Magazine article Marketing

Why New Labour Is Better Than Spray-On Socks

Magazine article Marketing

Why New Labour Is Better Than Spray-On Socks

Article excerpt

Here is a test question for all advertising and marketing sophisticates. Who said this - and when?

"This use of advertising - to add a subjective value to the product-becomes increasingly important as the trends in our technology lead to competing products becoming more and more the same."

The answer: James Webb Young, over 70 years ago. And even he was probably not the first to express the thought. Yet each marketing generation continues to believe that there was, until only very recently, some golden period when all products were not only demonstrably different from each other but also, wondrously, better than each other.

So we try all sorts of dodges in the hope of re-creating this golden age. We employ gap-analysis to identify unsatisfied consumer needs. Stephen King, that most mordant of planners, once employed gap-analysis to identify the absence on our supermarket shelves of left-handed margarine. As the saying goes: there may be a gap in the market; but is there a market in the gap? And when a major multinational client, in all seriousness, invited the agency to put aside all such practicalities as technology and cost and just come up with unique ideas that would meet genuine consumer needs, the same Stephen King responded with joyful fecundity. Of his long and entertaining list, I remember spray-on socks and bed-making fluid with particular affection.

Next, of course, the R&D team having failed to invent a functional product discriminator, we turn to the agency account planner and ask her to invent a non-functional one. …

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