Royal Babies, Cricket, Golf and Box Sets

As the world waits for the arrival of a royal baby, it must be a pound to a penny that advertisers are finalising their highly topical ad plans. Does context matter? I believe it does, as two examples from commercial TV’s coverage of cricket and golf illustrate.

As I enjoy both sports whenever a major cricket tournament or Test series, or a golf major or Ryder Cup roll around I have been known to remain stuck in front of the action for hours at a time.

For the cricket-ignorant amongst you, a match can last a long time, and something approaching continuous viewing is essential for maximum enjoyment. Cricket is rather like a box set amongst televised sports.

We’ve just had a one-day cricket event called The Champions Trophy. Virtually every ad break contained an ad for the insurance company, Aviva starring the actor Paul Whitehouse. Nothing wrong with the ad – indeed this particular execution is part of a long running series starring Whitehouse extolling the virtues of booking direct online with Aviva. As far as I could tell – and believe me I saw the ad so many times over the course of the game that I was by the end ready to do almost anything to avoid it – there was no particular sales message that appeared to be any different in this execution than in others in the campaign.

In other words any Aviva ad with Paul Whitehouse could have run in combination with this latest version over the course of the match.

The same was true in a recent Ryder Cup – this time TV golf fans were exposed to the same ad over and over again for a particular model of Ford.

Watching a cricket match or the Ryder Cup, or binge viewing a whole drama series via a box set is clearly a different experience from average TV viewing. In effect – you’re gripped. Jennie Beck from Kantar presented an excellent paper on this very topic at last year’s asi TV event, in which she demonstrated how the binge viewing experience differs from ‘normal’ viewing.

The point is that the binge viewing audience engages fully with the content, and with the ads within the content, making these opportunities additionally valuable for those advertisers supporting them.

So why not take full advantage? Why not run a series of existing ads, why not build a story? Why not take advantage of the environment in which the ad is to appear?

I suspect that no-one booking time for Aviva (or Ford) gave this a second thought. What I fear the buyers did was book airtime time with zero consideration being given to the execution that was going to appear, or indeed to how often it was going to appear.

Context is important – the right ad(s) in the right place adds value.

  1. Some years ago I got the agency to run a series of old Shell ads – favourites during just such an event. Feedback was very good and brand empathy score went through the roof !

  2. The other concern is the point you have alluded to – the impact of showing the same ad over and over and over again causing irritation, annoyance and possibly negative disposition to the brand. The AAMI Ketut ads in Oz are a good example of that.

  3. Good points both. I do think that media people need to be aware of the copy they’re placing (they often aren’t), the context within which it will be seen, and what we always used to refer to as the frequency distribution. These are important issues often subsumed in the search for ever bigger numbers.

  4. I agree! A missed opportunity. Think back a little while to the long running BT ad which almost became a soap.

  5. Totally agree – although I think it’s both a media and a creative issue. The old campaign mentality needs to be erased. I can’t but help admire companies like Geico. They have the courage to veer into various “memes” or storylines while keeping the central proposition 100% clear – and then let them play out with the audiences. From reptiles, to cavemen, to little pigs to the latest “happy people.” They keep it moving, and keep it fresh.

    And then there are advertisers like the Guardian who provide rich, multi-layered content that can bear watching a few times in succession – because the story unfolds a little differently each time. Treating ads as mini programs, maybe even episodic (Gold Blend anyone? Age alert!) is a lot like – video! And that’s where the real story-telling is happening these days! 4+ 6+ indeed!

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