Have marketers been too seduced by creativity and forgotten why we’re here? That is, have we forgotten our purpose is to answer the question, ‘how can I help you?’

Starcom strategy director Sergio Brodsky thinks we have. He joins James, Sarah and Nic this week to talk about urban brand utility — the idea that marketing can be used for public good, with simple ideas and messages that improve daily urban life.


What is urban brand utility? According to Brodsky:

It is about mainstreaming the idea of marketing as service in urban spaces by incentivising advertisers to use their brand communications touch-points as more than mere messengers to actually delivering a public utility service that improves city-living and optimises private as well as taxpayer-funded government advertising.”

How does it work?

Sergio gave the example of an Austrian beer company that replaced its labels with free public transport tickets.

“It was a way to create both shelf disruption — so no more label on the beer in that sea of browns and green when you go to the liquor shop — and instead a free public transport ticket as a way to curb drunk driving. So it’s a way to allow cities to optimize their budgets that are allocated to public services.”

— Sergio

Here are some key take-outs:

  • This is about the individual, rather than the consumer or customer, and understanding the challenges that surround them.
  • Instead of disturbing or disrupting people, this approach should enhance the offering or service.
  • It’s a change of mindset but it’s not just about doing good for the community, it’s also about doing well for your business. There needs to be a return on investment from government, too. Governments should provide incentives to business.

“You can inspire and aspire and do good and be useful. That’s what marketing is about. We’ve been too seduced by being creative, being fun, being cool. We forgot the most basic thing about marketing. This is about ‘how can I help you.”

— Sergio

Here are the links you might need

  • Here’s Sergio’s original column about this idea. 
  • Here’s a link to the Community Pod coffee Sarah mentioned. 
  • Find Sergio on LinkedIn.   

Have you heard the one about…

Last week James, Sarah and Nic took a close look at the Happy Chewbacca viral video phenomenon. Listen to what they had to say here:


And here’s a discussion about the most effective social media platform for business-to-business enterprises.


Like what you’ve heard?

Give us a follow.

Subscribe or leave a review.