When you sell a commodity-like product, price competition is usually fierce. Think airline seats, insurance, hotel rooms.
It pays to be the low cost operator. Lowest is better.
Marketing in this environment is inherently an evidence of optimism by the senior team. When you are marketing for these type of products, you are fighting the evidence and the instincts of the majority consumer. And if this is the case, why not use that available pool of money for something better ? There MUST be superior ways to get more bang for your buck. Why not USE all the money to set up more customer service lines, monitor the conversations about the brand online, or (gasp!) participate and control it.
I think lowest cost operator reputed for GREAT customer service, in the long marathon, will beat a low cost operator with memorable ads.
Any money diverted from customer service to marketing should be scrutinized more sharply by the bean counters at finance and by the CEO versus expenses related to T&E and Headcount (traditionally the ones that was closely monitored)
Radical – The CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of a commodity-like product should be only moved into that role after he has done a 3 year stint in Customer Service. That’ll really dampen her urge to promise the moon to customers when he knows the team in the kitchen can’t deliver that and will face the flak when they can’t.