Are you better than your advertising?

Commentary



It’s disappointing when products don’t live up to their advertising, and it’s inexcusable when advertising doesn’t live up to the product or brand.

This is the 90th year of collegiate football competition at the University of Memphis. Regardless what many may think, the Tigers have a rich football history. At the moment, they have a new and improved product. They’re competitive. They’re fun to watch. They’re definitely better than their advertising.

Competitors can attack a brand. Dissatisfied customers can trash it a dozen ways. Advertising is a brand’s counter-attack, its most valuable advocate to say exactly what the advertiser wants to say about the brand.

When brand advertising fails to do that, it’s wasted.

Tiger football is a multi-million-dollar brand. With the exception of a handful of extraordinary seasons, and many good ones, Tiger football struggles annually to climb the college football ladder.

Tiger football, though, is not a seasonal brand. It’s a sum of 90 years of coaches, players, 108 different opponents, victories, and losses. It’s a brand that needs advertising that reflects its rich history and great performances.

Recent advertising, however, fails to build the brand’s image. Many TV commercials are amateurish humor. Yet, what’s funny to one is silly to another. What’s cute to one is embarrassing to another. And even successful humor has a brief lifespan.

The image of a new coach, Justin Fuente, whom people have accepted with optimism, is not helped when cast in inept commercials.

Current advertising is vacuous. It shows a lack of understanding of advertising and mistrust of its brand-building power. Great and consistent advertising creates lifetime images in our minds. If one doesn’t believe that or understand it, he should study history’s great brand advertising campaigns.

Lack of a substantive image is one reason the University of Memphis has difficulty recruiting local football players. You can’t control what naysayers babble about you, but you can control what your own advertising says, how it says it, and how it looks.

Where are the images of Spook Murphy’s stone-wall defenses? John Bramlett terrorizing opponents? Russ Vollmer’s mid-game, round trip to the hospital? Louisville coach, Lee Corso, running onto the field waving a white towel of surrender when the Tigers scored 63 points? DeAngelo Williams’ unforgettable career? Kevin Cobb rolling over a defender’s back to run 96 yards for a touchdown to beat Tennessee?

Tiger football is a more substantial product than its advertising implies. In its own advertising, Tiger football should look as important as Alabama. In its own advertising, Tiger football should ooze tradition the way Notre Dame does. If not a success in its own Tiger football advertising, where, when, by whom?

No college football team is great every year, but its advertising can be. Advertising that consistently ennobles the brand season after season.

You always can control what your advertising says, how it says it, how it looks, and how it sounds. Every brand grows better when its advertising says it is. That’s how advertising works.

 

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