A LESSON IN ADVERTISING FROM THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURYWritten by Patrick Quinn
Back in 1760s, great Dr Samuel Johnson delivered himself of dictum that 'promise, large promise is soul of advertising'. It's a good thought, a great thought; and I contend that what was true then is equally true today. But it seems to me that modern advertisers are tying themselves into unnecessary knots in an attempt to reach audiences which they believe are becoming increasingly indifferent to their blandishments.
Well, yes, markets are turning deaf ears and blind eyes, but they always have done, though not for reasons generally espoused by world's marketers. I am convinced that despite all sophisticated research and marketing effort that goes into advertising these days, real reason that markets are indifferent to advertising is because much of it ignores many splendoured principle that people don't buy products, they buy benefits of owning those products.
Today, great proportion of advertisers don't deliver sales messages, they tell what they hope are emotive stories with which market can empathise, then they drop product in as an afterthought, hoping that enough emotional cross-communication has been achieved for people to reach for their credit cards. That it doesn't and people won't has resulted in huge advertising budget cut-backs in developed world in recent years. Only a manufacturer who has taken leave of his senses will throw even more money at a strategy that doesn't work.
The strategy responsible operates under title Emotional Sales Proposition (ESP), thought in some quarters to be an advance on Unique Sales Proposition (USP) which, on contrary, does actually work. What has been overlooked or, more likely, ignored, is that in developing principle of USP in late 1950s, brilliant Rosser Reeves was striving to replace an advertising strategy that had been in situ for 30 or so years and was fast running out of steam. What was device he was hoping to supersede? Well, by any other name, it was emotional sales proposition. I won't bore you with detail, but if you'd like to find out more, you should lay your hands on Reeves' book, Reality in Advertising (MacGibbon & Kee - 1961). It could be an eye-opener.
COMMERCIALS THAT CONFUSE, CONFOUND AND SELL NOBODY ANYTHINGWritten by Patrick Quinn
I may be missing something, here, but it seems to me that, in advertising terms, loonies have taken over asylum. What is getting me all lathered up is preponderance of TV commercials that go out of their way, not only to confuse their target audience, but also to project an alarming image of their product.
I'll elaborate. The first example is sad, but fortunately short story of a current tv spot for a company called Debenhams. Now, Debenhams is a large UK department store which has branches in many major cities throughout country. As such, it has an excellent reputation and an enviable turnover.
Well, this outfit is running a commercial which has two distinct scenes. The first shows a man sitting in a room at a table, and beside him is a back-projection of a pond. As he sweeps an object off table and into pond, we see ripples in water. The second scene is of a young girl in a room and back projection is of some trees, each carrying a profusion of autumn leaves. As girl moves around room, leaves begin to fall.
So far so good; and as an exercise in special effects this spot is exemplary, because last thing you'd expect to see in your living room is a pond or a stand of trees.
Anyway, we are now treated to a voice-over which says, to effect, that if you drop into Debenhams you'll find lots more of same. My question is: same what? Throughout this commercial, we are not actually told what it is we are being offered.
I assume it is wallpaper, but I could be wrong - it might be personal back projection.
The second example concerns a new computer from Apple-Mac. The spot opens with an explosion and a man being thrown against a tree. The camera then tracks towards a house, in side of which is a gaping hole. The camera continues through into house, showing us debris falling all around and large holes in walls of successive rooms. We finally track towards a computer, and voice-over says something like: Introducing fastest, most powerful computer in Mac stable.