The Fall of Advertising and The Rise of PR

by Al Ries and Laura Ries

The Fall of Advertising and The Rise of PR is about the role of PR versus the role of advertising in brand marketing. The thesis is that PR is needed to launch a brand and establish its identity; advertising is for maintaining an existing brand’s position.  The reason is that advertising has no credibility, so it can only remind people of what they already believe.

Huge sums of money are spent on advertising campaigns with a poor track record of return on investment.  The authors cite multiple examples in which award-winning advertising campaigns led to declining sales and market share.  And therein lies their point. Advertising agencies are more focused on winning awards for creative ads, rather than helping their clients sell product. The ads lose function and become art.

Another theme repeated in this book is the authors’ disdain for brand extension, which was previously addressed in chapter 12 of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, coauthored by Al Ries and Jack Trout.  Line extension dilutes the meaning of the original brand. A new brand is a PR opportunity.

I don’t agree with everything in the book. I think failed because it was a dumb business model, not simply because the brand was launched with advertising rather than PR. Also, the authors claim that IBM was unsuccessful in the PC business because they didn’t create a new brand name for it. I think there were many other factors.

Al Ries and Jack Trout made a name for themselves with their first book Positioning, followed by several others. The more recent books by Al Ries and his daughter Laura are weak in comparison; The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding is pitifully bad.

Ries, Al, and Laura Ries. The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR. New York: HarperBusiness, 2002. Buy from Amazon. com