Sunday, November 20, 2011

Is The "Call To Action" Dead

The latest Harvard Business Review carries an interesting story on research done into how consumers react to logos, pay-off lines and other information in an advert.

The results are interesting.

For starters, the researchers found that consumers tend to rebel against slogans.

"When it comes to slogans (pay-off lines), participants exhibited the opposite of the desired behaviour. After reading a slogan meant to incite spending ("luxury, you deserve it") , they decided to spend 26% less than after reading a neutral slogan ("Time is what you make of it"). When a slogan invited them to save ("Dress for less"), they decided to spend - an additional 29%, on average. The slogans had a reverse "priming" effect.

The researchers, a marketing professor from the University of Miami, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Haas School of Business at the University of California, go on to say that their studies suggest that "reverse priming occurs because because consumers recognise that slogans deliberately attempt to persuade them, whereas (in their perception), brands do not. The recognition may not be conscious. We found that consumers automatically resisted a slogan's message."

Hence, a brand with a pay-off line or slogan that positions the said brand or product as "exclusive" or an "indulgence" immediately trigger the "saving" instinct of the consumer, leading them to spend less.

Whereas a pay-off or slogan that positions another brand or product as a "money-saver" actually prompted the consumer to spend more on it!

We fully agree with the researchers' conclusions: "There is actually good news here for marketers, who need not simply abandon slogans for fear of adverse reactions. Slogans can exert a positive influence, we believe, if the consumer is led to focus on something other than the effort to persuade."

And the final kicker was this: Creativity sells and convinces. The researchers asked a group of consumers to rate a set of slogans on the basis of "intent to persuade", while the other group was asked to rate them on creativity.

The group that evaluated creativity decided to spend 58% more than the other group.

This is why you will never see a Jericho advert urging to "rush, rush rush while stocks last!"

This is also why Jericho always strives to be the most creative on every brand it handles.

It is also the same reason why all our clients have seen huge returns on the cost of their advertising....higher recognition, more sales and more love for their brands and companies by the market.

It is also the reason why ads done by Jericho are consistently the most noticed by the market, across the board, from Old Mutual campaigns, Toyota campaigns, iwayAfrica adverts and campaigns, Nandos advertising campaigns to Pathfiner Luxury Coaches, RM Insurance and many many others.

Our clients will tell you that we are always hounding them for figures. We want to know by how much sales have increased since advertising started, we want to do research to see how perception has shifted due to a branding campaign.

Consumers are, we believe, the same all over the world: a mother in London loves their child as much as a mother in Lupane. A Zimbabwean wants good health as much as a Canadian.

The only thing that differs is the cultural context, which is where we come in: marrying creativity to Zimbabwe's unique cultural atmosphere, delivering relevant, impactful and profitable advertising.

It does raise the question: "Is the call to action dead?" Is it wise to continue with it when research clearly shows that it leads consumers to resist that specific call?

The market is evolving, you either evolve with it or you die.