TV advertising – a great secondary medium

steve collIf we can’t quit advertising on TV, we can at least start thinking of it as something to support ideas that live elsewhere, argues Steve Coll, ECD at Havas Worldwide Australia.

Given the dominance of all things online in our lives, it’s amazing how firmly wedded advertisers are to traditional TV as the lead medium for mass-market campaigns.

Take the recent election campaign as an example.

It’d be hard to find two more motivated advertisers than the Labor and Liberal parties. And, given Obama’s proven success with social media in the US, you’d think both parties would have been keen to exploit those opportunities. Not so.

A whopping 93% of the ALP’s ad spend was on TV. Even still, Tony and friends came out ahead, spending a staggering 97% of their election budget on TV advertising.

As I argued at Mumbrella’s Festival of Branded Content & Entertainment, television may no longer be the drug of the nation. But, contrary to the argument put forward by most content makers, this isn’t the time to quit TV advertising.

However, we can quit thinking about TV in the same old way.

Rather than treating TV as a lead medium, we should be using it to support ideas that live in the newsfeed and news media.

My point of view was heavily influenced by the experience of making the Walker’s ‘Sandwich’ campaign. Walkers invested the bulk of their budget in experiential, content and PR, and ran no more than a six or seven TV spots in support of the news cycle. Even so, Sandwich was the 3rd highest recalled campaign in the UK that month.

And the notion that an idea with inherent newsworthiness and shareability can reduce the need to spend big on TV remains hugely appealing.

A more recent example is ‘Fair Go Bro’ (created in close collaboration with One Green Bean and Starcom). The widely-shared launch film sparked an estimated $3.4million worth of news coverage, sustaining the brand message for a full two weeks without media support. This meant the traditional TV spend could play a supporting role, and focus on more direct conversion messages.

Old Spice regularly uses TV as a support for their phenomenal social campaign. And the recent Cadbury Crème Egg campaign in the UK is a canny combination of Facebook and TV.

Indeed, Facebook and TV might seem like strange bedfellows, but the combination works well here. Mortein’s ‘Kill or Save Louis the Fly’ was a Facebook campaign supported by Earned Media and tactical TV advertising. At the end of the summer 2012, 1 in every 2 Australians could spontaneously recall the campaign, and it had amassed over 300,000 fans with 13 times higher engagement than the All Black’s Facebook page in the week of the Rugby World Cup final.

Clearly, I’m not suggesting every campaign should operate this way. There is no cookie cutter solution to today’s marketing mix.

But there are enough examples to jolt us out of our traditional TV thinking, where a TV execution forms the beginning and end of the story.

At the heart of all the above campaigns is a shareable, newsworthy idea that thrives in the news feed and the news media. And in each case, TV acts as the support medium, sustaining the campaign in the public consciousness beyond the news cycle or expanding it beyond an initial niche base.

Clearly, it’s a potent mix. And by placing less reliance on TV to do the heavy-lifting, the potential added value for marketers in enormous.


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