Alternative marketing thinking


Advertising Idea Versus Brand Idea

Many of us grew up with the notion that the creative idea was everything. That Absolute with its brilliant bottle campaign could build and sustain its brand for years and years. The Marlboro Man and his attitude could run unchanged for decades. That two simple words, Perception and Reality could have over 80 executions and revive the fortunes of RollingStone magazine that was seen as stuck in the sixties. But is the advertising idea really that big a thing? Is it possible to sustain brands of the future with just an advertising idea? One that can be enriched year after year with memorable executions? Maybe.

We think brands need more than brilliant creative ideas to be relevant in the lives of people. It needs a cause. A philosophy, a body language, character and a way of doing things that go beyond its communication. One of the problems with creative or advertising ideas is that they only solve one dimensional problems. Simple problems of perception or business that a sharp focused campaign can tide over. Big brand ideas on the other hand could be the way to build businesses by co-opting their many stakeholders, many of who, like employees and business partners, have to be aligned to the idea long before a customer walks in through the aisles.

One of the most discussed examples of a big brand idea is Honda’s The Power of Dreams and this brand idea has been used extensively in its advertising world over. The new work on Dove is being recognized as a big brand idea. What stared off as an advertising idea has taken off to become so big that it could reshape how Unilever markets its products, not just Dove.

There are others. Burger King’s ‘Have it Your Way’ baseline is built around its business of letting people choose how they would like to have their burgers. The global charity Red started its business by creating a manifesto from which it’s business philosophy and advertising evolved.

With all the complexity that exists in the marketing business these days it maybe a good idea to start with a much larger thought than just and advertising idea to pitch businesses. Sure you may be able to build short term differentiation with sparkling communication ideas, but if your need to be a viable business in the future, a brand idea may be the way to go.


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2 thoughts on “Advertising Idea Versus Brand Idea

  1. But surely you need a whole raft of ways of promoting a brand and keeping it at the top.

    You need long-term strategic goals (marketing ideas). And you need short-term tactical goals (advertising ideas) of getting things off the ground or to tweaking etc .. And often there is a significant cross-over between the two.

    You mention advertising and marketing, but increasingly, public relations is also playing an important role in ‘getting things off the ground or tweaking etc ..’. In some cases publicity also plays a crucial role (i.e Richard Branson of Virgin, for example).

    You need a range of tools. Obviously an entreprneur such as Richard Branson is going to use different (to an important degree) techniques to a corporate company such as IBM.

    Each company / brand is different and each company / brand needs to be looked at on its own merit. Only then can one decide what sort of marketing, advertising, pr, publicity (and other) tools / approaches to use.

    I think!


    Eamon Maloney has worked as an advertising account planner for some of the leading advertising agencies in London. As well as working as a resercher and developer of TV and radio programmes.

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