Chapter 4Tales from the FrontCompanies Trying to Get It Right

Advertising sits at the center of many of the stories we've told so far, and will figure prominently in several more. Nevertheless, this is not an advertising book. Changing the advertising industry will not magically render brands fit to compete in the Total Market; however, the realization that brands must change the way they go to market is starting to flow upstream to the enterprise itself.

This is in keeping with a larger trend. Advertising and marketing has long held an unusual position in the world of business. Specifically, in a world of exact knowledge, advertising has always been woefully imprecise. As retail pioneer John Wanamaker is purported to have said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” That didn't sit any better with executives in Wanamaker's day than it does with corporate bosses today. Other enterprise functions don't suffer from this problem. The costs of goods, staff, rent, and so on—these are all known to a penny, as is revenue. Every well-run business knows exactly how much money is coming in the door through sales and licensing. And profit—the difference between the revenue coming in and the costs going out—grows when a business increases revenue or shrinks costs.

Brand is the mechanism by which businesses establish a consumer preference for a product. As my former Ogilvy & Mather colleague Joanna Seddon wrote in “The Brand in the Boardroom,” ...

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