Brand Advertising Vs Tactical Advertising – Why Not Both?

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At a recent Marketing Summit Adam Ferrier, from media agency Naked, made an interesting comment. He said ‘many brands are like gooey blobs made up of values and personality – but with very little reason to believe at it’s core.’

He questions the trendy idea that a brand should be loved by its consumers. But he’s right to question this received wisdom.

Affection for a brand is all very well, but pragmatic consumers need a ‘reason why’ before they will part with their cash. It can be an emotional reason, and often is, but there still needs to be one.

Recently there has been a ‘separation of communication’ especially on TV. This separation dictates that as a marketer you must decide if your commercial is to be ‘Brand’ or ‘Tactical’.

I would argue that every TVC should contain both elements to different degrees. And by pulling apart these two vital ingredients marketers get TV advertising that is less effective and more expensive than it needs to be.

Current ‘Brand’ advertising is typically big, bold, and expensive. It makes consumers feel good about the brand. But it ultimately doesn’t offer any tangible reason to try or continue using the brand.


Brand advertising doesn’t have to be bigger than Ben Hur. Consumers don’t need mini-movies to be reminded that their choice is correct, or that they need to make a change.

At the other end of the spectrum is ‘Tactical’ advertising. For some reason, a lot of rational communication has become mass-produced. Cookie cutter format advertising, where a woman rattles off a list product supports, while standing in front of a shelf full of packs, now passes for Tactical advertising. These formats are very ‘samey’ and completely ignore other communications the brand is doing.

Here’s a crazy idea! Why not create TV advertising that balances both ‘Brand’ AND ‘Tactical’? Think of ‘Louie the fly’ for Mortien. The Louie character provides an un-stealable brand property for Mortien. Every viewing builds the brand. Yet a Louie commercial is not expensive.

And tactically, every Louie ad can still present facts, such as new formulations, fragrances, pack changes etc. It’s interesting that Louie was invented before many of us were born: before a TVC had to be either Brand or Tactical and in a time where loving a can of fly-spray would have been seen as kind of weird.


David Cohen

Rachel Cohen: Rachel is a sustainability consultant who blogs about corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices.

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