The mantra on advertising’s Madison Avenue these days is ‘simple’.
This NY Times article headlines the point: Paring Down Marketing Messages to a Few Simple Basics.
Columnist Stuart Elliott says marketers are reacting to three trends: “how busy life today seems, the growing complexity of technology and the increasingly complicated economic picture. That has encouraged advertisers to woo consumers with promises to provide solutions that are meant as simple but not simplistic.”
‘Honest’, ‘clear’ and ‘easy’ also fit into this equation.
The article cites sales pitches and taglines on everything from McDonald’s to Ban antiperspirant to Ivory soap. From milk to muffins to bottled water.
Says the managing editor of magazine Real Simple (rate base of 1.975 million): “Simplicity is the new luxury. In world where everyone’s busy and there’s a lot of uncertainty, you can’t put a price on that.”
So, if major brands are surrounding consumers with simplicity messages, might that have any spillover effect on fundraising?
On the one hand, many of us would probably resist the notion that there are ‘simple’ answers to the challenging missions most nonprofits face — curing this or that disease, curbing global warming, reducing systemic poverty.
But then, think about the success of charities like Charity:Water or Operation Smile. Is ‘simplicity’ of solution part of their success?
And more generically, my mind goes to things like simple sentences, simple offers, simple navigation. Don’t these seem to be increasingly advantageous?
With mega-millions of advertising dollars pumping out simplicity messages, I can’t see much upside in fighting the tide. Donors are trained as consumers first, donors second.
Maybe it’s easier to answer the simplicity question if we re-phrase it as: What’s the advantage of selling complex?!