In the recent issue of Creativity, modern advertising leaders offer their opinions on the state of the industry. Among the questions asked was should this business still be called ‘advertising.’ This is an especially relevant topic as all of us navigate the sometimes murky waters of consumer engagement via new channels such as social media. While many interesting viewpoints were espoused, ultimately I agree most with David Droga, Creative Chairman of Droga5: “For my own sanity and pride I need to call it advertising. The principal of what we do and why clients hire us is still the same. Technology has changed, consumer behavior has changed, but the fundamentals remain the same.” 

If you strip everything down to its pure essence, what we as an advertising agency are charged with doing for our clients is the same regardless of media. Ultimately our goal is to build consumers’ engagement with a brand. And that can take a lot of shapes from a TV ad to a Facebook fan page — even crafting the perfect customer experience. While seemingly small when compared with a large scale mass media campaign, something as simple as providing consistent brand talking points to your sales staff can become an important cornerstone to building brand engagement. When ignored, the consequences can be disastrous.

Case in point: last week while enjoying an after-work Shandy on Dean and Linda’s (aka – my folks) front porch we observed one such opportunity lost. An unmarked pick-up truck passed the driveway — stopped — then backed up and pulled in. The driver wandered up to us as though he was going to ask directions and suddenly blurted out, “I drive around here a lot selling steaks and I wanted to see if you folks need anything …” Dean explained/exaggerated/fibbed that he comes from a farm background and was taken care of as far as meat was concerned. “We got chicken and seafood …” the driver offered. No. As he drove off we looked at each other shaking our heads. No mention of what made this door-to-door meat business special. Were they price players? A premium brand? Who knows … And more importantly who cares?

This squandered opportunity represents everything that modern advertising/branding/marketing can and should add to the equation of the customer experience. Call it what you will — it’s all advertising.