After This Reset, What's Ahead for Advertising?

Something happens during natural disasters–something oddly positive.  As the floodwaters rise or the fires spread, people reach out in cooperation, banding together as ad hoc communities with a common cause.  Long after the damage is over and property has been repaired, people remember those tense moments and how quickly they created a thrilling closeness, a powerful bond.

Oh.  That bump.

Oh. That bump.

I can only hope we’ll all feel a similar communal sense when the current storm of advertising changes finally passes and we once again achieve some semblance of equilibrium.  In the latest Adweek/Brandweek, Steve McClellan interviews a number of industry leaders for a feature that tries to identify just what that new normal might be like.

Among quotes from industry leaders like Google’s Eric Schmidt and WPP’s Marty Sorrell, Sue Mosely, Initiative’s worldwide director of research, noted that “Brand loyalty has been badly shaken.”  

Indeed.  And there’s growing concern that consumers who have traded down might not trade back up later.  Perhaps this new fiscal austerity will stay, benefitting discount or store brands at our clients’ expense.  As people in the brand-building business, this represents an alarming scenario.  So what can we do to protect the eroding value of our brands?

For decades, ‘trust’ has been one of the bedrock brand value, but we can no longer assume ‘trust’ alone will suffice.  In a more cost-competitive world, it can come off as a nebulous benefit.  Planners and creatives alike will need to take up the charge and uncover or create compelling new reasons for people to invest in our brands.  How can our brands help?  How can they make things better, easier or richer for people?  What else can they bring to the experience?

Finding ways to add value and keep consumers engaged with our brands will become the new marketing imperative.  And given the increasing parity within the marketplace, it will no doubt stay the imperative for a long time to come.