After the Ad is Before the Ad

Thomas Elser, Bruce B. Gmbh, Stuttgart, Germany

What is an office furniture manufacturer doing in the Gobi desert? He's breaking new ground – in communication.

I am referring to a management training programme for ten German managers in the Gobi desert, hosted by the office furniture manufacturer Sedus Stoll – on the occasion of a new product line launch. The original briefing was to develop a direct mailing aimed at buyers and decision-makers.

Now, why did we interpret the briefing more freely? What requirements were necessary? How did we get there? What was the idea behind it? And, most of all: On what communication strategy was it based? Or, to put it another way: Why didn't the customer just throw us out after our presentation?

The real goal was to renovate a brand name, to infuse future potential into a 130-year-old company without denying its history, and to find a position that would be visible on its own in the competitive environment. So, it was pretty much “business as usual” – and thus coupled with the same problems “as usual”.

As we all know: Products are becoming more and more interchangeable. For a while, design was the secret weapon used to rise above the competition. This is becoming more and more difficult – from washbasins to water heaters, cutlery to saltshakers, office chairs, pens, and television sets... all, or at least most, manufacturers now enrich our lives with professional design.

Yet what does that mean? It means that interchangeability occurs at a higher level these days. And design is a conditio sine qua non in several areas, but not automatically a USP.

It is especially medium-sized firms whose budgets today hardly allow brand imaging through classical advertising. This is primarily due to the inferno of stimuli in the modern communications environment. The statistics regarding the exponential increase in advertising messages over the last years and decades are sufficiently well known.

So how does a product, a brand name, a company gain that essential distinctiveness? How can you combine communicative efficiency with an eye for economy?

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Design Management
VIZO Workshop

“Design makes the Difference”
Brussels, Belgium - 29/30 November 2002

  • Thomas Elser, Bruce B. GmbH, Stuttgart, Germany
    After Advertising is before Advertising 
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