Mark Ritson calls on marketers to hold the line on their advertising

“85% of advertising is a total and utter waste of time, within 24 hours,” Mark Ritson declared, in a response to a question about brands changing up their creative work and trading in their brand equity after becoming ‘bored’ of their marketing.

“Keep banging the same nail with the same hammer.”

Speaking at an online seminar hosted by Clemenger BBDO Sydney, Ritson stressed that marketers becoming tired of their advertising is not necessarily indicative of consumers’ attitudes.

“Wear out in advertising almost never happens,” Ritson said.

“If you look at brand awareness, Qantas normally has about a 92% unaided brand awareness for airlines.  But if you look at salience, when I’m thinking about flying to see my parents next weekend, it fades much more than you might imagine.

“So I think one clue is to look at salience, but the other is just brute discipline. Market orientation, the most important concept in marketing, teaches us that the way we as marketers see the world is completely different from the way that the consumer sees it.

“The people who are changing their strategies all the time, not codifying their work, are not market orientated because the minute you’re market orientated you realise no one even notices,” he concluded.

Mark Ritson spoke at a webinar hosted by Clemenger BBDO Sydney

Ritson went on to say that “creative agencies don’t get it. Creative agencies are always pushing for change. Hold the line… Don’t change what’s already good. Hold the line.”

Looking at the issue in further depth, Ritson explained the focus should be on getting the brand and its ‘codes’ – what he calls a set of several distinctive factors surrounding brand – right first and then playing with the execution later.

“I would rather we stick to the brand position and brand codes that aren’t perfect, but we stick to them for ten years, then we reinvent them every three or four years to try and get to perfection,” he said.

“There is no correct answer. Do the brand work once; the execution is different, but the fundamental positioning and codes work should be done once and that’s it.”

Ritson then labelled rebranding “strategic suicide”, saying that “unless there’s a legal requirement to do it” brands are “throwing away too much” in terms of their brand salience.

“I like revitalisation,” he offered.

“We keep the name, we keep the codes or we play with the codes, but we ask the question ‘what did this brand used to stand for when it was successful and what does that mean for 2021?”


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