When I was a kid, I loved Tony the Tiger. He told me that his Frosted Flakes were “Grrrrreat!” and I believed him, getting up early so that I could scarf some down before my brothers would eat them all.
The character was created byLeo Burnett, a man and an agency famous for positioning products through iconic characters, such as Tony, the Jolly Green Giant and The Marlboro man. Other famous campaigns, such as Volkswagen’sThink Small (DDB) and Nike’s “Just Do It” (Wieden and Kennedy), defined brands in the marketplace.
While the principles that led to those legendary campaigns have lost none of their power, they are no longer sufficient. Marketing creativity is breaking out of old confines and making new rules.
The Old Paradigm
In the movieWhat Women Want,Mel Gibson played a creative director who gained the ability to read women’s thoughts. Armed with this new power, he became an advertising superhero, able to glean insights and compose brand messages that created meaning for the consumer. It was an idealized version of the ad business, but not far off the mark.
Historically, the ad business has revolved around positioning and messaging.Positioning was the essence of marketing strategy and the message was what gave voice to the brand. A strong marketing message was no less than the beating heart of a successful business and brands were crafted, revered and, most of all, tightly controlled.