Advertising is meant to make consumers buy products. It is a medium of information and persuasion. The effectiveness of an advertisement can be best judged by its ability to enhance sales. Advertisements can enhance sales only if they promise a benefit to the consumer. The promise must be persuasive, unique and relevant to the consumer.
Companies spend huge amounts of money on advertising. In fact, quite a few of them spend as much on their campaigns as they earn from their brands. But companies should be disappointed from the payoff that they get from their spending on advertising. Only about a third of all ad campaigns have a significant immediate impact on sales, and a fewer than a quarter have any prolonged effect.
Senior management is no longer involved in the advertising efforts of the company. Most ad decisions are now relegated to low-level marketing functionaries who are more concerned with selling proposals up the chain of command than with taking risks or achieving excellence. The whole process for developing ads is more focused on working the bureaucracy than on promoting creativity.
The ad agencies do not have leaders of the type of Leo Burnett and David Ogilvy, and top managers rarely talk to their agency counterparts. As responsibility for advertising has been pushed downwards, companies have come to rely on rigid policies to make ad decisions. These policies give a business-like veneer to an artistic, subjective activity. All ad ideas go through “pretesting” that aims to predict an ad’s performance. Pretesting offers operational simplicity and streamlines a complex and messy process.
But the process is unreliable. Ads with great potential slip through the *****s, while managers waste time tweaking mediocre ads. In most companies an ad has to be approved by layers of bureaucracy and when it comes to senior executives, they are more concerned with reviewing their subordinates’ reasoning than with evaluating the campaign per se.
Because of such policies, the greatest intellectual engagement with a company’s advertisers takes place at the lower levels of management. And these managers are not expected to be creative but to sieve and sift. Therefore they select the safest ads-the ones unlikely to raise the eyebrows of their bosses. And obviously such ads do not move the audience either. The ads that could cause a stir are the first to be rejected.
The top executives need to reconnect with their ad agency and talk to their top people about their company’s brand portfolio and business strategy. The company’s ad policies will have to be reworked to promote creativity. They have to finally maintain a track of the campaigns that have succeeded.