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Making Your Ad Creative Work Harder

If you’re going to make any changes to your marketing strategy in 2024, it should be making your ad creative work harder, for longer – says Sean Dwyer, managing director at Door4.

Sean Dwyer, MD, Door4

There’s been a long-held belief in the advertising industry that consumers quickly tire of ad campaigns and new, fresh creative is constantly required for ads to be effective. Two factors are at play in marketing, in my opinion;

  • Marketing attracts “ideas” people, who get bored and need change 
  • A widely held belief, possibly driven by decades of the above, is that customers ‘tire’ of ads (also known as advertising wear out).

Added to this, digital algorithms that do need feeding with new content to thrive – social media needs content, I don’t question that – but being able to keep a core narrative/ad campaign outstrips the need for thousands of variations of mediocre creative.

But when marketing budgets are tight, this constant churn of new creative could be seriously hindering your marketing effectiveness and return on investment.

In fact, studies over the past couple of years have proved that the idea of ‘advertising wear out’ (the notion that an ad will inevitably become less effective as people get used to it) just isn’t true.

The data shows that better-performing ads can increase in effectiveness over time.

The need for ‘fresh’ is even more prevalent, in the KBB and furniture market, owing to the nature of these markets – consumers are so rarely “in market” it can become tempting to “refresh” because we’re bored.

However, another reason we see all too frequently is that the nature of this industry, similar to fashion, trends change and therefore photography, CGI and assets are continuously created for websites, brochures, and general collateral. Too frequently, I hear from clients “Well we need to have the new shot of x in our ads” or “While we’re doing that shoot, why don’t we…”
The risk herein owing to the simplicity of creating new assets, is that we create inconsistency and become three degrees removed from the original strategy and focus. 

We are here to build memory structures.

This comes through (1) consistency (same/similar tone to everything we did), and (2) marketers say “emotion”, I dislike this as it’s not action-based and quite subjective – but changing the consumers’ brain chemistry is the goal, and this is defined to me as memorability. 

Whilst the enjoyability of digital ads can decline, crucially, an ad’s persuasiveness is less impacted, according to insights from Kantar. So, while it might be expected for ads to be less entertaining after a certain time, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their overall effectiveness will wear out as quickly.

M&Ms has run the same TV ad for nearly a decade, it’s not any funnier now than it was back then – but it’s memorable and consistent!
In KBB two great examples are looking to Sharp Bedrooms, who have run the same ad for over 5 years. Their ads are both consistent and memorable, their aim is to get into that angst homeowners have with ‘lack of space’.
Finally, no one does it more consistently than B&Q,  a minor outlier because of their wonderful budgets, they have the freedom to tell stories, but they are that size because of their historical consistency and memorability, allowing them to continue to leverage that equity “You can do it, when you B&Q it” and THE orange has been around since the late 60s… 

This is where as marketers we can have fun.

If we’re consistent in our personality and tone, then we can begin to build new supporting narratives and creatives – but not a smattering of assets, just because there was a recent shoot.

Too much or too poor creative exists – our job as marketers is to become memorable

Think about your ads, as being introduced to a classroom full of people, say 30 – they all introduce themselves by first name and last name. Now recite all 30… tough right?  Now if 1 of those 30 from the classroom was dressed as a clown (Bubbles), you’d remember their name this time and next time – right?
Estimates have the number of ads seen by the average UK consumer at anywhere between 50 – 10k… so your creative needs to be memorable not ‘different’.

Back to the classroom example, imagine the diversity was limited, and everyone was wearing similar (except the clown), if they wore a slightly different blue shirt the next time you met them, would you be more likely to remember their name? You see someone standing there in oversized trousers, a red nose, sad flower – you’ll acknowledge Bubbles by their name, right?

This may be boring, trust me you can have fun with it, but customers don’t want “different” – unfortunately human beings want familiarity to build recognition and memory structures. Again we need (1) consistency and (2) memorability.

In fact, 85% of digital ads don’t receive the required 2.5s to build mental availability. Thus proving that repetition in this space is even more necessary to create cut-throughs.

So how can retailers in the kitchen and bathroom sector make their budgets work harder in 2024?

The simple answer is to spend it on media and not replacing existing creative.

As an agency focused on maximising impact and minimising wastage, a common conversation with clients is to get the creative right and less is more! It’s simple; speak to the same audiences, in the same way as often as you can.
Lean into core ads, new and fresh may be fun for marketers but it’s detrimental to your audience!

Of course you need your ads to be hitting the right mark in the first place. But once you’ve got that right it’s about working those assets hard, not being afraid of repetition and never being too quick to switch up an ad campaign based on the belief that your audience may be tired of it.

The online world is busy and noisy and our attention spans are getting shorter. Shoppers enjoy a level of familiarity. Instead of changing your creative with every season or campaign, consistently delivering your key messages effectively to your target segments will help you get one step beyond the competition.

Your investment in memorability is like compound interest, it pays off exponentially.


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