Affluent millennials and other consumers living on the coasts have long been the focus of advertising campaigns. But a wave of support from Middle America that helped put Donald Trump in the White House was a wake-up call.
It signaled to ad agencies they are missing an opportunity to connect with millions of consumers.
Every so often, agencies must reset the brand's goal to reach the public, Harris Diamond, McCann CEO,told The Wall Street Journal. He said that too many marketing programs focus on "metro elite imagery." Campaigns need to reflect less of New York and Los Angeles culture and more of Des Moines and Scranton.
The WSJ points to data as a big issue. Marketers are concerned that data isn't telling them the whole story and think it will help to hire more people from rural areas as they rethink advertising and marketing strategies.
Rob Griffin, chief innovation officer at AlMighty, partially agrees. He told Media Daily News that the ad industry "totally" lost touch with the heartland of America.
"Marketers are learning from the election results that they base decisions off incomplete data, leaving a large amount of lost opportunities" on the table, Griffin said. "Think about third-party data services and other mechanisms we use daily. It's largely from the coasts and major urban areas. There is a whole lot of people in the middle that aren't represented properly."
While some point to data, others say the message in campaigns simply got lost in translation as the U.S. ships and outsources manufacturing jobs overseas and more Americans feel disenfranchised from the workforce.
It's not as big surprise to Chris Copeland, president at Yieldbot, and former GroupM Next chief digital officer, who shared research from Yieldbot.
He said the company used its intent data from more than 1,000 publishers to identify the strong sentiment around Trump and the topics he talked about. It wasn't always positive, but neither was the talk around Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, especially across social sites, he said.
"As an industry, this should remind us to think about the need of the consumer, not the need of the industry or the brand," Copeland said. "We continually hear about millennials who love brands that stand for something. Then the behavior pattern from advertisers is to focus on reach and frequency. We focus on whether someone saw the ad rather than whether they actually need the product."
He believes there is an opportunity to better understand consumer motivation and intent rather than trying to move product.