I am not a great television watcher, but I do enjoy Mad Men and, more specifically, the way it explores the creative treatment that used to surround advertising campaigns for brands. Of course hindsight and the ability to reinvent the way in which campaigns were born helps.
Like a lot of viewers I record the programme and watch it later to enable me to zoom through the numerous advertising breaks, but for the first programme I didn’t as the broadcaster had chosen to show UK TV adverts from the period in which Mad Men is set, that is in the 60s.
Watching these ads was interesting and reminded me that they used to be all about the products and not some witty or clever campaign that is trying to win the advertising agency this year’s media Oscar. What is that advert all about before Coronation Street? Some sort of ménage a trois in which the product is definitely not the hero. Invariably the advertising agency will tell you that the fact you remembered it means it worked. No! It’s just an annoyingly bad advert.
I have sat through countless marketing presentations where it has been stressed that advertising is all about creating a wall of “noise” from the TV execution linked to the press and then through to the in-store point-of- sale, and ultimately, the in-store execution. Look at how good the big four are at owning colours, red and blue, orange, green and yellow and just green, consistently used in all forms of communication.
So today, how should retailers pitch their advertising? The big supermarkets will always want to convey price, range, quality and service - rearrange these in any order depending on how the particular retailer is trading.
Convenience stores will look at range, quality, service, price and - convenience! Once you have decided upon the content, which form of media do you use? It is now so different from previous decades, with the advent of social media blowing a hole in the tried and tested TV route backed by press and PoS.
I read recently of people making a living out of “twittering” this week’s special offers at the supermarkets and who have literally thousands of followers, rushing into stores grabbing the bargains.This leads me onto my favourite hobby horse - all those brilliant marketing campaigns, tweets, blogs and even facebookery will be money wasted if the in-store delivery is poor, with PoS missing, prices incorrect or worst of all, poor availability.
To all you marketing executives dreaming up tomorrow’s hot campaign using fancy modern methods, you’d better keep your eyes on the retail execution basics before your customers start twittering about you!