Mad Man

Mad Men and the era of 1960's advertising 
Is the era of advertising dead? Or has it been dead for 10 years and no one told Madison Avenue?

Mute is my favorite button
Traditional TV advertising is easily skipped and avoided as DVR technology reaches most US households. And with all due respect to John Coltrane, the mute button on my remote is one of my favorite things. 

What makes this man mad is to see advertisers insult me with their campaign to shove their products at me. From cars, banks to insurance companies, the wasteful money spent on annoying and irritating communications is remarkable. Think about what those dollars could do if those companies invested in things like real people to answer the phone when you want help or how about making better products? 

Can traditional print or broadcast stay relevant to consumers as brands struggle to be credible and meaningful to the average Joe and Jane. With thousands of messages bombarding us, who has time, interest or patience to withstand the flood of watered down communications? 

Here are three better ways to effectively build a brand.

Invest in lending a helping hand
    Invest in meaningful relationships with consumers. How can brands get involved in activities that bring meaning and value to a community? I lead a marketing committee for a non-profit who recently received a $100,000 donation due to a community sponsored program by IKEA. The Life Improvement Project was a way of demonstrating how a brand can be a great citizen in the community by promoting not itself but an individual who wanted to help their community. The Frankie Lemmon School, a non-profit who serves developmentally disabled children was the recipient of IKEA’s largesse. Their $100,000 could have been used to push their key messages onto consumers. Instead, they recognized the true terms of endearment. Ikea's one act has change how I view their brand as they have demonstrated a powerful alternative to the deafening blah, blah blah of traditional advertising.

Invest in your people 
    Invest in your people. Companies are finding that their employees can be powerful advocates for the good work that they do. Investing in a day of community services can unleash hundreds or thousands of hours of goodwill in a community. What’s the power of people who you want to reach hearing from your employees positive messages about your company? Said another way, would you rather run a print ad for $5,000 or give 20 people a chance to spend 8 hours helping your community through their good work and services? Seems an easy choice.

Bring knowledge to your professional community
    Invest in your relationships with your partners like customers, distributors, agents and brokers. A marketing colleague from another industry related to me recently that she had started an educational program with current and prospective clients with money they used to use for B2B advertising. They created a forum to bring together distributors along with current and prospective customers. The funds allowed them to demonstrate along their value chain that they want to help support their industry by being a facilitator of knowledge and a conduit of new ideas. The money was used to bring speakers and training to their target market without asking for anything in return. No quid pro quo. What the company did receive, over a few years of activities, was a chance to build human contacts and real relationships. They brought Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to a personal and in-person experience. The results have been significant as this firm built a new reputation and image based on value. By investing marketing dollars in forums where dialogues could be held, they shifted their business from being stagnant to a new trajectory of growth.

I love the image of the Mad Men era as much as anyone. Don, Betty, Joan and the whole gang will be back for another season of make believe marketing from a time gone by. But like many things from the 1960’s, marketing has changed quite a bit. Yet so many agencies are still acting like flooding the airwaves still works. P&G recently announced a shift away from traditional TV and print into new dynamic digital engagement that over time, will shake up Madison Avenue. 

My advice is simple: Engage. Enlighten. Enchant.

I need this product when I watch most TV commercials

And pass me the remote so I can mute this stupid insulting advertisement.  

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