If It Ain’t Broke

How to make brands famous

After the death in 1980 of their charismatic frontman Bon Scott, AC/DC auditioned for a replacement, eventually picking the relatively unknown Geordie, Brian Johnson. The antipodean rock band may have changed their singer, but little else over the following 35 years.

For their next eleven albums, the band kept doing what they do best, simple lyrics sung over incredibly catchy riffs, delighting audiences across the globe for decades and amassing over 200 million album sales worldwide.

The boys could have explored other musical avenues, but in their minds, what was the point? AC/DC loved what they created and so did millions of others, resulting in sold-out tours, platinum albums and more money than they could ever dream of. The maxim ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ couldn’t have a more fitting example.

Hitting a successful formula isn’t an easy thing to do in any industry, so I’m always surprised when I see brands ditch an engaging and memorable campaign after a short amount of time.

A change is normally triggered by a wobble in sales but the fault rarely lies solely with the advertising. Distribution, media spend, and more often than not, the product itself are more likely candidates. As the novelist, Dorothy L Sayers so succinctly put it ‘Advertising never sold a bad product twice”.

The other, more depressing reason is due to a change in the marketing department. Someone more concerned with making a name for themselves than they are the product.

As more brands flood each market, it’s becoming increasingly harder to be heard. With this in mind, why remove something that gives you a louder voice?

I don’t know the reasons why Guinness’ Good Things Come to Those Who Wait and Your So Moneysupermarket were pulled. Perhaps the decisions were valid. But whatever their failings, they both achieved something very few campaigns manage to attain – fame.

When apparently 90% of advertising is forgotten about by consumers, perhaps we could all do well to remember – if our advertising is connecting with the audience, better to build on it than throw it all away.

Highway To Hell, Paris ‘79

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