I write this blog as I sit on an aircraft on my way to Melbourne to present on the power of Employer Branding. I’m seated next to a thirty-something mother and her young pre-schooler. The child reads aloud from his book… the mother flicks through the in-flight magazine. She stops her son reading and she says…’look at this’ and she starts flicking through the magazine – ‘Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad…’ she announces to her 4-year-old ‘What do you mean mummy?’ he inquires. ‘Well,’ she explains ‘Companies pay money to put these pictures in the magazine to try to get us to buy, buy, buy the product.’ She goes on to complain ‘it takes 12 pages before there is anything to read. The child looks at her quizzically. He has just received his first lesson in how to tune out to promotional messages. She did not actually advise her son that if there were no commercial messages in the publication then there would not, in fact, be a magazine at all. It is the advertisers who fund that publication in entirety.
Which begs the question – what are we prepared to accept as a price for the privilege of information? And if we know this price, is there anything improper about it. My concern is when we do not know we are being advertised to. If we are being coerced into some guerrilla activity that in fact is totally funded be advertisers.
The youtube video downloaded by 150 million people because people thought that people were really defacing Airforce One – when in fact it was a carefully constructed $700,000 production to promote a brand of clothing? Does this do more harm than good to the brand when discovered to be a fake? (It has now been edited on Youtube to show the brand name clearly the whole time – clearly enough consumer backlash.)
Apparently, we are bombarded by 3000 promotional messages every day. There are logo’s on everything, banner ads, you cannot even have a cup of takeaway coffee now without finding some message on the cup. We live with it… we tune out. We are taught that ‘it’s just advertising’. This is why we value our friend’s opinions so greatly… if someone tells us that a product is good…then it must be.
I hate to say it – the only way that I try new fast moving consumer goods is because a friend has either brought it to my home or told me it’s great. I am completely lost in a sea of colour in a supermarket and I am a bare minimum sort of a shopper (AND I’m a marketer).
Could it be true that advertisers have got so desperate that they now have engaged armies of university students who are being ‘sponsored’ to share their opinion with their friends on facebook, twitter etc on what products they like, without the subheading – ‘Advertising’? Never – surely not.
So with all this noise how on earth is someone going to get the message across. I have a business – I want to promote what we do….. The point is any promotional activity must be met with integrity and authenticity. It is why Employer Branding can be so very powerful. Because quite simply you cannot fake it until you make it. I’ll share in subsequent blogs about what I really mean by Employer Branding.
It was Ogilvy who said ‘I’ve never seen a landscape improved by a billboard’ now we don’t even notice that it is there – it has just become part of the never-ending sea of commercial message landscape.