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TV adverts: story vs slogan?

November 13, 2013

I like being sold to and am a total sucker for a good slogan-driven advert. I know Gillette razors are the best a man can get, that ladies love milk tray and that you can't get quicker than a kwik-fit fitter. These messages are ingrained in my psyche and, like it or not, they influence my buying decisions.

Conversely, modern TV adverts just don't sink in with me. Advertisers seem to have ditched simple, catchy slogans, instead opting for obscure slogans and complex narratives, and for me many just don't work. Often I like the story and sometimes I feel engaged, but invariably I don't have a clue what they are actually selling.

I recently switched my broadband to BT Infinity. It is fantastic. Rather than the previous 6Mb per second I now receive 30Mb per second. I couldn't be happier with my purchase and only wish someone had told me sooner about the speed of fibre optic broadband. 'Why aren't companies pushing this' I thought to myself.

Then a few days later I heard BT Infinity mentioned by the 3 rather annoying students from the BT adverts that have plagued my TV for the last few years. Apparently, all this time the adverts I loathe have been trying to sell me a product I love, but the message never got through.

So is it me being stupid or a bad advertising strategy? Am I immune to anything other than obvious adverts, or are advertisers just being too clever for their own good? Below I've recalled any recent broadband adverts I can think of from memory and assessed whether their message worked on me.

BT Infinity
3 slightly annoying students. Generic, unfunny, repetitive clichés about student life. No idea what the point is. Student life didn't look like that in the 90s.

Good, honest broadband. A simple message delivered by a chubby Jason Manford lookalike while he dances to brass band music and paints stuff white. What did I get from the adverts? Good value/cheap broadband. Not a product I would buy but at least the advert got the message across. If I were looking for the cheapest supplier, I'd have switched. Or had they advertised their high-speed fibre optic product, perhaps I'd have switched.

Sky Broadband
The worst of them all. Sky has blown the budget on ageing A-listers to promote their product. What did I get from the adverts? Nothing. It never occurred to me what they were advertising. I was just concerned Al Pacino seemed to be having an onscreen breakdown and confused as to why he and Bruce Willis (or even Jeff Stelling) would degrade themselves appearing in such woeful adverts. Why Al, why?

Virgin Media
Usain Bolt personifies speed so I always knew Virgin were claiming to be fast. However, to this day I don't know what download speeds Virgin offers but I assume it is fast. Had Usain put a number on how much faster their product was, I'd have switched. Or maybe he did and I was just distracted by all that Lycra and fake facial hair.

All I wanted was fast broadband. 3 of the above providers were offering it, but I didn’t realise.

Three students buying gig tickets and updating Facebook never resonated, it just irritated. Bruce and Al's adverts are just nonsense. Usain was telling me straight but I just didn't get it.

In fact, of the above advertising messages the only one that found its way into my consciousness was a simple message delivered by a fellow chubby northerner who can't dance - weird that!

In hindsight maybe I am a little stupid and I could easily have 'deciphered' what they were offering had I paid attention. But should we really be asking our audience to pay attention? Modern technology means adverts are often skipped so you have less time than ever to deliver your message. If we are trying to sell to someone, be that via traditional advertising, social media, email marketing or a badly written blog, surely we should take the brain work out of the message, delivering one succinct message. Leaving the audience in no doubt why they should buy the product.

So remember, use Extravision for all your email marketing needs because they’re GRRRR-EAT!

Posted by Alastair Campbell

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