The joy of not being sold anything

No-one needs advertising, and we increasingly seek out channels or content experiences which allow us to bypass the advertising all together. So what can brands do about it? Virtue's Alex Light explains.

Netflix tested ads on their platform in Australia in August. Sure, they were only promoting other shows on Netflix. But people went berserk.

“I’d rather stop watching Netflix than have them run ads.”

“I don’t need ads for content between shows.”

No-one needs advertising. And in a world where people pay for subscriptions like Netflix to avoid ads, increasingly we’re seeking out channels or content experiences which allow us to bypass the advertising all together.

A recent Havas survey ‘Meaningful Brands’ found that a lack of trust, attention and interest, as well as an over saturation of irrelevant content was attributed by the audience to low engagement with marketing, with a recent Havas survey demonstrating that, when asked how much a brand would be missed if it no longer existed, 74% brands scored zero out of 10.

The old adage of ‘I know half my marketing works, but I don’t know which half’, could probably be re-written in today’s media landscape as ‘I know half my marketing is pissing off my customers and making them actively dislike me, I just don’t know which half’.

For those of us in advertising and marketing, time to find a new career? Not yet.

It’s a golden opportunity.

An opportunity to use our marketing budgets to connect with people in a meaningful way. To make their lives better. To make society better. To solve a problem that people face. To make something they care about.

But it requires a shift in how we think about our consumers. Firstly, we need to stop thinking of them as consumers. We need to think of them as people. As an audience to our communications. To take the mindset of a publisher, and understand what they care about, and what matters to them.

To add value to their lives.

Here’s three examples that demonstrate this beautifully.

Natty Light, a college beer brand in the US, giving away a million dollars in Student Debt relief.

Dove Men+Care, using their voice to advocate for greater paternity leave.

Havas’ study concludes that ‘Meaningful Brands’ have outperformed the stock market by 206% over the last 10 years.

Time for a rejuvenation of how we think about our marketing and communications.

Alex Light is head of partnerships at Virtue. 


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