Each month the creative department picks a word at random to develop a piece of creative. It can be any type of medium, from design to film, but it has to come back to the randomly chosen word of the month. This months word is GIVING.
Media strategy is often portrayed as being all about which media is purchased to reach a particular target audience.
But there’s another strategic stage before that, and that is to decide the optimal length for any given ad, in order to create the right reaction in that target audience.
A “standard” TV or radio ad lasts thirty seconds. And TV and radio stations love them because they’re neat and well understood, and they can be lumped together in brackets easily, with low administrative overhead.
But there are many more options available.
Shorter ads (usually 15 seconds) can be “rotated” more often, thus maximising the reach of an advertising schedule – quite simply, the number of people who see or hear the ad.
This is often popular with advertisers on a limited budget, because their ad gets out there in front of more ears or eyeballs.
There are two negatives to be considered, though.
Obviously the shorter length means the ad can say less, which may mean the advertiser ends up having to choose between useful messages. And people listening or viewing have less time to “get into the ad” – it’s there and gone before they’ve really noticed it – so reach may be improved but understanding and impact both lessened.
For this reason, the shorter an ad, the simpler it must be. Or it must be “reminding” consumers of longer ads that they have “learned”, where all the information carried in the longer ad doesn’t need to be delivered again.
Sometimes shorter ads, though, if strategised carefully, can dominate an ad break.
In the past MOP have used three x 10 second TV ads – one at the start of the ad break, one in the middle, and one at the end, to “appear” as the most dominant advertiser in a break. The trick with this type of creative strategy is to ensure the 10 second format is long enough to imprint whatever it is you want the target to know – in this case, a web address – and then for the media buying company to persuade the media companies to (a) allow the creative strategy, and (b) allow it without charging a premium for the unusual format. We have also recently used this technique for three short radio spots.
Advertisers need to be aware that media companies often try and charge more for shorter ads (typically 60% of the cost of a 30” ad for a 15 second one, for example). This is partly historic – it’s just always been that way – and partly because the more complex their “advertising deck” becomes, the longer they spend sorting out which ads go where in their programmes, so they seek to discourage the practice. Like everything in life, it ends up being a negotiation.
Some media buying personnel or companies often prefer “simple” negotiations, because they take less time and offer less hassle. Good ones, though, will work hand-in-glove with the creative agency to make their creative vision “happen”.
In Australia, “hyper short” ads – eg five seconds or even shorter – are beginning to appear, especially when carried online. They have certainly been experimented with more imaginatively overseas, where their very brevity becomes a talking point in itself.
Longer ads – eg 45, 60, or even 120 seconds – will obviously dominate a break more, and allow more in-depth “storytelling”, hopefully increasing the impact of the ad on the audience. They are particularly useful when seeking to send an emotional message which the audience needs to take on board. They can be combined with shorter ads to maximise impact and memorability.
A favourite tactic is to have a 45 second ad at the start of an ad break, and a 15 second one at the end, and hopefully only pay the equivalent cost for a 60. This is an optimal combination of both impact and frequency.
MOP have previously used standout two minute ads to launch major TV campaigns – one for Police recruitment, and one for Nursing Recruitment, both of which were highly successful – supported by shorter ads (and other materials) to increase the rotation once the messages in the long ads were clearly imprinted on the market.
How to decide?
The eternal debate – shorter or longer – will continue, because there’s always more ways than one to skin a cat.
Written by Stephen Yolland - Partner
There are more articles written on how to “do” advertising than almost anything else in business. But sometimes, it pays to get back to basics.
After all, every Australian sees or hears about 1,000 ads a day. Radio ads. Billboards. Bus shelters. TV ads. Cinema ads. Ads on websites. Ads in emails.
Ads, ads, bloody ads. Everywhere.
But stop and think. How many of those ads do you actually remember from yesterday? Think hard. Even more relevant: how many of them motivated you to actually do something?
We suspect the answer is precious few.
Cue outraged opinion
Now when this “Did you notice or act on any ads?” challenge is put out into the ether, advertising “experts” rush to the barricades to argue that the subliminal effect of advertising means that even if it isn’t consciously noticed, it still moves our decision-making.
And yes, this is true.
We are influenced by all sorts of cultural stimuli, including advertising, in ways that we don’t always understand.
Long-running ad campaigns, for example, have been shown to influence buyer behaviour when they are faced with a choice between two products from different brands, both of which seem to be equally good, at the same price.
The buyer chooses the better-known brand, even though when asked why they can express no particular reason. This is sometimes called “owning share of mind”. And it works.
There are other influences. For example, the first brand in a new category will imprint itself in people’s minds as the original, the authentic, the real thing. Kleenex in tissues. Hertz in rent-a-cars. Heinz in tomato ketchup. Starbucks in coffee shops. First in, best dressed. (Until you do something wrong, or until someone else comes along and seizes the initiative.)
You can also sell one product by promoting the hell out of another, when you know that the heavily-promoted product is popular with consumers. In one famous case history, Apple spent a disproportionate amount of money spruiking the iPod and iTunes. Sales of computers, software and services – not to mention Apple’s share price – also all went up, with virtually no promotion. This is sometimes called the “Halo” effect.
In another example, research showed that bottle shop patrons bought more German wine when German music was playing in the store and more Italian wine when Italian music was playing in the store. When asked what led them to choose the wine they chose very few patrons mentioned the music, implying that despite the fact they could hear the music most of them were unaware it was influencing their behaviour.
Let’s cut to the chase
Would you rather someone was buying your product because they know it, are convinced of its quality, and actively prefer it? Or just because you have outspent your opposition? (Money you could have spent on other things the business needs.)
And are you content to rely on being the first in the market, or do you want to be recognised as always the best in the market?
Are you prepared to risk the Halo effect not working, or something coming along to disrupt it? What is your plan B?
And if you are a wine-maker, would you rather customers were visiting that bottle shop with a known, positive view of your brand, heading straight for your wine out of choice, regardless of whether they were listening to Lili Marlene or O Sole Mio?
Of course you would.
The key to answering all these challenges – and the reason it is the first rule of advertising – is Be Noticed. And you simply can’t be noticed with “me too” advertising. There’s just too much advertising. You and your products disappear in the dross.
Now: at this assertion, marketing managers everywhere will nod sagely and agree. Perish the thought that we would do same-y, uninspiring, non-standout advertising, they say. And ad agency heads rush to concur: their agency is all about breakthrough advertising. No boring crap served up here. Let’s do lunch.
And yet. And yet.
And yet – and yet – the vast majority of the advertising output we see every day IS same-y, uninteresting, safe, and unengaging. It’s an ever-growing oncoming wall of noise and images but it doesn’t gain our attention – we tune it out – it leaves us cold. It’s boring.
Isn’t it? Seriously?
Which is why we struggle to remember any of it.
As a test of this assertion, just take the logo off a dozen ads in any advertising category you choose to look at. Once the logos are off, can you really tell the ads apart? No? Neither can the public.
Now open any advertising manual from the 1960s or 1970s and turn the pages slowly. You will be stopped, time and again, by genuinely un-missable ads, full of strong propositions, humour, bite, and impact. That’s because when advertising was really on top of motivating mass audiences, the first rule was always understood to be “Be Noticed.” The medium is irrelevant. It’s as true of radio ads as it is of TV ads or print ads or online ads. Any ad.
If you’re not going to be noticed, you are going to have to spend a hell of a lot more to achieve your goals than if you are. Assuming you can achieve your goals at all, which is by no means certain.
So be noticed. It’s Rule One. Ignore it at your peril.
The good old Oxford Dictionary defines Creativity as "The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness."
Now, by looking at that, anyone with an imagination is creative. Right?
I can’t count the amount of times I’ve heard someone say to me ‘But you’re creative, you do that easy: I could never do that.’
Honestly, this makes my blood boil. There are so many different ways of being ‘creative’ and it’s not just painting, making music - or in my case working in advertising.
There’s a great story I read that shows the use of creativity in business, so good, in fact, that I hear they're about to make it into a Hollywood movie.
In 1946 Earl Silas Tupper began selling his plastic containers with spill-proof, airtight lids to department stores and hardware stores. They even had the idea of including them as giveaways with cigarettes. But despite winning awards for design, sales were bad, due to the reputation of plastic. The value of these plastic containers needed to be demonstrated.
Sales turned around with a simple creative business idea called Tupperware parties. They were the brainchild of a sales executive called Brownie Wise. Tupperware parties took off all around America and Mr Tupper eventually sold that company for $16 million - a fortune in those days - and the rest is history. Indeed, it started a whole new industry - “Party Plan” - which provided much needed independence and financial security for many thousands of women.
Unfortunately for Brownie Wise she fell out with the company owner who was jealous of her growing celebrity, and she was written out of the company history, but her creative concept lives on even today not just with Tupperware but a huge variety of products. Her creativity had a dramatic worldwide effect.
Her idea was not a beautifully written song, amazing painting or a great creative TV commercial it was simply a great use of creativity to solve a problem that tapped into the target market for that product. This type of creativity is within us all, and often it’s more about recognising it than trying to force it to happen. People do creative things every day and don’t even know it. Whether it’s a creative business plan or a poem you’ve written, the two are one and the same.
Often, this creativity is found most obviously in the people who are on your business’s front line. For example: a toothpaste factory had a problem. They sometimes shipped empty toothpaste boxes without the tube inside. They decided to hire an external engineering company to solve their problem. By using a high-tech precision scale it would sound a bell and flash lights whenever a toothpaste box weighed less than it should. The line would stop, someone would walk over, remove the defective box, and then press another button to re-start the line. As a result of the new package monitoring process, no empty boxes would be shipped out of the factory.
So they installed the gear, and with no more customer complaints about empty boxes the CEO felt the $8 million the equipment had cost was well spent. He then reviewed the line statistics report and discovered the number of empty boxes picked up by the scale in the first week was consistent with projections. Yay! But then in the next three weeks the stoppages were zero! Was the expensive new equipment faulty?
Puzzled, the CEO traveled down to the factory.
Just ahead of the new $8 million dollar solution sat a $20 desk fan blowing any empty boxes off the belt and into a bin. “Oh, that,” the supervisor commented: “Bert, the kid from maintenance, put it there because he was tired of walking over to restart the line every time that bloody bell rang.”
If only someone had asked the kid from maintenance before they spent eight million, eh?
Now I’m absolutely not trying to devalue creativity - quite the opposite - I’m trying to empower people to embrace it and recognise it. Knowing when something or someone is truly creative is an art in itself.
As Bill Bernbach said ‘creativity is the last unfair advantage we’re legally allowed to take over our competitors’. And that applies to any industry you work in. Creativity is your edge.
And it's easy. Just listen to your people, and value their imagination.
By Pat Langton, Creative Director