Marketing Time Travel

Old advertisements are a powerful reminder of the role of marketing.

When I look back at advertising from my childhood in the 50's and 60's, I recognize how much has changed. The Soda Pop Board promoting early use of soft drinks for infants, doctors promoting cigarettes or ads asking wives to pick their favorite appliance as a Christmas present.  A look backward reminds us that in a short period of time, what we are doing today is going to look out of sync too.

When I work on marketing projects, I like to speculate on the shelf life of the activity and try and determine if my new idea, promotion or activity is going to be fresh in a year or if it will feel as old as some of the ads in this post. 

One of my best teachers about advertising was my Aunt Annette, who never worked in advertising but read Ad Age cover to cover from the 50's to the 80's.  She was a keen observer of advertising, culture and literature and always talked with me about the test of time. I don’t think I truly understood what that meant but it is starting to come into focus today.

A brand that meets the test of time has lasting and enduring connection beyond the headline.  Your relationship endures and gets richer and deeper over the years.  You build on it and get more attached over the long run.

An example may help.

I was in love with my Nikon camera from age 15 until age 30. I couldn’t imagine that it wouldn’t always been attached around my neck and as an extension of every second of my life.  But as I grew older and my responsibilities expanded, I had less and less time to take photographs for pleasure. Carrying around a heavy camera made it difficult to stay in the moment so I didn't have my Nikon attached to me as I did when I was in my late teens and most of my twenties. 

Today, I have the time but my iPhone and its convenience of being small and in my pocket has replaced my urge to use a Nikon camera. I recognize they aren’t equivalent in what they can do but the iPhone provides a new benefit that the Nikon can’t because of how large the Nikon is versus the iPhone. So my beloved Nikon hasn’t stood the test of time because it didn’t grow, change and adapt to my needs.

Now, truth be told, there are probably small portable Nikon cameras that do fit in my pocket. But why would I carry both with me if the iPhone serves dual purposes?  The photos from my iPhone 4S are good enough for my online needs. Time changes your relationships with a brand. My beloved Tri-X film from Kodak is also a thing of the past that didn't last the test of time too. 

How is your brand planning on adapting as your customers grow,age and change over time?  Should you be challenging your own brand with a market replacement before a competitor does that for you? How will the needs of your valued customer change in six years, or six months or even six days? How will consumers engage with your brand as they age? What are you going to do about it or do you just assume it will be someone else's problem in the future? 

You may want to click on theses thoughts now before its old news. 


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