An­drew Bax­ter on the re­turn of emo­tional ads;

How dig­i­tal ads are re­dis­cov­er­ing the value of emo­tion

The Australian - The Deal - - News - An­drew Bax­ter on the re­turn of emo­tion www.theaus­­ness/the-deal-mag­a­zine. An­drew is chief ex­ec­u­tive of Publi­cis Aus­tralia. Fol­low him on @an­drew­bax­ter3

AUS­TRALIA has long had a love of ad­ver­tis­ing. Its “Mad Men” such as Mo and Jo and Singo [Alan Mor­ris, Al­lan John­ston and John Sin­gle­ton]. Its cam­paigns that made their mark on Aus­tralian pop­u­lar cul­ture such as Qan­tas’ I Still Call Aus­tralia Home, Yel­low Pages’ Not Happy Jan, and AAMI’s Rhonda and Ke­tut (pic­tured). And its abil­ity to clev­erly adapt to the changes in the in­dus­try through de­pres­sions, world wars, GFCs and more re­cently the dig­i­tal age.

The Aus­tralian ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try has helped elect and de­pose prime min­is­ters. It’s spawned pop­u­lar TV pro­grams such as World’s Fun­ni­est TV Com­mer­cials and The Gruen Trans­fer. And it has helped thou­sands of brands lift their sales and mar­ket shares. And ac­cord­ing to a soon-to-be re­leased re­port by Deloitte Ac­cess Eco­nomics, it’s also an in­dus­try pro­vid­ing a $40 bil­lion lift to the Aus­tralian econ­omy, em­ploy­ing more than 56,000 peo­ple, and fund­ing ma­jor pas­times such as our cricket, AFL and NRL sea­sons.

It’s easy to forget the power of ad­ver­tis­ing when dig­i­tal dom­i­nates mar­ket­ing think­ing. Ad­ver­tis­ing's ori­gins go back 4000 to 5000 years, when posters and fly­ers were made on pa­pyrus, and town criers waxed lyri­cal about their wares, not un­like Gerry Har­vey on ra­dio to­day. You can look back 2000 years at the ru­ins of Pom­peii and see signs etched into the brick­work ad­ver­tis­ing ev­ery­thing from po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates to the best fish stew, with care­fully crafted mes­sages of in­flu­ence.

The chal­lenge now, though, is the role of ad­ver­tis­ing in the dig­i­tal world. At its best ad­ver­tis­ing works at the emo­tional and ra­tio­nal level. As re­search com­pany Mill­ward Brown pointed out a few years back, ev­ery ad gen­er­ates an emo­tional re­sponse, be­cause ev­ery­thing we en­counter in life gen­er­ates an in­stinc­tive emo­tional re­sponse. But some do dial up the emo­tional ap­peal more to per­suade con­sumers, while oth­ers are more fac­tual and ra­tio­nal.

Un­til re­cently many of the dig­i­tal medi­ums that were avail­able to ad­ver­tis­ers favoured the more ra­tio­nal and fac­tual ad­ver­tis­ing. But the growth of mo­bile de­vices, and the af­ford­abil­ity of video con­tent, has seen a re­turn to emo­tion­ally ap­peal­ing cre­ativ­ity in ad­ver­tis­ing.

And Aus­tralia has a bril­liant history of emo­tional ad­ver­tis­ing. From Happy lit­tle Vegemites in the 1950s, to Louie the fly in the 60s, C’mon Aussie C’mon in the 70s, I still call Aus­tralia home in the 80s, the Trim Lamb butcher in the 90s, Carl­ton Draught’s Big Ad in the 2000s and Rhonda and Ke­tut in the 2010s.

The jingles, one lin­ers, char­ac­ters and im­ages from th­ese ads are part of our ver­nac­u­lar.

The ads car­ried ideas that were fought for by ad men who built their own agen­cies and be­came house­hold names – Sin­gle­ton, Mojo, Why­bin Lawrence, Droga and Cle­menger. Those ideas that tugged at the heart strings were cre­ated by bril­liant peo­ple who in­ti­mately un­der­stood the Aus­tralian psy­che at that mo­ment in time. Some of those peo­ple were so tal­ented they went on to be­came house­hold names in other ar­eas of cre­ativ­ity. Phillip Adams, Peter Carey and Bryce Courte­nay went from writ­ing fa­mous cam­paigns, to fa­mous books. And Ken Done went from de­sign­ing ads to de­sign­ing works of art.

But the dig­i­tal age rel­e­gated the per­ceived im­por­tance of such emo­tional ad­ver­tis­ing. Into the mar­ket­ing lexicon came the term “tra­di­tional ad­ver­tis­ing”, which meant old fash­ioned. Emo­tional ad­ver­tis­ing quickly be­come an un­pop­u­lar tool in the mar­keter’s ar­moury. Even more so when the GFC hit, and mar­ket­ing bud­gets swung from long-term brand build­ing to short-term cus­tomer en­gage­ment; from emo­tional en­gage­ment to a more ra­tio­nal en­gage­ment. From ex­pen­sive TV ads to more af­ford­able dig­i­tal ads.

The good news for those who see ad­ver­tis­ing as art as much as craft is that this seems like a short-term glitch: what hasn’t changed in a dig­i­tal word is that 95 per cent of pur­chase de­ci­sions are made emo­tion­ally. And with the rapid take up of smart­phones and their abil­ity to de­liver HD video, emo­tional cre­ativ­ity is com­ing back as an im­por­tant ad­ver­tis­ing genre. And it has seen mar­keters rapidly mov­ing 41 per cent of their ad­ver­tis­ing spend to dig­i­tal medi­ums.

The truly great and suc­cess­ful cam­paigns cre­ated in the tele­vi­sion era were not only loved by the mar­keters of those brands, but by Aus­tralians as a whole. To­day’s mar­keters and dig­i­tal ex­perts now need to insert that emo­tional hook into their video con­tent and dig­i­tal video ad­ver­tis­ing. All up Aus­tralian com­pa­nies spend $12.6bn a year on all forms of ad­ver­tis­ing. It’s a proven tool in mar­ket­ing through the good times and the tough times. McKin­sey ar­gues that ad­ver­tis­ing fu­els 15 per cent of GDP growth in G-20 coun­tries.

The Aus­tralian ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try, like its sport­ing teams, is up there glob­ally, be­ly­ing its rel­a­tively small pop­u­la­tion. The in­dus­try’s eco­nomic value equates to 1 per cent of GDP. It’s cre­ated big per­son­al­i­ties, big cam­paigns, big brands, big sales, big em­ploy­ment and big change. And as we rapidly move into the dig­i­tal age, with emo­tional ad­ver­tis­ing back on the rise, it’s start­ing to prove its worth once more, just as it has done for 5000 years.

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