Home > Uncategorized > Engage! – What is the point of advertising?

Engage! – What is the point of advertising?

Facebook’s recent IPO launch has had what Zeitgeist would describe kindly as a bumpy ride. There are multiple reasons for this, not least of which is the question of monetising mobile users of the platform – all 450m of them.

More broadly, another debate has been ongoing as to just what brands are getting out of having a presence on Zuckerberg’s walled garden. A great article on WARC points out, after much quantitative analysis of how people ‘engage’ with fan pages, and what the ‘People talking about this’ metric actually means,

“At the very core of the social media mantra is the premise that brands need to engage their customers in order to grow but there is only a tenuous link between the effects of engagement and subsequent sales. Even if these top 200 brands achieved ten times their current level of engagement, what that ultimately means for the brand is uncertain. The push for engagement fails to explain what return, in real terms, a brand achieves by having highly engaging ads, on highly engaging vehicles or media.”

Rather more worryingly for the advertising industry as a whole, the article also notes,

“[I]f advertising simply works by reminding people of the brand, leading to it “coming to mind, being familiar, safe, and satisficing (that is, being ‘good enough’)” (Ehrenberg et al, 2002), there may be little gain in doing anything more than reminding them of the brand. When focusing on achieving high levels of engagement we should question whether we are still trying to persuade consumers, even if our view of how advertising works is no longer aligned with this aim.”

With this uncomfortable diagnosis in mind, does this mean the likes of Nike and Louis Vuitton should be throwing in the towel with their wonderfully engaging, award-winning campaigns? If advertising’s only point to consumers is to act as a reminder, rather than to overtly influence, what are we wasting our time on?

  1. Keith Ashby
    July 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Yes, what is the point of advertising when the reality of the purchase is so unpleasant. I sent this message via Tod’s website. “Earlier this month my daughter visited Tod’s Boutique 35 Sloane Street, Knightsbridge London, SW1X 9LP The purpose of her visit was to buy a pair of Penny Loafers for my birthday. She asked the sales assistant for a pair of size 9 1/2 and was told that they only had a pair of size 9, the assistant assured her that Tod’s shoe sizes are always a generous fit and that a size 9 would probably fit, in any case if they were too small they could be returned and exchanged for a larger size. I received the shoes on 15th.June and there was no way they would fit, I could not even get my foot in. I rarely visit London, although I own property there and my daughter is studying at The London School of Economics. I did visit on 24th.June, one of the reasons for my visit was to exchange the pair of Tod’s loafers for a pair that fitted. While I was not entirely surprised that neither a size 9 1/2 or 10 was available and the only size 10 anywhere near the same style was not a good fit. I was amazed that it was neither possible to order a pair from the factory nor to refund my daughter’s money. Had my daughter not been misinformed about the generous fit of Tod’s shoes in the first place, she would not have bought them. Effectively the sale was made under false pretences and such practices are generally brought to the attention of the Trading Standards Authority in this country. I trust you will be able to resolve this matter amicably and if unable to supply the correct size, will return my daughter’s hard earned cash to her without further delay.
    The automated reply was quite polite
    “Dear Keith Ashby,
    We shall see to it that your request is satisfied.

    Thank you for having contacted us.

    Tod’s Staff ”
    The more considered reply displayed total disdain for the customer and his actual requirement and merely repeated what Mr.Shah had said to me in the shop..

    “Dear Sir, Many thanks for your email; your comments are important to us. It is normal practice that our boutiques will offer an exchange or store credit when a client has purchased an incorrect or unsuitable size, or have simply changed their minds. The only instance for a refund is if we are unable to offer the repair or exchange of a faulty item. Please be assured that a store credit is valid for a year against any purchase made at the TOD’s Sloane St store. Should you still feel unsatisfied with our policy, please feel free to contact our store manager in Sloane Street to discuss this matter further; Mr. Kemal Shah: 020 7235 1321 Please feel free to contact us at any time should you wish to discuss this further. Best regards, Customer Service.”

    Totally ignoring the fact that my daughter had been persuaded that the shoes were likely to fit as Tod’s shoes usually fit half a size larger. It was never stated that the correct size could not be ordered from the factory until we asked for a larger size in the same style. The best that can be expected is that there maybe a pair in the next consignment from the factory or whenever.

    It matters not how often they advertise in The Times et al. If not supported by service why advertise?

    • davidllewelynjones
      July 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      Wow, thanks so much for sharing that incident Keith. In my own experience, I find the Tod’s staff at Sloane Street not terribly helpful. Last time I went in there, about a year or so ago, one of the employees was busily checking his hair in the mirror while Britney Spears blared in the background.
      It can be very disappointing when there’s a big disconnect between retail environment and advertising / branding. This can happen all to often in the case of luxury brands, especially when the stores themselves are franchises. It takes brands like Louis Vuitton to have a great cohesion between staff training, store design and upkeep, and brand essence.
      I hope in your case that you went on to contact Mr. Shah?

      Thanks for following the blog, and for your comment, keep them coming!

    • davidllewelynjones
      July 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      Also, good choice of uni for your daughter; I was also at LSE!

  2. Keith Ashby
    July 2, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Small world.
    I believe it was Mr.Shah to whom I spoke in the shop and it was he who stated it was impossible to refund the money. Maybe he should become a banker.

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