An interesting quote by William Bernbach - "In advertising, not to be different is virtually suicidal”. So in saying this, why is it a growing trend that so many marketing campaigns are the same? I found 4 reasons.
One is, as Greg Ippolito puts it, the psychology of sameness. People are born to imitate others. That’s how we naturally learn. Advertising geniuses are rare, pairing that with the fact that the ability to imitate requires little talent, and we end up with the vast majority of creatives being driven by the psychology of sameness who resort to the ever-popular, undying cliché.
A good example is the change in retail branding in the US. In an attempt to be more relevant to younger customers, America's department stores and retailers have lost their brand identities as we can see below.
"The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife" - David Ogilvy. Part of the problem of marketing sameness is a lack of empathy, and in order to craft meaningful communications, they need to empathise with their audience, and very few people are wired for empathy in the marketing world.
The second issue is the rapid growth of social media and its influence on consumer behaviour. In the new world of the empowered consumer, they are exposed to more than 3,500 marketing messages per day. In order to stand out, marketers have evolved from traditional to transformational. But most companies are doing it wrong. For the automotive industry, their view of adaption to social media is to upload their TV commercials on Youtube.
The budget also plays an important role for marketing in a company. The lack of revenue can sometimes encourage brands to make campaigns with a high degree of innovation, divergent thinking and risk taking, i.e. viral campaigns and guerrilla marketing. But sometimes, it goes in the opposite direction. A perfect example is given again, by the automotive industry.
GM had just recovered from bankruptcy and promised product-centric ads that sold differentiating features. They down-played the GM brand and instead featured the individual brands Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet. Sounds’ promising doesn’t it? Unfortunately due to budget restrictions, the ads failed to create any distance from each other, but rather reinforce that they are part of a family of brands.
Cookie-cutter ads GM have produced to save on cost.
The last issue is the company’s lack of marketing knowledge which allows every department to work together and achieve a common goal. In most cases, different departments in a company set their own goals, which sometimes contradict with each other. The classic one is the everlasting fight for budget across departments. This produces a vicious cycle and slowly grinds off people’s enthusiasm to come up with anything new.
This marks the end of the post. It’s a bit long I know, but I think the outcome is quite informative. And being marketing people, I hope it will be of help to you in some way. Again, sorry about the delay on the Google piece. I will deliver it asap, with cherries on top, as pinky promised.
Stay lovely and don’t forget to smile! Ta!