Proctor & Gamble are the world’s largest advertiser, spending around $8.3 billion on advertising last year. They spent over $11 billion the year before, so while they may be getting a bit smarter about where they advertise their brands, that’s still a LOT of money on ads. (They brought in over $76 billion in revenue last year so this is a whopping 10% of their revenue spent on advertising – the vast majority of that was spent on TV and press, and not, as many digital marketers might have you believe, on digital advertising).


Any brand with an advertising budget that large, must have a very unique perspective towards marketing, ROI and advertising measurement. Ever since I got into marketing, I was always curious about this, so I read any CMO interview I could get my hands on, trying to understand what made them tick.


I entered the marketing industry in 1998 but it wasn’t until 5 years later that I started working with larger brands, starting off by designing warehouse and logistics labels for Marmite. It wasn’t a glamorous job but I did get plenty of Marmite. It’s still one of my favourite brands today! The world of FMCG (or CPG as it is known in the US) – consumer goods to you and me, has always fasciniated me.

  • Why do people buy the things they do?
  • Do TV ads still really work?
  • Why is it that the more choice people have (in some categories), the lower the chance of them buying things in store?
  • Do Facebook posts really subconsciously increase the frequency of buying certain household products?

etc. etc…


So when the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Kevin Roberts produced the Lovemarks book in 2006, it hit me like a train. I read the whole thing in one sitting and re-read it again the following week. It’s still one of my top 5 marketing books of all time, partly because the message is timless, with the entire concept of Lovemarks revolving around the notion of emotional attachment. Kevin describes it as “loyalty beyond reason“. The theory goes that regardless of price, you will always buy brand X instead of brand Y if you have an emotional attachment with it.


In New York for example, people have an emotional connection with Levi’s. Hipsters might opt for Edwin or Nudie and certain female demographics refuse to buy anything other than Gap jeans. But you go to Texas and speak to any rancher or coyboy, and they refuse to buy anything other than Wrangler. I saw this first hand when I drove route 66 a few years back, and I coudn’t understand why 501’s were $30 and took up a tiny corner of this vast warehouse outfitters, but there were thousands of pairs of Wranglers costing much more. In Texas, Wrangler was a lovermark. Cowboys had “loyalty beyond reason“.


I bought several copies and gave them away to all my clients, but I kept the designers edition for myself. It’s a beast of a book and I highly recommend it if you can find one on Amazon or eBay.


I was flicking through the book this morning and like all great books, it hasn’t aged one bit. In it, I found one of the CMO interviews that first got me excited about big brand advertising. It was with the CMO of P&G, a wonderful chap called Jim Stengel who served as head of global marketing between 2001 and 2008.


“If something gets to be a billion-dollar brand, there’s more going on than emotional attachment. My feeling is that all the billion-dollar brands occupy a very special place in the heart among some consumers. That would make them Lovemarks”.


In the book Jim explains how one way to think about what a Lovemark is, might be to consider how a consumer would feel if you took the brand away. I remember April fools PR stunts such a stopping production of Heinz tomato ketchup or Marmite. Facebook groups were set up. People were campaigning. Unhappy customers were inundating the brands with letters. You might remember a similar thing happening a few years ago when Coke were messing around with their classic recipe. Actions like these are the measures of an emotional connection to a brand, that goes beyond reason. There is often no rational thought why you are loyal to one brand than another. It is all emotional, through some association or other that you have seen, heard or felt.

Brands vs Lovemarks (1)

This isn’t new news, we all know we need to connect emotional with our customers, but many of you may be unaware that this was the first big brand book, which explored the depth of the emotional connection that we have with brands.


Well worth a read if you get the chance…




Communications Designer @IBM • Climate Reality Leader • Lover of Old Business Books, Clever Technology and the NHS • Based in London, UK.

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