Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR

The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR

3.4 5
by Al Ries

See All Formats & Editions

Bestselling authors and world-renowned marketing strategists Al and Laura Ries usher in the new era of public relations.

Today's major brands are born with publicity, not advertising. A closer look at the history of the most successful modern brands shows this to be true. In fact, an astonishing number of brands, including Palm, Starbucks, the Body Shop,


Bestselling authors and world-renowned marketing strategists Al and Laura Ries usher in the new era of public relations.

Today's major brands are born with publicity, not advertising. A closer look at the history of the most successful modern brands shows this to be true. In fact, an astonishing number of brands, including Palm, Starbucks, the Body Shop, Wal-Mart, Red Bull and Zara have been built with virtually no advertising.

Using in-depth case histories of successful PR campaigns coupled with those of unsuccessful advertising campaigns, The Fall of Advertising provides valuable ideas for marketers -- all the while demonstrating why

  • advertising lacks credibility, the crucial ingredient in brand building, and how only PR can supply that credibility;
  • the big bang approach advocated by advertising people should be abandoned in favor of a slow build-up by PR;
  • advertising should only be used to maintain brands once they have been established through publicity.

Bold and accessible, The Fall of Advertising is bound to turn the world of marketing upside down.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
If you're responsible for your company's advertising budget or its branding efforts, you need to read this pithy, iconoclastic book by marketing gurus Al and Laura Ries. The authors, best known for their acclaimed The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, begin with a blistering indictment of the advertising industry: Its products -- such as TV commercials and magazine campaigns -- are outrageously expensive, of little interest to most consumers, and can rarely be linked to an actual increase in sales. Even buzz-generating campaigns like the Energizer Bunny ads, Nike's "Just Do It" commercials, and Budweiser's "Whassup?" TV spots (the most honored in advertising history) have been unable to prevent significant losses in market share. Advertising, the Rieses conclude, is simply not able to fulfill its most basic mandate -- the creation of brand loyalty.

As an alternative to conventional advertising, the authors prescribe public relations -- and offer dozens of ideas based on the success of products (Krispy Kremes, Starbucks coffee, the Ford Mustang) that have achieved national recognition without ad campaigns. Krispy Kreme, for example, persuaded a local celebrity to be the first customer to sample a glazed doughnut at the opening of its Phoenix store; the resulting free media coverage was far more effective than expensive advertising. Although the Rieses acknowledge exceptions to their rule (Altoids and Absolut vodka are the most obvious), their argument is persuasive. This book is a quick, enjoyable read, and its core message could very well save your company substantial sums of money while earning it the most elusive of holy grails -- sustained customer loyalty. Bill Camarda

Publishers Weekly
Marketing strategists Ries and Ries spend all 320 pages of their latest book arguing one point: skillful public relations is what sells, not advertising. Case in point: the failure of Pets.com's sock puppet ads. However, in a chapter devoted to dot-com advertising excesses, the authors never mention that many dot-coms had miserable business plans and neophyte management. (The Rieses may be counting on the sock puppet to sell another commodity, as a deflated sock puppet dominates the book's jacket.) Today, most small companies aren't bloated with venture capital to buy TV ads, yet the book has little practical advice on how these companies' executives should use public relations, particularly PR's most important role: crisis control. Some readers might resent paying $24.95 for what amounts to an advertisement for pricey PR consulting firms like Ries & Ries. The authors frequently poke fun at the most outrageous TV ads of recent years, paralleling Sergio Zyman's The End of Advertising As We Know It (reviewed above), a more thoughtful critique of current advertising trends. The inherent flaw in the Rieses' logic: time and again they cite ad campaigns for new products that are "off message" and then say how much sales declined; this supports the notion that products and services are sold by good advertising. Although their book is occasionally entertaining, the argument is simplistic and self-serving. Illus. (Sept. 1) Forecast: Those who work in publicity or PR will enjoy hearing about how important their jobs are, but ad execs will find the constant criticisms of their field grating. Harper Business certainly doesn't seem to have taken the Rieses' message to heart; a cornerstone of the book's marketing campaign is print advertising in Advertising Age, Adweek and Brandweek. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The father-and-daughter authors who previously collaborated on The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding here attempt to explain the difference between advertising and public relations, arguing that PR should be used instead of advertising to launch new brands. Once a brand is established, advertising may then be used to maintain the brand in the consumer's mind. The book is arranged in four chapters, with the first chapter describing the "fall of advertising" and offering examples of failed campaigns such as those for New Coke and Pets.com. Subsequent chapters describe the rise of PR and its effective use by brands like Sony PlayStation and Red Bull, tout the new role advertising can play in maintaining brands, and attempt to finally differentiate between advertising and PR. Throughout, the authors' mantra is "advertising failed, PR would have worked," but they never fully explain how and why PR would have been more successful for the companies and the brands used as examples. An optional purchase for corporate and academic libraries. Stacey Marien, American Univ. Lib., Washington, DC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Harvard Business Review
“The book makes a plausible case in an engaging, example-rich style.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sold by:
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR

Chapter One

Advertising and Car Salesmen

Not long ago, four New York City nurses were killed when they drove off the top of a motel's five-story parking garage. The story made all of the New York papers, including the front page of the New York Post. Sixteen hundred mourners attended the funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral, and one of the speakers was Mayor Giuliani. Typical newspaper headline: "Angels Take Wing As 1,600 Say Goodbye."

Nurses are nurses. Advertising executives are advertising executives and are not likely to get the same reception -- in life or in death. If four advertising executives had died driving off the Brooklyn Bridge after a three-martini lunch, the media would have treated the story quite differently. "Hucksters Go to Hell in a Honda."

Face reality. In a recent Gallup poll on the honesty and ethics of people in thirty-two different professions, advertising and advertising practitioners ranked near the bottom, right between insurance salesmen and car salesmen. (Shown at left is an abbreviated list with the percentage of respondents who felt people of each profession were honest.)

If you don't believe what an insurance or a car salesman tells you, why would you believe what you read in an advertisement? Both sources have the same degree of credibility.

Not only does advertising have an external problem with the public, but it also has an internal problem.

Advertising's Problem Inside the Corporation

"What strategy does your advertising agency suggest?" we recently asked the CEO of a large client.

"We never ask our agency what to do," he replied. "We tell them."

The advertising era is over. Today clients seldom trust their ad agencies to help them make all-important strategic decisions. What used to be a marketing partnership has degenerated into a client/vendor relationship. (A Patrick Marketing Group study of senior marketing executives found that only 3 percent of those interviewed claimed to have delegated the responsibility for establishing their brand identities to their advertising agencies.)

A recent survey of eighteen hundred business executives by the American Advertising Federation (AAF) shows that public relations is more highly regarded than advertising. The executives were asked which departments were most important to their company's success. Here are the results:

  • Product development -- 29 percent
  • Strategic planning -- 27 percent
  • Public relations -- 16 percent
  • Research & development -- 14 percent
  • Financial strategies -- 14 percent
  • Advertising -- 10 percent
  • Legal -- 3 percent

Only the legal department ranked lower than advertising in the AAF survey. Advertising might account for a substantial share of a company's budget, but in the eyes of management its stature has been seriously eroded.

So what did the AAF do to counter the low score the advertising department received? They did what many companies do when they find themselves in trouble. They launched an advertising campaign to improve advertising's perception in the business community. Theme: "Advertising. The way great brands get to be great brands."

But if you believe that product development, strategic planning, public relations, research and development, and financial strategies are more important than advertising to a company's success (and that is what the survey shows), then why would you believe an advertisement that boldly states, "Advertising is the way great brands get to be great brands"?

It's a classic case of cognitive dissonance. You can't hold advertising in low esteem and also believe an ad that says advertising builds great brands. Except, of course, if you don't believe that great brands are important. Which would mean that the American Advertising Federation now has two problems: advertising and brands.

The weakest link in any advertising program is its credibility. An advertising message has little believability with the average person. Advertising is taken for what it is -- a biased message paid for by a company with a selfish interest in what the consumer consumes.

Advertising's Golden Era

It wasn't always so. After World War II, advertising was the rising star in corporate America. At Procter & Gamble, Hershey's, Coca-Cola, Campbell's, and many other consumer goods companies, it was the advertising people that ruled the roost.

In Hollywood, they even made movies where advertising people were the heroes. The Hucksters, starring Clark Gable and Deborah Kerr, was a notable example. Also, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit starring Gregory Peck. (People assumed that anyone who wore a gray flannel suit was in the advertising business, but Peck actually played the role of a PR person.)

Helped by the introduction of television after World War II, advertising volume exploded. By 1972, the annual per capita expenditure on advertising was $110. Today, the comparable number is $865. Truly we live in an overcommunicated society and it's not getting any quieter. (Adjusted for the effect of inflation, the 1972 figure would have been $465.)

What happens when the volume of almost anything begins to soar out of sight?

Volume Up, Effectiveness Down

The rise of advertising volume coincided with a decline in advertising effectiveness. Every advertising effectiveness study shows the same results. The more advertising in a given medium, the less effective each individual advertisement is.

An advertisement in a thin magazine will generally be seen and read by more people than an advertisement in a thick issue of the same publication. A commercial on a television show with few commercials will generally be noticed by more people than a commercial on a TV show with many commercials.

Not only has advertising volume risen, but advertising costs have risen even faster. In 1972, for example, the price of a thirty-second Super Bowl commercial was $86,000 and it reached 56,640,000 people. Cost per thousand: $1.52.

Last year a thirty-second Super Bowl commercial cost $2, 100,000 and reached 88,465,000 people. Cost per thousand: $23.74 or nearly 16 times as much. (To be fair, if you figure in inflation, the cost today is 3.7 times as much. On the other hand, a 270 percent increase in three decades is a big increase indeed.)

In addition to the media cost, there's also the cost of production which is not cheap either. According to the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the average cost to produce a thirty-second TV commercial is currently $343,000.

Some categories are even more expensive. The average production cost of a thirty-second soft drink or snack commercial is $530,000. For apparel and clothing the average cost jumps to $1,053,000.

The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR. Copyright © by Al Ries. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Al Ries and his daughter and business partner Laura Ries are two of the world's best-known marketing consultants, and their firm, Ries & Ries, works with many Fortune 500 companies. They are the authors of The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding and The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, which was a Wall Street Journal and a BusinessWeek bestseller, and, most recently, The Origin of Brands. Al was recently named one of the Top 10 Business Gurus by the Marketing Executives Networking Group. Laura is a frequent television commentator and has appeared on the Fox News and Fox Business Channels, CNN, CNBC, PBS, ABC, CBS, and others. Their Web site (Ries.com) has some simple tests that will help you determine whether you are a left brainer or a right brainer.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Filled with informative and supporting facts... and a few twisted truths, this book was entertaining and helpful, but also feeding into the current wave of 'the advertising backlash'. Join the bandwagon. Now are there any solutions?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a 10-year veteran of NYC top public relations agencies and found it no less than ironic that it takes an ad guru to point out the value and significant role that marketing public relations should have in marketing strategies. Beyond the title, the book puts forth excellent provable arguments. It gives plenty of examples, maybe a little too many, but the point that advertising lacks crucial credibility and many times serves as entertainment only is loud, clear, and about time. Sheer common sense should send up a BIG RED FLAG for exactly these reasons, not to mention the exorbitant costs of advertising (i.e., art). This book is specific to marketing public relations, not public affairs, corporate communications, investor relations, etc., and is an excellent read and tool to help agency execs communicate their value to clients.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked this up on a whim during a trip not really looking carefully at it. A mild mistake. How many times can the same information be written? My neck was hurting from nodding so much - this might be a fair primer for a total marketing/branding novice, but for someone with a couple years experience... My assistant's intern knows this stuff! Well written, but disappointing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First of all if you call yourself a brand marketer of any kind and have never bought an Al Ries book you should be ashamed of yourself. But I forgive you because it's better late than never. I like this book because it has that in your face repetitive style reminiscent of the legendary ¿Positioning: The battle for your mind¿, which he wrote with Jack Trout. Positioning made me decide to become a brand marketer. The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR makes me proud to still call myself a brand marketer. Al has this cunning ability to tell us what we already know, but somehow when he says it then it becomes Gospel. Most advertising and PR professionals know that PR is a better way to launch a product. Mr. Ries simply has the credibility and courage to say it in such a public way. Plus his jargon-free straight talking style makes it easy for anyone to understand. If you consider this book promotion for the Rieses speeches and consulting I won¿t blame you. But you cannot deny the validity of most of their points. Too bad this book wasn¿t around for every person who started a dot com in the late 90¿s and spent millions on advertising just to see the company fail. That¿s not to say that PR can save a company that has a bad product or incompetent management. But at least the burn rates wouldn¿t have been so severe. I have worked in the advertising field and now I work in PR at Ming Diamond Price and some of the strategies that Al Ries addresses in this book are things I have been telling clients for years. Bravo to Al and Laura you did it again!