New York magazine recently released a list of the 10 Most Memorable Ads, as selected by a panel of Madison Avenue executives. The ads, which can be viewed at New York's site, include spots for FedEx, Wendy's, Volkswagen and Alka- Seltzer.
With the exception of a couple of ads featured as honorable mentions, all of the campaigns date back to the '60s, '70s and '80s. It kinda makes you wonder if creativity in advertising ground to a screeching halt during the Reagan years.
But the list raises an even more fundamental question -- why is 'memorable' enough? The linkages between recall and the more tangible measures of impact (such as whether the ad actually caused viewers to buy more stuff) are tenuous at best. A list featuring workhorse ads that proved effective in moving product and driving increased revenue might not have been as entertaining, quirky, funny, shocking or cool -- but wouldn't it have provided a better view into the impact and accountability marketing can have when it fires on all cylinders?
And isn't marketing that fires on all cylinders exactly what clients need during these uncertain financial times?
I'm hardly an accountability quant-hound and often feel that marketers use ROI (or lack thereof) as an excuse for avoiding change, but I do believe that branding work that is nothing but fuzzy falls short of delivering against marketing's true mission -- driving meaningful and measurable behaviors among consumer audiences. Maybe that's just the reformed direct marketer in me talking.
But my buddy Jonathan Salem Baskin believes this too. A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about Branding Only Works on Cattle, JSB's new book about the death of branding (as we know it.) This week, he released the first in a series of songs that will serve as a 'soundtrack' to the book and pick up some of the tome's key themes. The Sock Puppet Blues video features a two-time loser celebrity spokespuppet, and skewers a host of beloved brand icons that have long since hit the skids. See how many icons you remember (hey, most are pretty 'memorable') and then think about how many actually led you to make a purchase. 'Nuff said...
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