Bestselling authors and world-renowned marketing strategists Al and Laura Ries usher in the new era of public relations. Today's major brands are born with publicity, not advertising. A closer look at the history of the most successful modern brands shows this to be true. In fact, an astonishing number of brands, including Palm, Starbucks, the Body Shop, Wal-Mart, Red Bull and Zara have been built with virtually no advertising. Using in-depth case histories of successful PR campaigns coupled with those of unsuccessful advertising campaigns, The Fall of Advertising provides valuable ideas for marketers -- all the while demonstrating why advertising lacks credibility, the crucial ingredient in brand building, and how only PR can supply that credibility; the big bang approach advocated by advertising people should be abandoned in favor of a slow build-up by PR; advertising should only be used to maintain brands once they have been established through publicity. Bold and accessible, The Fall of Advertising is bound to turn the world of marketing upside down.
Marketing strategists Ries and Ries spend all 320 pages of their latest book arguing one point: skillful public relations is what sells, not advertising. Case in point: the failure of Pets.com's sock puppet ads. However, in a chapter devoted to dot-com advertising excesses, the authors never mention that many dot-coms had miserable business plans and neophyte management. (The Rieses may be counting on the sock puppet to sell another commodity, as a deflated sock puppet dominates the book's jacket.) Today, most small companies aren't bloated with venture capital to buy TV ads, yet the book has little practical advice on how these companies' executives should use public relations, particularly PR's most important role: crisis control. Some readers might resent paying $24.95 for what amounts to an advertisement for pricey PR consulting firms like Ries & Ries. The authors frequently poke fun at the most outrageous TV ads of recent years, paralleling Sergio Zyman's The End of Advertising As We Know It (reviewed above), a more thoughtful critique of current advertising trends. The inherent flaw in the Rieses' logic: time and again they cite ad campaigns for new products that are "off message" and then say how much sales declined; this supports the notion that products and services are sold by good advertising. Although their book is occasionally entertaining, the argument is simplistic and self-serving. Illus. (Sept. 1) Forecast: Those who work in publicity or PR will enjoy hearing about how important their jobs are, but ad execs will find the constant criticisms of their field grating. Harper Business certainly doesn't seem to have taken the Rieses' message to heart; a cornerstone of the book's marketing campaign is print advertising in Advertising Age, Adweek and Brandweek. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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May 11, 2004
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Excerpt from The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR by Al Ries
Thirty years ago, Al cowrote a series of articles for Advertising Age entitled "The Positioning Era Cometh." They were an instant hit. Almost overnight, positioning became a buzzword among advertising and marketing people.
If we were writing the same articles for the same publication today, our title would have to be "The Public Relations Era Cometh." Wherever we look, we see a dramatic shift from advertising-oriented marketing to public-relations-oriented marketing.
You can't launch a new brand with advertising because advertising has no credibility. It's the self-serving voice of a company anxious to make a sale.
You can launch new brands only with publicity or public relations (PR). PR allows you to tell your story indirectly through third-party outlets, primarily the media.
PR has credibility. Advertising does not. PR provides the positive perceptions that an advertising campaign, if properly directed, can exploit.
When we counsel clients, we normally recommend that any new marketing program start with publicity and shift to advertising only after the PR objectives have been achieved. For managers indoctrinated in an advertising culture, this is a revolutionary idea. For others it's a natural evolution in marketing thinking.
A Continuation of PR
Advertising should follow PR in both timing and theme. Advertising is a continuation of public relations by other means and should be started only after a PR program has run its course. Furthermore, the theme of an advertising program should repeat the perceptions created in the mind of the prospect by the PR program.
Nor is the advertising phase of a program something to be taken lightly. An advertising program should be launched only on behalf of a strong brand and only by a company that can afford the commitment an advertising campaign demands.
Advertising people sometimes put down the PR function as a secondary discipline, useful only in a crisis or perhaps to publicize the latest advertising campaign. Nothing could be further from the truth.
For most companies today, PR is far too important to take a backseat to advertising. In many ways the roles are reversed. PR is in the driver's seat and should lead and direct a marketing program. Hence the title of our book: The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR.
Advertising Is Dead. Long Live PR
But how can advertising be dead if there is so much of it You see advertisements everywhere you look.
It's like painting. Painting is also dead even though painting is more popular today than it ever was.
When it comes to painting, its "death" is not the death of painting itself, but the death of its function as a representation of reality.
The years that followed Louis-Jacques-Mand ' Daguerre's invention of the daguerreotype might have been called "the fall of painting and the rise of photography." In the same sense, advertising has lost its function as a brand-building tool and lives on as art.