Archive for the ‘ advertising effectiveness ’ Category

What happens after we collect all the underpants?

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Too often in advertising, we don’t ask or answer the question “What happens AFTER we collect all the underpants?”

I was just rewatching this scene from South Park, where the leader of the Underpants Gnomes is explaining his brilliant three phase business plan. And it goes something like this:

Phase 1: Collect the underpants
Phase 2: mumble mumble mumble
Phase 3: Profit

Similarly, the advertising industry all too often is guilty of skipping over that critical step – how we think advertising specifically is going to increase company profit.

Ken McKenzie, who’s on the judging committee for the Irish AdFX Awards, has called for the marketing community to start doing proper marketing experiments. He is right. And it’s not a luxury either – developing an evidentiary basis for advertising is essential for our industry. We need to regain credibility at the board room table (and as Rory Sutherland says, you can’t do that with mood boards!). And we need to rise above commodity fees by demonstrating verifiable expertise.

In the UK, Binet & Field released a study of empirical generalisations about advertising success, based on an analysis of 880 IPA effectiveness awards. They found there were a number of strategies which increase the likelihood of effectiveness, in terms of sales and profits.

1. focusing on “hard” not “soft” objectives
2. focusing on reducing price sensitivities instead of increasing volume
3. focusing on increasing penetration not loyalty
4. influencing consumers on an emotional level over rational
5. creating “talkability”
6. having a high SOV relative to market share
7. including TV in the media mix
8. having a multi-media approach – but diminishing returns kick in with number of channels

I think number one is particularly relevant to the Underpants Gnome scenario. Setting a soft objective “increase brand awareness or improve brand image” as Phase 1, is like skipping over Phase 2 and presuming Phase 3 “make profit” will magically happen. Hard objectives make it clearer how the advertising is supposed to influence profits – “increase market share to 11% by recruiting 14,500 new users through repositioning ourselves as the most authentic Italian brand”.

We need to start putting more time and energy into answering those underpants questions.


Who’s standing up for the work?

I’ve been having a few conversations lately on the future of agencies and in all truth, considering some pretty serious questions.

Are clients buying creative people and strategic thinking from creative agencies, but when it comes to media agencies they’re really just buying space?

Do clients actually want to buy thinking from anyone, or is that just thrown in as a cherry on top, because they’ve commissioned a TV Ad or some media space?

Are most clients longing for a return to the full service agency?

And most serious of all, when above-the-line advertising spend is the first part of a marketeer’s budget to be cut, has the business community lost faith in the power of advertising, full stop?

Part of the problem is our own behaviour. Increasingly, I’m seeing agency people tiptoe around their clients. We don’t want to lose the business. We don’t want to appear difficult or challenging. We don’t want to rock the boat.

From a survival perspective, it’s not a smart strategy to go out there on a limb, when everyone else is happy with the status quo. It’s lonely out there on your own.

Except often the status quo just isn’t good enough. It doesn’t lead to excellent work. It doesn’t push through innovation. It doesn’t take risks but it doesn’t reap the rewards either. And without these extraordinary rewards, is it any wonder that the business community isn’t seeing how advertising is positively impacting on their bottom line.

As experts in our field, we have a responsibility to be confident and to stand up for the work. If nothing else, the mere future of our industry depends on it.

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