Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Advertising Doesn’t Work – Part Two

Yesterday we discussed businesses who do not feel that advertising is an effective way to communicate their benefits to the public. Basically it came down to frequency, and that the human mind takes a number of hits to absorb anything.

Today we will take a closer look at people who swear that they are immune to the thousands of messages they take in a day.

An argument I always like to use on those who claim they are resistant to advertising is to do the ‘out of towner test’. This test proves that top of mind awareness is indeed taking up space in your head. Mostly the top part.

If I were from out of town, how would you answer these questions, just off the top of your head, first thing that comes to mind?

Excuse me, where can I find an inexpensive hotel around here?

And for recreation in this city, can you suggest any activities or things to see?

I need some gum, what kinds do they have in this country?

I need a place to grab some food, fast - what is around here?

What brand of television set would you recommend that I buy? Can you tell me two others just so I can check for myself?

Advertising takes up a large part of our mental environment in the sense that it has made certain brands familiar, and subsequently, reliable and trusted. This is the goal of most advertising – and is best spread with great frequency. It is what we call Awareness advertising.

This is culminated when a brand ‘owns’ a certain word, for instance:

Seatbelt is to car, as safety is to _________

Send is to package, as overnight is to _________

Tooth is to toothpaste as cavities is to _______

If you have answered Volvo, FedEx and Crest – it is not because you are guessing, it is because the repetition of this message has lodged it in your subconscious.

But then again maybe you didn’t answer this way, and you truly are immune!

This is one half of the advertising equation. The other half is purely psychological and it involves catching the appropriate state of mind of the target market to ensure a resonance with the message.

For instance, if you are trying to lose weight, you will be more sensitive to ads targeting weight, or if you are fearful of something – ads targeting that will catch your attention.
I have more about this in my ‘ethical advertising’ post further down, but for now I have to run for Thai.


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