Friday, 29 July 2011

Asking the wrong questions about advertising

An advertisement, yesterday
Yesterday a nice man paid me some money to ask me about advertising. (I am quite happy to pontificate on any subject, as long as you pay me.)

He had a series of queries about my response to various adverts, but failed to ask the two key questions, as far as I was concerned.

The first is 'Do you pay any attention to adverts?' And the answer is 'Hardly any.' Online or on the iPad I whiz past them without ever taking in what they are advertising. If they are on the same page as text I'm reading, my eyes bounce off them harmlessly. I might take in an image - I've seen one recently with a blue zebra on it - but I have no idea what it was advertising, or what it said about the product or service. Similarly on TV these days, 95% of what I watch is timeshifted on a DVR. All adverts are skipped through. Sorry - never saw it.

The second is 'Why did you rate that ad with Lewis Hamilton in so badly?' One of the ads in the interview was for a watch, featuring a big picture of the racing driver. Any ad with a celebrity endorsement (particularly if it's an over-paid sportsperson) immediately and powerfully turns me off the brand. I know perfectly well that said celebrity has been paid a big chunk of money to appear in the ad, and their endorsement means nothing - they probably never even saw the product before the ad was made, and certainly never paid their own money to buy the product. So my feeling is, if a product is so desperate it has to cling onto dubious celebrity, then it too is dubious and should be avoided like the plague.

(The same goes for people telling us they are the official X of the Olympic Games. So? All this means is they will be responsible the frustration I feel when I'm stuck in a queue or can't watch anything decent on the TV because of people playing silly games.)

So advertisers, get the message. I don't get the message.


  1. While I don't doubt your credentials as a whole, I don't think that your anecdotal commentary is worth the money he paid you.

    Please use data to prove points. :(

  2. I don't understand your comment, I'm afraid Oz. He didn't pay me for anecdotal commentary. But I'm saying that it is pointless asking me what he did (e.g. is a particular advert interesting/would it make me talk to other people about it etc.) if a) I never look at adverts and b) some of them actively put me off the product because of the use of endorsement. That is valid information on how I react to advertising and there should have been some way to get that across in his questioning, which there wasn't.