Little change in performance

Mary GrahamPresidentBurke International Research, TorontoWe believe that more changes have occurred in the environment that surrounds viewers.For instance, there is mass media fragmentation, and changes in the role of advertising in the marketing mix.We assume that consumers are being deflected away...

Mary Graham

President

Burke International Research, Toronto

We believe that more changes have occurred in the environment that surrounds viewers.

For instance, there is mass media fragmentation, and changes in the role of advertising in the marketing mix.

We assume that consumers are being deflected away from advertising by such things as greater on-shelf activity, the rise of private labels, and a different economic environment where more marketing dollars are being spent on promotion.

Consumers do appear to be more price-sensitive, more informed, more pragmatic. But if we look at the advertising part of our business, we really don’t see many changes at all.

For example, levels of recall show only a slight decline over the past 15-20 years, in spite of a more cluttered, fragmented environment. People may tell you they are fed up with commercials, but the range of performance on the key measure of likability has shown little change over the past few years.

We don’t have any evidence to support the idea that viewers are reacting any differently in the way they respond to a particular commercial than they did previously. Advertising suffers from the same kind of pitfalls that it always has and performs well for the same reasons it did before.

Compelling

In order to be successful, a commercial has to communicate efficiently, be compelling – that is, be persuasive and be liked.

Some of the problems with efficient communication lie with advertising that doesn’t concentrate on the brand. It forgets that its whole reason for its existence is to sell the brand. Every single part of your commercial impressions – irrespective of whether it is an image-oriented commercial or straightforward benefit sell – should be uniquely tied to that brand.

Early brand presence

Some of the things are obvious, like an early rather than a late brand presence.

Your brand should get there early on. It should also be a continuous presence. It should be really the heart of the commercial, so it’s impossible to think of that commercial without thinking about the brand.

I have seen successful commercials where the brand makes a late appearance, because there is a kind of story being told. But these commercials may work because everything is still moving inexorably toward the brand.

Another feature is simplicity, clarity. You’ve got all that clutter around you and if you clutter up your 30 seconds as well, you’re not really doing the best for the brand.

Finally, commercials have to be interesting, have something in them that will strike a chord with viewers – make them more likely to sit up and take notice.

This quality is possibly the most challenging of all. If it is combined with strong branding and a relevant message, the chances of having a successful commercial are increased.