Sunday, December 2, 2007

December 07 - BAM!

Two of my favourite places in the world are Piccadilly Circus in London and the teen haven Shibuya, in Tokyo. These are two of the busiest spots in two of the world’s greatest cities. What makes them so exciting is, without a doubt, advertising.

Piccadilly Circus is ablaze with neon lights and illuminated billboards. It is also home to what is probably the most famous Coca Cola signage on Earth. Shibuya is mass of giant video screens, flashing lights and a massive pedestrian crossing that has become a Japanese landmark.

Now whilst I love these advertising nirvanas, I think it’s time we as advertisers and marketers took a moment to consider our contribution to the daily advertising overload. Ads are quite literally everywhere these days, with each and every ad shouting and fighting for just a split second of our time.

Matt Creamer, from Advertising Age in the US, recently posted a piece on the magazine’s blog about Ad-Air, a new company specialising in ads near runways in airfields. “As if the airline experience wasn’t already rock-bottom,” wrote Creamer, “let’s shove a few more few ads in your face.“

“If your advertising is a nuisance,” argues Creamer, “customers and prospects will try to block you technologically, mentally or physically. More importantly, they’ll begin to turn away, or worse, they’ll dislike you. To complicate matters, bringing advertising to public, outdoor spaces raises citizen sensitivity.”

I tend to agree with Creamer, as do most consumers according to a recent study by Max Kalehoff and Pete Blackshaw from Nielsen BuzzMetrics. They undertook a web based data mining exercise to find the words most commonly associated with the term ‘advertising’ on blogs, forums and other places where people talk online.

The results of Kalehoff and Blackshaw’s study were anything but flattering. To help express their findings, they created what they have called a Brand Association Map (BAM), an onion like diagram, with advertising at its heart.

The words most associated with advertising were; misleading, false, revenue, dollars, marketers, ads and commercials. Hmmm!?

Other words to be found in the advertising BAM included deceptive, bombarded, spam, soliciting, target, banner, sponsors and advertisers. The word I’d most like to have seen, consumer, was in the outer ring of the BAM. Sure it was there, but only just.

“The terms false, deceptive and misleading,” explained Blackshaw, “all highly associated with conversation related to advertising - are quite instructive. They appear to reflect skepticism around advertising.”

I’d recommend that any marketer reading this column take a look at the BAM data and perhaps reconsider where and how they spend their advertising budget.

As you can imagine, Kalehoff and Blackshaw’s BAM found its way on to dozens of advertising and marketing blogs, where it generated a great deal of conversation and comment. I came across it on the Leo Burnett Toronto blog, where it had been uploaded by strategy planner Jason Oke.

Fredik Sarnblad, a senior executive at Y&R Brands in Singapore, was one of the first to comment on Oke’s post. “Where are the positive associations?” wrote Sarnblad. “Are we really this bad as an industry, that people don't associate advertising with anything entertaining or interesting?”

He went on to say, “I think most people at some level feel good advertising works. And this is one of the reasons why people are so skeptical towards it. Another, perhaps, would be the annoying interruption a lot of advertising contributes to in our daily lives.”

Pete Blackshaw then went and turned all the BAM discussion on its head with his comments on the Adverganza blog. “The interesting question,” wrote Blackshaw, “I think, is how much of the negativity actually comes from industry insiders.”

Given the sheer number of advertising and marketing blogs, this is a definitely a valid statement. A wise man once told me that advertising is a business of opinions. And most advertising folks who read or write blogs are not shy in coming forward with their opinion.

Having said that though, advertising people probably make up a very small percentage of the online community. However I’m sure I’m not the only adman who lives and breathes the advertising business and yet fast-forwards or avoids ads at any given opportunity.

Stop by and visit:

Pete Blackshaw

Max Kalehoff

Leo Burnett Toronto


Kevin Goodman said...

Hi Stan Lee – some very nice blogs that I’ll bookmark!

Some very interesting thoughts. Advertisements can easily fade into the background – perhaps that’s what causes that strange sense of familiarity when introduced to a brand you thought you never met. Our consumer world has certainly created a high degree of pitch insensitivity and that seems to be the challenge of talented communications.


Anonymous said...

Hey Stan, since you like Shibuya you might like this video