Skip to main content

No Country for Mad Men

How much has advertising changed since the Mad Men era? A period when agencies spent months developing an advertising campaign – and drinking a lot of booze at the office – with the hope of changing a company’s future. While a lot has changed, the principles have not. We are still in the dying business of making ads rather than changing behavior.
They say that if your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail. Though slowly changing, agencies are still trying to solve every problem with ads using a traditional advertising model, AIDA (awareness, interest, desire, and action). While the AIDA model has its merits, it is hard to make it work in today’s fragmented, interactive and connected environment.
And here is why. First, you need to spend many months creating an advertising campaign. Most companies just don’t have the time. Then, you have to put a lot of money into media to push your message out with the hope that people will watch (awareness) and like it (interest). With the fragmentation of media and people’s short attention spans, it is increasingly hard to get your audience’s attention. Plus, you need to have the discipline to have a consistent message for the years to come. So people will remember the message and take action when it matters. This is hard to do when the average tenure of a CMO is only two years.
If you have deep pockets like GEICO, this model still works. GEICO spends nearly $1 billion annually on advertising. They have had a consistent message “15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance” for almost 20 years. If you are not in this club, you might want to consider a different approach. You want to involve consumers with the brand through experiences.
Advertising needs to be in the business of changing behavior, not just making ads. The best way to change behavior is through experiences, which is about actions. Why? Actions change attitudes faster than attitudes change actions, as Adam Ferrier described in the Advertising Effect. People tend to align their feelings with their actions to justify their behavior. The principle is called cognitive dissonance in psychology. The best agencies capitalize on the fact that most of today’s media is interactive – it’s action-driven. It stimulates consumers to act in alignment with the brands interests, and the feelings follow.
In summary, there is no country for mad men anymore. To thrive in this new environment business needs to involve consumers with the brands as opposed to just telling them. To quote the famous Chinese proverb, "Tell me, and I forget; Teach me, and I may remember; Involve me, and I will learn.”


Popular posts from this blog

How Cool Brands Stay Hot: Aim for Love, Not Likes

Love is an unconditional emotion while like is a more watered-down version of love. Loving someone means that he or she means everything to you while liking someone implies that you are only happy being with that person. Love involves deeper, stronger emotions, while like is more of a tender feeling towards that special someone. In a world of infinite choices, love is everything. Like is a nice to have.  Today, we live in a world of abundance, where people intent to create content surpass their time to consume it. Video content is much easier and cheaper to produce than at any other time in history. YouTube sees 400 hours of video uploaded every minute. Facebook has more than 250,000 status updates in the same span. We could never read and see everything online.  With unlimited possibilities and limited time, we pay sustainable attention to what we love and divided attention to what we like. We spend hours watching Homeland and give our divided attention to our news feed on Facebook. …

Persuasive Simplicity, Persuasive Commerce

In a complex world, simplicity wins. In a human world, purpose sets us apart. In a complex and human world, we need persuasive simplicity to survive. Persuasive simplicity is putting simplicity in the path of motivation. It is simplicity with purpose. The Perfect Machine Today we are entrenched in a performance-marketing race. We want to make commerce as efficient as possible. We want to build the perfect commerce machine—one that knows what we like, hate, love, and need. A precise machine that doesn't spoil us with too many choices.  A nimble machine that delivers goods in hours, not days or weeks. A frictionless machine where we can order in one click, one button, one voice order, anytime, anywhere. A cost-effective machine that guarantees the best price. This machine sounds a lot like,,, and The Human World
These days, we navigate life through search. We search to eat, to learn, to travel, to date, and to find work. We search during the moments that matter on our mobile devices. Search gives us super powers. Search makes us faster and smarter, but it also gives us a taste of our average. Search engines push content based on our consumption behavior or people “like us" behavior. We have gotten trapped in the limitations of algorithmic recommendations. No surprise from discovering something we loved but didn’t expect. We watch the movies that we are supposed to watch. We dine at the restaurants that we are presumed to dine. We shop where we are expected to shop. To escape the tyranny of the average, we follow the few brave souls that are breaking the mold. People willing to defy the norm and become the tastemaker of their destiny. They are the new curators in this age of abundance. We call them influencers. They give us a search result that is imperfect, irrational, unexpected, but m…