Friday, October 28, 2011

Advertising Stories

Every once in a while I realize that not everybody has had the opportunity to experience the many marketing situations I have been fortunate enough to encounter and in this case I have a relevant story to complement my last two blogs.

In the mid 80’s I was Senior Marketing Specialist for Consumer Distributing (some of you may remember it fondly – or not) and I had the occasion to be involved in the process of selecting an advertising firm to represent us in our national advertising campaign. Back then, we had one of the largest seasonal television advertising campaigns in Canada after companies like Ford or McDonalds’s. We produced over 5 million catalogues each year with more than 5,000 SKUs. The reason I am relating this story is to illustrate that measurement and demographics have a place in guiding the advertising decisions but often final decisions are made based on an emotional reaction to a clever creative concept.

Creativity in advertising is largely under-appreciated and misunderstood. Companies and business owners often design their own advertising using designers & graphic artists, etc. but the process of developing unique powerful advertising that can change a person’s buying habits is complex and emotional at its heart. Never mind, the idea that you might be producing an advertising campaign for and audience that you do not relate to through age or preferences.

The competing advertising firms as I recall were Foster Advertising and Prizm Advertising and two others. The contract was worth millions to the eventual winner so the stakes were high. The process took several weeks and each firm had more than one meeting to present its creative concepts and supporting research. In fact the process was so onerous that the advertising firms were allowed to charge for the development of their campaigns. Each firm brought in its research in a printed tomb of several hundred pages chronicling the buying habits of Consumer Distributing customers.

The winning concept, You Work Hard For Your Money, based on a song and a concept that had resonance with Consumer’s customers had more going for it than a good creative concept. The concept of psychographic research was introduced by the winning advertising firm while the other firms used demographic research to support their creative concepts. The difference between the two was that psychographic research contained an additional dimension of research into the emotional profile of consumers.

The point of all this is that a good creative concept was well supported by unique research on the emotional profile of Consumer Distributing customers. The creative idea was good because it was based on an in-depth understanding of its customers.

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