Welcome to a day in the life of the National Advertising Division, an arm of the national Council of Better Business Bureaus that, outside of advertising's legal circles, is pretty much unknown to the public. But since 1971 the NAD, an adjudicative body made up of fewer than 10 attorneys, has had one of the most powerful and influential jobs in the marketing universe: It gets to tell brands what they can and cannot say in their advertising.
Is quality important? Yes. Is Innovation important? Absolutely. Is service important? Of course. Is it desirable to be the industry leader? Sure. However, in more and more categories, as I perform brand audits, I find that large numbers of companies in many categories make these claims, so much so that the claims have become hollow.
Digital technologies have fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with each other and, by the way, with brands. The role of engaging brand stories has not gone away. However, to truly establish loyalty and advocacy -- the holy grail of marketing in the digital age -- our marketing and brand strategies need to go beyond telling great stories. We have to make marketing focus on how products or services are actually used, not on how we hope they are used. We have to make them more useful by wrapping them in applications that increase their usefulness to the consumer.