I spent 30 years being in the middle. I worked in advertising – match-making brands with consumers. But working in advertising is like working in sales but you don’t sell things. You sell ideas. Ideas designed to get people to buy the ‘things’. There are good ideas and bad ideas. There are ideas that work and ideas that don’t. But many good ideas don’t work, and some very bad ideas do. Where’s the logic in that? Why gamble the money?
The fact is that good ideas can be considered ‘good’ just because they’re entertaining.
I liked the ads for Wonderbra, but I never wore won. I liked the ads for Silk Cut but I never smoked their cigarettes. I liked the Meerkat ads, but I never visited their site. I liked the ‘Drumming Gorilla’ ads but I never bought a bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.
So, does that mean that advertising doesn’t work? Well, it depends on how you define the role of advertising. If you define a great ad as making people rush out and buy something that they could never before imagine buying, then no it doesn’t work. So how do you define advertising?
I’ll tell you what it is to me. it gives a brand an edge over their competitor. But that’s all it is – an edge. But an edge can’t do the whole job on its own. If you’re in the market for a car maybe an ad can make you buy one. But you’ve got to be in the market for a car in the first place.
Advertising is just one of many factors involved in the process. Factors like product quality – is it any good? Factors like distribution – do they sell it near me? Factors like cost – is it more expensive? Factors like personal taste – is it available in a colour I like?
At best advertising can create a propensity to purchase; a willingness to buy; a curiosity to try. If it’s available where I shop, if the price is right, if it’s in my size, if it’s in a colour I like, if I like the taste, if I’m in the mood, if it’s the right time of year, if I’m the right age, sex, religious persuasion, if I have the right interest, habits, predilections. If I tick all those boxes good advertising will work but most advertising doesn’t work because most advertising is done by people who just do not understand these things. They just want a good ad.
As I start this brave new venture (with a significant amount of personal savings and my very understanding wife) – creating bespoke beers for British Army regiments – I know that we won’t be advertising. We simply don’t have the budget. So, we’re just starting by ticking all the boxes.
We’ve started with the best craft brewers we can find. We’ve made sure the regiments have chosen delicious beers that they can be proud to call their own. Next, we’ve made sure the beers look the part with labels that shine with honours and colours and celebrate proud traditions. And we’ll be making a donation for every litre sold to the regiments’ charity.
If they taste good, look good and do good – and all for the price of a cracking craft beer at the supermarket then we stand a decent chance of success and raising £100,000 this year for regimental charities and wounded soldiers.
We think creating The Official Military Beer Co is a great idea. We hope you do too.
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