Get Real – By @xladxrolov

By Vlad Frolov


Get Real

In advertising, it’s not really a question of whether anyone cares about what this industry makes – because of course they don’t. The general public is wary and suspicious of advertising, and so are a lot of advertisers themselves. Therefore, no one really cares about the “creative”, traditional or digital, ambient, experiential, VR, AR, the strategies, target audiences, or propositions.

This Monday we had SCA alumni Martin Headon come in and give us a talk called “Advertising is Simple”. He explained that positioning, engagement and loyalty are all faulty, that rationality doesn’t work and that the methodology behind the stats often used by the industry is pretty flawed.

First, positioning: battle for what mind? Positioning doesn’t work as clearly illustrated by Yorkie’s “It’s *not* for girls!” campaign. 45% of buyers of this chocolate bar are actually female, so the line wasn’t the insight – chocolate isn’t quite Old Spice or Gillette. Regardless of whether or not the intention was to get more male and less female customers, this advert is a good example of how target audiences don’t watch a TV spot and think, “Does this speak to me as the target audience?”.

Second, what is engagement? Does having a conversation with the audience really do anything? Take Skittles, for example. It’s a brand that’s considered to be very successful and engaging, with millions of fans on Facebook. However, the number of people actually talking about it is massively disproportionate. It’s too little. As of today, their page has 23,657,285 likes but only 87,917 people are talking about it. Only 0.4% of people that like the page are actually ‘spreading the word’. I’ll just leave that there. But think about all the click-throughs, the cost-per-clicks, and how pointless, really, those metrics are.

Finally, brand loyalty: the holy grail of marketing. But are we loyal or just lazy? Are we choosing Lurpak over Anchor because that’s just what we do? Are we buying iPhones because we’re all Apple fanboys and girls or is it just because we don’t have the time to learn to use Android and there’s nothing wrong with iPhones to begin with? Research even states that increasing brand penetration is massively more productive than targeting brand loyalty.

So what do we learn? Positioning doesn’t work, engagement metrics are ineffective and brand loyalty is a myth. If you really think about it, if you use common sense, ads work because they’re memorable. When you’re looking for car or pet insurance, you go to a comparison website to get yourself the best deal because you, like millions of people, haven’t the faintest clue of where to start anyway. You go to GoCompare or CompareTheMarket, basing your decision only on what character pops into your mind first. Meerkat or mustache man. Boom, done. You’re away. Or take the Three Pony. The peculiar TK Maxx ads. You remember the memorable and go to that. That’s what works, really.

Rationality doesn’t work. People disregard facts. You can win any argument with facts. Get real. It’s not what you say, but how you say it.

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