Startling findings from Magnum Opus Partners Awareness Survey conducted by TH?NK Global

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 8.41.15 am.jpgSurveying 1500 Australians nationwide of all ages, the MOP Awareness Survey - professionally conducted by well-known market research agency TH?NK Global Research - was expected to throw up a range of ads that the public found easy to recall.

In previous surveys there have usually been clear winners - in the past, for example, iconic ads like "Not Happy, Jan" for Yellow Pages, and "Which Bank" for the Commonwealth Bank stood out from the crowd.
But this year, a massive 857 people - 57% of the sample - couldn't indicate even a single ad that they could remember feeling positive about.

Not only that, but an even bigger percentage - 66% - couldn't think of one ad they actually disliked, whereas previously the survey had found ads that seemed to drive everyone nuts. While a few market segments - gambling ads, for example, "screaming retail", and insurance and banking - seem to be polarising, no one advertiser seemed to be saying anything much that stirs people up very negatively.

So is nothing apparently cutting through a media morass?

Says Stephen Yolland, director of strategy, MOP: "It's been awhile, so we were very interested to see what's changed. And it's very obvious from the results that consumers today seem increasingly underwhelmed by the advertising on offer. Almost nothing seems to be both cutting through and impressing people. There are successful exceptions, but certainly very little is being spontaneously remembered. Which means we all seem to be spending an awful lot of money just to leave people 'cold', and as ad agencies if we're going to be responsible with our clients' money then we need to look at that."

"We all know that advertising works in different ways, and just because an ad or
a brand doesn't come up in an unprompted survey like this as being liked and remembered doesn't mean it isn't doing any good. It can perform better when people are prompted to recall it, or it can work well when seen or heard in conjunction with other mediums, such as radio, billboards, online, catalogues, or other reminders. But to have almost nothing producing a "watercooler effect" that is strong enough to be picked up in a survey like this does suggest that both the creativity and the entertainment value of the work we do has declined somewhat, and also possibly that there is now so much advertising in the market that many ads seem to be being effectively "tuned out" by consumers.

"We also suspect that the big switch of media dollars into online has resulted in a fall
in product and brand awareness from the days when the vast majority of media money was spent on TV. Nearly two billion Australian advertising dollars now go into online. That's a huge switch in advertiser behaviour. Where that growth in online expenditure has replaced expenditure in other mediums, as opposed to supplementing it, there may well have been a fall in both ad and brand standout.

"Online ads might be useful - indeed they are, just as with any medium - but we think these  ndings suggest that they are pretty much useless in terms of creating brand positivity, as they are nearly always transactional in nature. And frankly, it is very hard to convey emotion in a banner ad or create an emotional connection with it, when all's said and done."

Interestingly, three supermarket brands did score well, with Woolworths, Aldi and Coles level-pegging at the top of the list of remembered and liked advertising.

Top 7

1st: No Brand/No Ad
2nd: Woolworths, Aldi, Coles 5th. Kmart
6th: McDonalds
7th: Qantas

Aldi ad still.jpgOf those advertisers that did register, Yolland singled out Aldi for praise: "They're obviously a "challenger" brand to the giant duopoly of Coles and Woolworths, and both their TV advertising in the last couple of years and their choice of products show a commitment to surprising and pleasing the public. And despite not always having the prime positions in retail centres, they have obviously carved out a place for themselves in the Australian psyche with their quirky advertising and an interesting consumer promise.

"In October last year, Aldi's "share of voice" was reported as being 11.95% between April 2015 and March 2016, behind Woolworths (50.82%) and Coles (24.27%). That they are achieving a similar level of awareness and likeability would seem to suggest that the content of their advertising is cutting through better than their bigger rivals. In our view, Coles and Woolies have performed creditably, but it's the arrival of Aldi as a genuine contender brand that we find most newsworthy."

3 Comments

George said:

Congratulations to No Brand and their campaign team for their outstanding work, which I assume won them a pile of Lions this year.

Never underestimate the power of No.

Brett Rolfe said:

It’s a big leap to say people couldn’t remember a ‘good advert’ when, at best, the research suggests they can’t remember an ad that made them feel good. Obviously if a domestic violence ad made you feel good, it wasn’t doing its job, so asking about ads that ‘you remember feeling positive about’ is an odd thing to do.

Focusing on ads I can actively remember is missing an increasing portion of the point. Can you remember a joke you thought was really funny recently? I can’t. But I know I’ve heard them – and I know I laughed. Conscious recall is not the same as getting you to behave a certain way. I can’t recall a single price promotion in-store I’ve seen recently – but I know I bought products because they were on promotion.

Beyond that, how much are we going to continue to rely on entertaining ‘feel good’ TV ads being the Holy Grail, when viewers are continuing to move to ad-free platforms? From sponsorships to peer referral, from product placement to influencer advocacy, from branded entertainment to retail experiences – everything a brand does communicates, and increasingly brands are looking for smarter, less traditional ways of getting the job done.

We also have an increasing appreciation for the role that unconscious cues and cognition play in driving behaviour. Work like Daniel Kahneman’s model of System 1 and System 2 clearly demonstrates how much can be achieved in marketing without the need for obtrusive ‘attention grabbing’ content that consumers perceive as advertising.

Naked was founded on a core premise -Everything Communicates. Not just memorable TV ads that make you feel good.”

Wake up call? said:

Maybe this is a sign that the advertising industry really needs to focus on why it exists in the first place and demonstrate that with memorable, engaging, brand building advertising.

Instead of prioritising what we do, encourage a new focus on 'why we do it'. This 'what we do' executional focus is why awards shows are making more money than ad agencies and why we get these recent, horrendous results.

Marketers don't care for an industry that awards itself for ads that have had no significant impact on their numbers. Clients want their advertising to be memorable, engaging, build preference and awareness, provide a ROI, meet KPIs and and align with marketing objectives. That's why we do what we do.

Unfortunately this is a rude awakening for all of us.

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