What's the benefit of the benefit of the benefit? | What's the benefit of the benefit of the benefit? | DMA

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What's the benefit of the benefit of the benefit?


Benefits. It's what the government gives you when you've lost your job. You might have friends with benefits. Then there are the benefits of benefits of benefits. Google's head of design, Patrick Collister, explains.

Google’s head of design Patrick Collister took DMA’s Future writers’ lab students through storytelling and the emergence of content marketing, one of the current preoccupations of copywriters.

“As a concept it’s bereft,” he says. “Storytelling is not telling stories. It legitimises advertisers’ creative ambitions and a lot of brand communications centres around it."

Collister says content marketing can work, but it's often misused. "Look at other factors like user experience. If a web experience is smooth, this rubs off on customers and can be very effective," he says.

He points out that content marketing is nothing new - look at magazines produced for supermarkets, or the Michelin guide, originally produced more than a century ago to encourage people to use their cars and so wear through their typres more quickly.

Michelin Guide to the British Isles

“However, I have to say that I am slowly coming around to storytelling," he says. "I interviewed someone recently, and she said this to me, ‘I see where you are coming from, but we are creating ideas that our customers will tell to each other,’ so it’s not what the brand is saying, but how others interact with it. And I think there’s something to that.”

Collister says there are five basic ways to advertise:

  • Familiarity - Product launches. You tend to have to release a lot of information.
  • Remind - Someone asked Charles Wrigley, “Why spend on advertising when you are already number one?” “It’s like the pilot of a plane keeping the engine on once the aircraft has taken off,” he replied.
  • Spend more - If you're a marketer, you want your product to be relevant to people. It's all about reinventing the product and spreading news.
  • Overcome inertia - Direct marketing and sales. Incentives. This is a good reason, an offer or bribe, to persuade you to buy. Promise more, give price incentives, free gifts, etc.
  • Add value not in the product - This could be ‘as seen on TV’, which legitimises a brand. Or, imagine two identical bottles of vodka - why pay more for one? The perceived added value can add to the bottom line.

“So what’s the benefit?” he asked.

“Let’s look at Dove. As you know, it is made with ¼ moisturising cream. We know this because we have seen the ad a million times, every night when we put on the TV. That’s the benefit.”


“Then Dove changed. The benefit of the benefit is how the product makes you feel," he says.


"Lastly you have the benefit of the benefit of the benefit. You are more beautiful than you feel," he says. "This is where branded content sits."

Dove portraits

"People move into branded content and think that’s all they need. But you need the traditional ads too. Never forget the product," he says. "Branded content works best with real people in real situations." he says.

The benefit of the benefit of the benefit? It's how you build a brand and encourage consumers to participate in your brand. It's also how the brand builds on itself.

Food for thought for copywriters. Can you tell brand stories without first building the brand?

To apply for the Future Writers' Labs click here, and to read Why Your Copywriter Looks Sad, click here.

Watch Mark Runacus present the findings of the copywriting census here.

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