Advertising. Is it worth the paper it’s printed on anymore?

Last week I travelled on the tube and was confronted in the same carriage with three soulless executions advertising Apps.

Having been a brand and comms planner in an agency I know the client brief can sometimes be slightly thin on the ground. However, that’s when the opportunity lies to test your strength in teasing out the killer insight that will connect the brand and its differentiated offer with what yearns to be fulfilled in its chosen audience.

Having also worked with some great creatives I know that even when that insight appears quite generic or stretched, it’s still possible to light a touch-paper of excitement in the audience by resonating with them through common ground of interest through brilliant creative.

So why is that much of the App service advertising I see fails to shine? Apps are the new ‘must visit’ retailer, the new ‘must have’ manufactured product, the new ‘must experience’ destination. Having transcended to Customer Experience Consultancy to embed brand across engagement touch points, I enviously look at these little pockets of technological potential and think wow; what an opportunity. If I was 15 years younger and these NewCo briefs were landing on my planning desk I’d feel like I bagged the John Lewis Christmas campaign brief! So why is it the communications out there promoting modern Apps often seems to be amongst the least engaging?

Getting back to the examples presented to me on the tube, they’d managed to underline this mediocrity by sharing the same execution technique; ‘the play on words’ to attempt to promote their distinction and usefulness – I say ‘attempt’ because their value as brand were lost on me.

When apps were still in napp(ie)s I can recall a conversation with a creative team who suggested to turn to ‘play on words’ as a communication solution was only acceptable when every other method including applying the mirror of self-reflection and handing your notice in had been tried.

So have my troublesome three simply slipped through the ‘take pride in what you deliver’ creative sign-off process, or are they really the result of something much better that I’m just missing? For me, they brilliantly demonstrate a lack of connection with their audience, no promise to fulfil unmet needs or differentiate from others in achieving this. In fact, the energy burnt out before the message does.

pun ad 2I recognise the ‘Just Eat’ campaign which lives on TV too and is made up of only play on words of songs (not that I have worked out this one yet). I feel it begs the question, ‘what are you’. I quite like the ‘chicken madras’ reference and razzmatazz on TV, but I quite like the new series of Robot Wars as well – it’s not enough. I know Just Eat is a take away service, I’ve seen decals everywhere, but that’s it. I don’t get any sense of advantage conveyed through these messages, hence I’ve failed to even consider them when ordering take away.

pun ad 3I can’t quite work out from my pic this company or what they are promoting – never good for mass media ad space. But to choose the word ‘App’ in their play on words execution means I am left guessing it’s either something to do with checkered shirts, or one of the other tens of thousand Apps providing some form of retail or travel advantage. Either way it’s too late, my attention is diverted to another ad.

The third example does actually manage to tie the play on words in to the proposition regarding saving time choosing what to cook. I say that, the words scan at least. That said the Lionel Richie song has no relationship with this proposition of saving time, so it’s 100% superficial.

pun ad 1

I start to think that a bit like the explosion of soft toys give away from all comparison site following the success of Sergei and Compare the Meerkat, do we have another spate of ‘copycat’ Just Eat executions here?

The interesting thing each one of those ads has had hours poured into it to devise an idea, talent applied to produce it, consideration and agreement to approve it, not to mention a slice of some investor’s commitment or chunk from the company profit put behind it to get it on the tube wall.

Ipun ad 4f you are thinking you quite like play on word ads, then I accept there are some great examples such as FCUK. There is also this stunning example, crafted without the benefit of a comms agency shows how to connect with your audience as well as fulfil unmet needs (beyond the repair).

As App companies grow up the will see the need to connect with customers, to retain their attention they will need to promise betterment in a meaningful way their audience can process and deliver an experience which is valued to retain them.

If they are struggling with comms, how will they fare when it comes to customer experience. It could prove the graveyard for App services unless they start to promote something their customers can connect with of value, best served through meaningful content.

Take a look around the walls adorned with ads next time you have a few moments. Search out the ads promoting Apps. If you find one which you think connects with its audience in a meaningful, motivating and differentiating way please send it to me to restore my faith. Or if you find a play on words ad which isn’t ‘bottom of the barrel’ material again email me.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com 

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

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