In this paper, we argue that the dominant brand-building perspective on advertising is much too restrictive and leads to most advertising being seen as ineffective. We maintain that a neglected and under-developed alternative - the brand-maintenance perspective - provides a basis for a more realistic and productive approach to advertising problems. The nature of this alternative is indicated and a research programme designed to articulate and develop it is described. Two examples that illustrate the work proposed are discussed. A summary outline of other aspects of the programme is also given.