Anti-marketing and anti-advertising encompass techniques that are unethical.
So we start by clarifying that we are not responsible for how this information is used.
We promote ethical marketing and everything we teach is geared towards ethical marketing practices.
With that cleared up, let’s start:
What is anti marketing?
The grandfather Philip Kotler defines it as “all those actions that diminish the interest of the consumer towards a certain good or service”.
While uncle Peter Drucker says that anti marketing is “A set of actions on the part of consumers to protect themselves from marketing strategies that manipulate their purchases.”
Anti-marketing along with anti-advertising are all those strategies that go against the current of what is marketing and advertising. That is, they do the opposite of openly promoting and marketing a product.
Therefore, anti marketing is used to counteract the incitement to excessive consumerism promoted by large brands with their strategies. But, as you will see, paradoxically anti marketing also serves to promote and boost a brand and its effect is powerful precisely because it goes against the current of traditional marketing and advertising.
So these strategies can be used both to discourage a consumer from buying something, as well as to highlight and differentiate a brand.
Anti-marketing is useful in the task of refuting a false perception that a brand promotes and which is harmful to society, such as promoting the consumption of sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco. In turn, it is also useful to promote the consumption of products that are useful and beneficial.
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Benefits of anti-marketing and anti-advertising
Anti-advertising and anti-marketing have multiple benefits to consider:
- They are useful to generate high trust in a brand, as you will learn in the following points.
- They serve to differentiate a brand within a market and a large consumer segment.
- Most of the techniques are non-invasive, instead, they are very user-friendly. Some even do not occupy any place in the perception of the client but go unnoticed.
- These types of techniques can be highly viral due to the great differentiation they offer.
- As we have mentioned, anti marketing is useful when it comes to dissuading consumers from exhibiting harmful behaviors and consuming products that are not beneficial to them or to an entire society.
- Anti marketing is awareness-raising and helps counteract the hedonistic and harmful effects of traditional advertising.
Now, as we have said, these types of practices also give rise to unethical strategies to promote the consumption and use of a product. These strategies are even more useful and difficult to identify as such, than any other manipulative advertising strategy you may know of.
Directly refute advertising
Let’s start by mentioning the most used marketing and anti advertising practice: and that is to directly refute the advertising presented by a brand or a group of them.
This practice tries to show the true value of what an advertisement promotes in order to make the consumer aware that what said advertisement stimulates to perceive does not agree with reality.
A well-known example of advertising is associating a feeling of rebellion and security in the act of smoking a cigarette.
Big brands have managed to publicize this harmful habit through movies and even posters on social media, promoting a cool and attractive image of the guy who puffs puffs of smoke while sitting thinking.
However, an American anti advertising campaign totally refuted that ad with a slogan that read more not less like this:
“Are you really feeling rebellious stuffing the pockets of a bunch of white-haired old men?”.
The anti-ad proposed a great contradiction in young smokers who wanted that air of rebellion: promoting a multimillion-dollar business from which a group of greedy elderly people profited. Which was very unruly.
In the current advertising context, this type of ad is used both to discourage the consumerism of a harmful brand, as well as an unfair competition technique.
Self-criticism as a strategy
Advertising, in general, is usually self-centered, always mentioning the great benefits and advantages of consuming X brand and product. But consumers are aware that no brand is perfect and that there are often flaws behind it.
In addition, most consumers are not perfectionists, they just want a brand that shows commitment and in which they trust.
That is why self-criticism, beyond a technique to promote a brand, is also an excellent confidence generator.
When your customers consume your products, they have already experienced the shortcomings of your brand. Therefore, acknowledging them can be a pretty good gesture of humility that expresses the brand’s awareness of its failures.
How to criticize yourself?
This strategy is ideal for those customers who have already bought from you and know the shortcomings. I won’t recommend using it on prospects who might misinterpret such self-criticism.
- One of the ways to criticize yourself is by laughing at mistakes. Said mockery should carry a tone of recognition of the failure and not of mockery towards consumers, since the latter could easily be taken as cynicism.
- You can use irony through a meme or simply by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer.
- You can also highlight the anger and insults of those angriest consumers to show that you respond to everyone despite how they treat you. This shows a high sense of belonging and higher expectations from the brand.
- Not only can you criticize a product, but you can also do it with the trends of the sector where you enter. For example, if you work in the fashion industry and pink is in vogue, you could poke fun at this trend with a meme about the Pink Panther (what do I know).
The idea of self-criticism is to show the consumer that the brand is the same or even more aware than he is, regarding the failures of said brand or sector. This shows a high degree of commitment and connection with the needs of the clients.
Complicity between competitors
There are as many anti marketing strategies as there are marketing strategies, and one of them is complicity between competitors.
In almost all industries, there are two companies that are leaders in this market and dispute their position.
This type of competition can be very attractive from the point of view of consumers and stimulating it promotes the visibility and consumption of these brands.
The best example of complicity between competitors is achieved between the Coca-Cola and Pepsi war , which can be said to be legendary.
These brands have been openly attacked for decades creating a kind of sectarianism.
In fact, this type of rivalry promotes funny lawsuits on social networks, which end up benefiting and giving visibility to both brands.
However, we must recognize that this type of anti advertising is more difficult to use in small brands, however, if consumers are aware of the existence of such rivalry, it can be exploited no matter how small.
Fewer ads and more tools
The positioning of a tool or several tools helps to completely detach a brand from advertising and this is the case with Google.
Google by its nature and the huge compendium of useful and free-to-use tools that it has, does not require huge marketing strategies; rather, its utility is promoted and viralized through a total expansion of the brand.
But it would be unfair not to give small examples since Google is a multimillion-dollar company.
Small businesses can use or develop small tools that are helpful to do so. For example, a small insurance salesperson can develop an insurance calculator, which will attract users who want to use that tool and thus promote their brand.
However, this is not practical in all sectors, especially in the sale of physical products, rather it is aimed at digital products and services.
Solidarity to achieve virality
Users of social networks tend to promote good causes and make them go viral. However, this strategy is used as marketing explicitly and implicitly.
The preferred social network for this is Twitter, where new business owners often ask for help and thus take advantage of the veracity of the networks to achieve the desired virality.
One of the ways new businesses and small entrepreneurs do this is by writing openly to help promote the brand as an act of kindness (needing it for being a new business).
Other people viralize products or services communicating that the fundraising is for a just cause and not for private profit purposes.
This is a way to change consumption habits that various groups of people perceive as harmful; for example: buying food directly from consumers instead of from a large supermarket chain.
Do not use advertising and brag about it
One of the most creative ways to advertise a product – especially if it is new – is precisely not to use advertising.
Large brands typically invest enormous amounts of effort and resources in introducing a new product. Or the so-called expectation campaigns.
But those small brands that intend to compete with the big ones can do it without great advertising efforts and brag about it.
The best of the examples is -perhaps- the launch of the first Smartphone of the OnePlus brand. A brand that from the beginning promised to bring a high-end Smartphone to the market, but with a much lower value than the big brands.
For this they made the allusion that they would not invest in advertising efforts, precisely to reduce costs to a minimum and thus bring the best price.
It was an excellent move that helped them promote themselves and put millions of people waiting for the release of that new smartphone. It was a successful launch, although OnePlus is certainly not the brand it promised to be today, that move allowed it to find a place in the competitive smartphone market.
One of the characteristics of these types of services that do not use advertising is to have limited access in order to eliminate the stigma of low quality or low price. And it was just what OnePlus did when carrying out a referral modality sales strategy.
Less promotion and more engagement
The best advertising is the one that comes from our own clients – users. Therefore, engagement is one of the best strategies that exist in terms of advertising a brand without using advertising or through anti marketing.
Engagement is that commitment and participation that is generated around a brand and online communities are an excellent tool to promote this type of participation.
The idea here is to encourage consumers to generate content in which the brand is promoted, instead of being the brand that generates all the advertising effort.
For this you can create Facebook groups or even forums within the same official website of the brand which promotes the participation and contribution of users.
On the part of the brand, it must establish communication from you to you with the clients which promotes said participation.
White brands or manufacturer brands are those products that are sold without a brand and in which a distributor is adding a brand.
It is worth noting that in many cases these products reach consumers without a brand.
Private labels represent a particular type of anti marketing strategy called anti-brand.
Not doing that precisely (using a brand) encourages distributors or other brands to notice the product for the possibility of adding their own brand.
It may happen that a brand is not able to meet the demand for its product and precisely purchases products and brands to meet that demand.
So efforts to promote these types of products are not advertising but should focus on price, production, and networking efforts.
Educate the consumer
One of the best ways to promote a service without the need for great advertising efforts is consumer education.
Brands have understood that users are quite bombarded with advertising and that they want, instead, access to useful information that helps them.
This is how companies that sell legal advice educate consumers for free in order to make their brand known.
Or those who sell fitness products give many useful tips.
The strategy is always to reach consumers who need the product or are interested in it through educational material. So, by receiving such free education advice, they become prospects or clients.
One of the easiest ways to educate the consumer is the way we are doing it with you: by offering you important information through a blog post. In this way, we can show that we know about marketing and advertising and that we can really help you boost your business through our services.
This is a very enjoyable way to reach consumers by being honest and also showing that we can offer you a service like the one you need.
There are other ways to educate your consumers and one of them is through video content, which you can post on YouTube or other compatible social networks.
But the promotion of educational content can also be transferred to visual content such as images and infographics, with which you can also educate yourself.
The main advantage of this strategy is that it offers a high authority to the brand so that prospects come to place high confidence in it. Personally this is the preferred marketing strategy due to the good experiences it has offered to this project.
As a last anti marketing strategy, I will name storytelling or the art of storytelling.
Although this technique is used in advertising and traditional marketing, it can also be used against them.
And one way to do that is by telling stories that are useful and enjoyable for consumers and offering them that entertainment option, rather than directly promoting a product.
A good example of them is the strategy used by BBVA, in which we see how they tell through videos of self-improvement stories that do not explicitly promote the brand at all.
This strategy can even be seen paradoxically as a combination of marketing and anti marketing, it all depends on the way it is used.
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