In August 2003 Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s Director of Communications, resigned. He had been that the intelligence dossier that generated much of the case for the invasion of Iraq in March this the year had been doctored. Whether or not this was the situation, the reality was that this disagreement had made Alistair Campbell’the story’. In other words, the person whose occupation was to demonstrate the news program of the Government needed to become the subject of the news program. Because of this, he might no longer efficiently perform his function as Manager of Communications.
I think exactly the same way about marketing.
Very good marketing must present the story the brand or company needs to communicate without being the story itself. In a way marketing should be invisible. Sure, there may be times when advertising activity strikes the headlines, due to manipulation that is newsworthy brand or a powerful Christmas ad. But it is the newest and business which should be renowned not its marketing. And let us face it a company that is famous for its advertising is on a very slippery slope.
Which brings us to Mahabis’ tale. You won’t need any introduction to Mahabis since they will have stalked you to the corners of the net plying their wares, in case you’ve demonstrated anything more than a casual interest in the superior slipper brand. They will certainly come for you, In case you have for your sanity, to not try and discover out if they start trading .
About the 27th December, while you and I were loving the open arms of the own families, Mahabis slipped to the arms of their administrator. Four years after its invention and Mahabis stopped trading.
The cause of the failure of this Direct to Customer (DtoC) posterchild is unclear at present. Common sense, of course, suggests that growth at the speed Mahabis seasoned (from earnings of #1.5m in the first year to sales of 20m annually three) is likely to create immense strains on almost virtually any business, especially those selling a physical item.
However, if Mahabis’ narrative is written a significant chapter has to be dedicated to it advertising. Not simply the vast sums that many manufacturers need to create accessibility also to the reputational damage that the marketing of Mahabi did to the brand and company, although if they don’t have any footfall that is organic. Because, if the item was great, bad or indifferent the reality is a kind of advertising and that promotion was exactly what Mahabis is famous, or rather infamous, for. Indeed, the view of Twitter appears to be that being exposed to their marketing machine was comparable to being mugged.
This incident could be immaterial, a mere cautionary tale, if it weren’t that Mahabis was only following a playbook that’s now well established from the DtoC planet and is regarded as the secret to scaling a company of this nature by those that fund them. Great, perhaps even great merchandise and brands are compromised by an approach to advertising that is phenomenally competitive. An approach which isn’t confined to after you around the world wide web but in the event of subscription companies appears frequently to involve folks turning up to hammer the point home.
Far be from me to raise concern at the money to back up that belief and a healthy belief in the power of promotion. But a way to demand generation that is obsessed with a single metric alone, the cost of acquisition, and at the expense of anything else, out of consumer satisfaction and experience to replicate sales and long term brand reputation is a form of marketing not the key to a sustainable business enterprise. It’s like someone read the first chapter on advertising’ of’ my first book and got tired so didn’t bother with the rest.
As marketers we must have a holistic view of our activity. To factor in the impact of what we do on everyone our communications achieve, even when they have each year of their new life, and no interest in buying our products, even though we can’t yet understand the essence of that return. Dangers adopting a type of advertising creates quite real animosity amongst consumers with consequences that are commercial to ignore this.
A kind of advertising that the ends up being the brand’s narrative rather than telling it.
Mahabis was then spared from adminisration from mid-January 2019 by the people behind the direct to customer matress manufacturer, Simba.