The Day of the Ad Man: values-marketing #1

When you tell a story, the sincerity of your message connects you to your audience. More meaningful than product or cash, ‘values-marketing’ is about the whole person.

Does that bit sound a little froofie? So… here’s the thing, as humans, we are all big piles of feelings, opinions and judgments. Our best clients, like the rest of us… seek to be understood and connect.

A shift has happened in marketing since the ‘turn of the century’. Man! That’s fun to say and, in my lifetime! See, I think it was precipitated by a shift to “social” thinking. The collective “WE” are no longer content in just being consumers, We want to make a statement, and We want to make a difference. If companies are successful in connecting an ideal with a group of people –  those people will talk about that company. Your idea spreads, and your business grows.

In “olden-times”, or the day of the Big Ad Man

HAHA! I know that’s within some of you’s lifetimes… (possessive plural… ya’lls ? I don’t want to restructure the sentence. I like it this way.) In the last century, companies mostly talked TO us. There’s no specific date, but there was a time when our values lined up with “best product for your money” mentality. We took their word for it, and We lined up for them. Think of the giants like Sears and Montgomery Ward, they used quality as a measure. Perhaps as a result of industry being relatively new, and the race to the cheapest product hadn’t quite begun.

*Photo from

“PRODUCT-CENTRIC” marketing.

The concept was: present a product or service, and either tell me why it’s superior, why other products stink. The term “competitive advantage” comes to mind. Discounts &/or price gauging would be features of product-centric marketing. In general I will note that not all ads fall in line. The graphic artist’s job is to think outside of the box and we do that.

Those old ad guys would dictate that we talk about:

  • price
  • quality
  • value
  • timeliness
Your product is just better:

“The tastiest steaks in town!”

Discounts & timeliness:

“10% off President’s Day Sale”

A little sideways rant about “perceived value”: I really like talking about the book, Welcome to the Creative Age: Bananas, Business and the Death of Marketing by Mark Earls. It opened with a narrative about a banana. The author’s on a road trip and decides to stop at a gas station for a snack. He goes in and he picks up a banana – it was wrapped in a banana shaped plastic case with a label that read “fresh banana snack”. The point of perceived value: A banana comes with a pretty fabulous wrapper already! It even has a magical quality that tells us when it’s fresh. And, at least for bi-ped primates … a banana is a snack, not a meal. There is a whole school of thought for this type of marketing trick. It’s called “perceived value”. We’ll get back to the banana.


Companies put out there what they do, why they are superior, and a lot of times, advertise cost or savings. Eventually, We stopped listening. Marketers realized that there was something missing: their customer. Questions emerged: “Why do my customers need it?” “What is their pain-point?” That evolution moved advertising communications toward…


I’ll get into that and how it relates to Robots in Thursday’s post.

*special thanks to for the vector images used in design.

I would ask you’s to give me an example of a commercial or ad that uses product-centric messaging – but that’s boring. So instead, let’s imagine a world where that still works… what could an ad possibly say, in this new age, that would catch YOUR attention from a product perspective?


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