Aussie consumers turn off as advertising becomes less memorable, study finds

Australians are tuning out of advertising, a report has found, something which some industry observers put down to shorter-term thinking trumping strategic brand building.

“I think it is fair to say we’re producing less interesting and less enjoyable advertising,” said Stephen Yolland of Magnum Opus Partners who conducted a survey of 1,500 Australians that found less than half could remember a good advert.

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“When we’ve done this survey previously there’s always been standouts but there are very few this time,” Yolland told Mumbrella about the survey conducted by market research agency TH?NK Global which found 57% of those surveyed couldn’t recall any ads they could remember feeling positive about.

Advertisers are even struggling to irritate people with two-thirds failing to think of one ad they disliked: “It seems advertising has become more commoditised,” Yolland says. “There is so much more advertising now and to stand out amongst the tsunami of advertising seems to be so much more difficult.”

It appears the days of memorable campaigns like “Not Happy, Jan” for Yellow Pages, and “Which Bank” for the Commonwealth Bank which were popular the last time the agency ran this survey are long gone as the industry has become risk averse, believes Yolland.

Yolland sees the bleak advertising landscape as being part of a global trend.

“I still think the very best of American advertising is very, very good just as I think the very best of British advertising is very very good. I was in the UK  recently and I was very disappointed at the general level of creativity and I think this is a world word phenomenon. In Australia we are suffering that as much as anybody.”

Part of the problem for advertisers is the audiences’ attention has been overwhelmed by the amount of content available, believes Yolland: “There is an overload of stimulus for the audience which is now being added to by a huge increase in online activity, not just advertising but everything else online, I think people are finding it difficult to say ‘Oh, I saw that TV show or that ad’ in the way they used to. I think we’re just drowning in media.”

The Communications Council’s Tony Hale sees consumers’ lack of recall as part of a larger shift to shorter campaigns that don’t build recognition in the same way as yesteryear’s commercials:

“There’s plenty of good ads around still,” he said, “but there is a preoccupation with short-term campaigns rather than long-term brand building.”

“So much effort these days goes onto ‘disposable creative’ which is thrown away after three months,” Hale told Mumbrella. “It’s often about a short term sales blip.”

Hale believes the focus needs to be on promoting the value to marketers of longer term thinking while focusing on measures that matter to clients.

The challenge is now on the industry to sign clients up for longer-running campaigns and get creative to cut through the noise: “I think that means that creativity will become increasingly important in cutting through that morass,” said Yolland. “Creativity is the tool that allows an advertiser to cut through but it also seems to be a great premium.”

Of the ads that did cut through, supermarket chains did the best with Woolworths, Coles and Aldi having the most memorable campaigns. Kmart, McDonald’s and Qantas made up the rest of the list.

Ultimately Yolland sees the answers lying with the advertising industry itself: “We have to celebrate creativity in all its forms,” he said. “The only thing that matters ultimately is results and if bland advertising gets results is all well and good, the question is though is ‘Would the results have been better if the advertising had been more consciously creative?'”



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