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Agencies running after the buck

Author of The Power of belonging

Marketing expert and author clears some regional marketing, advertising and branding misconceptions

March 28, 2013 4:53 by



To keep the world moving, we must distinguish the difference between branding and advertising. In the Middle East we have fallen short of defining the true essence of Marketing, Branding and Advertising. It seems whatever works should wear a title, and in most cases we have truly fallen short to deliver brands that are world class competitive.

In recent history, a few companies launched their brands with branding intentions, but used advertising to serve the branding process, while a few others replicated a successful brand to gain market share or to directly compete with the leader in the category.

It’s phenomenal how so many ignore the right steps to branding, but are fast enough to claim titles and words while the exercise is still under process. Few brands in our region have spent enormous amounts of money on advertising to claim the branding stage. I’m not undermining advertising as a tool, but I’m assessing the right steps of the process. I respect the advertising industry as a communication wheel, but not as the holistic approach to branding, in which many FMCGs and other retailers are deriving.

Advertising should deliver the communication value of the brand, sending the right message to the right target audience or segment of the audience. I find PR (Public Relations) to be the most genuine tool to assist branding in delivering its communication value. Public Relations seems to be far more genuine in claims than advertising. Over the years or decades advertising was not wisely used by clients and most advertising agencies gave in to serve the client’s demands just because of the bottom line benefits, namely money, when the client demanded to advertise that a product is quality.

A lot of agencies submitted to the request in the long term and hurt the industry as whole, rather than the agency.

Such actions have hurt the industry today. The general public fail to have advertising as RTB (Reason to Believe) because whatever is advertised usually fails to meet the brand experience. For example, any given airline uses advertising to claim that it is the ultimate in service, but during the experience, the customer may think differently, thus putting advertising as an industry under the fire of “liars”.

Could the public today claim that advertised products are somewhat true and genuine, but mostly a lie? Well, to find out, do your research and you can find that in most cases what I have addressed could likely be true. I know that there are phenomenal communication agencies, but a few that ran after the buck ruined it for the most.



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