Are Some Brands So Popular They Don’t Need To Advertise?

Are Some Brands So Popular They Don’t Need To Advertise?

For fans of the Star Wars franchise, a date is probably all they needed to swarm the cinemas for the seventh film. The franchise is so well known it’s a wonder any marketing or advertising is needed to have people lining up for the next instalment.

Emma Mackenzie
Posted by Emma Mackenzie

The Wall Street Journal [paywall] quoted chief executive of Disney Robert Iger questioning how much marketing they really need to do, due to the popularity of the movies already.

The franchise did end up doing some advertising (although wouldn’t say how much), the WSJ believed it would still end up less than what big studios usually put into mammoth Blockbuster films.

While it begs the question when does a brand become so popular it doesn’t need to advertise, Sam Court, user experience director at The White Agency, and Kate Smither, strategy director from M&C Saatchi, said it’s more about what constitutes advertising for that brand now. Popular brands such as Star Wars still do advertising and marketing, just in a different sense now.

“Do all brands need to put a 30 second ad out anymore?” asked Smither. “No. Someone like Star Wars or Coke, where they have that cross-generational appeal and they’re not a new product, are coming off a fairly high awareness.

“Do they need to advertise as much to cut through? Probably not. But does the nature of the advertising change? Yes.”

The White Agency’s Court says it’s about what the advertising actually is now, with the increasing stream of tech and options available, and the digital elements on owned, earned and paid media.

“These experiences aim to act as a proxy, authentically connecting a brand with its audience and adding value to their lives,” he said. “But as with Star Wars, does this kind of digital marketing activity constitute advertising? It’s more like an in-bound model that gains momentum by turning ‘strangers’ into ‘advocates’ over time.

“Star Wars is an amazing franchise where everything is synergistic. Some cynics, and George Lucas himself, might even say that the film itself just a massive ad to sell figurines and other paraphernalia.”

The thing to keep in mind, said M&C Saatchi’s Smither, is that brands like Star Wars and Coke are not starting from a zero base. They have the generational pull, the reputation and the money surrounding them already which helps the evolution of its advertising.

Another brand that has focused on the less-traditional ad methods is clothing company Cotton On. The head of marketing and ecommerce Col Kennedy recently told B&T the chain doesn’t spend a cent on traditional advertising channels like TV, outdoor and radio, however goes through word-of-mouth channels and relies on its reputation to get the message out.

In 2013, the Huffington Post ran its own list of cult brands so popular they have no need for advertising, which included the likes of luxury car brand Rolls Royce and decadent sweet treat brand Krispy Kreme. While a couple of years ago, the article said Rolls Royce doens’t need to use traditional advertising as its reputation among the wealthy – the only ones who can really afford it – is enough.

Krispy Kreme doesn’t exactly have the same dollar figures as a Rolls Royce, and has recently launched ‘lickable’ digital ads on the smartphone, however the brand has been somewhat of a posterchild for the word-of-mouth marketing many brands dream of.

AdAge ran a case study in 2014 on Krispy Kreme’s strategy, which relates a lot to the emotional connection consumers have with the brand. After trialling putting the doughnuts in supermarkets in the States, the company eventually came back to the “bare-bones marketing strategy”.

However The Wall Street Journal pointed out that even if brands don’t spend that much on advertising, if at all, there are other brands that try to capitalise on a brand’s popularity with their own goodies. Last week we ran a story about all the brands jumping on the Star Wars bandwagon – precisely the concept the WSJ mentions.

Either way, many of our B&T staffers have already snagged their tickets for the new Star Wars film.