Saturday 21 April 2018

AdLib: Feelgood factor culls dodgy ads

Media & marketing...

Following its TV ad featuring a sleeping passenger on the Intercity service, Irish Rail's creative advertising is out to pitch
Following its TV ad featuring a sleeping passenger on the Intercity service, Irish Rail's creative advertising is out to pitch
Marketing Society speaker Karen Doyle

Michael Cullen

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) created a stir with its report on gender stereotyping in ads, which could well lead to new regulations. Depending on who you believe, the ban will either lead to a long-overdue clean-up of dodgy ad tactics, including airbrushing and body-shaming, or wipe out decades of creative tradition.

Could classic ads like Procter & Gamble's Fairy Liquid 'Hands that do dishes…' with actress Nanette Newman be in for the chop under new ASA rules? Not really, says Tom Ewing of System1 Group and author of a new book called 'System1 - Unlocking Profitable Growth'. The ASA report claims that simply showing a woman cleaning or a man doing DIY won't be a problem. Only when an ad suggests it's only work for one gender will it draw the ASA's ire.

But Ewing poses another question. How many ads like this are still being made anyway? About 30 years ago stereotyped ads were common enough that they acquired a nasty bit of adland slang - "2 Cs in a K". The polite translation is "two chicks in a kitchen". The ads would show women discussing their cleaning product choices.

The fantasy that people spend their free time discussing brands has captivated marketers ever since. Ewing insists such patronising, product-centric ads are close to extinction, with or without code changes.

You might find a couple of desperate survivors in the daytime schedules, but most marketers recognise stereotyped ads don't work.

Why? The answer is emotion. The best ads create an emotional response in consumers. They touch on various emotions. Ultimately, to be effective, they leave people feeling happy. "It's because of what psychologists call the Affect Heuristic," Ewing says. "If something feels good, it's a good choice." Marketing analysts Les Binet and Peter Field have proved ads which pursue emotions are far more likely to prompt share gain and profit growth.

Do stereotyped ads make people feel good? Ewing says if the answer is no, then brands shouldn't use them. System1 Research tested thousands of ads for their emotional impact, using the findings to predict effectiveness. None of the ads which got the highest scores fell foul of the ASA's new guidelines.

Stereotyped ads don't make viewers happy - which makes sense, as it's hard to win over consumers by insulting half of them. Ewing says the new ASA rules won't shape advertising in the future. They will merely put the industry seal on a trend that's already changed how ads look and feel.

* The process to decide on which agency should handle the National Lottery's creative advertising account gets underway soon. Four agencies are competing - Publicis, Rothco, TBWA\Dublin and the incumbent, DDFH&B. A decision is not expected before November. Media buying, handled by Starcom, is not part of the review.

* Irish Rail's creative advertising is also currently out to pitch. Publicis has handled the business in recent years, including the TV ad with two napping men nodding approvingly on the Intercity service. Irish International have also pitched. All major media groups are presenting for the combined CIE business comprising Irish Rail, Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus.

* London events agency Clive has opened a Dublin office. Clive works with Facebook, Instagram, BT, Virgin Media, PlayStation, Honda, Volkswagen, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Recent projects include an installation for Facebook at the Data Summit in Dublin and the social media brand's Boost Your Business European tour, which kicked off in Dublin. The agency also won a contract in the capital supporting LinkedIn's European marketing team. Running the new office is Robyn Church, who worked at The Convention Centre for eight years. Robb Kennedy and Pamela Murphy are Clive's client account managers.

Marketing Society speaker Karen Doyle

* The Marketing Society Future Council will now hold its postponed 'Future Proof: Advice to My Younger Self' event in Old Wesley Rugby Club at 6.30pm on Thursday, September 7. Sponsored by IRS+, the speakers include Bord Bia's Brand Forum chairman and columnist John Fanning, Karen Doyle, account director, IRS+, Core Media's chief digital and data officer Justin Cullen and performance and behaviour coach Poppy Blandford. Tickets (€35) are online at Eventbrite.

* Nestle may soon start selling its Nespresso aluminium coffee capsules outside its own stores and concessions. While staying out of supermarkets has been central to the brand's strategy, Checkout magazine reports that Nespresso - whose ads are fronted by Hollywood actor George Clooney - is now working with retailers in Germany.

Michael Cullen is editor of;

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