Silver Bullets

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“Should we use a jingle?” “Should we have a celebrity spokes-person?” “What's our tagline?”

These questions are asked in every initial branding meeting I have with a client. I have this wonderful image of me answering by first jumping on the conference table and then screaming, “If advertising was a werewolf, silver bullets would work. There are no silver bullet in advertising!” I'm not angry, I'm passionate about the proper answer to this question. So I don't jump on the table or scream like a banshee. I just explain what they're asking for is a silver bullet. And there's only one in advertising: building a brand. The “silver bullet” philosophy is the equivalent of me believing if I don Superman's cape, I will be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Don't get me wrong, I understand why clients (and too many agencies) want to believe in silver bullets. Advertising is scary. It's not science. It's a roll of the dice.

Of course, anything that can increase your odds for success in marketing should be utilized. But that success should be a long-term view, not just short-term. Jingles, taglines, and spokespersons belong in the same toolbox as fractional page, 4-color, and pre-printed insert.

Small agencies like mine have to deal with the desire for a silver bullet just as much as big agencies. When tempted we need to remember great brands became icons because they have a story not because they had a jingle. Repeat after me: A brand is a story. A brand is a story. Good. Hopefully I've now reduced jingles by some measurable difference.
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