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Name one brand that’s been built on just digital

October 28, 2010

In explaining why social media/digital media/interactive media is a useless pile of crap, I’ve seen people say the following:

Quick: name a non-native brand that has been built using only social/digital/interactive.

You can’t.


But it’s an asinine question.

Quick, name a brand that’s been built just using Billboards. You can for print and TV, but it’s not as easy as just that. My print example is Absolut. The brilliance of that campaign is in the singularity of the execution. The legs, if you will, to go on forever.

That launched in a time where there was a lot of magazine readership in less magazines. There was also a time where there was a lot of TV viewership in fewer TV channels. There is still a lot of magazine readership and TV viewership, but they are spread across channels. So while it’s possible to launch brands in these channels, it’s getting harder. I wonder if someone could pull off an Absolut Vodka campaign today, with just print. (It’s rhetorical, because people will always argue the specifics)

But the bigger point is this: just using one tactic to build a brand is as stupid as signing up for Facebook because someone told you to get in the conversation.

What are marketing people fighting over?

In the world of ad contrarians and be digital or die, the battle over digital and traditional doesn’t appear to just be about tools. It’s about turf. 20 years ago, there were direct marketing zealots telling ad people to get over themselves and start mailing. “It’s Direct Marketing, targeted right to John Sample! Your mass medium tools are dead!”.

We didn’t listen then, either.

Because like social/digital/interactive, direct marketing is a tactic. Alone, it’s an epic waste of money. But part of a larger campaign, it might not be. Any tactic that fits into a campaign without feeling forced is a good tactic. The YouTube channel for Old Spice Guy fit. As an extension, the Facebook page showing people’s questions on Facebook and his answers fit.

Will the YouTube channel and the Facebook page lead to sales?

Well, they don’t act alone. We don’t measure tactics and how they lead to sales, we measure campaigns. You wouldn’t challenge a billboard to generate sales, you would challenge the campaign that the billboard is part of to lead to sales. You make smart assumptions about who you’re going after, what you want them to do, and how you expect they’ll do it, and you measure that. If sales are the metric, then ask for the damn order. But some marketing is about sales as a metric. It’s about generating awareness so that when the person is in the aisle (or on the search engine), the brand percolates up to the top.

So any brand that uses only social/digital/interactive to launch deserves to exist only in the pages of the history book. But brands that use TV, Print, Billboards and Radio as awareness tools to drive a behavior, be it buy our shit, or check out our .com (website, game, social network, YouTube channel), is most-likely doing proper marketing and not protecting their turf.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 30, 2010 10:55 pm

    makes me want to drink alchoholic beverages

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