This is the era of advertising. We are assailed by hundreds and thousands of advertisements in every possible medium every day. From television to print media and to social networking sites, commercials are running rampant trying to catch just a glance from the viewers. All these advertisements are competing for the same nugget of attention, and this competition gets fiercer by the day. So what do marketers and advertising agencies do in such a case? How do they grab eyeballs and hook potential customers?
Advertisements have been in existence since the 18th century. Medicines and books were the first products to be advertised. These early advertisements appeared in the newspapers or as posters. Interestingly however, advertisements didn’t become mainstream phenomena until years later. In 1891, Thomas Barratt introduced mainstream advertising by using it to promote a commercial product. This product was Pears, and for this Thomas became known as the father of modern advertising.
Since then, technology has made many leaps, and with it advertising itself has shifted shapes. From a print media dominated phenomena, it has grown to encompass every conceivable portal of information. And now, the nature of the problem has been reversed. Starting off as a rare thing, advertising has now become entirely too common. This omnipresence has severely degraded the value of advertisements in viewers’ minds, and consequently impacted their effect on consumers’ purchasing decision. In such a case, firms are left with no choice but to use a bombardment strategy. This essentially translates into increasing the frequency and types of medium used, leading to higher costs for the company. To make matters worse, the advent of set top boxes and the power to record and forward television programs has resulted in consumers skipping commercials on television. The internet is also filled with software to block advertisements from popping up. With these innovations penetrating into homes, advertising seems to be facing the prospect of a slow and painful demise. However, the story isn’t quite over yet, with marketers bringing in a critical resource to rescue the damsel in distress. What is this tool you ask? Well it’s none other than (*insert drumroll*) creative skills.
Advertisements nowadays tend to fade into the background. They all look the same with bursts of colours, snazzily dressed brand ambassadors grinning toothily, and bold promises of transforming the consumers’ lives. The first thing that a marketer needs to do nowadays is to use his out-of-the-box thinking to form a concept that is different, or as Virgin Mobile would say, something a little hatke. If the concept is one that can stand out, then execution becomes an auxilliary act. This concept of hatke is a difficult one to explain however. It is hard to categorise and put into boxes something that by its very nature is supposed to stand apart. But examples may leap over bounds that theory shrinks from, and that is the route we shall take.
In the past fortnight or so, the following picture has been making rounds on the internet.
It has gone viral, with viewers starting heated debates on its colour. The picture has been the cause of wonder for many, and this is exactly what the Salvation Army exploited when they turned it into an advertisement against domestic violence.
The slogan is simple, catchy, and directly derived from the unique nature of the dress. It says, “Why is it so hard to see black and blue?” It features a woman lying down in the white and gold version of this dress, covered entirely in nasty looking bruises. The caption says, “The only illusion is if you think it was her choice. One in six women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women.” The poster has become a rage, not only in the US, but worldwide. It has grabbed space in newspapers by virtue of its ingenuity, and the powerful message it sends across. In short, it has achieved fame that a less creative campaign never could.
The world is changing, and advertising needs to keep pace with it. Companies all across the globe need to understand that bombardment is not going to remain a successful strategy for long. Instead, they need to put on their thinking caps, and find novel ways of making their message shine through all the riffraff. As Robert Bresson would have said, “Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”