Advertising today: Flipping burgers or gourmet meals?

NOV 14, 2021

Long term brand-building effort is a misnomer, it cannot even be planned

What we cannot discount at all today is that social media has redefined the way brands communicate with consumers. Advertising is built on stimulus-response theory; every stimulus generates a response and consistent response builds a behaviour that makes brands profitable. In the long run. Almost like a gourmet meal - it takes time to make, it drives a unique experience which in turn drives memories.

For a long time, advertising was like preparing a gourmet meal. It was painstaking to create, it needed precise preparation, it needed a lot of testing and realigning, it needed many hands with specific skills to create communication that moved heart and mind. Hands and feet moved as commanded by heart and mind. This has changed, and the change is driven by social media. Brands no longer look to serve a gourmet meal, they strive to serve quick-fix burgers.


Fast, cheap and viral (I have borrowed from the book title that I don’t agree with) is a mantra that brands today live by. Social media is all about quick stimulus and often not about consistent response. It is a moving target where brands do not look at building a focused feeling and speed determines the action brands will undertake.

This makes all the brands feel that creating communication that will move heart and mind is fast, cheap and simple. This is added by brands hiring creative teams internally with the sole reason of speed.

Yes, functionally both gourmet meal and fast food satiate hunger, and maybe satiate it for almost the same time. But that’s where the comparison between the two ends. This quest for fast has changed the landscape for brands and I do see this trend becoming stronger. More and more brands are already doing this.


That being the case, here is what I think can happen in the coming months:

One: The proposition to brand connect need not be there at all. This is the place where advertising skills are most needed, but this is also the bit that slows the creative process. There are some big brands like banks and fintech, that have already given up on this aspect.

Two: Memorability is a fleeting thing. If the advertising is remembered only till the time you tweet, it would be supremely successful. In an attention deficit economy, memorability does not create any competitive advantage.

Three: Immediate action matters. All advertising should do is drive the audience to either search or download the app. If either doesn’t happen, then the advertising has been a spectacular failure.

Four: And finally, long term brand-building effort is a misnomer, because the business itself may pivot in the next two quarters. So building a long-term impact is not something that can even be planned.

Advertising these days is a lot more about what it does right now, and that is a scary challenge.

(The author is Co-founder and CSO, Bang in the Middle)

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