Your advertising budget is like a country’s defense budget. Those massive advertising dollars don’t buy you anything; they just keep you from losing market share to your competition...Sooner or later a leader has to shift its branding strategy from publicity to advertising. By raising the price of admission, advertising makes it difficult for a competitor to carve out a substantial share of the market.
To attack a heavily defended neighboring country requires substantial military expenditures. To attack a heavily defended brand leader like Coca-Cola, Nike, or McDonald’s requires substantial marketing expenditures.
Leaders should not look on their advertising budgets as investments that will pay dividends. Instead leaders should look on their advertising budgets as insurance that will protect them against losses caused by competitive attacks.
Advertising is a powerful tool, not to build leadership for a fledgling brand, but to maintain that leadership once it is obtained. Companies that want to protect their well established brands should not hesitate to use massive advertising programs to smother the competition.
Advertising may not pay for itself, but if you’re the leader, advertising will make your competitor pay though the nose for the privilege of competing with you. Many won’t be able to afford it; those who can won’t bother. Instead they’ll be content to nibble on the crumbs around your huge piece of the pie.
Al Ries and Laura Ries
The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding. New York: HarperCollins, 1998.