It’s said that if you live in a major Australian city you’re now exposed to over one thousand advertising messages a day, whether that’s via billboards, TV, radio, print, facebook, instagram, newspaper, websites, apps, cinema, articles etc.
A lot of what is spent on advertising is money wasted because it’s just not interesting. We spend around $10 billion on advertising every year. Advertisers sure as hell don’t get $10 billion worth of value from that. Far too much of their advertising disappears without a trace.
We forget that what we advertise isn’t just some special esoteric thing called "an ad", it’s a message … a message from someone's business to our head. And like all good messages, that message should be spreadable.
When we were all in school, we’d hear a story or a joke and then tell that story/joke to a friend and then it would spread. Soon enough everyone in the school would know it, then the school in the next suburb would know it, and so on and so on. The same with great songs. Or brilliant ideas.
Things went viral way before the internet. We’ve all heard the saying ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’, right? Well, its origins date back to the 1860s in Wales. Working people had poor diets, and Vitamin C especially was lacking, but apples were cheap and plentiful. The phrase is one of the first examples of social advertising in history.
The original saying was actually ‘Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread’. Over the years it then evolved to ‘An apple a day, no doctor to pay’ or ‘An apple a day sends the doctor away’. The meaning and message is just as relevant today. Because it has real value.
The message came from a truth and so it stuck - and it spread far and wide, and still does.
In the 1860s they sure didn’t have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and all the rest - just plain old people spreading the good oil. The point is, whatever the platform or media is, that's not how things spread. It’s the consumer that spreads the message, so the message needs to be based in consumer value, and it needs to be really good, catchy and spreadable.
One way to get this invaluable “talkability” happening is by making ads that get the attention of main media - ads that get commented on - this is one key to successfully spreading your message. And the more people that see it, the more likely it is to move into culture. Ads can be shocking, or funny, or heartfelt but whatever technique is used, they must be good. Relevant. Entertaining. Thought-provoking. Moving.
Whether it’s "an apple a day" or “Not happy Jan", if it’s good, people will talk about it. When it’s obviously a great idea, people want to be part of it. Whether it’s a phrase, a TV commercial, or a much-needed social change, you have to ask two questions: what’s in it for the consumer, and have we communicated that as brilliantly as we can? Every time.
And sometimes it’s really not as hard as we seem to make it.
Things that rhyme are proven to be more ‘sticky’ in people's minds, for example. So if you’re a parent and you want your child to be healthy ‘An apple a day, keeps the doctor away’ is an easy way to convince your child to “buy” the idea of eating a piece of fruit. That’s why jingles always used to be a common component of great ads. But today? Most young copywriters have never even written a jingle.
The lesson? Customers hold the key to helping a brand grow and getting a brand's message out there. Without getting them onside, it’s very hard to be truly successful. Marketers need to remember this when something is presented to them. The most important media space is the one in the consumers mind, get in there and results will follow.
As David Trott says: ‘From human mind, to human mind, to human mind’.
Written by Pat Langton - Creative Director at MOP