It’s certainly not news that all ads are not created equal. Some grab us by the throats (or the funny bone) the very first time we see them. We remember them. We tell others about them. We might even look them up on YouTube. Other spots? There are many we have been exposed to dozens of times but never paid them any mind. Such is the nature of creativity in advertising.
It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that ads that do a better job of engaging or entertaining us also do a better job of selling. Yet there are some in this business who still tend to discount creativity in advertising to be somewhat of a commodity. They see “entertainment” and “selling” as somehow being mutually exclusive. These folks for whatever reason have yet to buy into the notion that the quality of creative corresponds directly to the success of a marketing program. As support, they may point to the success of spots such as the infomercial-esque “as seen on TV” ads as proof that it’s what the ad says, not how it’s said that matters. And they have a point: interrupt people with $30 million in paid media, and the needle will move.
But more and more, we are moving to a model of opt-in content. Less are we able to interrupt the consumer with whatever message we feel like and expect them to pay attention to it.
The dynamics of Social Media illustrate this perfectly. There are no multi-million “buys” on YouTube, Facebook, blogs or the like. The barrier to entry is non-existent. Access to Social Media platforms has been democratized. Anyone can post anything. And the success of that content isn’t how much the creator puts behind it. It’s on how many users feel inclined to pass it forward and to talk it up.
In the opt-in world, you’re only as good as your content. A great illustration of this point would be to compare the results of a recent Social Media success (The Old Spice “Man Your Man Could Smell Like”) to one that’s not-so-successful (Cisco’s “Ted From Accounting” series).
In the Old Spice campaign, Social Media users were invited to correspond with The Old Spice Guy. Old Spice’s agency (Wieden & Kennedy) then shot nearly 200 “personalized web videos” addressed to fans (and Social Media heavyweights) over a couple of days and posted them online. The resulting buzz generated an estimated 1.4 BILLION views, hits and mentions over the period of a few weeks. (Oh, and sales were up over 100% over that period.) You can view some of the spots here.
On the other hand, Cisco’s “Ted From Accounting” series was launched as a web series in hopes of going viral.
Response to the web videos was less than overwhelming (fewer than 10,000 views, despite a huge PR push). One commenter on their YouTube page summed up reaction to the campaign this way: “I am embarrassed for your marketing department. This is the sad result of a poorly orchestrated attempt at some sort of viral leaching by a room full of middle aged guys, who’s (sic) kids saw something on YouTube that they thought would be a good idea to copy.”
Granted this is hardly an apples-to-apples comparison. The Old Spice campaign started as a mass media campaign and extended to include the digital component. But while “Ted in Accounting” didn’t have that mass media lift, my bet is that you could have put millions behind it and viewers’ reactions wouldn’t have been any different than the YouTube poster above.
The digital world is proving what we who have developed offline content for years have always known: people aren’t going to waste their time with boring content.
Posted by Mickey