Tuesday 22 October 2013

An orgy of advertising shitness

It's bad enough we already tolerate the Coles adverts on television. Now, it's much worse. Now, these awful ads have manifested as expandable banners. Expandable ef-fing banners.

The only reason the Coles ads have appeared to be so effective is not because the ads are any good, but because Coles enjoys tremendous physical availability.

In other words; There's a Coles around every corner. And because you're time-poor, or maybe just lazy, you simply go to your closest supermarket - independent of (bad) advertising.

As for expandable banners, they are the most diabolical form of advertising ever to be thrust in front of your audience's unsuspecting eyeballs.

They are the equivalent of turning billboards into roadblocks. 

Plus, I can find Wally faster than the close button on these things. They treacherously disguise the button to make you dwell on the ad.

It's like forcing you to go to a bad party, locking you in and hiding the keys. 

So, when you combine a bad advertisement with a bad channel you get very unlikeable  and consequently ineffective advertising (See exhibit A above).

It's as though Coles uses an algorithm to create their advertising. Their ads are soullessly textbook. They do everything right, except being human: 

Memorable - tick. Ownable - tick. Likeable - fail.

So it should come as no surprise Coles would elect to use the most annoying medium ever conceived - the expandable banner (Because I'm sure statistically they're great).

This isn't sustainable. Sure, audiences will remember their ads, and sure they'll remember that it's Coles doing the advertising. But when they get fed up with being forced to watch unlikeable content, it will impact their buying decision and eventually they will go to Woolworths.

If an ad is not likeable; you have nothing, so never, never, never use expandable banners.

Rant over.

For the non-Australian readers, here's the said TV adverts:

By Christopher Ott

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Make the logo BOOBER

Here's another illustration of how valuable (and powerful) developing and owning market- based assets is. Branding yo!

The Bonds font and broken underline are distinctly Bonds. They own them. So developed are they in our minds that we immediately know this is a bonds ad.

We need to aim for this with every brand we touch.

I don't think it even matters what the campaign is. If it turns out these ads are 'just' ads - that's perfectly okay.

They're memorable - Boobs all over the city! They're likeable - They make you smile when you see them. And they're ownable - Bonds make bras and the ads use the typeface and Bonds underline.

The Bonds brand is refreshed in your mind in a relevant way. Job done.

For another example of the power of branding go here: Make the logo bigger

By Christopher Ott

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Same bat time same bat place

What do the following movies have in common: Harry Potter, Iron Man, Transformers, Lord of the Rings, James Bond, Pirates of the Caribbean, Avatar, The Avengers and Batman The Dark Knight? There's two things actually. Did you pick them?

1. They're nine of the top ten highest grossing films of all time;

2. They all have (or will have) sequels. 

Next question: over the last couple of years what has been the most memorable Australian TV commercial? 
I'll give you a hint...

When you're conceiving your next campaign, make it a sequel. You already know that advertising is chiefly concerned with memory, and that's why consistency is key. A consistent tone, message and design are all done to quickly refresh your audience's memory of your brand.

The more established all these elements are the faster your audience will process that it's you, and the longer they'll have to absorb the advertisement (and message) as yours.

So why don't we see more sequels in advertising? It makes sense, doesn't it? If you're trying to stay consistent then you can't get any more consistent than a sequel.

It's a lot easier to refresh memory than to build it. 

But it's not simply for branding that makes sequels superior to tactical stand-alone ads. It's that humans are hardwired for story. Good storytelling will always have people coming back for more (to see how their favourite characters deal with the next drama). 

Sequels give the writer freedom, and the audience excitement. Sequels build momentum. They create talkability. And done right, you have your audience anticipating the next episode. 

Nine out of the top ten highest grossing movies of all time are sequels. Hollywood can't be wrong. 

(The missing movie is Titanic. But, who knows, now that Clive Palmer is re-building it, maybe we'll get a sequel in the coming years -  John Goodman playing Clive and all.)

But if it's so obvious that sequels are effective then why do, we, creatives have this irrational compulsion to constantly change the creative on every brief we get?

It probably has a lot to do with our egos. We naturally think our ideas are better than other people's. We just can't escape this natural narcissism. And we simply don't want to work with another creative's ideas. It's like Dan Ariely's toothbrush theory: 

Creative ideas are like a toothbrush, everyone wants a toothbrush, everyone needs one, everyone has one, but no one wants to use anyone else’s.

Plus, we kind of feel like phoneys (or lazy) if we do 'more of the same' of our own work, or 'recycle' other people's work. So we stupidly throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

If you had half the success of the Rhonda series you could retire happy. We need to follow Hollywood's lead and start making more sequels. 
Do you think anyone considers Christopher Nolan a hack because Batman had already been done? Holy horseshoe no Batman! 

Sequels let you harness the power of familiarity, and they give you the freedom to tell a more complex story (not just the buzz word). So, when you get your next brief see if you can make it into a sequel, and if not then start one.

Christopher Ott

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Buyhaviour 3: Confirmation Bias

If you've seen Ancient Aliens then you've seen the confirmation bias in full effect. 

In it, anything unexplained (or explained) that's ever happened in the history of the world - the answer's aliens. From earthquakes to Bigfoot - aliens. 

Or, do you remember the last time you were book shopping on Amazon, how you were really only interested in the reviews that told you what you wanted?

This inclination to have blinkers on in favour of information that fits with your own ideas...

This is the confirmation bias.

Definition: Confirmation bias is a tendency for people to favour information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. (Wikipedia, 2013)

So, suppose you tried to convince the host (crazy-hair above) that aliens don't exist. That he's wrong. I can guarantee no matter how rational your argument is, he simply won't switch to your way of thinking.

Yet, brands try and do this all the time. 

To grow your brand is pretty simple. All you need to do is get more customers. And unless you expand your category (think sports brands like Nike becoming street wear), the only way to get more customers is to steal them from your competition. 

No problem, you'll just differentiate, right? 


Textbooks, greying planners and pimply graduates alike will cocksurely tell you to differentiate your brand. Differentiate or die, they'll say. The model goes something like this: Differentiate your brand, position your brand and then target that niche. 

But if your audience is only receptive to information and ideas that they already hold (Confirmation bias), and you know what that is because you're trying to steal these people from your competition, then isn't it counter intuitive to differentiate?

Of course it is, and marketing science corroborates this point.

Marketing science tells us that consumers shop from a repertoire. The implication of this being that category buyers share brands and don't really differ in any meaningful way. So, by differentiating, positioning and targeting, you're mindlessly ostracising potential buyers unnecessarily. 

(Because they're affected by the confirmation bias they won't listen to your messaging. Just like the aliens guy above being told aliens don't exist.) 

This means, with your advertising, you should be confirming your audience's existing beliefs, not differing from them, and not ostracising them.

Here's an example.

Samsung didn't try to differentiate from Apple. They simply tapped into how Apple users saw the world and aligned with their confirmation bias. They weren't trying to be 'different' they were trying to be better.

They out-Appled Apple. And look at them now!

So what does this mean for creatives? Well, it turns out you don't have to worry about unique selling propositions (USP) anymore. They're a product of differentiation and that means they're redundant. Awesome, because an inane USP only inhibits you from coming up with a truly great idea. 

Trying to get people to switch by telling them they're wrong and your (different) way is right, because of the confirmation bias, won't work. If you're married you can testify to this. So, the next time the strategist, suit, or client says you need to differentiate, you politely remind them about the Confirmation Bias and say you'd rather be better and confirm what your audience already believes than be different. 

Discover more of the Buyhaviour series:

Buyhaviour Series: An Introduction 
Buyhaviour 1: Availability Bias 
Buyhaviour 2: Status Quo Bias 
Buyhaviour 3: Confirmation Bias 
Buyhaviour 4: Conjunction Fallacy 
Buyhaviour 5: The Spotlight Effect
Buyhaviour 6: The Matthew Effect  
Buyhaviour 7: Fight or Flight Heuristic
Buyhaviour 8: Imposter Phenomenon 
Buyhaviour 9: Red Queen Hypothesis 

Christopher Ott