DON’T BRING THE OLD BACK
Humanity will always appreciate the great Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, for propounding the saying, “Change is the only constant thing in life.”
And according to Heifer International, “The faces of global business and advertising strategies are changing. Organizations that hard-nosed this truth will slowly but surely go extinct like the Neanderthals.”
Without mincing words, the situation now is almost a case of change or die. Some popular business models are changing. From the much-touted Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and brand storytelling, to the so-called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and more, these models could very well be tagged “old” because their ideals are now dotted with change.
Let’s start from the minute.
The word “consumer” as widely used in business strategy documents and creative arguments, is now seriously considered a derogatory term. It not only devalues people, it strips them down to the lowest common denominator and defines them by their most basic behavior. Even a pond scum can consume!
Proponents of this school of thought will emphatically tell you that the term “consumer” is old. “Audience” is more appropriate; and this is apt considering the fact that entertainment is now the new social currency.
In the early 1940s, Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company championed the concept of “Unique Selling Proposition (USP)” in ads. However, the very meat of this proposition as widely practiced today, especially in our industry, no longer sits well in the stomach. Why? Because today, you now have situations where all brands in a given category are fighting; speaking in different languages but laying claim to the same USP. Example: a toothpaste that gives the whitest smile. As it is now, all toothpastes within this market category very well give the same whitest smiles; therefore “whitest smile” is no longer a meaningful differentiator, hence the increasing difficulty in telling a unique brand story.
Thomas Kolster, the protagonist of the concept, “Goodvertising,” has brilliantly argued that unique brand differentiator no longer merely lies in the intrinsic of a product, as argued by our good-old USP. To a large extent, unique and sustainable brand differentiator now lies in the idea of securing a societal gap as it relates to a given brand’s sphere of operation, then addressing such gap for the common good of all, and that of the brand eventually. Of course, this is what the essence of “Goodvertising” is all about.
In a recent case, according to Kolster, even the much-touted storytelling in creative advertising can equally become unique and more emotive if plugged into the values of Goodvertising. In his words:
“Going by the many societal ills confronting the globe today, making the world a little bit better is now the responsibility of all, brands and businesses inclusive. And if what we want is a better world, then we need to start telling better stories. However, better stories can only come from the good we do, for the common good of all.”
Perhaps one business model that could have been powerful in reinforcing the ideals of Goodvertising is the concept of “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR),” however owing to its blatant opportunistic nature, civilized world now considered the CSR model as “old,” though in Nigeria, most brands are still comfortably stuck in it.
Globally, the ideals of CSR has evolved and changed into a much better proposition called: Creating Shared Value (CSV).
So simply put, CSV is now the new CSR. And this is not a mere change of nametag.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article titled “Creating Shared Value (CSV),” Michael Porter and Mark Kramer (progenitors of CSV) covertly argued that the business model of Corporate Social Responsibility, as it were today, operates like a mere philanthropic gesture. On the other hand, Creating Shared Value is distinctly about integrating social and environmental impact into business DNA, then using such core-integration to drive economic values.
Truth be told, the concept of (Creating) Shared Value is somewhat still in its genesis phase in Nigeria, nonetheless, attaining a robust knowledge of it would require relative trainings for both business and creative managers.
Without a doubt, the crux of business progress is to explore and exploit the new. Bringing the old back, and getting glued to it would do nothing but stunt growth.
… I’m Just Saying.