• Angela Xu

The New Age of Advertising

Part 1: Introducing the Concept


The Big IdeaL

A Big IdeaL is a positioning, but not all positionings are Big IdeaLs. It’s a worldview or purpose that goes beyond a simple functional benefit. It touches cultures. A belief system that drives everything a brand does and helps it attract organic support – which is incredibly important in the new standards we hold companies to nowadays.


|| How does Brand X make the world a better place?


These brands have momentum and a clear sense of identity. Think Dove, Apple, and Airbnb.

The best Big IdeaLs seem to exist in the intersection between two realms of thought and experience.


Step one is finding a brand’s best self. These are moments when the brand was most successful, or in the relationship the most loyal users have with it, and sometimes even in its visual identity. When thinking about a brand’s best self it’s important to note that brands only exist in context; greatness in the past needs to be reinterpreted for a contemporary context.

Secondly, look for the appropriate cultural tension. Brands want to be “claiming” culture in the sense that they drive the conversations of the market. Leading brands need to be interesting conversationalists, which are only worth listening to when they have a valid point of view that resonates within culture. Brands may achieve this by embodying or creating a community, designing a style, or even championing a way of life.


|| Dove enabled women to deconstruct and redefine what beauty means.


Together, this amounts to what the brand believes in.


Part 2: Significance & Use


Does something like the Big IdeaL really matter? Ogilvy & Mather argues that it has demonstrated the power of belief.


Ogilvy ordered brands by those with a higher point of view rating and a lower rating. In other words, ones with a strong belief of the world and those that didn’t. They found that ones with a belief their likelihood of being among a consumer’s group of possible choices is heightened - a.k.a. consideration. Then, using the Millward Brown BrandZ database (one of the biggest brand databases in the world) they found those with a higher (more concrete) point of view rating had a higher likelihood (2.2x brands with lower point of view ratings) for future market growth. It’s an interesting concept, but how does one use it?


|| Use it to navigate the brand’s content throughout the digital chaos. – Miles Young


The navigation of a brand’s content is becoming ever more important in the future marketing landscape. Something as fluffy as a Big IdeaL has practical importance today as a vision, dream, and reason for people to back this brand over the other.


Why has the future marketing landscape barely begun its disruption?

The delivery of ads is shifting from gathering impressions with conventional TV, print, click-banners, etc. to reaching consumers by placing personalized ads in marketplaces such as Google’s ecosystem and Facebook’s platforms. As of 2017 they accounted for ~70% of online ad spend. This is now viewed as your community that you “engage” with through advertisements as opposed to consumers whose time you’re interrupting with conventional ads.


In this world, a different strategies than conventional advertising are needed. Traditional commercials with a purely promotional context no longer work on these marketplaces/platforms because the viewers have a different mindset and harbor new expectations. It is more rich, dynamic, and personalized.


|| Content here refers to any value offered in inbound marketing networks that double as advertisements (but don’t appear to be advertisements) to create traffic to your main offering. E.g. podcasts, articles, youtube channels, informative press releases, etc.


How do companies need to change?

The implication is that all brands in the digital age should double as media companies, or else they “cease to exist.”


Consequently, brands need to create media (whether it’s by bootstrapping videos or a blog, or hiring an agency to do it for them), and cut it up into various forms of content (long form, short clips, audio, flash ads, transcribed FB vids, etc.) then distribute it across suitable channels to organically attract consumers into your community – a.k.a. the rise of inbound marketing.


What do marketing practitioners need to focus on in their execution?

As for the stories told in media, linking back to the Big IdeaL, content nowadays cannot simply be promotional ads (as it were in the old context of the TV & print days), but need new strategies to achieve the behavior bracket on the Archaeology of Mattering. Not to be confused with the CSR bandwagon, nor horrible miscalculations such as Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad in 2017.


In the end, the Big IdeaL is not only a driver to unite the company and consumers, but is also what sits at the center of everything the company says through their anti-advertisements.



The Big IdeaL’s practicality lies in its ability to be a brand’s north star in its role as the editor of our attention. What makes this so powerful for the digital age is that it provides a means by which a brand can organize itself amidst the digital chaos that surrounds it.


As Miles Young puts it, “The role of post-modern brands is to define their own space within the internet - their own ecosystem/community - which they populate with their own content. Brands act as editors, keeping what is good, junking what is bad; brands act as curators, exhibiting information in a way that is ordered and compelling. It is brands that re-assemble our attention, that provide a resort for those who are interested; it is brands that act as enablers of culture, watering holes for the herd; an enclave within the landscape of interruptions.”

The Guerrilla Marketing Society

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© 2020 design by Xristian Tjakra and Angela Xu