Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Terrifying Counter-Theory

A colleague has just sent me this oldish but influential article on Low Involvement Processing, by Robert Heath.

The article makes two main conclusions: one good for us, one terrifying.

The good one is that Heath believes emotional advertising is far more effective than rational messaging.

"I believe... the majority of successful UK advertising campaigns... do not succeed by getting over rational performance-based messages, but by building up simple yet potent associations and linking them to brands."

We can all be happy about that, can't we? No more 'science bit' that the client makes us put in and is delighted with, and which everyone else completely ignores.

However, the reason Heath prefers emotional advertising is because he reckons ads are 'low involvement processed', i.e. consumers aren't paying active conscious attention to ads and so don't pick up facts and rational stuff, but do pick up feelings and associations.

And the conclusion we must draw from that is it doesn't really matter whether your ad is 'noticed' or not.

We all talk constantly about the need to 'stand out', 'get noticed', 'get talked about'.

I've even written about how there's no point doing an ad that looks like something people have seen before, since they'll just screen it out, in the same way that early man screened out 'that rock' and 'that tree', and would only notice 'holy shit, a sabre-toothed tiger' things he had not seen before.

But maybe being noticed doesn't matter, as long as you create the right associations.

I'm reminded of this piece by Jon Howard that talked about an ad for Amoy sauce which generated virtually no awareness, but a big sales uplift. The ad was 'invisible', but worked.

If true, this is all a bit worrying, isn't it?


Ben Kay said...

It also means that everything is OK. Stand out, don't stand out, rational message, emotional message...

Great. Let's all cover ourselves in chocolate mousse while a hall of monkeys and typewriters create our scripts and judge our awards.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

It's off topic, but, following the Atheist Bus Campaign, can I be the first to suggest we brainstorm ideas for an anti-racism DM campaign targeted at known members of the BNP?

Anonymous said...

I can even help you widen your campaign to anti-xenophobia, targeted at most of the UK, but still, can we stay on-topic for now?

Anonymous said...

"...consumers aren't paying active conscious attention to ads and so don't pick up facts and rational stuff, but do pick up feelings and associations."

Couldn't agree more. Cabral has been teaching feeling-based advertising for quite a good while now. I remember a comment on Campaign's article talking about Cabral's return to Argentina. You can find it here (it's the first comment I'm talking about).

As for the association-based advertising, here's a nice clip about subliminal advertising.

Anonymous said...


I smell a planner.

Anonymous said...

mmmm, chocolate mousse...

(It's lunchtime and all I have is salad!)

Anonymous said...

It's not as terrifying as it sounds, Scamp.

They've just analysed all 800 IPA Effectiveness Awards entries from the last 20 years and drawn the same conclusiomn as Robert Heath that effective campaigns tend to be more emotional. They also found out that the most effective campaigns work due to likeability more than standout.

That doesn't mean that it's wrong to pursue original and dramatic campaigns. It just means that they should be something that people will enjoy watching too. Honda, Virgin, Volkswagen are all both emotional and likeable.


Scamp said...

Tom, I've always wondered about this likeability question. Millward Brown seem to be very big on it. But surely one sometimes wants to create feelings other than just likeability, e.g. disgust (anti-smoking), or trust (insurance).

Anonymous said...

Scamp, both your examples are wrong:
for an anti-smoking campaign it is better to induce not disgust regarding smoking, but delight regarding living without smoking (sends us back to pleasure, likeability & co.). Human brain is biologically programmed to look for positiveness. For insurance services, trust is what everybody wants to induce... and most ads visibly fail to transmit such a feeling and also manage to sound military. If we try to induce the pleasure of a worryless life instead, the impact is positive, the ad is very human and the viewer is entertained... and, just like a bonus, it sends us back to likeability.

Anonymous said...

There are many reasons why one product sells more than another: quality, price, distribution, sales-staff, etc.
Probably the least important is advertising.
But we behave, perhaps understandably, as if advertising was the sole reason anyone ever bought anything.
Big budgets help because people find it reassuring, that a product is well known, like Coke.
So, on that basis, what we can do is try to make our advertising budget look bigger than it is.
One way we can do this is with advertising that gets talked about.

Anonymous said...

Sorry that last comment wasn't meant to anonymous.

tony said...

Well God Doesnt advertise yet he still pulls in the punters through the church door..........actually a God TV advert would be interesting.ummm Jesus covered in chocolate mousse anyone?

Sell! Sell! said...

I don't see why we're being forced to choose.
I don't think there's just one way to approach each and every different problem we're given.

Anonymous said...

Dave, wrong. It's not the least important reason, it's the reason that makes the difference. These days it's not such a big thing to make a long lasting pair of shoes anymore. Also, technological innovation is found in different shapes and colours but it's very similar from one producer to another (see iPod vs. Walkman, for instance). I believe advertising was never as important as it is today. It always was important, but had different (and fewer) functions. These days the market is so crowded that only a different way of addressing your customers can help you be THAT one among millions of other producers/service providers. So my point is that advertising is exactly that last touch which keeps you away from ruining all the other efforts you've invested, just to make sure you're dressed in "best quality, price, distribution, sales-staff, etc." (Dave Trott, Complete Works)

Anonymous said...

Scamp, I think cause and health and road safety ads are an exceptional case. Their purpose is not to promote brands, it's to change deeply help opinions. Likeability isn't and issue here. So squeezing fat out of arteries isn't likeable viewing, but it's really compelling in a story about what smoking does to you. Your Barnado's work fits in to the same category.

But for brand advertising, likeability matters. Whether it's a trustworthy insurance brand or a rebel airline or a progressive whisky, the work needs to be something that people enjoy spending time watching.

Anonymous said...

Tom Morton.
I was talking to Peter Wood, who owns eSure, about his Michael Winner ads which had just been voted the worst ever.
He said, "Yes now ask me what they did for my brand.
5 years of trying to do advertising people liked kept it unknown. Now it's grown through the roof into one of the biggest barnds in the sector."
I know we'd all prefer it if good advertising worked better than bad advertising, but unfortunately it doesn't always seem to be the case.

Anonymous said...

Why do Dave Trott's comments/anecdotes always start with a filthy great name drop?

Anonymous said...

name drops are fine if they're relevant. atleast that's what Stephen Fry said to me the other day.

Anonymous said...

Nige, how's your hangover?

Anonymous said...

"Now it's grown through the roof into one of the biggest brands in the sector."

Dave, did Peter Wood present any concrete evidence of this improvement? Otherwise... this is the lame ad-like echo of the already lame advertising campaign. One of the biggest... You know, it reminds me of those cheap ads for cleaning powder back in the 80s, containing every here and there some "no.1..." almost automated reminder. OR... "one of the biggest...".

Anonymous said...

Nice observation.
"Ron Collins told me Frank came up to him one day and said, “Ron, I want you to write the best possible campaign for Cinzano Bianco.”" -from Dave Trott's last post on CST blog.

Dave, you're truly a busy man... with others' lives and achievements. You see, I agree that school never ends, but I also know that life does. You're slowly turning into a walking bible. Yes, it's better than a phone book (from the PR's point of view; not sure about the usefulness part), but still... Take care...

Anonymous said...

Anon. 5.13
He didn't back it up with data, it was only a conversation, but it seems credible.
Apart from Michael Winner what other advertising do you remember for eSure?
And I only mentioned his name to give it credibility.
Before he started eSure he's started and built Direct Line.

George said...

I presume the same can be said for Cillet Bang.
Shit ads, but I bet it has taken a hefty share of the market away from Cif, Mr Muscle and whatever else there is.

Much like Winner's 'calm down dear', people can be heard in pubs across the land yelling 'I'M BARRY SCOTT' on a drunken night out.

The most astonishing thing about the campaign though - did you know that Barry Scott isn't even his real name!


Anonymous said...

how can you debate on a subject while using as arguments words from a superficial conversation over beer (beverage type can be adjusted to fit), totally lacking business evidence?
And mentioning his name in THIS conditions actually ruined credibility and also put both Peter Wood and you in a negative position, him for using empty words, you for pushing it even further and trying to build solid arguments on them. I don't know about other Scamp readers, but personally I'm not very sensitive to great names. Or at least I don't respond to them with trust as a default reaction. Your attitude is almost insulting. It's unhealthy for your image to act like an almighty comprehensive school teacher when talking to us. Next time you try to enter the conversation make sure you've gathered bullet-proof verifiable arguments. Poetry and Planet Earth's Index of Smart Guys, elsewhere.

Sell! Sell! said...

Calm down dear,
it's only a commercial.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you go 'Holy shit, a sabre-toothed tiger' even if you had seen one before. In fact, having seen what a sabre-toothed tiger can do, wouldn't you be more lkely to go 'Holy shit...' the 2nd/3rd/4th...etc time?

faris said...

brands are constructs that make people prefer parity products. ergo, to tom's point likeability is absolutely crucial.

not to say other emotions are not powerful - and can be elicited to great effect - but the overall objective is likeability. Cathartic tragedy still can engender preference - see david bonnet's piece on sadvertising in admap or this

[sidenote - you can see the origin of beersphere there as well.]

message delivery is far less important than how you say something and how that makes someone feel

the problem of course is that if you ask anyone, they will say the opposite because they are using their brain to respond.

the really interesting thing about heath's work, and feldwick's with him, is that it suggests that any rational messaging is a bad idea - it may be actually deleterious to efficacy.

this is because

1] people don't like being manipulated, convinced, sold to - so any direct exhortation brings up defenses and cognitive challenges

indeed - the idea is in fact bigger than this - you actively want people to ignore your ads, to avoid any cognitive processing, and let them sink in without people realising

but also

2] commercial grammar over rules social - so if you are trying to make someone like you and then immediately ask them for money, you fail at both.


Ciaran said...

I've enjoyed your blog for some time now, and particularly the lively comments section your posts seem to generate. I do have a question that has puzzled me for as long as i've been following your blog: why do so many people hide behind "Anonymous"?

Anonymous said...

Media agencies sell clients Robert Heath's ideas about low-level processing with a slightly different perspective.
What they say is that 'the idea' is responsible for only 45% of the takeout of an ad. 55% of its effectiveness is down to its positioning. In other words, the cumulative effect of a simple idea simply expressed at different touchpoints on the customer journey, that's what makes advertising work.
Not ideas.
The horrible truth is, he has a point. If you look at the 02 advertising, Rooney Carruthers, instinctive genius that he is, took the colour blue and a bubble and made it work in TV, press, window displays, direct marketing, sales promotion, you name it. And VCCP grew a brand from 0 to £10billion in two and a bit years. Not an idea in sight.
Charles Vallance, the V of VVCP, argues that what Robert Heath is really saying is that advertising ideas that are still copy-driven (Heineken refreshes the parts...etc) are too left-brain to work well. Left-brain ideas which are visual even work when you fast-forward on TiVo.
So, choose your colours, my friends, and splash them about. Rooney, after all, started with orange (the future's bright) before blue and it workd for him.

Anonymous said...

dave trott at 4.28

were you saying this when your agency GGT was producing the best ads in town consistently? Nope.

What's most dispiriting about your comments these days is that you built your reputation on highly creative advertising - which also sold your clients' products by the truck load (funny that). And now you're pulling the rug out from under the rest of us, by extolling the virtues of stuff like the Michael Winner ads.

When the creative industry is already under the cosh from even more research, anal clients and 'media is the message' thinking....

maybe it's because your agency nowadays pedals tripe and so that's your new 'mantra'....

Anonymous said...

scamp, you're a bbh type of person. I see in today's campaign that Caroline Pay was responsible for the much awarded Dangerous Liaisons and Barnados work. How come her name wasn't on 'em?

Mark said...

I wrote a little piece about this a while ago Scamp:

I think that there's a theory here that whispering constantly to the consumer is possible, and that eventually those whispers will permeate the subconscious. It's not like the old days of shouting at a consumer, more like whispering to them to send them into a relaxing place mentally.

The problem is whilst eveyone is banging on about consumer engagement and meaningful relationships this sort of flies in the face of that - it's one way with the hope that it'll eventually turn into two way.

Anonymous said...

if any cunt started shouting 'I'm Barry Scott' in my local, that cunt would get weighed in, and deservedly so.

Anonymous said...

@ Ciaran

Seeing as you're not actually sharing your blogger identity if someone clicks on your name, how is the fact you've put a name to your comment any different than being Anonymous? We know just as little about you.

Ciaran said...

Don't have a blog or a Web site.

That said, all abuse may be sent to

Ciaran said...

Sorry, meant to add that I'm a grown-up willing to sign my name when I criticize other people.

Ciaran McCabe

Anonymous said...

What's all this Wildwood/McCabe nonsense then?

I think you're inventing identities to avoid taking responsibility for your defamatory comments.

Scamp said...

To 8.46 - I don't have any info about your Caroline Pay question, sorry.

To everyone - I was very happy to see Dave Trott come back and comment. His contributions are very often brilliant. Dave is a big boy, he doesn't need me to defend him in the playground - I'm saying this for our benefit, not his. And what I'm saying is play nice or he won't come back, and it's us that will lose out.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Ciaran.
The Dave Trott knocking comment for instance was a very interesting point of view...... but wouldn't it be that little bit more interesting if someone put their name to it ?

Scamp said...

To return to the point, I was brought up (as was Dave and very many of you, I suspect) on one of Bill Bernbach's central tenets: “If your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic.”

But Robert Heath's research suggests this is wrong.

That's pretty major, isn't it - does it mean we should do things differently now?

Anonymous said...

@Scamp (12.05): That was our point exactly, Scamp. When we talk to such important names in our industry, we are willing to learn as much as we can, so we expect a conversation based on solid arguments, mostly because unlike most of us, he has direct access to better sources of information. I think he's used to our sometimes ironic attitude and he knows it is all just a way of inviting him to rise to the challenge. Of course his presence here is beneficial and welcome. And respected.

Anonymous said...

m denton esq,

Yes, it would be way more interesting. But in a negative way unfortunately. Trust me, I know what I'm saying. You can take it as a form of high respect for Simon. I could detail it in private, if you weren't somehow almost as anonymous as the rest of us. (That wasn't meant to sound offensive, just reasoning my lack of tools to reach you.)

Anonymous said...

I've found that sometimes a chat with someone over a drink (beer, tea or whatever) can be as illuminating as a fact laden inch thick research document.

Information is only useful if you know how to use it.

Dave was very clear on how his information was sourced. Isn't it up to the reader to decide its value?

Anonymous said...

isn't it also up to the readers to first of all try and find out more about it before making decisions about its value?

Anonymous said...

12.23 - you (or anyone else) can email me

or alternatively call 020 7631 1649 and pop round. I'll make you a cup of tea. (I really will talk to anybody).

Ben Kay said...

Jesus Fucking Christ...if you have to back up every single bloody thing you say with cross-referenced sources complete with footnotes and affidavits then we might as well all bugger off home. Of course Esure was a massive success. Splitting hairs and asking for the stats is churlish, but if it makes you feel like you've got a big masterful wang that the girls go wild for, then split away.

Anonymous said...

@If this is a blog[...]

If my award winning and highly creative campaign for my client makes me popular but has no positive effect on my client, it is still a great success for me.

If my disgusting campaign only attracts negative opinions about my agency but helps my client develop, it is still a great success for my client.

So you see, charts are very useful because they facilitate comparisons. No one asks anyone to come up with excessively detailed information, but it is still important to have the opportunity to understand the effect of one's success or failure on all sides.

Anonymous said...

Trott said it was a great success for the client, brand through the roof etc. You (or whoever) seem to want proof of that, not whether it was a success for the client or creative.

Anonymous said...

This really is an easy one..........

conversation down the pub - useful
charts- useful
wetting finger and sticking it in the air-useful

Dave's piece of information happened to be the result of a conversation.

....if you can only function with hard evidence then the career choices are (bad) planner, (bad) client or
traffic warden.

Anonymous said...

"Dave's piece of information happened to be the result of a conversation."

Am I allowed to doubt that?

(All based on the fact that Dave Trott is still the one who used someone else's ideas to get a job. He could just as easily use great names to sound more convincing. "And I only mentioned his name to give it credibility." gives me even more reasons to think this way.)

Anonymous said...

Anon, you can doubt whatever you like.

Go on.

Doubt away.

Have a fucking ball.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dave

Thanks for your comment on my post. (4.28pm yesterday.) And sorry that some people are swiping at you from behind anonymous posts - well articulated arguments deserve more respect that that.

I'm sure that Peter Wood is right about eSure. There are a few brands that have shouted their way in to the public's imaginations. You'd probably add Ronseal and Cillit bang to the list. It's a fair challenge to ad people.

What's interesting to me is how they might be the only successful examples of this approach. Look at Admiral and Elephant insurance trying to drum their way in to people's heads with little degree of success.

Just as a few COI campaigns work by challenging or unsettling us, a few campaigns for products that just need to be top of mind can work like eSure does.

It feels like a successful approach if you use it sparingly and for the right types of brand and message.

An ad break of fat squeezing out of arteries followed by Barry Scott shouting 'Bang! And The Dirt Is Gone!' would probably drive the public away from advertising and commercial television at lightning speed.

Interested to hear your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Oh what a disappointment, when i read the title i thought the post was about Adam Tucker joining BBH and being paid way more than you, Scamp.

This post is boring.

Anonymous said...

Scamp 12.05

Dave has some fascinating things to impart, and he is an extremely savvy guy. I also love Bernbach's approach, and classic CDP as he does.

So it's a shame he isn't using his considerable creative heritage and experience to laud creativity today, instead of work like the Michael Winner ads.

He contradicts himself at every turn. His hero is John Webster. Would he have penned the Michael Winner ads? Would Dave's favourite agency – CDP? Bernbach? Or for that matter GGT?

So why is he bigging up such work? There's stuff around that is both different and good. In the mould of Bernbach and CDP.

Anonymous said...

Sell!Sell! 3.26

You're right, generalisation is surely not the most efficient approach. I think Tom Morton has judged on the same principle in his last comment. Things work the same way they do when it comes to medical treatment choices. Nothing works identically on everybody. Again, extreme theories can only cover the extremes.

Scamp said...

If you are indeed a Soho Insider, you know how good Adam Tucker is. I have no idea how much he's getting, but he deserves every dollar.

Sell! Sell! said...

" of Bill Bernbach's central tenets: “If your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic.”
But Robert Heath's research suggests this is wrong.
That's pretty major, isn't it - does it mean we should do things differently now?"

These hair-brained theories are just that - theories. No one has ever - ever - done any 'proper' scientific-level research, you know, with controls and rigour, on this subject.
It's just more subjective interpretation of general trend-watching and woolly research results.

The idea that your advertising doesn't have to get noticed, and will just seep in over time *might* be relevant to a 40m+ spending client who is already famous, but I certainly would never advocate it. I prefer the old George Lois approach that advertising should hit you between the eyes and stop you in your tracks.

Anonymous said...

"But maybe being noticed doesn't matter, as long as you create the right associations."

Simon, based on this, what do you think, would it give us more freedom of creativity?

I'd say it is at least the same difficult to create the right associations as it is to create an ad that's noticed. Let's not forget it's the subconscious we're trying to access.

Sell! Sell! said...

Just to be fair though, Bernbach and Lois' approaches and tenet's weren't scientific either - more the gut feel of talented folk. But they do have a massive bodies of great and successful work, which gives them credibility.
Whereas these new theories are wrapped up to *sound like* science, but they're not. Just theories.
OK I'll shut up now.

Anonymous said...

jesus what a negative bunch of whining haters. not everyone obviously.

dave trott was merely pointing out that what we in the industry like to do (stuff that's cool) and success don't necessarily always intersect. and that stuff we would view with contempt can sometimes work like gangbusters for the very reasons we hate it. and, dave is better than you so shut up ;-)

i think one of the problems with "Standing out" on TV is that people have sat down to watch TV. so maybe it might be good to show them things that look like TV. rather than immediately going 180 away from what they've indicated they want to do: watch TV.

if i hear "cinematic" again i'll kill someone. would you make a cinema spot "tv-esque"? no.

Anonymous said...

At BMP it always annoyed us that ‘bad’ ads often worked as well as ‘good’ ads.
At the time it was Allen Brady Marsh that annoyed us most.
The trouble was, crass as their advertising was, it seemed to work.
And BMP, being research lead, wouldn’t run ‘good’ advertising if it couldn’t be demonstrated to work.
And it’s much harder to do ‘good’ advertising that works, rather than just amuses.
Of course, creatives don’t want to hear that (I know I didn’t).
John Webster was one of the few people that could do both.
Which is why he made BMP such a great agency.
Peter Wood’s point was just that people didn’t need to like the advertising in order for it to work.
This may be peculiar to ‘distress purchase’ products, like insurance.
I think this is a valuable debate to have.
But you need to have it with people who can approach it with an open mind.

Anonymous said...

@Dave Trott

Thinking of the very few people that can do "good" advertising that works:

I believe there are no two things that cannot be conceptually connected. A very good strategy and a brilliant creative idea only need a smart connection to work together. But the thing is we tend to limit our imagination to creative ideas that respond directly to the strategy we have to implement. So I'd say it is not the strategy that narrows down our creative possibilities. It is our fear of connecting distant points. It's like assuming that Peter Gabriel's audience in, let's say, Berlin is by default limited to people living in Berlin. Why not try to attract people from Paris too? On the same principle, why simply use the first idea that fits the strategy? I think the creatives should be the flexible ones (otherwise they don't sound very creative from the very beginning), the ones willing and able to find an unexpected idea that still fits the strategy. Unexpected = apparently disconnected from the strategy.
My idea is that yes, bad ads can work. But they show the limitations of the creatives that sign them, so it is not a new advertising theory, just a classic lack of talent. Still, it's good that people take the time and trouble to write about it.

And thank you for sharing your experience with us.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 6.25

What's negative is spending time and energy talking about shite work rather than great work.

Great work which works (and that's what the strategy is for) should always be the aim and the focus. How's that for positive?

Like with John Webster (and there are many other examples too). Even if we don't always get there.

There are always millions of ways we can go creatively. Plumping for lowest common denominator stuff is just laziness.

So keeping an open mind to your debate Dave is pointless. Because it's focusing in the wrong place.

Anonymous said...

anon 10.00.

you are completely avoiding/missing
the reality that sometimes boring works. google has built its entire model on the reality that "barely there" but relevant text advertising is a killer app. it's the natural way to advertise online. not our shouty version.

are you going to argue with google's success?

]-[appy Thought said...

I can see it in the same way I see strictly come dancing:

I know John Sergent's in it because he's terrible. I know Rachel Steven's in it because she is good.

Don't know who else is in it. People recall the best and the worst for different reasons, everything in the middle is pretty forgettable. I'm pretty sure the other people in the contest are trying hard to get noticed, but there's nothing outstanding about them so it doesn't matter how emotional they are or not, they're not peaking any interest.

Could be wrong of course, I just wanted to name drop old John.

Anonymous said...

Sell Sell @ 5.24pm

"These hair-brained theories are just that - theories. No one has ever - ever - done any 'proper' scientific-level research, you know, with controls and rigour, on this subject.
It's just more subjective interpretation of general trend-watching and woolly research results."

You clearly have not read any of Robert Heath's work.

Otherwise you'd know that much of it is indeed based on empirical research "with controls and rigour".

Maybe you should have applied some rigour yourself and actually READ his work before asserting so loudly and ignorantly that the work was subjective.

You'll find all of Heath's papers on WARC. Ask any planner and I'm sure they'd be happy to download them for you.

Anonymous said...

In fact Sell Sell, I'll save you some time. This is but an extract from one of Heath's paper ("Measuring Affective Advertising: Implications of Low Attention Processing on Recall") that exposes your assertion that "No one has ever - ever - done any 'proper' scientific-level research" to be abject and uninformed nonsense. I hope you find it enlightening.

In 2002 Standard Life decided to replace its advertising campaign. Working with The Leith Agency and The Value Creation Company, they
developed a new campaign, the purpose of which was to increase favorability toward Standard Life. This was achieved by illustrating things
in life that people like and linking this positive feeling to the Standard Life brand using the line “I like Standard Life.”
Primary media used were outdoor and TV, and the campaign commenced on October 6, 2003. The advertising was tracked by the Nunwood
Consultancy in two independent surveys: A continuous CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interview) survey collected data on brand
awareness, brand favorability, and claimed advertising awareness: a monthly face-to-face C API (Computer Assisted Personal Interview)
survey collected data on these measures also, in addition exposing the debranded advertisements and collecting recognition, estimated
frequency of exposure, and brand attribution. Question design corresponded with those used in the Butcher's Dog pilot described above
except that detailed recall was not asked in this study.
The first wave of CAPI research was run 11 days after the start of advertising. As in the pilot research, our first step is to examine the
sample, which is shown in Table 5. Once again it is evident that Claimed Advertising Awareness under-represents the actual exposure of the
campaign. Twenty-seven percent claimed that Standard Life had been advertised on TV recently, compared with 65 percent who
recognized and can therefore be deemed to have actually seen the advertising. The 37 percent of those who claimed Standard Life had
been advertising (18 out of 48 respondents) did not recognize the new campaign at all.
Next we analyze favorability among those who claim the brand has and has not been advertised on TV recently. These results are shown in
Table 6. This time we see that the favorability score among those who claim the brand had advertised recently is actually lower than among
those who claim the brand has not advertised recently. Again, the clear implication is that the advertising has not worked.
Now compare these results to the analysis of recognition in Table 7. Again we see that those nonusers who recognize the advertising are
more favorably disposed toward Standard Life than those who do not. In this case, however, the favorability among those who have seen
the advertisement several times is not higher. The conclusion is that this advertising either works very quickly or perhaps needs a longer
exposure period than the dog food advertising. We address this point later on.
The final analysis of the CAPI data is a cross tabulation of those who claim the brand was advertised recently against recognition, and
results are shown in Table 8. Again we see that the low favorability score among those who claimed that the brand had been advertising on
TV recently is caused by the 37 percent who had not actually seen the advertising. Their mean favorability is 4.99, compared with a mean
favorability of 6.21 among those who recognized the advertisement.
The results support the theory that advertising which relies upon Affect (i.e., which mainly influences emotions and feelings) is likely to
benefit from longer periods of repeat exposure. It also supports the hypothesis that recall-based metrics like Claimed Advertising
Awareness are likely to seriously underestimate the effectiveness of advertising that relies on Affect. What does this imply for the research
The question “have you seen brand X advertised on TV recently?” is one that we who work in the industry instinctively like and understand.
We can answer it easily and accurately, because we pay attention to advertising: it is, after all, what pays our wages. The results above
suggest that the clarity with which we can answer this and similar questions is not always shared by consumers. Ordinary people, who
watch TV as part of their day-to-day routine, almost certainly pay a lot less attention to TV advertising than we do and remember a lot less
of it than we do. So when asked if they have seen a brand advertised on TV recently, they can get the answer wrong; and when asked
what they can recall about the advertising for a brand, they sometimes recall nothing. But this does not necessarily mean that advertising
has had no influence on their attitudes toward the brand.
Advertising that relies on affect is increasingly common: Indeed, the majority of advertising employs affect to a greater or lesser degree
nowadays. We have presented evidence that the effect that advertising has on consumers' emotions and feelings (i.e., Affect) is likely to be
largely unknown to them, and such advertising is unlikely to be well recalled. The results of our

Anonymous said...


Google wasn't boring it was great. Because it worked better than any other search engine at the time. End of. It didn't need anything else.

But if it did, it would hopefully not be Michael Winner.

Sell! Sell! said...

Anon 11.56/12.05
Thanks for the time you put into that, although I had read some of Heath's stuff as it happens.
The reality is that the studies still rely on interpretation of results, and interviews. I'm not saying that there is NO merit in this approach at all, rather that this shouldn't be taken as read as some kind of blanket scientific proof applicable in all cases.
And, as an ad-guy, I DO think that the undertones of 'how' you say something have a long-term cumulative effect on consumers, even if the 'what' was said wasn't immediately relevant to them, regardless of any studies. But I think people suggesting that the approach to every different and varied project should be based on this theory is just a little bit short sighted.
But there you go - *don't question the planners* :-)

Anonymous said...

anon 1.24, you're missing the point.

you're imposing your view of the world on the world. the very definition of arrogance.

the michael winner ads for esure work. so rather than folding your arms and sneering, maybe you should ask yourself what is it about those ads that works. and how might you steal that bit and use it for good.

i have never seen one of those ads but let me guess. i bet they are very direct and not a mystery in any sense.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3.41 am.
Thank you.
At least someone got the point.

john p woods said...

Effectiveness rules ok.

Anonymous said...

3.41 And, er, what are you doing?

I'll keep looking at work like Sony balls, the Hofmeister Bear, Smash Aliens, Guinness surfers, classic VW, subservient chicken, etc, and see how they worked like bastards, thanks. They lead to hugely increased sales (bet they beat Esure) AND job satisfaction. Instead of a feeling that you've crapped all over the general public.

Your opinion also seems to be based on not knowing what we're talking about.

No one knows what works at the end of the day, including you or Dave or me, but I'd rather be focusing on creatively great campaigns - which worked. As Dave used to.

dave @ 1.19

you mean your point? keep an open mind - remember.

and John Woods - I agree. most people don't want to do an ad which doesn't work. or an ad that's uninspired trash.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:15,

3:41 here.

i have done some pretty famous work that was both a critical and commercial success. personally, i like my ads to be charming and likeable and, most of all, effective. the effective bit is the most important bit. and i'd happily sacrifice charm and likeability for effectiveness. but it's not in my nature to create odious crap.

all i was saying is that one's personal preferences will only get you so far. and if the esure ads are working to the extent that they are, and our job is to sell stuff, then maybe there's a lesson in it for us.

nobody is advocating creating annoying dreck. that happens effortlessly anyway.

and you're wrong. there are lots of people who know what work. and they got there by stepping outside themselves and actively considering doing "the wrong" thing.

Anonymous said...

"...and our job is to sell stuff..."

In fact... no, this is not our job, that is called - read my lips - marketing.

Our job as creatives is to wrap things in a beautiful concept, so they don't sound like "Buy it, you fuckin' bastard! Buy it!" or like this.

...and all these without ruining the marketing part, ...if you know what I mean.

But not ruining the marketing part doesn't make us marketing faces. Again, just to make sure you got it:

Our job is not to sell stuff, just to facilitate it.

Anonymous said...

Our job is not to sell stuff, just to facilitate it.>>>

i have to disagree. my job is to sell stuff. that point has been made abundantly clear to me by clients over the years. i have yet to hear a client ask me to "to wrap things in a beautiful concept". ever.

i'm in advertising, not marketing.

i can do the "beautiful concept" stuff in my sleep. as can any decent creative. that's not the hard part. the hard part is making sure it all actually works, ie sells stuff.

Anonymous said...

You have to come up with THE RIGHT beautiful concept, the one that HELPS sell stuff. So indeed that choice is the difficult part, not the imagination exercise. But your job is still to facilitate selling stuff, not to sell stuff.

Anonymous said...

what's with all the people telling me my job all of a sudden? i've actually been doing pretty good convincing the viewing public that the product i am advertising is in fact superior in some way to its competition.

you know, selling stuff.

i'm off to drink a beer now. or, facilitate the drinking of a beer.

Sell! Sell! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sell! Sell! said...

. 10.02

I'm sure you are a vary nice, very smart person,
but your words make me feel sad for the business.

Anonymous said...

sell, sell,

what was it i said that made you sad? i thought i was being reasonable. it was the other commenter who was being unreasonable IMHO.

Sell! Sell! said...

10.02 you're right.

sorry, it's 10.30's comments I meant - very sad.

Damn all these different anonymouses :-)

Charles Edward Frith said...

I did try to chip in to this thread via mobile phone but it seems that it didn't go through.

Low processing involvement is easily the most fascinating subject in advertising and there is little chance to give it justice in the comments box but what I will say as a fan of the books finding is that both great creativity and constant repetition work but in different ways.

Engaging with people is the best way to sell but there's a quid pro quo in the Television Media that has a different dimension than great creativity.

That dimension is trust and the thinking goes something like this. "Look I'm not really paying attention to your advertising as it's a quid pro quo deal on the content which is what I really watch Television for. Howver as you are clearly paying a lot of money to vie for my attention I'll park you in the low involvment processing area, take a few key thoughts with me and probably trust you just because you have the money to fight for my attention in a relatively expensive media space"

We trust TV advertised products because dodgy brands cannot be built through the medium. They need the resources and back up of lots of money to get there in the first place. It works best on full engagement but quite well on low involvement processing.

I do however think that Cillet Bang became a hit because it's a hardcore ad. You want a hardcore cleaner for the kitchen and Cillet Bang leaves us in no confusion as to exactly what it is.

It's a long subject and there are lots of contextual variables that can always be brought in to change a viewpoint but this is one subject I'll talk about forever and ever if people catch me in real life. It's just fascinating.

Remember. Propaganda is also advertising!

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything except the last line.
I'd remove the word 'also' and reverse the order.

Anonymous said...

thank you sell! sell!

self-esteem restored. am not crazy after all.

Anonymous said...

I tend to believe Dave Trott is right. Advertising is propaganda.
And propaganda isn't the concrete act of selling, it just helps the process. And if you rewind to Dave's first comment on this thread you'll find more reasons why you shouldn't be that frenetic about your importance in the act of selling. There are so many other factors that influence sales. If you do an ad for VW and your client faces an increase in sales you think it was you, the big you, the genius you. But my friend, you might be surprised to try your ad on some less popular manufacturer and find out that the result is a complete disappointment, making you a very brave MD (Master Of Disaster). So there's no point in amplifying your role in selling your clients' products. You might even start feeling that you also manufacture your clients' goods.

If I were your client, I'd hate you right now. You leave no recognition to your clients' efforts of being among the best.

Anonymous said...

I tend to believe Dave Trott is right. Advertising is propaganda.
And propaganda isn't the concrete act of selling, it just helps the process. And if you rewind to Dave's first comment on this thread you'll find more reasons why you shouldn't be that frenetic about your importance in the act of selling.>>>

alright i've had enough of this shit.

"helps the process" of selling? no. advertising IS the process of selling. the process of persuading consumers to buy stuff.

and why do you presume that I (like you perhaps) have difficulty telling a turd from a winner. i don't.

keeping a firm grip on reality is something i do very well.
that's one of the things that makes me good. and another reason, in addition to being really good at selling stuff, that clients love me and my work. becauase i actually know what i'm doing.

you clearly have a distorted view of the role of advertising. you are just fundamentally wrong. to an extent that makes me fear for your career. assuming of course you actually do have a career and do work in advertising. hopefully you don't. and hopefully you're not in any position to influence the impressionable.

and i'm not your friend.

Sell! Sell! said...

Hmm I agree 5.27.
But unfortunately 3.31's view is not a unique one.
The ad industry has produced a generation of creatives who don't think they're in the selling business, just the 'creative' business...
They seem to think that something cannot be 'creative' and 'sell' whereas that's exactly what all the real greats of advertising did.
The only reason creativity in advertising exists is to make the advertising more effective.

Anonymous said...


I think you were also 3.41 the other day? If so you're now sounding pretty arrogant. After chastising me for the same!

I can see what the previous guy to you was saying. That there are many other factors involved in the sales process and that we need to be mindful of these when we work out what to say.

What he says also comes back to what I said earlier. You may think you know what 'works', but you don't know for sure, no one does. At best, you're just working the averages. If you assume you 'know what you're doing' chances are you'll follow a formula you've followed before which will by definition be familiar. i.e. without a point of difference. It may get your client some sales, but it won't get astronomical ones. The old 'No one ever got fired for buying IBM' analogy, to which Apple replied 'No one got promoted either'.

To me it all comes back to strategy.

Get the strategy right - by researching it – so you have nailed what you need to be saying, and then produce interesting, engaging, different creative work for that audience. knowing the nub of what you're saying hits home.

this leaves no room for the 'botch job' michael winner campaigns of this world....

this is how BMP were so brilliant. everyone forgets the cast iron strategies behind the great creative. this allowed people like john webster to really go out there.

And one without the other is toilet. You could argue that some agencies like Dave's, for example, have the strategy but not the creative to really make a difference.

And that some 'creative' agencies are guilty of producing great creative work without a sound strategy, which therefore doesn't resonate and doesn't work.

sound strategy, eye-wateringly good creative and you have massive sales. easier said.....but i'd rather be saying that than 'I know what works thanks'.

Definitely as a creative, and actually maybe as a client too.

Sell sell - you're right. Creativity (and strategy = effectiveness.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, 3.51. I nearly got to believe that I was the only one to really appreciate the importance of always being on your guard, as not everything happens in an advertising agency office. The process of selling happens outside and not being aware of that just makes us hopeless dreamers. Also, a good campaign is undoubtedly a combination of good strategy and highly creative work, but good strategy means global view. Including the need to collaborate with marketing departments, which don't exist for no reason. They ARE part of the selling process and can even help you find the right strategy. No need to mention the importance of behavioural marketing, which requires direct interaction with the consumers. I don't know about other creatives, but I don't think I'd have the time and the skills to do that. Even only because I can't ask people to visit me at the office and have a little chat with me about their shopping habits. It would be unnatural anyway, thus misleading.

Anonymous said...

previous two anons.

seriously, if advertising is a mystery to you, maybe you're not cut out for it.

great advertising happens as a result of gut instinct. research is a load of bollocks. it's just not that hard guys. who drinks beer? everyone. who eats pies? everyone.

of course you need a great strategy. that's also my job. again, it's just not that hard. it's usually blindingly obvious what the smartest strategy is. and if it isn't, it just requires more thought.

and of course there are factors outside of advertising alone that can affect sales.

I can't control them. i take them into account, but i can't control them. so i focus on the bit i can control: the advertising. strategy and execution.

chocolate=joy. therefore drumming gorilla. that might work. it ain't science guys.

Anonymous said...


I cannot believe you wrote it yourself! Honestly now!

THAT'S WHAT I KEEP SAYING, advertising is just the easy play, SELLING is another thing, it is not easy to do, involves great marketing strategy and thorough research. So.. ADVERTISING IS NOT SELLING STUFF, JUST FACILITATING THE PROCESS.

Anonymous said...


advertising isn't a mystery to me, I just don't presume to know it all. Which you obviously don't if you have Michael Winner as an option in your head.

Research is bollocks when it comes judging creative work, but not necessarily for strategies.

We all come up with strategies which seem great to us. But if we're talking effectiveness and going for maximum sales here maybe it's worth checking don't you think?

BMP v you. I know which one I'd go for.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Who uses sanitary pads? Everyone
Who drives Ferraris? Everyone
Who uses makeup? Everyone
Who eats truffles? Everyone
Who needs semiconductors? Everyone


This advertising thingy really IS as easy as you say it is, 8.23pm

Anonymous said...

If you don’t believe Robert Heath’s articles you can make your own research. Ask your friends or relatives (not working in the industry) what do they think of advertising. Do they watch carefully ads on the TV or they just switch off their attention as soon as the ads start. Do they recall the ads they like and most importantly do they remember the products and brands advertised in their favorite attention grabbing ads. Most of them don’t, they even don’t realise that advertising affects them. No matter the lack of attention, advertising industry still exists, still manages to persuade people and still acquires millions every year.
We are all bombarded with advertising shouting for attention from every corner and people (excluding you and me because of obvious reasons) have learned to automatically protect themselves from the marketing messages by switching off their attention. Robert Heath proves that even without paying attention, we still process this information unconsciously and this is the most effective durable way advertising affects us.

Anonymous said...

>>>advertising isn't a mystery to me, I just don't presume to know it all. Which you obviously don't if you have Michael Winner as an option in your head.>>>

well have you ever thought of TRYING to know it all? maybe you should. there's not really that much to know. maybe you're overestimating "it all". have you thought of that?

i've never seen the michael winner ads. they clearly scare some people here. i wonder why. didn't he do the charles bronson revenge pics? he can't be that potent a force.

and research IS bollocks. because it's lazy. who gives a toss what other people think? other people don't create ads for you. you do. do your own research. sweat a bit. put the responsibility on your shoulders. your conclusions are the only ones that truly matter. bmp just made it seem like it was a science or a process. it isn't.

Anonymous said...

"who gives a toss what other people think? other people don't create ads for you. you do."

Are you too old to change your job? This clearly shows advertising IS a real mystery to you.

Anonymous said...


Oh dear, you're just embarrassing yourself now. I'll resist the option to just go 'duh'...


"and research IS bollocks. because it's lazy. [hello? you still have to do the thinking to research it. what's lazy is assuming you know it all] who gives a toss what other people think? other people don't create ads [read what I was saying, I'm not talking about researching ads] for you. you do. do your own research. sweat a bit. put the responsibility on your shoulders. your conclusions are the only ones that truly matter. bmp just made it seem like it was a science or a process. it isn't."

....contradict what you said a few posts ago...

"all i was saying is that one's personal preferences will only get you so far"

Time to move on, methinks.

Anonymous said...

@5.13 You're not listening. as someone mentioned earlier no one's saying making ads is necessarily rocket science, but the original point was that achieving massive sales may be more difficult and may be worth being a little more methodical with, that's all. what's wrong with that ffs?

Anonymous said...

previous anons.

When i said "personal preferences will only get you so far" i was referring to the creative bit. and it's very true. you'd be amazed at how conservative and close-minded creatives can be. hobbled by personal notions of cool. or captivated by the medium of film. everyone is at some point. but not everyone grows out of it.

and when i said research is bollocks i was referring to the bit before the creative. the strategy part. two very different parts of the puzzle.

ad folks and clients tend to use research to back up their preconceived notions. that's what makes it bollocks. and generally completely useless. so i wouldn't look to it for any genuine insights. i'd love to be surprised but rarely am. so i don't lean on it for strategic or creative ideas. meeting and talking with real consumers in an informal atmosphere can be helpful. but in an indirect way. and without mediation.

look at any great campaign. it was not created in a methodical manner. they never are. you know what's created methodically? all the bad stuff. oh, there's a well oiled very methodical machine that justifies the creation of all the shite.

the idea that you can control creativity is a fantasy and a fallacy.

i'm not saying creating and executing big ideas that sell lots of products is easy. but i know from personal experience that it's not nearly as complicated (or as painful sounding) as some people here seem to think it is.

Product....selling idea....consumer. that's it. you can complicate it beyond that if you like. but just know that it's your personal choice to do so. and it will make your life less fun and will limit your career potential.

so why do it?

Charles Edward Frith said...

Thanks Dave. I agree with your sugggestions fully.

I first started to think a lot more about the propaganda/advertising topic at a marketing blog I used to read when it was still unpatriotic as an American to criticize the President back in 2006

I'd had a few glasses of vino when I let loose on this comment, so it's a bit messy but some of it holds reasonably well.