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A One Minute Masters in Advertising
Adam Armbruster -- Television Advertising Expert Adam Armbruster -- Television Advertising Expert
Sarasota, FL
Sunday, May 18, 2014


Experts' Tips Good Guide to Better TV Ads

Over the Years Industry Vets Found Simplicity, Research Best Practices

By Adam Armbruster, Special to TelevisionWeek

Do you really want to improve your television marketing skills? Then let the best of the best in the television advertising profession help you.

What follows are our 10 best tips for television success. Following each is bit of advice is a master quote about advertising. 

1. Go it alone. Never, ever mention competitors in your TV ad. Mentioning the name of a similar branded product confuses the consumer and actually gives more credibility to the competitive brand. If the consumer sees you are concerned about the competition, he may actually consider the opposing brand instead of yours. Similarly, if your campaign looks like that of a competitor, you risk even more confusion because the entire time consumers view your commercial they are trying to identify why your ad looks vaguely familiar instead of focusing on what you are saying.

The master says: "If you ever have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don't let it worry you; nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else's advertising." 

—David Ogilvy, ad agency pioneer

2. Dumb down your message. Remember, often the average human is only paying 50% attention to any visual stimulation. TV ads are intrusive and that's why they work.

Consumers are not "watching" for the TV ad; instead they are waiting for their program to return. Your ad needs to factor in that the consumer is actually distracted. Thus, we are proponents of literal instead of abstract marketing. Asking a consumer to understand overly clever writing will ensure that 90% of the audience does not get the joke. Make it simple, use common language, communicate well and watch your results soar. Bounty paper towels has a 55% sales market share thanks to its "Quicker picker-upper" slogan and decades of continual and simple TV ads. 

The master says: "I don't know the rules of grammar. … If you're trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular."

—David Ogilvy

3. Numbers don't lie. If you have a goal of a significant sales increase for your company, then a significant audience reach and frequency is mandatory. So often we see television creative designed to accomplish great things aired on weak networks or on YouTube, only to achieve terrible audience impact. What's the point of designing a powerful television message and then hiding it on low-rated programs? Choose the right media for the task. If you want massive reach and frequency at a low cost-per-thousand in a single city, then buy local broadcast television ads. If you want light national coverage at a low CPM, then buy network cable. Don't ask your TV ad to do the job if not enough people can see it.

The master says: "If your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic." 

—William Bernbach, ad agency pioneer

4. Be smart. Use the skills of others. Sometimes we can get too close and too personal about our television campaign. Get second, third and fourth opinions—and listen to them. Just because you came up with the world's greatest slogan doesn't mean the consumer will get it. Remember that the ad business is not a science; it is an art, and art is interpretation of a visual concept. Listen to the interpreters.

The master says: "First, make yourself a reputation for being a creative genius. Second, surround yourself with partners who are better than you are. Third, leave them to go get on with it." 

—David Ogilvy

5. Be smarter yet. Remember that women rule the consumer world. Yes, you may point out that women are not always the deal maker in every consumer situation, but trust us: She can be the deal breaker as well. And doesn't that power appoint her as the real consumer in the end anyway? She buys the goods, so her opinion matters most.

The master says: "You know, I can go home and try on our new mascara, and I guess a male CEO can't do that." 

—Andrea Jung, CEO, Avon Corp.

6. Make it easy. Help consumers buy from you. Give them your Web site URL at the end of the TV ad. Be reachable by phone, Web and e-mail. Consumers don't always do what you want them to do and they will find odd times and ways to reach you. Be ready and always be responsive.

The master says: "For those who sell on the Internet, [we suggest that you] leverage its capabilities to suggest related products while she's shopping. Peapod [an online grocery store] is a master at this." 

—Marti Barletta, author, "Marketing to Women"

7. Listen up! Use quality empirical research data when affordable. If you are on a tighter budget, then use high-grade secondary data that is used for a similar product type and demographic to which you are marketing.

The master says: "Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals." 

—David Ogilvy

8. Don't put lipstick on the pig. Great ads for good products sell. Great ads for bad products lie to consumers.

The master says: "Remember that bad products are bad and all the advertising in the world can't help them. A great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster. It will get more people to know it's bad." 

—William Bernbach

9. Wow 'em! Give the consumer something to remember. Bring your product to life. Be exciting and never dull. Say it loud, say it proud, and say it often.

The master says: "The power of ads rests more in the repetition of obvious exhortations than in the subtle transmission of values." 

— Michael Schudson, sociologist

10. Remember that television advertising works even when you can't quite measure it. If we waited for resulting statistics before moving forward with the next TV campaign, we would be out of business. Testing TV is a waste of time. Don't test it, use it!

The master says: "We find that advertising works the way the grass grows. You can never see it, but every week you have to mow the lawn." 

—Andy Tarshis, NPD market research

Many of the most effective advertising standards were developed decades ago by the fathers of our industry. Along the way these metrics, as with so many other crafts, were altered and distorted as they were passed down. Listen to the best and consider using these standards to prosper in television marketing.

Adam Armbruster is a senior partner with Red Bank, N.J.-based retail and broadcasting consulting firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Co. He can be reached at adam@esacompany.com or 941-928-7192.

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Name: Adam Armbruster
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Dateline: Sarasota, FL United States
Direct Phone: 941 928 7192
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