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Maybe Branding Isn’t Dead

An ad campaign. To increase awareness. How retro!


Ted Bahr By Ted Bahr
11/20/2007 -14:36 PM







In the wake of all the noise about everything going digital, everything being measurable on the Internet and demands for accountable ROI comes this story via the Wall Street Journal: "Starbucks Posts Decline in U.S. Store Traffic, Plans Ad Campaign."

An ad campaign. To increase awareness. How retro! They're going to use TV ads-you know, mass market, branding, all that. Sheesh, why aren't they grinding out interstitial EyeBlaster BrainBurst SoulSucker pop-up ads on all the kewl internet video sites?

Isn't that what everyone is supposed to do? Apparently not.

Maybe we're ready to move beyond the "Revenge of the Sock Puppet" phase of anti-branding. You remember the sock puppet mascot for pets.com? The lesson absorbed by VCs and CFOs everywhere in 2001 was, "Don't do anything even resembling branding, look what followed in the wake of the Super Bowl advertising for pets.com." Of course, it had nothing to do with their business model or the recession. Lots of targeted branding efforts were just thrown out with the bathwater. Branding somehow meant "Super Bowl ads." For years afterwards I met with marketers who said either the venture capitalists or their CFO said, "Yes you can spend millions of dollars, but don't you dare advertise for awareness or brand-building." I wonder if the marketers would ever turn around and say to the CFO, "you can run A/P and A/R but don't you dare use a spreadsheet!"

In this case, it appears as if Starbucks CEO Jim Donald is letting the marketers do what they were hired to do: marketing. As quoted in the Journal, Donald says Starbucks is getting into television advertising because "as we grow our stores, we're trying to reach out to this broader audience that maybe [has] not had a chance to experience Starbucks." I call that building awareness. The old-fashioned way.

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Ted Bahr By Ted Bahr -- Ted Bahr founded BZ Media, a technology-focused media company, with Alan Zeichick in 1999. Before that, Ted held numerous positions at Miller Freeman, finally as a Group President and member of the Board of Directors. At Miller Freeman, Ted launched 8 magazines, plus many conferences and ancillary products. He has managed magazines in many markets including computers, electronics, music, video, travel, real estate, interior design and manufacturing.

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