Sometimes a product is so good that it elevates out of the need for advertising. It has something unique such as a taste, a feature or manufacturing process, or a certain great function that solves an everyday need. However, more often than not, most products are mediocre at best. What separates these products from the rest is the company that produces them -- this includes the distribution chain, agreements with retailers, locations, and marketing. Companies wield unimaginable power with their advertising dollars to convince us of particular attributes they want us to see and mask their product's glaring inadequacies. Much like art, a product's merits are all about the lens you look through. Some will exalt the merits of Krispy Kreme donuts, while others swear by Entenmanns (which to me is sacrilege). Why would someone choose Entenmanns over Krispy Kreme? The lens we choose to look through defines how we view a product, a brand, and it's advertising. Those who swear they are not influenced by advertising and attempt to buy products solely on their functional merit are these brands' best customers. They are the sheeple who are not conscious enough to realize they are being conned, and this is their story...
Before I go any further, I'd like to exempt an entire category from my article: Airlines. Whereas some airlines boast great advertising, without exception they are all mediocre products at best. In fact, we have become so used to the product being bad, that when Virgin America or JetBlue provide us with a modicum of something less painful we jump for joy. Flying is an exceptionally horrid experience where we are price gouged for the ticket, luggage fees, and change fees. We are strip-searched and frisk-raped through security while being forced to fumble with our belts, shoes, and jackets. Then we are price gouged again after we get through security for the food we buy while awaiting our -- more often than not -- delayed flight. After all of this, we are usually greeted by surly union flight attendants decades past their expiration date for kindness, and then charged for the alcohol we need to forget the whole experience.
Unless you are flying Virgin America out of terminal two in San Francisco, you don't have a chance at happiness. Now some could argue that the airlines are not at fault, and there are companies like Virgin America that endeavor to make the flight experience a pleasant one. However, the whole airline "product experience" is the equivalent of being punched in the groin before sitting down at your favorite restaurant, and then sexually harassed by the wait staff while trying to eat your meal. It does not matter how good the food is, the product experience sucks.
OK, now that I have exempted an entire category due to its overwhelming incompetence at designing a pleasant people delivery system, on to my other victims. In each of these categories I am going to indicate the following three classifications:
This is the brand that meets the wonderful criteria of having great advertising and a mediocre product.
This is the company that -- by mere dumb luck -- benefits from the brand being known for serving up a lesser product experience.
This is the brand that every company should aspire to be. This is a brand that has great advertising and respects the people who buy its product.