Marketing Theories: Relevant or Ridiculous?

“Just as we have created illusions of control we have also created a language of marketing that reinforces these illusions”

Hollins, 2003

Marketing is a powerful communication tool used by all brands; it helps relate the value of the brand to its consumers in the bid to increase sales and loyalty.

However, one-way communication is a dominant characteristic in traditional marketing methods and it has been argued that marketers still rely too heavily on this technique to build their brand.

Traditional marketing refers to the original and well-known marketing models such as AIDA and the Four Ps.

But with these being coined in 1898 and the 1960s they reflect theories based on monopolistic competition, and as a result are product-based and company-focused in their approach to increasing brand awareness.

There have been many criticisms of these theories, which resulted in even more acronyms, diagrams and theses.

But what if we take a step away from all the frameworks and theories?

We decided to take a look at brands that have succeeded with great campaigns, without having focused religiously on the marketing mix …


Zara are a company that, believe it or not, do not have an advertising budget. Instead they choose to invest in expensive store fronts next to luxury retailers. This way they have been able to position themselves as leaders in affordable luxury.


This strategy has proved to be a hugely successful one. Since the opening of the first Zara store in downtown La Coruña in 1975, it has expanded at an exceptional rate with 6,500 stores in 64 different markets.

They have also focused heavily on their digital strategy, developing their website, creating a seamless mobile app and increasing targeted e-mail marketing.

Zara’s efforts and success proves that promoting through traditional methods isn’t always suited to a brands personality and image.


Impressive advert, right?

If you’re anything like us, this new Audi R8 V10 Plus will be on your “dream on” wish list. We say “dream on” because at the not-so bargain price of £128,710 it is unlikely that the Average Joe will ever be a proud owner.

Alas, this did not stop Audi advertising the super-car through a series of augmented reality campaigns targeting a market that couldn’t actually afford to buy it.

The campaign allowed smartphone users to take a closer look at the cars high power engine, experiencing the feeling of driving it for themselves.

The point here is that although not everyone can afford an Audi they certainly know the reason why.

By focusing on the sheer quality of their product they have proved its overwhelming value and reinforced their brand slogan of “advancement through technology”.


The place facet of the marketing mix is concerned with how brands make their products available for the customer. The most common and traditional practice is for manufacturers to sell to wholesalers who then sell to retailers.

However, more and more we are discovering brands that have come up with innovative ways to distribute their products and make them available to their customers.

Models Own, a cosmetic brand that focuses on nail varnish, have designed ‘Bottle Shops’.


These Bottle Shops are located in a number of shopping centres across the UK and stock every single product in their range. They also treat their customers to manicures, making the purchase of their product an experience individual to that of their competitors.


Time and time again we have been exposed to cosmetic campaigns that tell us their products will make us wrinkle free, skinny and beautiful.

It was therefore a breath of fresh air when Dove’s campaign for real beauty was pioneered in 2004.

The marketing campaign focused on their audiences ‘real beauty’, not on how their product can improve them in any way, shape or form.

This campaign proved to be a game changer, influencing how beauty products were advertised. This again proves there is more to focus on than just the product itself.


The Four Ps aren’t necessarily completely irrelevant; they have held a strong presence in campaign structure for a long time. But without emotional engagement all you have is convenient repeat purchases that can be subject to change with situational influences.

The brands listed above have proved that by creating a sensory experience for the consumer, you can achieve great results.

The internet has also created a new touch point in which consumers can interact with a brand and gain more control of their experience. Technology and social media have made consumers more independent, by brands recognising that they are no longer in complete control they can open up new possibilities and a better perspective.

This is less a theory, than a natural step.