Tease ’em and please ’em?

If, in years gone by, you’ve read my blog around this time of year, you’ll know that I rather enjoy the festival that is the Super Bowl. The ads – great or terrible – are always talking points, whether you’re part of the advertising tribe or part of the audience. So, if the Super Bowl is an advertising holiday, then it is also a reflection of the shifting media landscape, a petri dish where we see not only creative that is worthy of being called ‘creative’ but also a microcosm of that shifting world of brand and comms.

And what is most obvious to me is this: instead of being shrouded in secrecy with the merest whisper of a plot hint quickly squashed, there are now hints galore; trailers, teasers, enticements, participation, you name it.

Of course, participation is not entirely new. Back in 2006, Doritos took it to an entirely new level with the Crash competition (in which the average punter could submit ideas for ads), with some fun and funny results – to pick just two:

But, to me, it was really Volkswagen that kicked it into gear. First by leaking the charming ad ‘The Force’, back in 2011 (in case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t seen it)…

…And then even further with a trailer in 2012, which featured dogs barking the Star Wars theme tune (I’ll admit that, as a dog person, I loved this).

In the past two years, it has only escalated from there – from H&M asking whether Becks should keep his kit on (or not) to previews, even full views of ads.

As with any change, there are arguments for and against. Some point to the necessity of creating a conversation with consumers (the many-to-many, rather than one-to-many, approach) and the millions of views racked up on YouTube, while others point out that some of the best remembered ads of 2013 (not to mention some of those that stick with us over the years) did not tease.

At the risk of sounding utterly cliché (and also old), the world is a different place than it was twenty years ago. So, although emotionally, nostalgically, I’m fascinated by the mystique borne of secrecy, I know that we must move on, move up, move with the times. And the times tell of tools advertisers daren’t dream about twenty years ago. We’re spoilt for choice, and choice is the operative word.

The question shouldn’t really be ‘should you or should you not?’; the question should be ‘in this time, in this place, in this campaign, for your brand, for your strategy, what is the right approach?’. Choose what is right for the brand and the campaign. Choose not just because others choose, for that’s a foolish choice. Instead, choose wisely.

Tara Beard-Knowland is a Director at Ipsos ASI. Follow Ipsos ASI on Twitter @IpsosASIUK.

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