Dump The Thrill Of The New If The Old Still Works Best

There are few more enthusiastic than myself in extolling the worth of experimentation, testing, trial and validation of all aspects of commercial communication.

If we could get a consistent and maintained application of better scientific methods in marketing communication, our business would be more strongly placed to withstand the economic downturns and rebut the threats of budget cutbacks et al.

So when advertisers set out "to boldly go where no one has gone before," my attention increases and I watch with eager anticipation. I accept that the thrill of the new opportunity is most attractive. Maintaining the conventional rarely holds attention.

But what possesses advertisers to announce proudly that the revolution must continue, when the evidence mounts that it isn't working? Do we have to embrace the ostrich in the sand mentality? Are we sometimes not clever enough to admit we just got it wrong?

A recently reported example highlights this phenomenon.

A major U.S. advertiser, with Brand A and Brand B in the same category, appointed a new-style agency to handle the newly acquired brand A. The distinctive media strategy included new packaging; a pop-up store in downtown Manhattan; a YouTube video generating loads of responses; plus additional spend. The campaign won international awards and the advertiser placed further business with the agency.

The advertiser appointed a conventional agency to handle the launch of Brand B using conventional media.

Sales of Brand A declined 32%, while Brand B market share reached an all-time high. The double-digit sales growth of Brand B was offset by declines in Brand A.

The advertiser's CMO is reported to conclude as follows: "The revolution must continue. We really think we've moved the needle on innovation and creativity and we are not going to stop. The world is changing and we need to change with it."

You just have to gasp in awe at this nonsense. I wonder what the company's FD has to say? I wonder how the company CEO reacts when his stock price falls?

Still, they are in good company. Our political leaders in the U.K,. as well as the U.S., maintain a blinkered fetish in believing the intervention in Iraq is "working," despite bucket loads of evidence to the contrary. At least Blair is gone and Bush won't be far behind. How much longer for this CMO? Not long, I sense.

If you're not making mistakes, you're not trying hard enough. But if you don't learn from those mistakes, you will be doomed to repeat them.

Please cut your losses if it's not working; admit you got it wrong -- and don't throw out convention if it still works.



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