All marketing is performance marketing: the key is making it less rubbish
Is advertising losing its personality? Wieden+Kennedy’s Martin Weigel thinks so and while I agree with his call for more emotional, right-brain focused brand building over the longer term, it’s not the whole answer to getting our mojo back.
- Head of planning at Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam, Martin Weigel, debates the question of whether advertising has lost its personality in its quest for better performance
- Weigel puts the loss down to short-termism and too much focus on quarterly reporting
- This focus is being passed on to agencies who are then compelled to tune in to a shorter wavelength which is resulting in bland output that lacks the power of emotion
- The consequences are dire and the fix is, according to Weigel, for all of us to start championing the benefits of long term brand building
Martin Weigel is right about a lot of things but in this case, he draws an unnecessary line between brand and performance marketing.
All marketing is performance marketing. It all has a place in the delivery of growth. You can be creative and connect with the emotional right brain in any and every channel.
Consumers do not draw the line between brand and performance so why do we?
Weigel’s remark that most of the output of this industry is vapid, ignorable landfill certainly hit me between the eyes. He believes advertising has become flatter and I tend to agree. We now live in an on-demand world where consumers control the media experience so advertising can disappear with a scroll or a click more so than ever. We need to earn attention.
He posits that the quarterly reporting cycle of the financial markets and the short tenure of marketers is playing a role in the blandness of advertising output, and so too are agencies. The beneficiaries of this, I believe, are the platforms.
The standardisation of ad formats across platforms makes it easier to buy and to produce content for them but it also gives rise to advertising designed for the left brain. With this focus, the bulk of what we see is built on the tenants of utility, power and control – the literal over the implicit.
As Weigel points out, what this misses is the powerful connection with the right brain: the place where relationships are built, where empathy allows us to understand an implied benefit, where metaphors, humour and irony thrive. When we play in that space, brands are able to enter long term memory and be accessed well beyond the moment of engagement.
So how do we fix this? Weigel suggests we lean more into influencing emotion and driving long term behaviour change and I couldn’t agree more. But this isn’t the full answer.
We need to do that in addition to short term performance marketing and the optimal balance will differ by brand and category as well as the baseline intent available to market towards.
Yes, let's take full advantage of the power of creativity. It’s everyone's responsibility, not just creative agencies. We can be creative in every channel and for every brand. There is no such thing as low involvement categories, just low involvement brands and therein lies the choice.
Let's make the case for brand building being clear, simple and compelling.
Let’s understand that short-termism is a choice and not an obligation.
Let’s become obsessive about the execution of our ideas, in every channel.
And let’s create the right conditions for creativity to thrive and our personality to shine.