Back to the Future
Presented to the DMA Global Symposium by Trish Wheaton in 2007
In rapid time—less than 10 years—the marketing landscape has shifted from the dominant marketing of the last half of the last century which I refer to as the Town Crier model that interrupted our lives as we gathered around the great hearth of the home—the television set. “Hear ye. Hear ye. 11:00. All is well. Eat at Joes. Buy Crest Toothpaste. Wash your clothes in Persil.” For marketers this was truly a simple model that just required being the biggest shouter—think GRP’s, think SOV—and developing the cleverest and most memorable commercial. It can be summarized with this all too well known joke amongst Direct Marketers which goes something like this: “An advertising guy meets the client for the first time and says. “The answer is a :30 second commercial. Now what’s the question?”
Lest I be too smug, for direct marketers also, that golden era was equally simple. Doing DM (and it usually stood for Direct Mail) meant you had a product, an offer, a call to action and usually a premium. You carpet bombed the country with your inserts or DM packages and waited for your 2% response to come via return post. You didn’t have to think about things as ephemeral as brand value and the regulatory environment. The issues were mostly postal related and the business of Associations was anticipating and trying to head off the next strike. I simplify. I know. But in the mists of time, it does seem so. There was a tidy simplicity to it all. We referred to ourselves as Above the Line and Below the Line. Terms that are still all too common.
What needs to be widely agreed upon is that now, in 2007, we are well Beyond the Line. There is no line, because consumers, those often studied targets of our marketing affections never recognized the line in the first place. It was only marketers who did. We defined and Balkanized ourselves in ways that consumers never did, perhaps to preserve our acreage of the marketing landscape. Perhaps to make the world less complex so that for altogether understandable reasons we could champion the very real issues that define our particular brand of marketing.
About the author:
Trish Wheaton is Chief Marketing Officer, Wunderman Group and Chairperson, Wunderman Canada
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