Ok, so it’s weird to see something coming from an agency like ours that presents a case against advertising. But let’s be honest. There are some organizations that really, really don’t need to advertise nearly as much as they do. Sure, you need to keep brand awareness, keep yourself in the public eye, but the organizations on our list could really let up on the pressure quite a bit. Or could they?
Number 3. Visa
Visa is everywhere you want to be. Most anyone reading this right now is either under 18 or has a Visa card of some type. Or is Amish but a little bit rebellious and using a bit of technology.
Point is, if you fit Visa’s target demographic, you are likely a Visa customer. Yet Visa is one of the most frequent sponsors of sporting event broadcasts that the world has ever known. Why is this? Is Visa wanting us to get more of their credit cards? If so, why? I can only use a Visa card once to purchase my gourmet towel heating and macramé pez dispenser with kung-fu grip attachment. What do they care if I have an extra Visa card?
Except: Did you know that Visa didn’t start out as Visa? It was initially a card called BankAmericard, issued by (you guessed it) Bank of America. The card was almost a colossal failure after one year of existence due to a massive amount of fraud. Bank of America had to act fast and use public relations, direct mail, and every other method available to them to clean up their good name. Not as easy in 1959 as it is today. In fact, Bank of America reportedly lost around $20 million when you calculate in the actual fraud, the advertising, and the overhead. That’s roughly $147,890,418 in today-money.
Maybe an ongoing branding campaign to keep yourself widely known as the most trusted name in credit cards is actually a small price to pay.
Number 2. Coke
There is a common misconception (it may not really be all that common – in fact it may be something that only I ever misunderstood) that Pepsi and Coke are near equals and so they have to advertise a lot to make sure that the other guy doesn’t come out on top.
In truth, while Pepsi was waging war on Coke and trying to make it look like they were neck-and-neck, Coke’s worldwide sales figures dwarf Pepsi’s. In fact, this 2010 article talks about how Pepsi has, for the most part, given up trying to match up with Coke.
Except: When was the last time you remember seeing a commercial for Coca-cola? Specifically to convince people that Coke tastes good and you should drink it? Probably a long time ago, right? That’s because Coke mostly only promotes something new to their lineup (Coke Zero, anyone?). Also, the advertising that Coke does make use of is generally more of a public relations spot than a true advertisement. Millions of Americans now associate the Christmas season with Coke due to hyper-caffeinated cute-as-a-button polar bears that want nothing more than to guzzle Coke and feed it to their tiny little baby bears. (What Coke’s ads don’t show is the wanton acts of carnage that the sugar-rushing bears wreak upon unsuspecting remote polar villages.)
Number 1. Apple
Even if you are not an Apple fanatic (I know several), you have to admit that Apple has done quite a bit to revolutionize how many of us live, work and play. And that’s just it. Everyone knows that Apple is great, wonderful, and has awesome toys. And sure, launch a new product, do a campaign to tell everyone about it. But we don’t really need iTunes commercials anymore. I don’t need to see people using the iPod touch to know that it exists and is very nice.
Yet as recently as the holiday season, Apple was banging the “buy an iPod touch” drum really, really hard. And there’s this thing called an iPad. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
Except: iCloud. Thankfully, Apple does realize that they don’t need to spend big marketing dollars on television and radio spots for the iPad. And they make use of great alternative forms of advertising, like skyscraper ads on websites that will interact with people. But most importantly, Apple right now is making a strong case for switching all of your devices to an Apple product. Already like iTunes? Well, if you had an iPhone, an iPad, and a Macbook, any song you bought from iTunes would automagically place itself on all of your devices. So if they can hook you on just one of their gadgets (such as the tablet forerunner iPad), they can maybe get you to buy all the other stuff. iPad is the “gateway drug” to the den of Apple iniquity.
Bonus Business! Microsoft (Especially any new operating system)
Microsoft could be on this list five times, probably. But we’re going to narrow it down to one item – Windows (specifically, at the time of this writing, Windows 7). We’re still seeing tv spots, magazine ads, banner ads and more, all directing people to make sure to buy Windows 7.
Here’s the thing: Nobody is going to be influenced by these ads.
Sure, lots of people upgraded from Vista to Windows 7 because Vista was a steaming pile of horse crap and Windows 7 made us hearken back to the days of stability that XP had wrought. Windows 7 is a perfectly good product with its share of flaws and qualities. But we don’t need ads to explain this to us.
For Microsoft to expend a considerable any budget on a campaign for Windows 7 more than 6 months after its initial release is a bit like a car manufacturer spending money to advertise the fact that their cars run on gasoline. Yes, it is necessary to make the machine that I purchased work, but you needn’t remind me of it.
The reason Microsoft didn’t make it on our main list? Their initial success had very, very little to do with advertising. Microsoft’s big break was being awarded the contract from IBM to provide the operating system for the upcoming IBM PC. Microsoft never really even advertised MS-DOS.
Need another example of why Microsoft should stop advertising (or call KK BOLD for help, at any rate)? Check out the discomfort level in this promotional video for Windows 7.
Stop, Microsoft. Just stop.
Kalvin Kingsley is the operations director for KK BOLD. He doesn’t honestly believe that Microsoft will be calling KK BOLD anytime soon, but we’ve cleared all of his phone lines just to be safe.