• Angela Xu

Impact Over Impressions: Shifting To Buyer-Power Based Ads, Giving Consumerism Back to the People

In a time when the entire world has had to upend society – to ensure the survival, protection, and support of our most vulnerable populations, as well as frontline workers – new standards in marketing are accelerating a pre-existing trend; consumerism could start to work for the people, instead of companies pushing unnecessary or unhealthy products into our lives.


Ever since you were a kid, you’ve been exposed to “memorable” ads that were catchy, ridiculously funny, or emotional – none of which anybody asked to be a part of their lives. We’re constantly being primed by marketers to “trust” some brand a little more than another.


In the past, consumers had no say over what ads they saw, nor how the ads impacted their lifestyle; however, advertisers are gradually being held to higher standards. You may have noticed during the worst of the coronavirus, brands had to redesign messaging in their ads or stop advertising altogether because if their purpose didn't support people in a real way, then any impressions negatively impacted their brand image. There was no room for selfish promotion solely to make money; only ads that strengthened society were accepted.


What if advertisers were held to this standard during normal times? Consumers, with our increasingly impactful voices, can “culturally outlaw” ads selling stuff you never needed.

Even before COVID-19 changed the world, major advertisers had been working with clients to reimagine a company’s relationship with their customers. Common sense took over after marketers noticed the fierce loyalty Dove attracted through the empowerment of women in changing toxic attitudes surrounding the beauty industry. Other examples include athletic brands providing opportunities to promising youngsters; a women’s care brand making a free app to monitor maternal health, then later on the baby’s nutritional intake; and brands creating communities connecting customers to uplift each other.


Ogilvy, one of the leading agencies worldwide, introduced the Archeology of Mattering in their book Ogilvy on Advertising in the Digital Age. Miles Young says that for modern brands to be in the conversation, to be a true contender, they’ve got to give practical aid, realize potential, empower the customer & their community, amongst other dimensions.

(See bottom of the page for the stages.)


With ever-growing personalization capabilities, advertisers absolutely can put ads with real value in front of people who’d sincerely benefit from their products/services.

Not all brands can easily achieve this, such as soda brands yet even they’ve introduced new, healthier product lines. Any brand can reach the top of the Archeology of Mattering with proper effort. Nowadays, smart modern brands listen to consumer voices – so let’s speak up to keep businesses in check, ensuring they add value, not junk to society.


Figure 1: The Archeology of Mattering (Ogilvy on Advertising in the Digital Age)

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© 2020 design by Xristian Tjakra and Angela Xu