That "past" was the era when advertising dominated the promotional world. The last episode of "Mad Men" flashed back to that iconic commercial with children chanting they wish they could give the world a Coca-Cola.
Sorrell reported that WPP's net sales for 2017 fell 0.9%. What irks the media - and investors - is how Sorrell is positioning and packaging that development. That is, he's not, notes Alex Webb in Bloomberg, admitting there has been a profound shift how products and services are promoted and how will WPP respond.
In pre-digital time, when creatives like Draper dominated, companies like WPP would flood the media with ads. Now, as Webb hammers, they have turned to digital tools such as apps. Those can track the effectiveness of what's put out there.
Many remember that old adage in the ad industry: Half of advertising works. We just don't know which half.
Today, that doesn't cut it. Funding, power, and influence have migrated to not only digital giants like Google and Facebook. Also, as Webb cites, Accenture, IBM, and PwC have gotten into the act.
Incidentally, PwC is also disrupting the global legal sector with its new flexible business model for delivering legal services. The large brandname law firm could, like WPP, begin a struggle for survival.
WPP's troubles represent only half the story, though.
Within digital itself, as documents Scott Galloway in his breakthrough book "The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google," there is a major disruption. Here the book can be ordered from one of the The Four - Amazon.
Essentially, what Galloway declares is that branding, which ruled since the 1930s when P&G introduced the identity/operational model, is on its way out.
On page 9 of the book, Galloway states:
"Google signaled the end of the brand era as consumers, armed with search, no longer need to defer to the brand."
In addition, later in the book, Galloway explains how voice assistants such as Alexa are further constraining branding. Ask Alexa for AAA batteries. The recommendation is Amazon's private label, not the brands which used to take over our share of mind.
Soon enough, those with a child custody or patent-violation issue could be asking Alexa for the name of a law firm. Alexa may not have heard of Jones Day or Dentons.
Another development is that Google has, as it is said, become the company's homepage. That is, rankings on Google depend more on user-generated content than what companies put on their website. Here is my discussion of that phenomenon.
So, yes, companies have to invest more on making products/services customers/clients will review favorably online and influencing the digital influencers. That New York City junior in college with 83,000 followers on Instagram has become a must contact for those targeting iGen.
Focus on the website itself represents a looking inward. And that's not the way to sell. The website has become just one point on the promotional continuum.
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