There are no ads on ABC1, ex­cept in one of its most pop­u­lar pro­grams. Guy Davis spoke with Todd Samp­son of The Gruen Trans­fer.

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - COVER STORY -

For Samp­son, who ap­pears along­side fel­low ad man Rus­sel Howcroft as a res­i­dent in­dus­try ex­pert on the pro­gram, the chance to ap­pear on The Gruen Trans­fer was en­tic­ing for sev­eral rea­sons.

“ Well, work­ing with An­drew Den­ton was def­i­nitely a draw­card for me,” he smiled.

“ And the sec­ond thing was a chance to show peo­ple how ad­ver­tis­ing ac­tu­ally works, some­thing I re­ally like do­ing. If we can shake up the au­to­matic be­hav­iour peo­ple dis­play in how they choose prod­ucts, how they shop, I think it’s a good thing.”

If there’s some­thing that the show has demon­strated, it’s that the ef­fect ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing has upon our choices as con­sumers is of­ten amaz­ingly sub­tle, even if com­mer­cials are any­thing but.

“ Most peo­ple don’t know why they choose the things they choose,” Samp­son said. “ Or they don’t know on a con­scious level. Every­one is in­flu­enced by the com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ad­ver­tis­ing around them. Ex­pos­ing that, ex­plain­ing that and talk­ing about that – be­cause we have noth­ing to hide – is re­ally ap­peal­ing to me.”

That’s not to say, how­ever, that Samp­son didn’t ini­tially have a few doubts about his de­ci­sion to take part in the show.

“ I was quite ner­vous about it in the beginning,” he said. “ My pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­ity as CEO of Leo Bur­nett is to the 100 peo­ple who work there, not the ABC or The Gruen Trans­fer. But I made my peace with it by de­cid­ing that I would be the same per­son on tele­vi­sion as I was in the board­room. So I try to say ex­actly what I think and feel about a topic and I think every­one on the show is as gen­uine.”

The Gruen Trans­fer – the show’s name stems from the psy­cho­log­i­cal process that shifts a goal-ori­ented shop­per into be­com­ing an im­pulse shop­per – has proven pop­u­lar with both the everyday con­sumer and the peo­ple within the in­dus­try.

“ There’s a say­ing I re­ally love: peo­ple know that ad­ver­tis­ing works, it just doesn’t work on them,” said Samp­son. “ Peo­ple aren’t stupid but they’re gen­er­ally not con­scious of the hid­den ways on which ad­ver­tis­ing works, and what this show is do­ing is lift­ing the veil. And that makes for great en­ter­tain­ment.”

“ We’ve had lots of feed­back from view­ers who visit the show’s web­site or write about it on blogs or dis­cuss it in chat rooms, so there’s a lot of pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion in the show.” And among the ad­ver­tis­ing com­mu­nity? “ Oh, you don’t know how much!” he laughed. “ One thing we were con­cerned about was how our peers would take to the show but it’s been largely ac­cepted by the in­dus­try.”

Ad­ver­tis­ing is one of the many in­dus­tries feel­ing the pinch of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, with agen­cies de­pen­dent upon the mar­ket­ing bud­gets of their clients.

“ All of the medium-to-big ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies in Aus­tralia are owned by hold­ing com­pa­nies ex­ist­ing off-shore, and they are all un­der ex­treme pres­sure,” he said.

“ So there has been an over­all sense of pay­ing at­ten­tion to costs and run­ning the busi­ness ef­fi­ciently, which is a good thing.”

And as far as ads that have caught Samp­son’s eye, there’s one in par­tic­u­lar that stands out.

“ I ab­so­lutely love the new Boag’s beer com­mer­cial,” he said. “ The idea is ba­si­cally about how the wa­ter of Tas­ma­nia trans­forms things and makes them even bet­ter, so a guy rides a push­bike through a creek and as he goes through the bi­cy­cle be­comes a mo­tor­bike. It’s my favourite ad so far this year. And it’s not one of ours!”

It all ads up: Todd Samp­son, host Wil An­der­son and Rus­sel Howcroft.

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