The Boston Business Journal recently ran an article on marketing integration that caught my eye....
Typically, when ad agency people talk about "integration," you can be sure it's a play to remain relevant in a marketing world in which traditional media purchases (i.e., how ad agencies make most of their money) are steadly declining in value.
This article more or less confirms my jaundiced view of advertising. I was particularly intrigued by a quote from Kathy Kiely, president of the Ad Club in Boston, who seems to assure us that "integration" with new methods -- buzz marketing, online social networks, WOM, etc. -- posts no real threat to the old way of doing things: "I always say, you can sell your message online or on a sandwich board. The media will always change. But core branding never will."
Well, yeah, I guess there will always be core branding. But is the Internet merely a new place to stick the same old ads? Do you really purchase WOM the same way you buy column inches or broadcast time? In other words, can you really simply transfer the old way of creating messages to the new media and tactics?
I'm skeptical. I think online marketing, buzz and all the rest need a much more sophisticated way of thinking -- and that if all you're doing is shifting ad dollars from print and broadcast to the Web, you're going to get burned. Big time.
But there's a bigger message in Kiely's statement, albeit an implied one: that though the methods are changing, the old arbiters of marketing, the ad agencies, remain important because, after all, core branding remains the same. That's what really rubs me the wrong way. In article after article, speech after speech, agency representatives keep telling us that agencies matter because they're the experts on branding -- that they own the brand.
I don't buy it. I just don't see them as the brand builders (or even managers) that they used to be.
What say you?
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