For decades, this has been the subject of passionate and heated debate. Is the content of your advertisement more important than where you place it?
Like chefs vs waitstaff, both are pretty crucial to the customer experience, yet there’s always disagreement around which is the most important. Is it the expert preparation of the dish that makes your night, or the way in which it is served to you?
The answer is, of course, that they both matter very much.
Some of the most magnificently intelligent, thought-provoking and impactful creative executions I’ve seen were languishing in the pages of poorly-chosen publications for their intended audience.
I liken this to the way we’ve all endured patronising service to sample the delights of the next big chef – the content was ultimately good, but delivered in a way that won’t have anyone shouting from the rooftops.
Other times you get excited by attractive décor, perfect wait service and a wonderful atmosphere, only to be presented with a dull, inedible, or just downright disappointing culinary offering.
These meals are the equivalent of your well-placed but boring, complicated, confusing, confounding and almost miserable adverts, which are sadly prolific the world over!
From the media side, the creative execution often gets the blame if the campaign fails to deliver the client’s objectives – and vice versa from the creative side. When it comes down to it, they are both equally important. It is great to have an amazing piece of creative but if no one sees it, it’s not going to be effective. By the same token, it’s awesome to have someone see your ad on TV, on the school run, on the way to work, in the newspaper, at the gym, in the cinema and at the supermarket. However, if the message isn’t clear, your brand is too small or it’s confusing, you’ll either cause frustration or people will just switch off. This is clearly ineffective – or worse still – could create negative associations with your brand.
The point of advertising is to get people to notice you, have an emotional or rational response and take action. Take the 2014 John Lewis Christmas campaign as an example. Like Coca Cola, John Lewis has created an annual tradition that is eagerly awaited. Last year, after the first appearance on TV, social media was alive with strong opinions about it. This is great for John Lewis, regardless of whether the opinion was positive or negative, people felt strongly enough about the ad to share it and so it went viral. This campaign was a success because it was seen by enough people, enough times (Media) and generated a strong enough response for them to take action (Creative).
What does this mean for a small business? Chances are you don’t have a tradition as strong as John Lewis at Christmas and a budget that buys you hundreds of TV ratings or creation of an epic TV ad in the first place. In which case, getting the fundamentals right is absolutely imperative.
When it comes to outdoor advertising, picking the best locations based on what you want the advertising to achieve is vital. Think about how your customer goes about their day, what they do, where they go. Where are your competitors located? Are there products complementary to yours sold somewhere nearby (think pub or off-licence if you own a fast-food takeaway!)?
Likewise think carefully about your content when advertising outdoors. The motorist or pedestrian may only have a few seconds, a fleeting moment to consume and understand your message. What makes a striking, inspirational or funny magazine advert may get totally lost on a passing bus passenger.
Get the balance right and, above all, think about your audience. After all, you wouldn’t serve a pork pie in a juice bar!