"The most effective advertisements of all are those with little or no rational content..." This is probably contentious, but it suggests that if you attempt to employ any rational messaging in brand building communication, you might well be shooting your brand in the foot..." [T]his piece of research, if we hold it to be valid and that, alongside Feldwick's paper, requires those who still hold on to things like Reasons to Believe and USPs to have a good hard think.
Faris Yakob's post pulls from a couple studies, and I only grabbed some of the most startling quotes. You should read it for yourself, because it makes sense. If you offer a rational message in an ad, you've invited a debate. And as a brand with a vested interest in the outcome of that debate, everything you say will be suspect. Why would you waste your money like that?
Furthermore, Alan Wolk writes that the "transition of the consumer decision cycle from Ad -> Purchase into Ad -> Google -> Purchase" has eliminated the need for RTBs and USPs, but increased the need for positioning and branding.
This is where advertising can make a real difference, by creating a memorable brand image. It’s going to have to be a broader swath than what we’re used to carving out: the cool one, the safe one, the fun one—but we need to take into account how little consumers care to hear from advertisers about me-too specifics and copy points they can research and learn about themselves.
Advertising isn't dying. It's getting better. You can't rely on a bulleted list of advantages to build your brand. You'll need to be funnier, cooler, smarter, more relevant and more emotional than ever before. Fewer features and benefits. More content, utility and image. It's going to be so, so fun to be a part of it.