I can't recall how long ago now, but likely in the range of two years or so, I started seeing ads by a company called Brand Power. The first time I saw one I thought it was terrible. It might have been for cough drops or some other medical product, I can't recall. I just remember thinking it was a horribly boring and unappealing commercial. In the last few years I have started to see Brand Power ads in greater quantity and frankly because of that I have started to do some thinking. If you're curious you can see a sample ad here.
What these ads go me thinking about is how ridiculous and how much of a spectacle advertising has become. I like a good ad as much as the next person, especially one that can deliver a good laugh, but if at the end I don't really recall the product or why it is better than another I think the ad is for the most part is a failure. Sure I might talk about the ad with a friend the next day at work but hindsight the conversation centres around the scenario or punchline, not the product.
Now I understand the value in the mileage of “word of mouth” but if the product or service isn't discussed or worse yet, not purchased, what's the point?
After a couple years of seeing these ads I have recognized how they stand out of the crowd. Advertising has gotten to where it is today because of everyone trying to stand out in the crowd and to me that has just left us with a whole bunch of noise. So now when I see a commercial like Brand Power it is out of place and has become the exception to the rule. It's more of an old fashioned straight sell which tells you what the product does and how it will help you and outperform the others in some cases. That is really valuable when I think about it.
Further more these ads keep running for one reason, they're successful. If Brand Power wasn't bringing success/profit to the companies that are advertising through them, they wouldn't be around anymore. I don't have the sales metric's charts to prove that but I think seeing more and more of these ads on TV is all I need to quantify that stance. The ads may score low on the excito-meter but if they sell product you can't knock them, because that is the goal of marketing/advertising.
With all of this out in the open I can't help but wonder if we are on the verge of a shift in advertising and heading back to simpler times where companies let their products sell themselves based on the merits of what they offer. The hidden challenge in that reality however is that a product or service has to be great if an organization is going to survive on not exaggerating for effect. I think that is the sole reason that advertising struggles at all. Over time people have become jaded and guarded to the tactics employed by advertising to sell.