When I was growing up, in the days when I experienced advertising and stuff like normal human beings, meaning I didn't think about it that much, it was the longer running campaigns I remembered and still do.
Heineken refreshed the parts other lagers cannot reach.
The Man from Del Monte
And so on. Long running campaigns that, like Ariston, went on and on on for years.
More and more, the 'long running campaign' is a thing of the very distant past.
There's stuff like The Power of Dreams, but not much.
One of the most common reasons I hear in meetings is 'wear out'. The concept that people just get bored with the same campaign over time and cut-through gradually decays.
To be honest though, in most cases, that's just marketing bollocks for the fact that there is a new brand manager or CMO who wants to make their mark.
How long is the average marketing exec tenure these days? About two years? That would explain a lot. The new broom comes in looking for problems to solve, naturally finding all sorts wrong with the existing strategy. Not to mention firing the agency for their own pet shop, who naturally want to do their own groundbreaking work and reinvent the brand too.
But marketing people live a total bubble. No one cares about their brand as much as they do and they certainly don't think about their campaigns much, if they notice them at all.
People don' want to think about brands, what these bubble inhabiting marketing hot-shots forget is people use brands NOT to think. Brands exist as signposts for people to buy something familiar and get on with stuff that is, frankly, more important.
As Byron Sharp puts it, the only real role for proper advertising that creates a significant return is building memory structures, making distinctive assets, feelings and associations more famous and familiar over time.
Of course, as culture changes and markets shift, brands and the communications that promotes them need to be refreshed. But that's REFRESHED, not wholesale reinvention. If you find you have a brand idea that isn't fit for purpose anymore, it's more than likely it wasn't a big strategic or creative idea really, it was just a bit of executional fluff.
I would argue that the second of these is really a refresh of the first - that Reassuringly expensive was never the real brand idea, rather it was a dramatising Stella as the epitome of Franco Belgian sophistication by appopriating French cinema.
I'll say it again, truly effective advertising works by building a consistent, distinctive, picture over time.
Because people really don't think about brands that much, especially the light buyers that are essential for long term brand growth. Getting noticed and being remembered (for the right reasons) are all that really matters.
This mad thrust for newness at best reduces effectiveness, at worst it's a waste of money to feed a few egos.
It is imperitive that brand managers and their agencies stop thinking of themselves as trouble-shooters, here to save the future of the brand by turning it upside down, and begin to act as temporary guardians, here to preserve and enrich the story that people created before them and, when they move on, hand over their precious asset, intact, perhaps with a new chapter, but a new episode in an evolving narrative, not a new book.
It's a bit like an old house. Imagine something built 100 years ago. Chances are at least 5 different 'owners' have been and gone. Each will have done something to it - maybe even as drastic as an extension. But essentially it is still the same house, enriched and evolved, no more, no less.
Brand management is a really just like real estate.
Which makes sense since ad folk are even less respected than estate agents, but that's another story.