Half Empty?

Friday’s RepMan blog was entitled “Do you watch TV commercials?” I don’t.  Matt Lester, Peppercomm’s creative director, penned today’s guest blog which is, in part, a rebuttal. In the blog, Matt explains why so much advertising misses its mark and why brilliantly executed ads are more important than ever. Over to you Matt…

FullGlassThere’s an old adage that CMO’s know they’re wasting half their advertising dollars – they just don’t know which half. Well, it seems this is less true today. Not only do we know more about that wasted half, we know it seems to have morphed into five eighths. OK, three quarters. Or, is it seven eighths? Hmm… more?

Well, the question is no longer how much is wasted. If you believe Adweek, we know the statistical answer to that for a TiVo user. It’s near zero. I’m a creative director, not a media planner, but it seems to me that it’s in large part a media buying issue. The question is whether your chosen audience wants to see what you’re putting in front of them.

As far as commercials are concerned, that is obviously not a TiVo user. So, assuming a commercial is the best medium for the message, find the vehicle that will deliver that audience. I can tell you that when people ask me what I do, an obsession in NYC, they inevitably regale me with their favorite ads and usually add a few “original” ideas they think I can instantly sell to a client I don’t have nor want to pitch with their understandably amateur ideas. Which, of course usually include their mega adorable child or pet in the starring role, and are followed by an instant iPhone casting session.

My conclusion? It’s not that commercials are dead. It’s the lack of ingenuity on the part of some creatives and their media planners that’s died. We live in a fully integrated world where creatives and media planners need to work together. Ideas need to be brilliantly tailored to your client’s story and in a way that’s relevant to your audience’s needs and desires and appropriate for the venue in which it’s consumed. Where media planners are part of the creative process and not just given something to push onto a media outlet just to fulfill a media buyer’s checklist.

Let’s push for alternative thinking that’s brilliant because it’s relevant to the audience experience and the media outlet. Let’s not create ideas in a creative vacuum but within the real world of our client needs and their consumers wants and desires. Mad Men of yesterday need to embrace the facts of today and partner with new media knowing that just because they asked for a commercial doesn’t mean they need a commercial. If it is the right vehicle, make it informative and interesting enough that people will want to watch it and innovative enough that people will want to engage with it.

The same applies to print. Take the Microsoft, Your Office in the Cloud print ad for Forbes magazine. You ever try to impress an IT professional with your tech knowledge? May as well try to out-pitch Clayton Kershaw. To illustrate the idea of “anytime access”, Deutsch NY designed print ads embedded with wireless hotspots capable of feeding up to five devices from anywhere you were reading the magazine and active for about fifteen days. That’s innovative thinking. That’s a home run.

5 thoughts on “Half Empty?

  1. Well said Matt! I definitely agree this is a conversation that needs to happen between media buyers, planners and creatives. There is too much of a disconnect between media plans and creative strategy. I for one, watch commercials like a hawk, but perhaps more so because I too am in the biz. I think there’s also definitely a different audience when you move into the TiVo, DVR, on-demand viewers, as opposed to the straight cable TV viewers as well. It’s not as cut and dry. I think advertisers are definitely on the move to adapt to new mediums and platforms, leaving immense room for growth and innovation.

  2. Thank you Matt for showing the other side. When I see the same-old tired formulas in commercials that could have aired 30 years ago, I wonder what the “creatives” are thinking. I will share this with a few that I know.

  3. Good comments, all. Feel free to send any examples of integrated efforts that work.

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