The declaration of purpose was there in the small print. Eclipsed by the fun and games of the relaunch, perhaps, but there nonetheless.
Scratch beneath the surface of those tongue-in-cheek portraits of the reborn Campaign’s proud parents and you’ll find it. Campaign’s raison d’être, its fuller manifesto reveals, is to champion creative brand-building.
Well, amen to that as a timely industry cri de coeur. As evidenced by last month’s Selling Creativity Short report from the IPA, we have allowed ourselves to be distracted from that beautifully simple and genuinely worthwhile mission: to build our clients’ brands, creatively.
In a world now tinged with even more uncertainty, it’s critical we remind ourselves of it because, for all the contortions of recent years, and despite the inclination of both marketing and agency folk to bark at every passing car, the fundamentals of what we do are unchanged and unarguable.
A client’s brand remains typically its most valuable intangible asset. Over time, branded companies return higher sales at higher prices and so bank higher profits. (It’s why Warren Buffett buys shares in them.)
They may be even more valuable in the digital economy, where their role as "mental shortcut" is more pronounced. So brand-building, rather than just chasing today’s sale, is a supremely worthwhile activity.
It begs a longer planning and payback horizon than the latter but beats that alternative path hands down over time, not least because most people are not active in most markets most of the time, and brand is our advertising when we are "off air".
Viewed through this lens, our task is to create impressions that may swing a decision in our favour many months or even many years from now, an inconvenient truth forgotten by too many of today’s media and tech hustlers.
That lag between advertising exposure and purchase decision is just one reason why brand-building is best done creatively: because great work will be remembered, however vaguely, and mediocre work will not. But the case for creative brand-building is even more straightforward than that.
We know that emotion and fame drive superior campaign returns; that the messenger of creative idea is usually more commercially potent than the message sent; that the world’s most effective campaigns work ten to 20 times harder than the least effective; and that quality of copy is the swing item.
At a time when business confidence is shaken and when Uber is describing advertising as a "necessary evil", it’s crucial we remain steadfast in our role as agents of short and long-term value.
There’s an ever-growing body of evidence on our side: creative brand-building is effective and efficient. In these turbulent times, let’s all wear that badge with pride.
Laurence Green is the founding partner of 101