Are you ‘for or against’ Shock Advertising?
An excerpt from Wikipedia states:
Shock advertisements can be shocking and offensive for a variety of reasons, and violation of social, religious, and political norms can occur in many different ways. They can include a disregard for tradition, law or practice (e.g., lewd or tasteless sexual references or obscenity), defiance of the social or moral code (e.g., vulgarity, brutality, nudity, feces, or profanity) or the display of images or words that are horrifying, terrifying, or repulsive (e.g., gruesome or revolting scenes, or violence). Some advertisements may be considered shocking, controversial or offensive not because of the way that the advertisements communicate their messages but because the products themselves are “unmentionables” not to be openly presented or discussed in the public sphere. Examples of these “unmentionables” may include cigarettes, feminine hygiene products, or contraceptives. However, there are several products, services or messages that could be deemed shocking or offensive to the public. For example, advertisements for weight loss programs, sex/gender related products, clinics that provide AIDS and STD testing, funeral services, groups that advocate for less gun control, casinos which naturally support and promote gambling could all be considered controversial and offensive advertising because of the products or messages that the advertisements are selling. Shocking advertising content may also entail improper or indecent language, like French Connection‘s “fcuk” campaign.
Benefits of Advertising in a Down Economy
Businesses that continue to advertise regardless of economic times have a competitive advantage over businesses that trim their ad budgets.
So says a business-to-business (b-to-b) media study conducted by Yankelovich Partners and Harris Interactive. The study showed more than 85 percent of business executives believe advertising during a down economy is extremely important.
B-to-b media is an undisputed ally for advertisers seeking to reach executives about products and services for their businesses. The study, prepared for American Business Media, showed that despite slow economic times, executives rely on b-to-b media for information more than any other media source for the influence or support of purchase decisions.
Advertising during a sluggish economy clearly creates a competitive advantage, according to the study, with a majority of executives agreeing that seeing a company advertise during slower times makes them feel more positive about the company’s commitment to its products and services. But perhaps most important is staying at the top of buyers’ minds when purchase decisions are made.
“For advertisers interested in maximum profit from their investment in b-to-b media, these research results indicate that advertising frequently and capitalizing on the synergistic effect of print, Web sites, blogs, e-mail ads and trade shows is a sure path to increasing awareness, interest and purchase,” said the study authors.
Add to that the fact that there have been dramatic increases in the time executives spend online and that online advertising is a winning strategy. Moreover, the study findings are consistent across industry sectors, making results relevant regardless of business category.
While the Yankelovich/Harris study offers compelling data to support the benefit of advertising especially in slower times, other business gurus also support the theory.
“Advertising in a down economy is even more important than advertising during the good times,” says Joyce Gioia, president of the Herman Group, a firm of strategic business futurists in Greensboro, N.C. “That’s when you can build market share. That’s when you have less competition for share of mind. While others are in a cocoon, hibernating until things blow over, it’s a great time to invest in your business.”
Gioia says sign industry suppliers need to establish themselves as the brand of choice and halting advertising during tough times is counteractive to that goal.
The bottom line is clear: If a company is not communicating with customers when they enter the market, then that company will not be considered in the buying decision. That fundamental truth does not change, regardless of the economy.
While many companies readily understand the value of short-term advertising generating new sales, generating repeat business from existing customers and generating new leads that turn into future sales it can be more difficult to comprehend the long-term value. Think of a snowball rolling down a mountain consistent advertising has a cumulative effect. The more familiar buyers are with your brand, the more likely they are to purchase the brand.
A useful excerpt from Jennifer LeClaire
The market is in shock. Your brand? Caught in the middle of course.
VAT is here and as per expected, everywhere is swarming with angry, price-conscious shoppers in fear. Most products they usually bought on a normal day has suddenly now fallen off the list – thanks to the ‘C-Tax + VAT’ policy the majority of businesses insist on implementing; a decision I found to be grossly inconsiderate to consumers, inspite of all arguments considered.
How can our products survive this crazy season of vicious price comparisons and slashing shopping lists? Bite the bullet and strike a compromise! Until your old stock is sold, reduce your profit intake and ensure the discount passes onto your customer. If you don’t, your product may very well never be sold before its expiry date.
“It’s still selling, but at a slower than normal pace?” Sure… but think! In the meanwhile, during that slow-coaching, you stand the chance of loosing precious customer loyalty to lesser competitive brands since demand is not likely to decline in the segment. Shoppers are just looking for a cheaper way out.
So now that time is of the essence and your consumers are undecided? Sell! But sell as if you cared about the long term survival of your brand, its customers, and staying in business. Atleast until this ‘old stock’ grievance has passed and the market has adjusted. Consumer salaries are sadly not going to increase, so they can’t afford to be the understanding ones here even if they wanted to be.
If things were different in Guyana, and we practiced a culture of proper ‘brand building’ from the start, price cuts would never be necessary to survive.
Our stronger brands would have ‘equity’, making them invaluable to consumers. The result: price tags become secondary.
Maybe, VAT’s re-arrangement of the marketplace may help us to faster understand the need for better brand standards. Or atleast, here’s to hoping!
Happy VAT, followed by an interesting New Year.
Sex and your advertising.
You’re heard it before – sex sells! Then, you see everyone getting excited about advertising. Draping half-naked women over bonnets in automobile commercials and showing legs and skin to convince viewers to buy tech gadgets. Even the ladies on those inescapable ‘call-in-programs’ are now wearing dangerous bosom-boosting low cuts. Pleading with our kids to “act responsibly, have safe sex”.
Well! I regret to inform, many of us are misusing this theory of sex in advertising. Yes this approach tends to get people’s attention. But it stops there. It does not convince them to buy. And it certainly does not help to put your brand in their ‘good books’. This equals wasted advertising in the real world my friends.
The truth is: sex does sell. But it only sells when it’s relevant to your product. A few instances of when it may be… are in ads for beauty and cosmetic products. When naked or skimpily attired models can show the actual results of a product’s usage on their bodies. Making the element of ‘skin’ relevant. Even health foods could be considered suitable depending on their benefits.
I know! Some advertisers in Guyana may want to argue that they are quite contented with getting people’s attention full stop. Their other promotional efforts will close the sale. Again, you’re putting too much at stake.
When you wildly drop sex and seductive imagery in your ads regardless of relevance, you send the message that the brand is shallow, desperate. “My product does not have any real benefits to offer you, so hey! I’ll give you pretty faces with legs and boobs instead”.
Stop this nonsense of prostituting your product. It’s the only way you’ll build a strong brand with integrity that sells. In many cases, your products are great! They offer sound benefits. Convince consumers by promoting that instead. You’ll find over time, my advice paid off in dollars.
Guyana’s ugly ads need fixing.
So you have a business and you advertise. You, or perhaps your ad agency, designs something that looks like 'a set of words and pictures thrown into a square box on a page'. But that’s ok. You then spend good money to print it for all Guyana to see, only to have few or no one respond to your offer. What gives?
You are suffering from a classic case of ugly advertising my friend. The kind that never sells but only compels your customer to turn the page. Leaving them open to the other guy's sales leads.
Ask for some advice, I'll give it. Send me specific questions, if you feel your advertising could do with a face lift. This is no time to be lazy. Do something. You're loosing customers and paying to do so, every time you publish one of those ugly ads in Guyana's newspapers.
Is your ad agency really on your side?
It's my view that most advertising agencies in Guyana, don’t really care about building their clients' brands or generating sales for their products. They merely collect your money (sometimes premium amounts at that), only to return poor creative work. Work that often lacks sales strategy and the simple ability to convince your customers to buy.
Do you know how to tell if you're being ripped off? If you believe you are, send me your scenario, without openly mentioning the agency’s name. There are things you can do today to start getting value for your money.
He said, “Advertising is like painting a house!”
Much to my dismay, in a recent conversation with a good friend of mine (a very established Guyanese businessman), he blurted out, "Advertising is like painting a house! It's straight forward. No real academic or technical principles apply. You just do it… it's a no-brainer".
Boy was I furious! But I kept my cool, realizing that the real issue was – that's exactly what most clients in Guyana thought. And it’s this sort of thinking which has us stuck in this cesspool of poor advertising to begin with. If a client knew better, he/she could then demand or appreciate better.
The reality is, good advertising is a special skill. One that’s just as academic as it is artistically flexible. It is governed by specific principles of design, strategy and the craft of persuasive copywriting.
Until we can acknowledge this in Guyana and further, apply it, our ads will remain the ugly, non-selling wastes of money they are.