In recent years, admitting that you work in ‘marketing’ has become about as socially acceptable as being an Estate Agent, though, thankfully, the bankers have given everyone a bit of cover for a while! It seems most people now think of marketing as nothing more than advertising and promotions – tricks to make products look better than they really are, or dupe people into buying things they never wanted in the first place.
In truth, the ‘marketing industry’ has no-one to blame but itself. It has spent far too long acting simply like a division of the glamorous, big-spending, creative world of advertising or trying to justify its role by snuggling up to the short-term profit focus of the ‘shareholder return’ cheerleaders.
Good marketing is the foundation of good business. It’s about sustained success, the continual development of good products that meet needs and deliver value, for both customer and producer. Businesses that practice good marketing, properly thought through and well executed, prosper and succeed.
Granted, in today’s crowded markets, some clever advertising and an attractive promotion can be important in getting yourself noticed. However, ‘marketing’ should always to be about more than short-term awareness and quick profits. It’s vital, before giving the okay to any activity, that someone in the marketing function takes the time to think through the wider implications for the product, the brand, the business and indeed the whole marketing enterprise.
Judging by the online reviews and the clips on youtube, ‘Max Factor’s False Lash Effect Mascara’ is a good product. Users like it and are happy to recommend it to others. So why then is this marketing success being put at risk by advertising that resorts to trickery? Though relatively small, the ‘enhanced in post production’ line on its recent ads demonstrates the sort of activity that has given advertising and, by association, ‘marketing’ its bad name. It’s not just this product or this brand, the practice is so common it’s provoked a series of complaints that have damaged the reputations of the beauty industry and some of its leading names.
The ad is supposed to show the product’s beneficial effects on eyelashes, making them look longer and thicker. But, the creative direction chosen for the ad apparently didn’t make the product look good enough so they had to improve it a little (or perhaps a lot) with some post-production titivation. Then, because they didn’t want to be accused of misleading anyone, they had to put a line on the ad explaining what they had done.
As a result, the final ad;
- Undersells the product by suggesting the benefits aren’t really that great
- Insults the audience by pretending to show the truth, then covering itself legally with the small print
- Risks the reputation of the brand and the industry
- Suggests that the advertising team wasn’t clever enough to think of a way of properly demonstrating the effects of product in a tv advert
- Reinforces the idea that ‘marketing’ people will do anything to sell their products.
Now, surely, no-one is enhanced by any of that. If ‘marketing’ wants to regain its credibility and clearly differentiate itself from the song and dance of advertising and promotion it needs to start thinking and acting more broadly and ensuring that the long-term implications as well as the short-term returns are given full consideration..
PS – Perhaps someone should have spent some time on youtube. Have a look at this enthusiast for ideas on communicating product benefits (you might want to skip forward to 3.25 min).