What Ever Happened To Originality in Marketing?



To prove his point about the lack of originality on the part of advertisers, Martin Lindstrom taped 60 different car commercials produced by 20 different car companies. He created a montage of these 60 car commercials into a two-minute reel to see if he could tell which clip came from which car company. He couldn’t.

But the automotive industry isn’t the only one guilty of copycat marketing. Take a look at the bottle/can design war going on in beer advertising right now. 2 beer companies now have cold-activated  beer bottles, another has a bottle with grooves on the inside, another has miniature 8 oz. cans, and another has special wide mouth designs. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you which beer company does which. They all blend together because it’s just one knockoff after another.

I can, however, tell you that The Most Interesting Man is a character for Dos Equis. I can tell you this because in a sea of beer commercials focused on bottle design, Dos Equis stands out because they’re doing something totally different.

Want more examples of copycat marketing? Microsoft just opened their new store down here in Houston, and it looks eerily similar to the Apple store. Microsoft simply hijacked the strategy used by Apple and slapped their name on it. Of course, given Microsoft’s origin, this really shouldn’t be that surprising.

My question is what happened to originality in marketing?

Why do companies insist on simply copying what the competition is doing? Just because it’s working for them doesn’t mean it will work for you too, especially not when everyone else starts copying that strategy too.

The whole point of marketing is to try to stand out…to show your target audience that you’re different from the competition so that they’ll choose to do business with you instead of one of your competitors. Whenever you start doing copycat marketing, you’re undermining yourself and stifling your success.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with studying the competition and identifying the things they do well. But you can’t just copy and paste their marketing and expect it to work for you. It’s the companies that dare to do something different and original that see the truly remarkable results.

Take a look at your marketing. Are you guilty of copycat marketing?

About The Author

Brian Waraksa

Brian Waraksa, founder of Raxa Design in Houston, Texas has been in marketing and small business branding since 2002. He writes the Raxa Design blog on issues affecting small business marketing and corporate brands.

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