What is the role and purpose of marketing and advertising?  Ask most people and they will say something like “to convince people that they need to buy their products or services.”  Some version of that answer is what Doug Levy, founder and Chief Executive Officer of imc2, a “branding engagement” company headquartered in Dallas, TX, once told me he gets when he raises the question when speaking to college classes.

We were sitting in his office not long after attending a program in which I was privileged to present The Power of TED*.

He acknowledged that the prevailing paradigm of advertising – especially in the minds of consumers – is firmly rooted in a problem orientation: 1) present the a problem that 2) engages some level of anxiety, in order to cause the consumer to 3) react by buying the product of service. This approach to marketing positions the consumer as a Victim reacting to a Persecutor (be it a headache, an old car, or anything or anyone else that they “don’t like”) and then offer their product or service as the Rescuer.  It perpetuates the Dreaded Drama Triangle.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, Doug told me.  In fact, he said, imc2 is committed to new paradigm for marketing, branding and advertising.   I asked him how he would know that his vision had been realized and he was quick to answer: “I will know it has happened when I raise that question to a room of students and their answer is more like: ‘the role of marketing and advertising is to support consumers in making informed decisions.”  Such an approach, we discussed, positions the consumer as a Creator capable of making informed choices.

That conversation took place several years ago.  An important “baby step” (that, no doubt, took countless months to create) was the launch of The Relationship Era™ by Doug and his team.  According to their website, “imc²’s raison d’être is to advance relationships – to cultivate, grow and sustain them” and to do so by working with clients to identify the purpose of their brand and then “(advance) brands into more authentic, personal relationships with people.”

Doug and imc2 are not alone in working to bring marketing into a profession rooted in a Creator Orientation that treats consumers as Creators where advertising informs as, perhaps, a Challenger that supports the growth and well being of customers or raises questions like a Coach that helps them make informed choices.  I know of others in the profession, like my friends at the Loomis Agency, who are committed to creating a new paradigm for the professional and seeing marketing as a Creator.

I welcome such marketing and advertising the helps me be more aware, better informed, and supports me in making choices.