Should you act local?
Back in the US, the sheer number of local television channels and affiliates creates opportunities for television advertising often unseen here in the UK: the local TVC. So powerful. So productive. So quotable. So… cringe-worthy. I really miss these.
Don’t get me wrong, I heart well-thought-out and polished campaigns with elegant executions. But there is something truly special about an ad for a local furniture shop or the local pizza parlour or… your local taxidermist. (Oh, I know you’ve seen it, but don’t you just want to watch it again?)
I was talking about local ads in the US with some of my colleagues at Ipsos ASI and trying to explain them. They amuse me for sure (whether intentional or not). But, thing is, what I like about them is that they are simply, unapologetically call to action – great little individual case studies in how this can work and is the right thing in some circumstances. I’m pretty certain that these ads are incredibly successful relative to the size of the businesses. (When I was working in the US office, we used to say it would be a lot of fun to test some of those, fully expecting at the very least that purchase intention would sky-rocket). They are not going to launch or support a multi-million dollar brand, nor are they going a long way to building attitudinal equity, but they are going to move a few more sofas.
Instead of merely laughing at the over-the-top earnestness and zeal of the spokespeople, we should see if there is anything that we can learn. The key is simplicity. The best of them have a clear message that they chase relentlessly throughout the creative, not complicating it with a lot of different objectives.
If you’ve read any of my previous blog entries, you’ll know I’m a big proponent of simplicity. If people have to work to understand an ad, then most of the time, they just won’t bother. No matter how clever the execution, it needs to be accessible to accomplish its task, whether that be call-to-action or equity-building.
Local radio, of course, fills some of the gap for me here. You get some honest, simple creative there too. However, I will admit that my favourite all-time local radio ad comes from the US, too – for a monster truck rally. It is the source of a quote that makes me chuckle to this day (think deep, echo-y voice): ‘We’ll sell you the whole seat, but you’ll only need THE EDGE, the edge, the edge, the edge.’ Brilliant stuff. I’ll bet they sold some seat edges too. I considered it; unfortunately, I was just passing through town.