Tag Archives: IPA

Taking pride in advertising

It’s been a good week for being proud.  In addition to the Diamond Jubilee festivities and England’s victory over Belgium, our own celebration of excellence – the Thinkbox TV Planning Awards – took place last week.  I couldn’t have been more proud of all 73 writers of the entries, the 20 short-listed papers (particularly the highly commended one), the 6 category winners and the ultimate Grand Prix winner.  You can find out who they were and a little about their work here.

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Tell ‘em about the money, honey

Next Monday I’m going to a film premiere – get me.

The occasion is one of the IPA’s “Focus on Effectiveness” events which celebrate 30 years of the IPA Effectiveness Awards by premiering new films of some of the most inspiring case studies from its remarkable databank. You should go, and you can get tickets here.

The case in the spotlight on Monday evening is PG Tips and I’ll be chairing the panel discussion following the screening with Nigel Jones of Publicis, the original author of the paper back in his BMP/DDB days, and Ed Warren, the creative director from Mother, who works on the current Al and Monkey campaign.  The PG Tips film is not only a great excuse to revisit some brilliant PG Tips advertising of the last 30 years, it’s also an incredible testament to two things: the power of a likeable, flexible brand idea, and consistent investment in TV advertising. The film has some excellent lessons, particularly about how the adstock invested in clever, entertaining simians was adapted and reinvented to powerful effect.

So it is very timely to read that PG’s traditional rival, Tetley, is going for a similar feat of adstock reignition and bringing back the Tetley tea folk.

Excited at this advertising serendipity, I clicked on Campaign Live to see how MCBD has approached the task and I see that what they have given us is a great metaphor for the reviving effects of a good cup of tea as the Tetley tea folk are awoken from their ten year sepia sleep and brought back to glorious technicolour life by some spilled tea.  We see that familiar mix of 2D animation with live action, we hear the familiar voices “Stanley? Gaffer? Tina?” and already I can’t wait for the next one in the series. 

At Thinkbox we often present on the theme of how TV hardwires positive brand associations into your long term memory and the vital importance of emotion in decision making, but I was still struck by how a few seconds’ reminder of something loved and familiar can evoke such affectionate feelings in me. I wish Tetley every success with the new/classic campaign. It’s a great strategy and, with some clever writing that brings out both the fresh and familiar as the campaign progresses, there’s every reason for it to be highly profitable; but they will need to stick at it as PG Tips has for half a century.

It’s made me wonder what other greatly loved brand icons might be dusted off.  I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere in adland, they’re working on a campaign for the reintroduction of the Honey Monster…

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When is ‘enough’ enough?

The results of two new research studies have made me question one of the final shibboleths of media planning: the idea that there is such a thing as an ‘effective frequency’ which can be easily defined and which offers a single, optimal level at which the advertising ‘works’.

The first piece of research was a neuroscientific study we carried out. It revealed how we process advertising when we watch TV as opposed to when we are engaged in various online activities. It clearly points to the importance of emotion and engagement in driving performance – much more so than attention – and underlines recent insights into the role emotional association and implicit memory play in strengthening a brand’s position within our choice set. As the neuroscientists say, “the neurones that fire together wire together”.

The second study, conducted with the IPA, compared data from the IPA Databank with scores from the Gunn Report and showed conclusively that creativity does pay…just not necessarily in the way we expected. There was a much greater pound-for-pound performance amongst creatively-awarded ads in terms of driving efficiency (i.e. how much relative share of voice drives market share), but the differences in absolute effectiveness were less marked for the simple reason that the creatively-awarded campaigns spent less and therefore achieved a lower share of voice, despite the fact that they were eleven times more efficient at driving market share. One of the explanations for this may be that many of these campaigns were advised that they could ‘get away with’ spending less to achieve their target levels of awareness, recall, stand-out etc. so the ads could achieve them with lower levels of frequency.

So what of ‘effective frequency’?

Qualitatively, we have seen many examples of ad campaigns where respondents appear quite happy to watch and enjoy their favourite ads time and time again; Barclays ‘Waterslide’ and Comparethemarket.com’s Meerkat ads are good recent examples of this. We can all think of ads that we would be happy to keep seeing, like Honda ‘Cog’, Sony ‘Balls’ and Cadbury’s Gorilla.  It is clear that there is no single magic number beyond which the message has landed and the job is done. Every additional exposure to an ad is part of the continued wiring together of neurones into positive associations with the brand. These can last a lifetime and relate far more closely to business performance and incremental profit than the message cut-through approach that underpins much of the thinking behind the concept of ‘effective frequency’.  

I’m not denying that ads can sometimes reach their maximum desirable frequency, after which even I start shouting at the TV.  But very, very few campaigns get to the Crazy Frog level and recency is a major factor here.  No-one wants to see the same ad 20 times in a single day, but, spread across a month,  that frequency becomes totally acceptable.

All of the new insights from behavioural economics and neuroscience (two polar opposite disciplines yielding very similar insights) about the power of fame and emotion to influence the way we use implicit associations to ‘short-cut’ the decision-making process have successfully weaned us away from the ‘message myth’, swaddled in the comfort blanket of influence models such as AIDA and DAGMAR. Perhaps now is the time to rethink the role of frequency within the mix; especially if it also means refocusing on the potential payback achieved by higher levels of advertising creativity.

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A load of WOM-bull

As Uncle Bulgaria could have told you, it’s a lifetime’s work clearing up the rubbish that litters the marketing landscape.  One of the current topics flapping annoyingly in the breeze is all the nonsense uttered about ‘word of mouth’, or WOM for short.

Most weeks you’ll find a story about some brand abandoning brand advertising and instead investing in a WOM strategy.  Last year, I attended two conferences where the same speaker – a renowned expert in the social media space – put up a chart headed “Word of mouth is the new television”.  

It’s difficult to know quite where to start with such a statement, but I’ll have a go.

It makes the frankly barking assumption that the ‘old’ television – i.e. real television – is being replaced; it thinks of media experiences as neat little silos that don’t overlap; and it fails to recognise that ‘word of mouth’ of any significance cannot exist in a vacuum and relies on the media it is apparently ‘replacing’ to provide the oxygen.

Part of the problem is that practitioners in this space see WOM as a new media channel, primarily via social media online.  But WOM has existed since the dawn of language. It has always been part of the marketing ‘eco-system’ and it is indeed very important.  At least we can agree on that.

New research from US WOM specialists Keller Fay puts the debate into focus. They have produced a WOM monitoring tool, based on the reported conversations of over 36,000 people. Not only does the research demonstrate the huge influence WOM has on our brand perceptions and experiences, it also highlights where these conversations are taking place and which brands they feature, as well as what causes them.

Only 6% of brand-related conversations take place online.  A further 15% are conducted on the ‘phone, whilst over three quarters are conducted  via our preferred social media platform: face-to-face.

Another sobering thought is that the conversations digerati might be having among themselves are not necessarily a reflection of the wider world. The top categories for brand-related conversations are food and dining, followed by media and entertainment. Technology is sixth on the list. Similarly, the top five talked about brands are Coke, Pepsi, Wal-Mart and two telecoms companies; not a Twitter or Apple amongst them.

But perhaps the most exciting finding for those of us in the marketing industry is that almost half of all consumer brand conversations refer directly to those brands’ marketing or media activity, and that the biggest single factor influencing those conversations is good old brand advertising.

If we bring into the mix TV’s ability to create talkability and ‘buzz’ around brands (as demonstrated by both the IPA ‘Marketing in the Era of Accountability’ study and YouGov’s Brand Index data) then we realise how much we need tools to identify and optimise these amplification effects.

Our recent research with Facebook started to explore the rich rewards available to brands which recognise and nurture the relationship between TV ads and facilitated WOM.

The good news is that the IPA Touchpoints study will be including metrics based around the Keller Fay findings in this year’s data. I’m looking forward to using it, not least to  finally bin the ridiculous notion that TV and word of mouth are unrelated and replacements for each other, rather than the fabulously complementary phenomena that they are.

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An Adlantic divide

One of the many marvels of Google is Google Alerts. It allows me to appear as though I am very widely read indeed.

So I thought I’d mention an interesting article I spotted in the New York Times. It was about the fact that the winners of the BTAAs, which took place last week (the ‘beef’ has nearly been digested), are about to tour the US.

The BTAAs were, as ever, a great window into the best British TV advertising. Personal highlights from the winners include T-Mobile’s ‘Dance’, which I will never tire of no matter how many times I see it; The Department of Transport’s hugely powerful ‘Live with it’; and Weetabix’s return to glory days with ‘Steeplechase’.  It was also great to hand over some more glittering prizes to Alexandr Orlov, and to scoop an award ourselves for our TV ad (had to mention it). But I was surprised and sad to see Hula Hoops leave with a lowly diploma. Still, we can’t all agree.

So, to the piece in the New York Times. It began with the headline ‘British TV ads flaunt their arty side’. At the heart of the piece was this thought:

“British commercials have long been known for their creativity and innovation. But from an artistic standpoint, most American advertising, perhaps except for those made for the Super Bowl or the Web, pale in comparison with their British counterparts. And unsurprisingly, British ads have long attracted a huge following in America.”

And it included this comment from Richard Silverstein, co-chairman and creative director of the San Francisco-based advertising firm Goodby, Silverstein & Partners:

“In general, TV advertising has always been a high form of public art in the U.K…People over there watch commercials as if they are entertainment.”

This is not true of all TV ads – nor will everyone agree on what is entertaining – but in general it certainly is true of many of the most successful ads. They entertain and elicit an emotional response. YouTube gives us a nice window into this world of ads-as-entertainment.

Whether or not you agree with the idea that the UK does creativity better (and I’d be interested to know what people over here think), the piece lead me to thinking about how, in the UK, likeable and ‘creative’ ads have been proved to be more effective in business terms by the IPA, in its seminal ‘Marketing in the era of accountability’, and by Thinkbox, in our own Engagement Study.

As an industry, we depend on those brave advertisers who both buy into and buy the work, and who don’t obsess about easier to measure but less significant metrics such as recall. The facts are there that show the business power of creativity.

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