Brands As Change Agents, It’s Hard Work But Someone’s Gotta Do It

In his latest essay, Friend of AdPulp, Tom Asacker, asks, “Why do we continue to fritter away our organizations’ valuable time, attention and money trying to keep up with, and optimize, activities that most customers find little, if any, value in? What invisible force holds us captive?”
Asacker believes we are missing the point in our “drive for perfection in the field of marketing.” He argues that while we busy ourselves with optimizing viral video awareness and email open rates, the real work of making happy customers goes undone.

Marketers believe that they are in the propaganda and persuasion business. This worldview has them fixated on manipulating words and doing things right―right message, right name, right medium, right slogan, et al.―blinding them to the most important marketing question: Are we doing the right things?
You are not in the propaganda and mind manipulation business; you’re in the innovation and happiness business. Follow the lead of Apple and Zappos. Resist the cognitive pull of communication and persuasion on your strategic thinking and do something meaningfully different that adds value to people’s lives. You’ll be happily surprised by the reaction, and by the results.

In other words, all the minutia does add up to billable hours, but it doesn’t necessarily solve basic needs for the client or the client’s customers.
At the same time, marketers exist to market, not to change the world. Once again, I ask you to speak up on this. When a client calls and wants a new website, radio spot or product placement deal, how do you land the project while moving the conversation to a higher place?



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.