Stirring the Pot

This morning I read an article on the Story of Telling blog questioning the value of advertising. I subscribe to this blog because of the occasional gem, but in this case, Bernadette Jiwa was way off the mark. This is just one in an increasing number of similar articles recently, written through the lens of an engineer or worse, as a desperate attempt to capture attention (the irony!_.

So naturally, I had to respond. I recommend reading the article in question first for more context:

How does a brand of toilet paper make a personal “IMPACT” and spread through word of mouth?

I am not doubting the fragmentation of media channels, attention deficit and clutter but there is a limit to which brands can emotionally engage customers. I am neither denying the marketing toolkit that brand managers have their disposal. But let’s be fair – brands built without spending a single dollar on advertising are the exception, not the rule. In the case of Spanx, it was the target demographic profile and more importantly in the words of the founder, Sara Blakely. “It was Oprah and Brooke Shields and Julia Roberts and Kate Winslet.”

Uber certainly built a business without much advertising but at least in Toronto they are not a licensed cab company, just an app whose legality remains in question. That might explain why they do not want to raise too many eyebrows, unlike their licensed competitor Hailo, who do advertise. Most importantly, for all their efforts focusing on word of mouth, they could certainly still use some help

as many here have not forgotten the Great Flood of 2013.

So to answer your question, we buy banner ads because we can measure, track and optimize how these ads perform. We advertise because sometimes, it’s the right thing to do. Because goods and services are not the only things that create value (Rory Sutherland said it best)

We advertise because it works, and we can prove it.

P.S: I could not help but notice the ad right beside your post for your #1 Amazon Bestseller, I’ll order a copy just to prove a point