Does Advertising Still Work?


How to Get It Right and Get Results

“As individuals and as a nation, we now suffer from social narcissism…We have fallen in love with our own image, with images of our making, which turn out to be images of ourselves.” Daniel J. Boorstin

How can your business get attention in a narcissistic age? In a media environment crowded with selfies, endless self-produced social media videos and posts and content overkill, is it even worth advertising? Yes, it’s worth it. But only if you understand how to cultivate attention.

As Henry Ford said, “Stopping your advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.” You need to advertise, but if you feel like you’re throwing money away, you’re just not doing it right.

Today, everyone is a content producer. In a time when mass media has given way to the media of the masses, content is ubiquitous. Every platform is cluttered with competing voices, and yours can be dismissed in the swipe of a thumb. Rising above the cacophony requires skill. Masters of the art of advertising constantly study how to get that thumb to pause by engaging emotions—getting attention for our clients is our job. Getting the masses to share your content is our art.

Do it Better, Do it Bigger

In such an environment, it is even more important to have your content professionally produced, and to leverage the power of mainstream media. As author Faris Yakob puts it in his 2015 book, Paid Attention, “Brands still have an advantage over empowered consumers—their ability to deliver scale. Ironically, this can be most powerful when delivered in traditional broadcast media environments because consumers cannot access them directly, as they can with online environments. Digital channels may now offer massive reach but the almost infinite nature of the Web means that individual elements can lack the cultural impact of television and associated media that reports on it.”

Not only can you produce quality and place it in media where the general public cannot, you can share those ads online and cover both bases. There is still a decided difference in quality, appeal and value between professionally-produced strategic creativity and most everything else out there. Tell a story, tell it well and the attention will follow.

Make Customers into Collaborators

The old “push” advertising model—we push out a message and people buy because of what we say—is obsolete and ineffective. People don’t tolerate intrusive advertising, but they will enthusiastically participate in inclusive advertising, where you are telling their stories. Again, Yakob: “This is a kind of open-sourced approach to marketing, where customers become collaborators: their creativity is facilitated and then turned into advertising or content. Brands are able to harness credibility, and perhaps in turn provide fame for work that may have otherwise gone unseen.”

Case Study:
Cascade Alchemy Distillery

Gathering data on consumer habits and preferences, combining this with creative concepts, and responding to audience feedback all contributed to the phenomenal success of our brand development campaign for Cascade Alchemy Distillery here in Bend. Because we translated the preferences and tastes of our client’s audience into a collaborative campaign, sales of product increased 350 percent over the previous year. This remarkably successful project, centered around the tagline Your taste. Your spirit., was expanded to taxi advertising, clothing, print and video—as well as onto social media, where we asked people to submit their own photos to be added to our client’s Facebook and Instagram.

The campaign ties the Central Oregon lifestyle to the flavors and qualities of these locally-produced spirits, making the drinks part of the culture instead of just another product gathering dust on a shelf. Where other distilleries’ advertising focused on their products and ingredients, we focused outward and had customers put themselves into the picture. The results of this collaboration were swift, and sales soared. “Brands that are able to leverage consumers to create or co-create content on their behalf will hit the sweet spot,” according to Yakob’s better half, Rosie Yakob.

Done right, advertising can provide dramatic results. If you understand the zeitgeist, or “spirit of the age,” you can engage your audience, offer them value, and ultimately build loyal brand advocates. Rallying people around a common brand gives people something larger than themselves to focus on, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

Kelly Walker is creative director for Resonant Agency, an advertising agency sans pareil, headquartered in Bend. His branding and advertising work has won numerous awards and, more importantly, helped scores of companies develop exponentially. As an avid disciple of advertising’s greats such as David Ogilvy and William Bernbach, he is a master at applying their wisdom in the 21st-Century media context.


About Author

Kelly Walker, MS for SWIVEL

Kelly Walker is the host of A Swig of Branding, creative director for Intrepid Marketing and a senior copywriter with over 20 years experience. He has masterminded scores of high-profile brand identity projects, written hundreds of ads and taught college-level marketing and copywriting courses. He resides in Bend with his wife Andrea, four boys and (finally) a little girl due September, 2015.

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