In the 2006 film, “The Devil Wears Prada,” a naïve Andrea Sachs (played by Anne Hathaway) scores a job as the assistant to one of New York’s biggest magazine editors, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). In one scene, Andrea scoffs at the idea that the fashion industry has in any way influenced her (Watch the clip).
I share this with you because it reminds me of a blog I read recently that stated, quite matter of factly, Marketing is Dead. The case was made that no one is watching tv advertisements, no one is listening to radio ads, no one is paying attention to marketing tactics any longer, but instead people are choosing their products and services based solely on the advice of family and friends, and mostly via facebook.
A few weeks ago, I might have been inclined to agree with this “expert.” But instead, I’d like to make the case that marketing is not dead. In fact, it is very much alive and well. The best marketing initiatives are so subtle, and so effective, that like Andrea Sachs, consumers are unaware that they are in fact being influenced by the very marketing that is, apparently, no longer effective.
While it’s true that we are influenced by those around us, and we do seek the opinions and referrals of people whom we trust, those trusted friends and family have certainly been influenced somewhere along the way, yes?
Here’s an example. As a marketer of more than 35 years, very few things catch my attention. But watching the 2012 Olympics, two flagship brands stood out. Let’s begin with Proctor & Gamble. P&G brought their corporation to the forefront with a focus on their family of brands. Side by side with the family of athletes, they became the official brand of moms – moms of athletes, and moms everywhere (check out the commercial).
And the common thread was that all of these campaigns began with traditional marketing, incorporated alternative marketing and utilized social media as an extension of their marketing programs. With one voice, these brands moved seamlessly from feel-good image to consumer benefit to (hopefully) purchase (only time will tell).
Visa is another great example. Morgan Freeman’s voice, combined with outstanding copywriting launched an incredible campaign with on the fly footage that took full advantage of their investment as a sponsor. They turned these Olympic moments into Brand Support moments (click to play the visa commercial).
Both of these brands used the Olympics as a launch pad for an attention-grabbing campaign, not because they cut through, but because they touched an emotion.
NBC created the stories that made us want to stay tuned through the commercials. And these powerhouse brands did not disappoint. Whether you ran right out and bought their products, or they made you feel good, so that a week from now you’ll reach for their brand in-store; marketing does work.
Only time will tell whether bottom line sales increases because of the marketing campaigns created; whether they realize a positive ROI for the spend. But, what I can tell you for sure is that in our society of one-upmanship, the Olympics offered feel good marketing. It gave us the story behind the story. NBC and its sponsors gave us a break from the news and politics of what our society has become. It let us feel good about accomplishment.
So whether you, as a consumer, realize it or not, you were influenced by marketing. Maybe you noticed that the common thread among all of the Olympics sponsors was the integration of social media into their advertising. Someone saw that ad, felt good about it and checked out their facebook page. Another person “liked” the page, and yet saw the “like” and commented. Maybe there was a sweepstakes, and a friend of a friend entered and shared the link with someone else. You posted a comment on your facebook timeline asking for recommendations and one of your friends suggested that same brand. And that, my friends, is proof positive that marketing is nowhere near dead.