Skip to main content

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.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope