Desperation driving ad creativity

Delayed viewing

How do you address the clear trend of people not paying attention to your ad during the commercial breaks on TV? They’re either not watching at all during the breaks, or fast-forwarding through the ads if their programme is recorded; or, giving their attention to something else on a second or third screen.

For whatever reason, people aren’t glued exclusively to their TV screens as they used to be in those golden days of yore.

With so much competing for our attention today, there’s plenty of imagination and creativity at work designed to capture our imaginations so that we do give our attention to those visual commercial messages on our TV screens.

There are idea-shifts afoot as well with the advent of news ways of spreading commercial messages via social channels that might only have made it to the broadcast-TV screen before, if at all.

And then there are ideas that look like methods to drag you back into the days of singular attention and the command and control approach to grabbing eyeballs.

Volkswagen, for instance. The German car maker has applied some genuine imagination to a TV commercial in Belgium but for all the wrong reasons.

Rather than capture the viewer’s imagination with an advertisement that tells a compelling brand story in itself, thus enabling the viewer to decide whether to give his or her attention to it or not, VW’s ad agency DDB Belgium came up with a wheeze they call the ‘slowmercial.’

As PSFK reports, the ad for the new Volkswagen Beetle convertible is designed to target people who skip the ads or fast-forward them:

[…] Viewers of live television will see this ad and explanation, but those who watch it later and fast-forward will still see the top roll down, but at a faster pace, thus taking in the message just the same. The ad will run during Belgium’s most popular and frequently recorded shows such as Homeland and Bones.

The commercial claims that 50% more people will take in the advertising with a slowmercial, and if it is the case, it could be the way to proceed for advertisers in the world of fast-forwarding.

Here’s the ad – see what you think:

(If you don’t see the video embedded above, watch it at YouTube.)

While the concept itself is imaginative, undoubtedly, I think this smacks of gimmickry that’s absent a story to tell. You can’t force people to watch your messages, that’s not how it works any more. You have to offer them a good reason to watch. Even product placement ideas such as the one that adds virtual products to a video recording won’t survive the authenticity and trust tests in the long term if you really are looking to engage with your consumers.

So I just can’t see ideas like these as long-term survivors. Unlike some crazy-sounding ideas such as the 5-second spot. Now that one will be a survivor.

(Via Nick Allen and Antony Mayfield)

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. nickwallen

    “I think this smacks of gimmickry that’s absent a story to tell.” Well put Neville. Really does feel like a creative bad aid put on a critical patient.

  2. Suzanne Tennant

    From my personal use of PVRs I’ve come to the conclusion that I actually probably pay closer attention to the TV screen whilst FFwding an ad break, as I’m actively looking for the next segment of the programme – so I think this is a really clever ad as a one-off execution.

    I do completely agree with your point that brands really should be investing in creativity, and definitely not forcing audiences to consume irrelevant and uninteresting content. However, I’d argue that the whole traditional TV broadcast business model has been based on disruptive advertising, and so already forces the audience consumption.

    No matter how clever the ideas any creative agency may come up with to fill a 30-second TV slot, you can never please all of the people all of the time. Until other forms of communication are proven to brands be more effective and efficient for engaging audiences, I think disruptive and irrelevant content will continue to be part of our TV watching experience.

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