The line is dead, long live the vertical line!

What is the deal with the line? ATL or/and BTL?

Personally, I’ve worked in a BTL agency, as much as I did in an ATL one. Differences? Yes, there were, but even though I can’t, even now, tell in who’s favor, one thing is certain: clearly not in the client’s favor.  I will try to explain, as well as I can, why I think that way.

The line’s story is an old one, which, probably, you already know. Even if it is so, the forms in which its role is explained vary a lot and are, many times, missing the line. I just heard an accountant’s view on it that amused me.

This line that marks the way the consumer makes contact with the brand, that divides the budget in two for marketers, well, this line has become a formality. There is no place for formalities in advertising, because they are the reason that make us think in templates and have preconceptions. There are tens, maybe hundreds of succesful brands that are not on TV or brands that never took any BTL action. Then, why do they keep pushing this demarcation? As I was saying, it is only a formality, a heritage, which can be dangerous, especially when you’re hearing from time to time “but aren’t we making any BTL?”. As if you won’t make all of them and won’t check every action, your client will tell you that you’re not thinking 360degrees or 361.

I told myself: why not make something good out of this line? So, I analyzed it and came up with BEFORE THE LINE and AFTER THE LINE, so a vertical line. “Wow, so what?” Well, you should ask me “why?” instead. The vertical line wasn’t born because we didn’t like the horizontal one. It was created for pragmatic and psychological reasons, because we realized that the human brain works in a certain way which we must keep in mind. A lot of advertising pieces of work and/or social psychology ones made a parallel  between the human brain and a computer, an example that I’ve took and which I mention in most of my meetings. How come? Easy: the human brain is organized in the same way computers are, containing folders and files. Folders represent the products/services categories and in the folders we keep the files that correspond to each brand.

And now, the challenge. What do you do (for the brand) to be in the right folder and, after that, what do you do in order to make the people choose from that folder the thing we all (agency + client) want?   The vertical line separates the moment of memorizing the brand, setting the brand in the right folder by the moment of choosing the brand.

So, we can speak about BEFORE-THE-LINE and AFTER-THE-LINE, not only from the perspective of the type of activity, but from  the perspective of the type of the message. In this way we manage to build brands or brands’ stories from the consumer’s point of view.

Long live the brands, long live the vertical line!