Magazine article Marketing

Demolition Man Has His Sights on the Brand Myth

Magazine article Marketing

Demolition Man Has His Sights on the Brand Myth

Article excerpt

"It is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong," said someone. The remark came back to me when reading, not for the first time, that the minutely detailed statistics that guide Britain's economy are invariably wrong.

The facts can often mislead. Recently we learned that people trust Kellogg more than MPs. This may be true - but the question is, trust to do what? Keep your bowels open, or get you out of gaol? One is a rather less demanding task than the other. And unlike MPs, Kellogg doesn't have to cope with hoards of unscrupulous journalists constantly trying to prove its staff are a bunch of crooks. How much would people trust them if a flood of stories appeared about how little their stuff costs to make as against what they sell it for, and how little benefit it gives compared to alternatives?

Trust is not the only misused word, as Professor Andrew Ehrenberg of South Bank University pointed out not long ago in a splendid US speech. He wittily demolished two widely accepted concepts: brand equity and loyalty. Protagonists of brand equity "do not seem to know what it is or how to measure it, nor yet what it does for you". The number of people who buy it - and nothing else, he persuasively argued - determines a brand's success. David Ogilvy, in his wonderfully categorical way, once said Ehrenberg was "the best brain in marketing today". He and his collaborators have over the years exposed more baloney on matters like the effectiveness of price promotions than anybody in the world. …

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