Apple to Dove, Gillette to Snickers … 50 years of EFFIEs finally turns marketing effectiveness into more of a science

August 18, 2019

Marketing effectiveness has taken a long time to become more science than art.

30 years ago I sat down in my first marketing job, working on brand development for British Airways. The company had just taken a series of transformative steps forward, privatisation of the former national airline was quickly followed by a company-wide focus on customers. This then led to a focus on brands, recognising that customer segments have very different needs and aspirations.

Branded services, from World Traveller (rather than the commoditised industry descriptor of Economy) though to Club World, First and Concorde emerged. They were promises to be delivered at every point of the customer experience. The promises became stories, which engaged audiences – customers, employees, and investors too – in a belief in something distinctive, special, that is worthy of investment – be it in terms of premium prices, allocating higher marketing budgets, and shareholder investments.

Brands in every type of business have become incredibly valuable, and powerful, assets over the years. As the intangible asset value of any company has grown to on average 85% of its overall enterprise value, brands – in the form of trademarks, and all the associated products and services, awareness and affinities – are typically the most significant intangible asset. Investing in a brand can typically lead to higher prices and therefore higher profits, great certainty and therefore reduced risks, and faster market impact and therefore accelerated growth.

Yet for many marketers there seems a disconnect between measuring brands as valuable assets driving future growth, and the marketing activities associated with them which are still associated in many companies with necessary costs to drive short term sales.

Marketers don’t help themselves. Too many focus on short term tactics to drive short term results, and as a result they become subsidiary to their sales colleagues and quarterly performance. They focus on easy-to-track but largely meaningless metrics like audience awareness (so what if they have heard of it), preference (doesn’t mean they’ll buy it or pay more), and market share (anybody can maximise a share by changing the boundaries, or using quick gimmicks). Ad agencies don’t help, preferring to marvel at their artwork than strategic thinking, and analytics tend to get diverted to the received wisdoms.

Marketing effectiveness should be a real science in today’s world. Typically marketing is the largest investment a company makes into driving its future growth, and therefore worthy of the best brains and intelligent analysis.

My friend Mark Ritson, based down in Tasmania, recently did a series of really good videos on the changing world of marketing effectiveness, built around a series of case studies emerging from the annual EFFIE awards:

Apple … using the power of brand positioning around three central tenets – simplicity, creativity and humanity – and how its relationship with agency Chiat/Day brought that positioning to life.

Dove … how its “Real Beauty” campaign challenged beauty industry stereotypes using a balance between long- and short-term investment:

Gillette … the inside story on how it used a combination of mass marketing and targeted campaigns to build the Gillette brand and drive sales:

Snickers … how it turned around declining market share by creating a campaign, ‘You’re not your when you’re hungry’, that differentiated its brand positioning:

Tourism Australia … how their ‘Dundee’ Super Bowl ad helped drive Americans’ consideration, desire and intention to visit Australia.

This is supported by a new series from Marketing Week: