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Flying Seraph

Advertising That Makes You Hate Brands

Are you anything like me? Do you get really irritated when a YouTube ad gets in the way of what you really want to see?

Like me, do you transfer that dislike to the brand?

Go on. Re-live the last time that happened. How did you really feel? On a scale from: ‘that’s just the way it is’ to ‘get out of my way you f**king parasite’.

Not only when you’re forced to watch an entire ad. Even those you can click to banish. Come on. Be honest. Do you see any of the ad or just focus intently on the countdown? Finger poised, ready to send it to oblivion?

Well it’s a funny thing.

I polled around 20 folk – some in advertising; some not. Seems we have a similar thing going on. Being reared on commercial TV, most are resigned to ads interrupting their viewing. On TV, that is. Let’s face it most of us are ‘zapping’ ads. If not with technology, then simply the old-fashioned way – zoning out or using the ad as a cue to go and wash their hands.

But the feeling towards a TV ad, I found, is far less intense.

Seems like TV is such a ‘lean back’, chill-out medium, that the resentment is far less pronounced. Besides, few can remember a time when TV didn’t interrupt our viewing with Ads. It’s our normal.

But when you’re really ‘leaning in’. Hunting for information. Looking for help. Searching for something very specific on your second/third screen and up pops something that gets in your way, much stronger emotions are aroused.  And they’re not positive, not even just neutral…


Which is high risk for a brand in an era when Indifference is our biggest enemy. At a time when more than ever before, it seems, people are trying to avoid hearing from us – we are misusing our ability to reach people.

Our task is to court, seduce and entice people to Opt In. When they’d prefer to Opt Out.

To produce ideas people are interested in instead of crudely and coarsely interrupting what they’re interested in.

Reach that repels – I’d argue – is far more damaging than not talking to (at?) people, at all. And that goes for TV too, just in case you thought I was endorsing bad behaviour anywhere at all.

Rather bank the money. Do no harm to your brand.

So here’s the challenge. (Let’s acknowledge there are a handful of advertisers & agencies out there who are starting to get it right. Green shoots, as it were.) How about we set out to make that type of communication work well? Make it likeable. Entertaining. Designed for the medium.

Not simply the TV ad running as a pre-roll.

(That would be as daft as running a magazine ad on a poster site or on a bus side. Come to think of that, in the name of economy, I remember advertisers doing just that).

This is worse. Inexcusable, really. Because we’re repeating a prang that’s already been had.

Back to basics, please: Consumer journey. Role for channel. Audience Insight. Desired response. Then design your YouTube, Facebook, Instagram etc. communication.

Not hard really, is it.

Just needs fresh thinking. Or really old thinking.

In fact, just some thinking. Oh.. and a little empathy, please.

Please follow me on Twitter: @MarkSareff

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