Advertising's role may not always be tangible or obvious, but its effects become clear if something goes wrong.
Companies rely increasingly on advertising agencies to position, package and present brands for public consumption, sometimes forgetting that all consumer touch points need to be covered. Renee Silverstone, CEO of The Jupiter Drawing Room (Johannesburg), says that although brands are primary and now counted in many companies' bottom line, advertising itself remains undervalued.
"Sales are not the only measure of advertising effectiveness. What is important to measure is the change in the mindset of consumers. Perception of a brand, education about its benefits and overall enhancement of the brand's value are the elements of advertising success. Within a successful marketing strategy, advertising plays a very particular role in launching and building brands, but it cannot be expected to carry the weight of the strategy," says Silverstone.
"In the case of launching a new product, advertising success is often directly measurable. The extent to which advertising can educate and inform is tangible, but it becomes much harder to quantify over a longer term. A long-term marketing strategy must assess public awareness, through exhaustive market research, and be flexible enough to shift with market and environment changes, including competitor aggression," she continues.
According to Silverstone, leading marketing strategies are practical and can be implemented. "Too often a plan that looks great on paper is simply not achievable. Big brands maintain consistent communication and messaging about their core essence, and the extension of key objectives should be kept simple. Even if a Client decides to evolve its brand strategy, the messaging should be consistent."
On fresh new ideas in marketing campaigns, Silverstone thinks brands need not shop around for a new agency regularly, provided the partnership is the right fit in the first place. "An ad agency becomes a true business partner if its services are a correct match for the client. The agency must understand the client's market and change with its needs. Turnover within ad agencies should lead to a natural flow of creative thinking, and companies should be aware that changing agencies can be counter-productive. An agency is a joint custodian of the brand's image.
"New management often brings a change in company culture and business objectives, and in these cases a new broom can sweep clean. However, if their current agency cannot perform, companies should make sure the new agency is aligned with their needs - either brand-focused or highly creative. Advertising is definitely enhanced or hindered according to the nature of this relationship," she continues.
Advertising's role may not always be tangible or obvious, but its effects become clear if something goes wrong. "As a powerful tool for changing perceptions, it is difficult to value advertising until it works against you. Placement of advertising is vital, as are your production values and execution of a campaign. Poor-quality production and images can create the perception of a poor product. Advertising failure can seriously damage a brand," says Silverstone.
Ads based on truths and universal appeal, are successful and customers will be predisposed to buying the product. "No matter how savvy consumers may become, how many new advertising channels are created or what new needs emerge, likeability will make you stand out from the clutter. This is indicative of the fact that South African advertising performs exceptionally well on the international stage. This further enhanced by a multitude of local and famous brands such as SAB, Edgars, Sunlight and Rama which have been built over many years.