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March 29th, 2011

Before you blame the advertising.

How would you describe Burger King’s advertising? Creepy? Yes. Funny? The target would say, “heck yeah.” Viral? Absolutely. Effective? According to B.K., umm, no. Which is why they fired their longtime agency partner after six consecutive quarters of declining sales.

All because of the advertising, right? Not exactly. Let’s consider a few variables in the purchase decision: price, packaging, perceived value, color/shape, shelf placement, celebrity endorsement, product features, distribution, referrals, salespersons, word of mouth, third-party endorsements, trial/experience, promotions/incentives, values/lifestyle match, ease of use, brand inertia, gas prices, weather, discretionary income, and many other esoteric factors, like what kind of day did you have?

Obviously, advertising cannot carry the entire burden of sales. However, what advertising CAN do is set the stage for selling, by starting a relationship between the brand and the consumer. As any master salesperson will tell you, sales are built upon relationships. Not necessarily creepy kings and brilliant subservient chickens.

In summary: Eat Fazoli’s this weekend. And drink lots of vitaminwater and Great Lakes. Then buy a Trek mountain bike. And open a FirstMerit checking account. And then maybe take RTA to CLE. Right after you visit your UH doctor. (Need to keep moving the needle—right, folks?)