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UPFRONT
9
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YTHBUSTER
Waste not
wastage at all. The effects of advertising
aren’t always immediate, and they aren’t
always direct. When Volkswagen runs a TV
Les Binet and Sarah Carter ad, it knows that most of the audience are
of DDB get a little bit angry
not about to buy a new car. But many will
about some of the nonsense
buy one in the future, and research shows
that it’s a good investment to start talking
they hear around them... like
to them now. And if they like ‘the one with
‘advertising wastage is bad’ the singing dog’, talk about it or pass it on to
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their friends online – that’s not wasted money,
either. Great ads create ripple effects that
It may or may not have been Lord Leverhulme go way beyond the original audience.
who started it, but whoever it was, the demon Really great ads go even further – they
of ‘wastage’ has long stalked media and budget change the way a whole society feels
discussions. Never more so than now, it seems about a brand or an issue.
to us. More and more, our old friend ‘wastage’ This matters because, in most
crops up – usually in breathless support of the categories, people’s brand choices
effi ciency of our new friend, online activity, are hugely infl uenced by what
compared with TV. people around them think. If you’re
To quote from a contributor to Admap: buying nasal hair removers, you probably
“Online media, pound for pound, is cheaper don’t much care what other people think
and more cost effective than traditional about the brand you choose. But publicly
media models based on largesse, waste and bought and used brands (clothes, beer, news-
ineffi ciency.” Grrrrrr. This is one of those papers, cars, credit cards, baby food… most
dangerous situations we often come across, brands, in fact) derive much of their value of health and strength to potential mates
where choice of word puts an instant, but and meaning from what people outside the (Zahavi’s ‘Handicap Principle’).
erroneous, value judgement on a fact… how category think about them. Similarly, apparently ‘wasteful’ commun-
can wastage be a good thing? But there is People who buy Mercedes and Prada ication (high comparative spend on media,
plenty of evidence to show that wastage in do so because everyone knows what those production values or, post Cadbury’s ‘Gorilla’,
advertising is often the bit that works. brands stand for – even if they are not ‘target minimal product focus) has been shown to
Narrowly-targeted media have a seductive market’ themselves. To create these shared lead to business success by signalling quality
illusion of cost effi ciency. But trying to reduce cultural meanings, we need people outside our and credibility to potential customers.
‘wastage’ can actually make your marketing target to overhear our communication. We This is especially true when there is little
less effi cient. Consider a concrete example. A need wastage, in other words. functional difference between brands.
while back, a client questioned why we were Finally, conspicuous wastage itself can be As Professor Tim Ambler puts it:
using TV advertising to support his brand a sign of quality. Biologists fi nd that appar- “Conspicuous waste… promotes an
when only half the audience was in the target ently ‘wasteful’ displays – elaborate antlers inclination to purchase a product by rein-
market. Surely it would be better to use a or extravagant tail feathers – can lead to forcing – quite apart from the advertisement’s
more targeted medium, like direct mail? evolutionary success, by sending out signals informational content – impressions of a
Well, no, it wouldn’t, on simple cost grounds. .................................................................................................. brand’s quality.”
In that particular case, we found that it cost
“ Biologists fi nd that
Or, put more simply by a customer when
92p to talk to a member of our target audi- Barclaycard started using Rowan Atkinson in
ence with DM, whereas it only cost 3p to talk
apparently ‘wasteful’
its ads: “They must be doing well to use him.”
to them on TV, even though half of our TV
displays can lead to
So let’s hear it for waste. Let alarm bells
advertising was ‘wasted’. ring when you next hear it unquestioningly
Sometimes, this apparent wastage isn’t evolutionary success” dismissed. Piece of Dairy Milk, anyone?
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ADMAP FEBRUARY 2010
DE 08-09 Upfront.indd 2 1/25/2010 14:44:29
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