Joanna Coles, the chief creative officer of Boudica and a former Hearst content chief, made those remarks during a panel discussion about the future of creativity at Advertising Week. Coles stated that consumers will take any opportunity to avoid advertisements. Ironically, her co-panelist, Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, the world’s largest advertiser, agreed with her.
Marketers spend billions on advertisements, while consumers spend their lives trying to avoid them. Ads are annoying to eight out of ten people, according to a Kantar survey. Meanwhile, the recent Cannes Festival of Creativity, which concluded last week, was the usual self-congratulatory event of agencies and tech companies, spiced with the latest buzzwords, Metaverse and NFT, but one key component was missing from panels and symposiums – the consumer.
This is not a coincidence. Madison Avenue and its customers have a schism, and brands are paying the price.
1. Advertising should not be trusted. According to Inc. Magazine, 96 percent of people do not believe that advertisements are truthful. Consumers do not trust advertising, and it is difficult to blame them. Gallup conducted a survey in which respondents were asked to rate the honesty and ethical standards of workers in 21 different professions. Nurses received the highest approval rating of 85 percent, while advertising practitioners received the lowest approval rating of 10 percent, slightly ahead of car salesmen, telemarketers, and politicians.
2. Ad exhaustion. The average American is exposed to 4,000-10,000 advertisements per day. The majority of this is noise, and consumers in general dislike advertising. In fact, the majority of consumers do not require advertising to decide which brand or service to purchase. However, ad volume isn’t the only issue, as ads are becoming increasingly intrusive, inescapable, and offensive as technology and data science advance. People are constantly bombarded with advertisements, which irritates them.
3. Tradition. Unfortunately, the rise of Internet technologies has resulted in the demise of advertising as a cultural icon. VW’s “Think Small” and Nike’s “Just Do It” became infamous catchphrases, just as Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” spread throughout the culture. I recall many dinner table discussions about magazine and television advertisements throughout my life, but none about online display ads. Advertising’s cultural role is dwindling.
4. Viewing selling as a derogatory term. According to David Ogilvy, “99 percent of advertising doesn’t sell much of anything.” He was completely correct and on target. The truth is that the majority of advertisements on the market today are largely ineffective. To sell, advertising can and will communicate a company’s or product’s benefit in a buyer’s life, resulting in a visceral response to the given message. Most of today’s advertising is simply not informing people of a need that can be met, or even a problem that can be solved.
5. Pleasantly. It’s not so much what you say as it is how you say it. The emotional response of a consumer to an advertisement has a far greater influence on their reported intent to buy a product than the ad’s content – by an astonishing factor of 3-to-1. “Likeability” is the most accurate predictor of whether an ad will increase a brand’s sales. Ads that are not generally entertaining are a major turn-off.
6. According to a recent Statista survey, the majority of people, 51%, said they were bothered by ads that were irrelevant to them, while 15% said they were fine with it. Consumers want useful advertising and clear, relevant RTB, or something they can act on. However, many campaigns fail to understand consumers holistically. This alienates customers who do not understand what the product is or how it will benefit them.
7. Waking-up-washing A growing number of brands are seizing the opportunity to demonstrate their social and environmental credentials. The allure of financial gain has made purpose the new marketing buzzword of choice, with campaigns that are frequently too long on talk and, sadly, too short on action. Consumers are already skeptical of brand purpose as a result of wake-washing.