“People hate advertising. They f@&*ing truly and actually, hate it … and this all the agencies’ and advertisers’ fault.”
Those comments were made by Boudica chief creative officer and former Hearst content chief Joanna Coles during a panel about the future of creativity at Advertising Week. Coles had said that consumers will take any opportunity to skip ads. Ironically, her co-panelist, Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, the world’s biggest advertiser, has largely agreed with that observation.
Marketers spend billions on ads, while, in the meantime, consumers tend to spend their lives trying to avoid them. Eight out of ten people in a research firm Kantar’s survey said that ads are annoying. Meantime, the recent Cannes Festival of Creativity that wrapped last week was the usual self-congratulatory event of agencies and tech companies, spiced with the newest buzzword, Metaverse and NFT, one key element was missing from from panels and symposiums – the consumer.
This is not an accident. There is a gap between Madison Avenue and its customers , and brands are paying the price.
1. Advertising is not trusted. The shocking fact is, that, 96% of people don’t believe that ads are truthful, according to Inc. Magazine.Consumers do not trust advertising, and one can’t blame them. Gallup conducted a survey asking people just how they would rate the honesty and ethical standards of workers in 21 different professions. Nurses were rated tops, with 85%, while advertising practitioners were fourth from the bottom at 10% approval rating, slightly ahead of car salesmen, telemarketers and politicians.
2. Ad fatigue. The average American is exposed to anywhere between 4,000-10,000 ads per day. Most of this is noise and consumers in general, do not care for advertising. In fact, the greater number of consumers do not really need any advertising to determine which brand or service to buy. But ad volume, isn’t the only problem, as ads are becoming ever more intrusive, inescapable, and offensive, due to advances in technology and data science. People are constantly bombarded with ad junk which turns them off.
3. Culture. The advent of Internet technologies, has unfortunately, led to the descent of advertising as a cultural icon into triviality. One remembers VW “Think Small” or Nike “Just Do It” became infamous catchphrases just as “Where’s the beef?” for Wendy’s spread through the culture. I do remember many a dinner table discussion over magazine and television ads throughout my life, but thus far, I have had no such conversations about online display ads. Advertising role in the culture is diminishing.
4. Treating selling as a dirty word. David Ogilvy once admitted that “99% of advertising doesn’t sell much of anything.” He was absolutely right and on target. The fact is, that, most of the ads that are out these days are pretty much ineffective. To sell, advertising can and will communicate the benefit of a company or product in a buyer’s life thus, resulting in a visceral response to the given message. Most of the advertising scattered around today is simply, just, not informing people of a need that can be met, or even a problem that can be solved.
5. Likeably. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. The consumers’ emotional response to an ad has a far greater influence on their reported intent to buy a product, than does the ad’s content – and, by an astonishing larger factor of 3-to-1. “Likeability” is the measure most predictive indication of whether an ad will increase a brand’s sales. In fact, ads that are not generally entertaining, are a huge turn-off.
6. Relevance. According to a recent Statista survey, the majority of people, 51% of respondents, said they were bothered by ads that were not relevant to them, while 15% said they were OK with that. Consumers truly want useful advertising and clear, relevant RTB, in other words, something they can act on. Yet, a lot of the campaigns lack an understanding consumers holistically. This alienates consumers who fail to comprehend what the product is or how it benefits them.
7. Woke-washing. These days, a growing number of brands are jumping at the chance to signal their social and environmental credentials. The allure of economic gain is making purpose the new marketing buzzword of choice, through campaigns that are often too long on talk, but sadly, short on action. Woke-washing is already making consumers wary of brand purpose.