Companies could advertise their products or services in the P mode: what the product or service is and what it does.

They could advertise how it works and thus be preferred by the customers: the A mode.

We could advertise why people should buy the product or service, the benefits they will get out of it: the E mode.

Or we could advertise nothing about the product or service itself and advertise who we are, what we stand for, what we believe in: the I mode.

The genius who started the I mode of advertising was the late Anita Roddick, the Founder of the Body Shop. I learned
about it while consulting for her.

She was adamantly against advertising. Marketing was to her an exploitative endeavor. She refused any of the P A or E advertising modes.

Instead of promoting the cosmetic products of the Body Shop, she was promoting values: against animal testing, against violence of women, promoting the rights of a threatened tribe in Nigeria whose livelihood was threatened by oil explorations done by a giant oil company (oddly enough I was consulting to both at the same time). Each of the trucks transporting the Body Shop products had on its side, instead of the words “BODY SHOP” promoting the company, a slogan to lift the spirit of people. Each store had posters, pamphlets promoting a certain social agenda.

Customers were “religiously” committed to the Body Shop not because it had superior products but because they identified with its values and wanted to support them.

I am at present working with Sberbank, the largest Bank of Russia, the second largest vendor of loans of Europe. It has 20,000 branches, 250,000 employees. Every employee has on average a family of four. That is a million people. Each employee in a branch serves at least a thousand clients in a year. The bank has over thirty million customers.

Just imagine the impact the bank can have if it took on itself to promote an issue. Face to face. Consider the potential impact of such an advertising campaign.

Banking services are a commodity. Every bank offers more or less the same products and services. The difference could be mainly in the service where the human element is critical.

Just imagine how inspired the employees will be by the socially significant agenda the bank is promoting. How it will improve service. And it will attract and maintain the loyalty of its customers.

Promote who you are, rather than what you do, why you do it or how you do it. Touch peoples hearts and it will make them your friends (and thus customers) for life.


Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes