There’s a famous saying, “Unless you can learn from history, you’re condemned to repeat it.”
I feel the same about bad advertising.
In some cases, bad advertising works.
At least it works inasmuch as it sells product.
Bad advertising often works by simply bashing the punter over the head so much that it eventually permeates their consciousness.
And this is part of why it works.
This is a clue.
If we can learn from this we can do good advertising that works as well as, or better than, bad advertising.
The clue is the bad advertisers spend many millions of pounds to get through people’s indifference to advertising.
There it is.
No one cares about advertising.
Only when we understand this are we are able to compete with bad advertising.
Because bad advertising understands that no one cares.
So they get through the consumers apathy by spending a fortune bashing home the same message.
It’s lazy, and wasteful, and it’s boring.
But, in penetrating the consumer’s indifference to advertising, it will eventually work.
Now, if you have a client who has that kind of money to waste, they can afford to be lazy and boring.
But what about clients who don’t?
They need to get through to the consumers without dull messages that bore everyone senseless, but work.
So here’s the start point.
No one is watching TV for the adverts.
People are watching TV for entertainment and information.
So, if ads are going to work without boring everyone to death, they need to entertain and/or inform.
But no client is paying for adverts to purely entertain the public.
Because entertainment alone doesn’t lead to increased sales.
The punter needs to know what’s in it for them.
Now more than ever.
Why should they remember to part with money when they next see your product on the shelf?
So, from the client’s side, you need seriously persuasive information.
From the consumer’s side, you need entertainment.
Or they won’t even watch your message, let alone remember it.
So the answer’s obvious.
What we need is persuasive information, wrapped in memorable entertainment.
It’s so obvious you wonder why everyone doesn’t do it.
Because we don’t.
But, besides the quality of the message, how else can good advertising beat bad advertising?
Well, there is one other thing we can learn from bad advertising.
The way they handle the fact that no one in the real world cares about advertising is to keep on-and-on bashing home the same message.
Until eventually it breaks though the crust of indifference.
The bad news is: it’s crude, but it works.
The good news is: it doesn’t have to be crude.
Consistency is a way smarter method of communication than constant change and inconsistency.
Why can’t good advertising learn consistency from bad advertising?
We have favourite films that we’ll watch again and again on Sky.
We have favourite music tracks that we listen to again and again.
On the radio, or MP3, or the CD player in the car.
Multi-channel TV stations are based on the fact that people will watch their favourite TV programmes over again.
How many times have you watched repeats of your favourite Simpson’s episodes?
No one says, “Oh, I’ve seen this one” and switches it off.
We say, “I remember this, it’s a good one” and watch it again.
If we do a really good ad, why should everyone get tired of it after a couple of OTS?
People aren’t that fickle.
If it’s a good ad, if people like it, if it works, why change it?
We can use good advertising to break through the apathy and keep reinforcing the point, just the way bad advertising does.
But without the bad bit.
Let’s don’t just reject bad advertising and hope it’ll go away.
Let’s learn from it and use it to make the good stuff better.