Fabulous brands will disappear overnight?

Lord Bell of Chime communications was quoted as saying this at the ISBA conference

"If we don’t take action, fabulous brands that spent millions building their reputation will disappear overnight."

The issue referred to is action to dissuade the government from imposing further restrictions and controls on advertising in areas such as unhealthy foods, cars that are bad for the environment, alcohol etc.

This post is not about about the merits or demerits of advertising controls, but to challenge the astonishing presumption that a great brand could not survive without advertising.

Some of the greatest and most fabulous brands of the 21st century became great brands long before they invested in broadcast advertising.   How did they do this?  They created products and services that people wanted and executed them better than others.  Here are a few plucked from the Superbrands top 500

Rough Guides
Rolls Royce Aerospace
Eddie Stobat

And some others
Pret a manger

Brand reputation and durability is built upon people’s day to day experience of the brand or what they hear about it from other people.  How did people discover these brands and services before they started advertising?  It will be different in each case but we know from our Power Channels analysis that whilst TV ads can be influential, word of mouth, previous experiences, being available in the right places are often the drivers of growth.

I would beg to suggest that the "fabulous brands that will disappear overnight" are not really so fabulous.  Great brands that deliver things that customers want and make themselves available in the right places will be sought after and customers will find them.  If advertising is restricted then brand owners will create new ways to make themselves famous.  I am not so sure their destiny is tied to the availability of mass market advertising.

Having said that, advertising is a powerful tool and persuading the government to back off is a good idea. But to do this we will need more powerful arguments than this one as advocated by Lord Bell at ISBA.

Footnote:   People’s day to day experiences are shaped by the way the business
delivers Power Attributes to the Power Categories.  This work underpins
the brands success.  Customers and prospects then discover this through
the Power Channels, which include advertising, but there is much more.
(definitions click here or sign up here  to get our free paper "The Growth Game").