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Monday, July 21, 2014




“What is Value Copy?  In the broadest sense, value copy is advertising specifically designed to inform consumers of our products’ advantages versus price-oriented competition.  Value copy differs from normal brand sell copy in that it attempts to offer consumers, as an additional basis for preference, a value-oriented incentivebeyond the brand’s traditional product benefits.”


                                                  --Mr. Norm Levy, Copy Services Director
                                                     Procter & Gamble, September 1980


Whether in our long-ago days as Procter & Gamble brand managers or over these past thirty years serving clients across many industries as brand-building consultants, we have almost always found ourselves working on premium-priced brands.  And, like most marketers who are charged with building (at ever-increasing volume targets each year) premium-priced brands, we have also encountered a good many faced with attractive, lower-priced competitors.  In fact, not merely attractive but apparently equivalent:  more and more we see lower-priced products that perform equally well with established, premium-priced brands on the desired category or class benefits. 


Added to this discontinuity in the perceived “pecking order” among established brands and small company or private label alternatives is the relatively recent surge—particularly in pharmaceuticals and some medical devices—in the customer demand for tenders.  These are technically “sealed bids” outlining all the products, services, and prices that a supplier proposes to provide, say, a large governmental agency or chain of hospitals; but, practically, it seems that more and more decisions on which supplier wins an agency’s bid are tied only to the one with the most favorable price.  So, whether it’s the advance of better quality, lower-priced products or the increasing demand for lowest-cost tenders, marketers just about everywhere are having to create ways to make their premium-priced brands an overall better value.


As you can see from Norm Levy’s 1980 internal memo above, premium-priced brands needing to fight off lower-priced competitors is nothing new.  Nor is the underlying approach that he stipulates—offering customers an additional basis for preference to the premium-priced Brand’s established positioning benefits.  In fact, as a pioneer in television “value copy,” Procter & Gamble marketed a good number of its brands with a combination of “Brand copy”  (that is, copy that squarely aimed at communicating a Brand’s superior performance benefits) and “Value Copy.”  One of the classic, value copy successes from this era was by done by the Cascade Dishwashing Powder Brand.  Featuring the era’s usual out-of-the-know husband and his in-the-know wife observing the differences between glasses washed with a bargain brand (which the husband bought to save money) and those washed with the wife’s Cascade, the copy typically went something like this:


 Wife:  “What’s wrong?”


 Husband:   “The glasses.  Look at the difference.  The glasses you washed yesterday are bright & shiny…but the ones I did today are spotty.”


 Wife:  “My Cascade did that?”


 Husband:  We were out of Cascade, so I got this bargain brand instead.  It was cheaper.”


 Wife:  “Great.  So we saved a little money…but we got all these spots.  You can see how much better Cascade is.”


Announcer:  “For virtually spotless dishes, you can see why Cascade is the better buy.  Most bargain brands can leave drops…but not Cascade.”



A good many of these kinds of value advertising executions worked, and worked well.  But, as you may have already concluded, they were considered much more tactical in nature than strategic.  First of all, they were limited to only a relatively small portion of a brand’s total TV budget and were sometimes limited to spot TV buys in select markets (where a particular bargain brand might be popular or gaining).  Second, the value-added basis for brand preference rarely became part of the Brand’s Positioning Strategy.  Oh sure, the established, premium-priced Brand would, every so often, run reduced-price, in-store features and displays or drop some money-saving coupons to reward loyal consumers.  But the mandate was always to protect and defend the Brand’s everyday premium price.


In most major/leading company brands today, the mandate to protect and defend brands’ everyday premium price remains…even though the task to achieve it has grown geometrically more difficult.  As we’ve mentioned, this is due in large part to the relative “sameness” between premium-priced and lower-priced product performance today (it’s a lot less likely that private label dishwashing powder brands leave spots nowadays), and also to the seemingly intractable demands of mega-customers for the lowest-priced tender.  What to do?


Well, naturally, there are no easy answers to this.  In the not too distant past, premium-priced brands would add a perceived-value service of some kind to their product…or some kind of no/low-cost training or education program.  Such tactical add-ons sometimes help.  But something else that may help more is to make a conscious move from mere tactics to strategy…by exploring a range of “Value-Positioning” (not merely value copy or value-promotion) options.  An exploration like this would include (1) laying out—with telling examples—exactly how other brands have already adopted a specific type of value positioning, and (2) creatively determining the dimensions of value that your brand will stand for in its evolved positioning.  For starters, here’s a simple continuum look at some of these value positioning options; the key, of course, is to figure out which option will likely work best for your brand and then “fill in the positioning blanks” with meaningful value dimensions:




Pay Less,

Get Same

Pay Less,

Get More

Pay Same,

Think U Get More

Pay Same,

Get More

Pay More,

Get More

Pay a Lot More,

Get a Lot More





Tanger Outlets

(a large Outlet Mall Brand)




(Key Brands Like Legacy Of Clean)




We don’t often think about brands like Lexus as having a value positioning.  But, when you consider how they have always stood for the “relentless pursuit of perfection”—in every little detail, they actually do have a value positioning…a high-value positioning.


How about your brand?  Strategically, what kind of value might you evolve your positioning towards?


Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney


NOTE: We are still in the process of determining the level of interest in the possibility of an Open Brand Positioning & Leadership Communication program later this year. So if you meant to reply, but haven't so's not too late! Just contact Lori Vandervoort at or call 800-255-9831(620-431-0780). Or for more information, go to

Richard Czerniawski

430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847

reply to Richard: or



Mike Maloney

1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972

reply to Mike: or

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