Meaningful Marketing: Most Effective U.S. Advertisers List Includes a Library

No surprise, P & G topped the list of most effective U.S. Advertisers. Big surprise, Troy Public Library, located just outside of Detroit, came in at No. 5. Jennifer Rooney, a marketing columnist at Forbes, gave the library’s campaign a full briefing: “[It] was an unexpected and particularly interesting case; in an effort to make clear the viability of libraries, it used very limited marketing dollars to promote a book-burning drive.” She quotes Matt Seiler, CEO of IPG Mediabrands and Effie Worldwide chairman of the board: “They used deprivation to go viral. In a really compelling way, they said, this thing’s going away. That got people up in arms.”

The Troy Library campaign, financed on a shoestring, is proof positive of something we drive home to our clients every day. Be bold! Or, as David Ogilvy would say, “Don’t bunt.”

People talk about the brave new world of social brand building. It’s been my observation that the rise of social media rendered some brandmakers more skittish than bold. Perhaps it’s the lack of boundaries in the digital culture that keeps people playing it safe.

It’s well known that the digital age is overwhelmed by messages. People can barely think straight. Rather than making some dry civic appeal for the library’s existence, librarians delivered a gut punch. Book burning is iconic—it’s cultural shorthand for the end of liberty. The very thought of a pile of books set aflame is a searing threat to a value our culture still finds meaningful–intellectual freedom. That’s what made the campaign click.

Congratulations to all the winners. But our special kudos go to the brave librarians at the Troy Public Library for doing what few learning brands dare to venture: bold messaging delivered passionately and without apology.