Irritation Sells – Annoying TV Adverts
It’s startling that something so annoying can be so effective. In today’s age where billions are spent on marketing and advertising, we are in an era where something that irritates the life out of you, is, in fact, the way forward in advertising today.
We have all sat and gritted our teeth, left the room, stuck our fingers in our ears or all of the above, when we hear something like:
- Go Compare!!!
- Compare the market
- Muller (rice rice baby)
- Cillit Bang (Hi! I’m Barry Scott!!!)
And much more ANNOYING adverts like these!!!
But the most annoying thing is how simple the concepts of these advertising campaigns are. As mentioned above – billions are spent masterminding the next amazing advertising campaign, with special effects, amazing locations, and even celebrities……but what ends up sticking in your head more than any advert out there?
- A guy dressed as an opera singer, with a ridiculous moustache signing the words ‘GO COMPARE!’
- Meercat puppets rhyming ‘meercat’ with ‘market’.
- Another bad puppet – polar bear singing a bad parody of a popular 80’s hit by Vanilla Ice!
- An average guy, telling you his name (Who cares?!) and just telling you exactly what the product does!
“But annoying advertising campaigns aren’t a new thing, I hear (the older of) you cry!!”
No, certainly not, here are a few examples of the cream of TV sales pitches, that stuck in your mind, not for the product, but for the character/story content:
1971: PG Tips ‘Mr Shifter’
The PG Tips chimps were loved by the viewing public and helped make the tea brand one of the UK’s most popular. Here the gang attempt to shift a piano down some stairs.
1973: The Smash Martians
The metallic Smash characters, as is often the case with extra-terrestrials, found Earthling’s habit of boiling and mashing potatoes hilarious. They went on to laugh their way through a series of ads.
British sporting heroes Henry Cooper and Kevin Keegan agree, after a punishing 1977 gym workout, that ‘Nothing beats the great smell of Brut’. The jury is still out.
1980 The Milk Tray Man
Time was when sporting a dark roll-neck sweater would see a man serenaded with a burst of the Milk Tray theme and follow-up snigger. Our on-screen hero ran, jumped and secretly delivered chocolates to countless bedrooms from 1968 until 2003.
1980 Shake and Vac
“Do the Shake and Vac, and put the freshness back”, sung by a dancing housewife as she vacuums her living room, insanely irritating, but you still remember this song 30 years later – don’t you?
1983: J.R. Hartley – Yellow Pages
There cannot be many people out there who will admit to getting a bit emotional over a Yellow Pages advert – can there?
1985 Levi’s 501
Still capable of rendering ladies of a certain age hot under the collar, Nick Kamen stripping down to pristine boxers accompanied by the sultry sounds of Marvin Gaye singing Heard it on the Grapevine stands the test of time.
1991 Tango Slap
The first in an increasingly bizarre series of advertisements for the orange fizzy drink – with the characters left in no doubt as to whether they have been ‘Tango’d’.
So, does irritation work?
Does going down the ‘irritating campaign’ road work? Nick Hall, head of marketing at British financial services company Go Compare, gives his theory: “When you create a campaign with a sonic trigger – a jingle that gets into your head – you develop a love/hate relationship with your audience. The important thing is to increase recall, cut through and stand out.” (1)
So, it may be a love/hate relationship, but it’s a relationship – a bond – a connection. Which is what advertising is all about isn’t it?
But according to Dr Haiming Hang, associate professor of marketing at the University of Bath, using annoying jingles to create a memorable ad is a dangerous strategy.
“Advertisers assume brand awareness is the key to make consumers purchase,” he said. “However, recent research clearly suggests advertising makes a stronger emotional and behavioural impact when consumers are paying less conscious attention to them.”
There are strong arguments for creating an annoying ad when it ensures that consumers will remember a new brand or product. Boots’ “Here come the girls”, in at number 9 in the top 10 annoying adverts from the last 15 years (See below), reportedly generated a surge in sales of beauty products and gift sets.
But could the irritating advert soon become a thing of the past?
Up until now, when watching the TV, you haven’t had much choice but to watch these adverts, you’re waiting for Corrie to come back on, or the 2nd half of the match to start. Rather than mess about channel hopping for the next 5 minutes, you grit your teeth and sit it out, and these campaigns slowly sink into your brain.
But now technology has gifted us with ‘on demand’ or ‘catch-up’ TV. And also we can record programmes too (I love it when people still say ‘tape’ a programme!) Thus giving us the option to fast forward through ALL of the adverts – hooray!!!
Surfing the internet is an area where it’s difficult to force irritability upon people, we get pop-ups which we quickly close unless of course, we chose to view them, and for a lot of people, surfing the internet is for a number of reasons, done in silence: The sneaky email check at work/whilst commuting/at home in a room with many others not really wanting to hear the garbage you are viewing! Therefore the irritating advert method doesn’t quite work on the internet.
And of course, good old Direct Mail. Mail shouldn’t irritate you if it is targeted correctly. If the mail is not targeted correctly it will rightly end up straight in the bin after just one glance. Mail is a powerful communication medium when used properly. Not only does it get your message straight into the hands of your customers, but it can also deliver a sample or a coupon – incentive to buy. When you send magazines or catalogues, they are often kept for future reference; in fact, 18% of direct mail is kept to look at again even after the call to action has been taken.
One thing is for sure…
Whether the irritating advert has had its day, or it somehow manages to find a way of conquering advertising on the internet, I bet I know what site you will go to when you renew that insurance policy, or need to unblock that drain!!!
Romax Marketing & Distribution, a Greenwich-London based company, provides a wide range of services in Direct Marketing for B2B and B2C, Direct Mail, Data Management, Printing, Discount Postage and Membership Communication Services and Consultancy.
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