Don’t Just Sell. Inspire A Cultish Movement.

Copywriter, Nathan Archambault, writes Maybe I’m Gravy, a blog about the sport (not to be confused with his sports blog). On said blog, he posits that ad agencies are shifting (or need to be) from making ads to creating cults.

Ad agencies will still be idea factories. But creating ads is going to become a side dish to advertising’s main course capabilities.
Ideas are going to be used to create something every brand wants, but few brands have. Something that takes advantage of the collective thinking, immediacy and transparency of Facebook, Twitter, smartphones and everything else that’s bringing people together.
Cults.
That’s what brands need. And that’s something ad agencies can provide. Cults that empower a brand’s biggest fans, produce greater brand differentiation and increase market share. Cults full of passionate, deeply loyal consumers who do a better job at selling a brand than ads ever did. Cults that convince people to opt in, unlike most ads that force people to opt out.

My friends at Brains on Fire call these groups of passionate consumers “movements,” not cults, but the thinking is the same.
Of course, ad people helping to inspire cults, or movements, is not foreign to insanely great brands like Apple. Everyone knows about the “Cult of Mac.” And that cult was clearly created by stellar advertising and exceptional product design (a killer combo, if there ever was one).
I wonder though, will a cult, or movement, ever rise up around an average product? Maybe. A lot of people classify Wal-Mart, McDonald’s and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese as average products, but all three have cult followings.
Whatever the answer, I like the concept that agencies aren’t in business just to makes ads that promote product. Rather agencies (and freelancers like me!) are generators of big ideas that attract a passionate audience.

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 now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.