BrandPower™: Everything That’s Wrong with Traditional Media

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If any of you are like me and spend at least part of every week defending the much-maligned profession of marketing then you can likely understand why I feel a need to apologize on behalf of BrandPower™. Every time I see one those misleading BrandPower™ commercials on television I want to run from the room professing “That’s not what I do, I promise!” Further, as an Internet Marketing devotee, I would argue that BrandPower™ could only exist in the traditional marketing world of one-way push-message communication and would never be able to have a viable on-line presence.

The bottom line is that BrandPower™ is built on what is best described as a “con”. They create the veneer of being an objective third party focused on “providing rational information about grocery products” (a quote from the BrandPower™ website). In essence they position themselves as a customer advocate. They are “helping you buy better” (their commercial tagline). The reality is, of course, that BrandPower™ is neither objective nor focused on consumer advocacy. BrandPower™ is a made up product name from a multi-national marketing company called Buchannan Group. At their website, (which of course is not the BrandPower™ website) they describe the product for what it really is: “Our products … are based on the delivery of information from a third party perspective.”

The key in that description is the “third party perspective”. This advertising medium is set up essentially to trick jaded media consumers into thinking that this “information” BrandPower™ is providing comes with some sort of expertise or established consumer advocacy role. That’s what third parties generally are. The reality is that they are not in the business of having the consumer’s best interests in mind. They are in the business of getting paid to convince the general public to buy their customers’ “market-superior” products like Cocoa and Crème Tums Smoothies. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Cocoa and Crème Tums Smoothies. In fact, they could quite possibly be the best tasting Tums ever. My issue with this type of marketing tactic is that it’s fundamentally dishonest. Good marketing doesn’t have to deceive the general public to convince them of the merits of a product.

Further, I would argue that this is the type of con job that could only exist in the traditional media and could not be successful online. The moment this ploy existed in a world of two-way communication and user-generated brand interaction, BrandPower™ would get so much criticism and haranguing from the general community that their paying advertisers would leave them quickly.

I would like to be proven wrong on this, of course and therefore I would like to encourage you fine folks at Buchannan Group to create a two-way communication BrandPower™ site for us members of the general public who you believe you are helping to make better product choices. Oh, and please do tell me when it is up so I can be one of the first in line to comment.

**UPDATED to include BrandPower™ website**

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14 thoughts on “BrandPower™: Everything That’s Wrong with Traditional Media

  1. Rick Couture

    Ha ha, had to chuckle. Every time I see a “Brand Power” ad I laugh at how incredibly lame it is…. If they had only called themselves “Consumer Smart Tips” or something like that, at least people would understand that somebody is trying to con them. I couldn’t even understand the purpose with such an ambiguous name as “brand Power”.
    Curious how they would do online? Post their ad to Youtube and let the comments fly! And please post it here if you do!

  2. Chris Clarke

    I wrote about Brand Power on my blog months ago (Brand Power: Helping You Lie Better)and said the same things. It’s a very tricky, sneaky ad. It’s nice to hear other people expressing the same displeasure for these ads.

  3. Stefan Eyram

    Ditto. You know it’s bad when your spouse asks you if this is legit or not.
    Kudos to Buchanan Group for thinking outside the box – or outside the typical 30-second spot. I guess we, being involved in the advertising/marketing/online industry, look at stuff like this with a more critical eye. Obviously we are not the target of these commercials. It’s the unsuspecting consumers (dare I say housewives, Mr. Moms, etc.) who are led to believe that someone other than the brand is touting their products.
    I look forward to Buchanan Group taking you up on the suggestion to create a dialogue. Let’s see what consumers really think.

  4. Mhairi

    How true this is. BrandPower is insulting to your average viewer (anyone with half a brain) and is more likely to turn people off than encourage them to use these products.
    Ever the optimist, I see the BrandPower campaign as being the last gasp attempt by large organisations to manipulate the masses. Its a sign that they know traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective and they need to milk it for what its worth while they still can even if it means throwing caution to the wind.
    Collaboration, interaction and the fact that new media makes the audience active rather than passive means that this will be a thing of the past before too long.

  5. June Macdonald

    I am not so offended by these commercials because the majority of the public are not so gullible to believe this isn’t an ad paid for by Tums (for example). They’re just really boring ads in the age of Telus and Apple (and the magic chips guy, haha!)–even Leon’s!
    How cheap is it to do a commercial via Brand Power vs. your own? If I was an ad agency I would bring in one of their lamo adds when pitching to prove the value of paying for good creative. It would also be a good way to distinguish your prospects from clients you’d want vs. referring to Buchanan and Brand Power.

  6. miro slodki

    Live and let die
    not many would argue that Brand Power has compelling creative or that consumers are so gullible that they believe everything they hear, see or interact with viz advertising.
    But let me ask you
    why did Tums and their other clients agreed to the spot. They paid cold hard cash. Does anyone here know any of the people working on the brands featureg at Brand Smart to get their perspective?
    Are we so incredibly smart compared to the rest?
    What about other “lame” ads like BadBoy , Essilor’s macho dude on the train platform etc… – take your pick
    Its fine to rant. But be careful of the stones you throw – they can turn into bommerangs when you least suspect it.
    my $0.02
    Miro

  7. Kevin Laity

    Have you noticed the terrible 80’s sounding music that plays at the beginning of the commercial? It reminds me of “body break” that showed during commercial breaks when I was a kid.
    I think that this is an attempt to make it look like some sort of government sponsored body.
    I think that commercials like this are a serious breach of ethical standards. I’ve actually see commercials that pretend to be news broadcasts. Some are done jokingly, others are obviously a real attempt to convince you that this is a ‘news update’.
    I think there has to be legislation to prevent certain kinds of advertising, including misrepresenting yourself as a third party.

  8. Sam

    A con? If someone is dumb enough to think the Brand Power ads are paid for by some sort of independent consumer advocacy group, they deserve to be “conned”.
    The point of the ads seems to be “just the facts in 30 seconds”. As in “hey, buy pre-cooked bacon strips, they help you save time, find them in the refrigerated meats section of your local supermarket”.
    I’m not going to buy most of the crap they’re hawking, but I’d rather hear a clear-cut list of reasons they think I should than some annoying CGI bacon strip dancing to a Blondie song.
    The most insulting thing on Canadian TV is Global National’s tagline – “News Understood”. Apparently, other nightly news programs are too high-brow for the demographic of mouth-breathing, illiterate goobers Global seems to be pursuing, so they dumb it down for you some more. Only the traditional media would have such an elevated opinion of themselves.

  9. Chris Marks

    These ads are so lame and obvious I’m beginning to think they actually serve some completely unrelated function.
    Perhaps they they contain code meant for our alien overlords?

  10. Monica Hamburg

    Chris, you read my mind. I often wonder if there are alien subtexts to baffling actions undertaken by companies…
    I too think the ads are really lame. Moreover, the 80s “body-break-esque” music + the 70s hairstyle and attire of host(ess) makes this a truly anachronistic viewing experience. I also keep expecting the ad to be for a product only made 70-80s and am consistently stunned when it’s for something current…

  11. glt

    I just get the impression that the “brand power” ads are a way for some companies to bulk purchase advertising time on tv at off-prime times, or on off-prime networks.
    Anyone that advertises through “brand power” loses my interest immediately. But I’m sure that there are “marketing experts” in each of those companies that are selling “brand power” as being ever so wonderful. Mostly because they get ads without having to actually work for them.

  12. Patrick Palmer

    Quite agree.These are the tackiest cheapest adverts around- please make this company go away. As a consumer I have a very negative opinion of any product that is associated with the brand power logo.

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