfather's would be the more professional place. Why? Because they look high quality. Their advertising has built their brand.


  1. Even in this age of conversation, advertising can still play a critical role in building perceptions of a brand.

  2. However, I suspect this depends on how much interaction you are expected to have with the brand. How many FMCG brand managers will you call in a year about their products?

  3. But regardless of what you can do with advertising, you can probably do so much more if you pro-actively manage the other brand touchpoints. The Godfather's Pizza website feels cheap compared to their TV advertising. Shame. They could learn from marketing's poster child - Innocent Drinks. They are pure FMCG yet they bring their brand into their packaging, their tone of voice, their website, their 'Banana' customer phoneline, their 'Fruit Towers' offices, their blog, their grass vans and their email marketing.


Anonymous said...

At least you didn't lie and say....I don't each pizza much!

Anonymous said...

Some nice comments Paul. I don't think too many people are claiming that advertising can build a brand alone. I love the examples you have used - Aer Lingus inconsistencies, versus Innocence oozing brand in everything.

You talk about "in the age of conversation" - my only comment is that I think the age of conversation is only starting - open engagement with consumers will become such an important part of the brand building you explain.

Paul Dervan said...

thanks Campbell. I reckon there are quite a few brands that believe advertising is the answer. See the Porsche example here but agree 'age of conversation' probably hasn't hit tipping point yet.

Conor - just as well I wasn't talking about indian food. My view would be based on experience...

Daniel Oyston said...

Yes advertising is absolutely enough to build a brand. Only problem is that it will take a long time and it won’t be building real relationships with customers. It’ll also be very expensive.

Your brand perception of Godfather’s is a good example. I bet that you didn’t build your perception up over 1 or 2 ads but probably built it up over a long period of time. They reckon that if you say it enough and for long enough then people will believe it. That’s sometimes what ads do.

Now, while you have a good brand perception of Godfathers it is clear that you do not engage or interact with the brand.

I think an important point to make is the speed that a brand wishes to build itself. By that I mean, if I post a comment on a CEO’s blog, and I ask a question, then I expect a pretty speedy answer and the response and timing will create a brand impression – good or bad.

However, the absence of social media tools means that you aren’t putting yourself in the firing line. The good thing about putting yourself up for interaction and relationships is that you get honest feedback from your customers.

It is this feedback that drives you to become better … maybe the lack of social media and feedback is why your friend received poor service from Godfather’s? No one is pushing them and it is compounded by the existence of a strong brand that was built by advertising.

Paul Dervan said...

hi Daniel,

thanks for your input.

Time + Money, I hadn't considered it from this angle but makes perfect sense. You're right, I've seen their ads for a couple years.

I agree that social media can make us more honest, and help a company to become a better brand.

cheers Daniel


Matt Ambrose said...

I think building a brand online appeals to different inherent human motivators than advertising. Ads appeal to aspiration whereas online it's more tribal and wanting an association with those you feel a sense of shared passions and interests.

Thanks for the post. It's helping me collect my thoughts on a similar one I'm working on.

Paul Dervan said...

cheers Matt. let me know when your posted / published your article.