Posted by Abe Sauer on March 16, 2010 03:39 PM
Is "consultability" part of your brand's marketing campaign? Is that a remarkably dumb question that makes no sense at all?
If you said "yes" to the second question you might take interest in the saga of Budweiser's failed "Drinkability" campaign and the subsequent report from Ad Age depicting the petty infighting as all involved scrambled to assign blame (elsewhere). The story also wonders if an increasing, maybe unnecessary, reliance on consultants is hurting brands. Then again, consultants may just be getting scapegoated... as expected.
After Bud Light posted its first yearly sales decline ever on the back of its million-dollar, four-year disaster "Drinkability" campaign, the consulting group responsible for market research that led to the campaign is being thrown under the bus despite having zero involvement in the creative process. Ad Age notes, "Executives [agree] that the consulting firm made recommendations that the brewer's executives were under no obligation to follow... [Bud and Bud Light] largely abandoned the emotional appeals that had helped them become the two largest beer brands in the U.S. for straightforward pitches about process and product attributes that coincided with worsening sales for both labels."
Assuming for a moment that Ad Age's correlation-causation assumption here is sound, isn't one dirty secret about why so many businesses use consultants is because they provide a way to outsource blame? Those who hired the consultant are lauded if the campaign is a success but should the thing go sour, well, it's the consultant's fault. With the "Drinkability" campaign deemed a failure, this relationship appears to be playing out.
Despite the rush to blame a single party, just like a strong brand campaign is a cooperation of players, a failed one is also cooperative. Yet, brand owners are ultimately responsible for the health of their respective brands and should act accordingly.