I have to confess that I am a big fan of the new ads that do not sell any products. Ads that make me smile and think that, somewhere, some genius thought and created those two minutes for people like me with no knowledge of marketing or advertising of any kind, to be able to enjoy a different ad and also subliminally, sell us a brand or product.
So, today I will talk about what some experts describe as institutional advertising.
Institutional advertising is that part of marketing designed to promote a company instead of a particular good or service. It can be designed to make the public aware of a company or to enhance the reputation and image of an existing company.
An example of this type of campaign, which is having quite viral on the net these days indeed, is the new ad for Coca Cola and its magic pills (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DB_nstSfbw).
As I said, this type of advertising seems original to me. A very decent way to transmit a subliminal message to the brand. However, when trying to understand these campaigns from a business standpoint, some initial questions come to my mind:
– What are the reasons behind this kind of advertising?
– DO they bring any kind of direct benefit to the company
– Is there an indicator that could measure the effect of these actions on sales, loyalty or approach to new consumers?
The reason behind many of these campaigns is what in marketing is mainly called Brand awareness. Such campaigns are usually aimed at the public to know a new company or brand that is being rolled out. Although, in the example of Coca cola, I think we will all agree that they are not looking to increase their awareness among the customers.
Why then? Many experts agree that such campaigns can be also launched to position the brand in front of future potential threats from social environment.
I think Coca cola’s example is the perfect one: Society is increasingly concerned about obesity and its sedentary population. Coca-Cola as the institutionalized product that we know, has been repeatedly finger pointed as drink that can induce to higher levels of obesity than other drinks. Consequently, Coca cola decides to create an ad where actions against obesity such as walking, running or doing any kind of exercise are promoted, positioning themselves as a company who is concerned about social concerns (even though there is no mention at all about the product and its effects).
Understanding the reason behind the ad, leads us to answer the question about the existence of a direct benefit from the campaign. This type of marketing is not profitable or is not translated into direct benefits, let alone an indicator that can define the impact of this campaign. The benefits from these type of campaigns are completely indirect and no KPI could get to track its consequences.
Concluding, I believe that these campaigns do not belong to the tactical implementation of the annual plan, because they are not seeking a direct benefit to them. However, these campaigns belong to the most strategic part of the company. These actions belong to what we call contingency plans. Once the company’s future threats have been defined, it is time to implement actions that will strengthen our position where major gaps are.
Before finishing, and after all the reasoning behind institutional marketing, …
What if this type of advertising, more inclined to a guerrilla marketing, had no meaning to promote or strengthen a brand and their products?
What if the only objective was … I do not know, the happiness of the people, or the social benefit?
Here a link where some people tried to succeed on this last one:
(The fun theory: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lXh2n0aPyw)