Scott Donaton, editorial director of the Ad Age Group, explored how digital culture’s empowerment of end-users is impacting advertising and marketing.
Donaton’s aptly entitled talk at the Oct. 12 CMS colloquium, “Out of Control,” referenced the power shift towards a consumer-dictated market. Looking at advertising from the perspective of the ad journalist, he shared some interesting trends in the industry: 1) As ad dollars are increasingly spent in online and new media markets, properties are forced to relinquish the control over their brand and brand image; 2) thanks to remix culture, brand purity is no longer safe on the Internet; and consumers are free to express their opinions on services and products and distribute them as widely as the advertisers themselves.
During the Q&A, Donaton was asked how much it would take to actually kill a brand.
“Brand equity built up over time is a pretty powerful thing,” he said. Saying it would be quite difficult to take down an established brand with a few critical commercial mashups, he pointed out that even though tobacco is known to kill people, it is still a billion dollar business. “The only real way brands kill themselves is not delivering on the promise they make to the consumer,” Donaton said.
Donaton chronicled successful and not-so-successful attempts to ride this rapid and radical business change. He finds that the better campaigns are not afraid to address their consumers directly, are shifting towards premium pricing to sell “fewer products for more money,” and are respectful of the consumer.