The Era After Advertising

06Mar09

By Oriol Francas, Managing Director, Igriega, E3 European Agency Network Member

On an evolutionary scale…advertising has come a long way, quickly. We have evolved from the technical product pitches of the sixties that focused mostly on product features, to a kind of individualized generational-based message. We have gone from saying that the advertising earth was flat in absolute terms to the discovery of a new multidimensional reality: a 360º view. We have shifted from selling a product to selling a brand to selling an experience… and seeing all this, I don’t think anyone dares to predict what the future of our profession will be like.

Because whether we like it or not, as marketers, in our job there is only one sure thing: and that is what happened yesterday. Everything else is a moving target – a continuous litmus test of advertising acumen.

With the appearance of new technologies, traditional forms of advertising have seen their communication power diminished. The future is unpredictable, but one thing we can be sure about is that it will continue to change.

New technologies, spawned by the Internet, have forced manufacturers to change not only the way they communicate about their brands, but also their business model itself. Today the consumer interacts with the manufacturer and makes purchasing decisions using methods that were unimaginable in the past.

The model of relationship between the brand and the consumer has changed in many ways. Today we see the consumer exerting power as the supreme chief over brands. And this statement is no longer a marketing theory, but a reality.

Today we find consumers acting as Product Directors, designing future launches on the web sites of Nike, Lego or Häägen Dazs. Other consumers act as de facto Brand Communication Directors through the comments they make on their blogs. Huge multinational brands like Microsoft or BMW know that certain blog comments can have more impact and credibility than all the campaigns their PR or advertising agencies develop. And this happens because when we Google for information, the first thing we find is not what the brand wants to say but what the consumer wants to know. This is how the algorithm of the new god of search works – so it becomes our new reality.

Consumers today have high expectations from brands. They know what they want, and they know how to find it. Just ask, and “ye shall receive.” A better offer is just a click away.

Given this new reality, brands must learn to integrate the consumer as one more player in their decision-making structure. Consumers must be allowed to participate and model the brand as they please. Only by doing so, will brands be able to create an effective bond with consumers.

Welcome to the second part: the era after advertising, where the most intelligent brands are those with the courage to adapt to the consumer.

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