In my last post, I talked about how Pakistani advertisements sometimes make no sense at all. In trying to be creative, they sometimes lose relevance to the product. Sometimes, the best creative might not work either; when advertisements lose relevance to the target customer and more often, lose sight of the target customer. Root cause? Creative ideas & media plans designed in complete isolation of each other with minimal (if at all) grounding in the brand's marketing strategy (i.e. well-defined measurable objectives, a clear & focused positioning as well as a well-researched & understood target audience). Result? Advertisements that may be creative but not necessarily effective; they may be loud but uncommunicative; they may be ubiquitous but invisible to those who really matter.
The solution is simple; before you set out to develop your creative strategy or design a media plan, make an effort to really get to know your customer; who they are, what they do, what they want & why they want what they want. And not to forget, find the right contact points (touch points) by understanding when & where your customers can be reached; stop foolishly hoping that your customers will be where you are whenever you want them to be. In short, try to find the right aperture to communicate your message to them efficiently & effectively. (Don't be like Gypsy Beauty/Fairness Cream who bombarded Geo Super viewers during the last T20 World Cup. It was plain annoying!)
Secondly, if you are developing creative, please communicate with your media department & discuss your plans with them. Ask them about the latest in media tools, ask them if they can help you identify the best contact points (which includes all sorts of unconventional media channels, tools & touch points) to reach out to your target market. In fact, there are so many possibilities of creative media utilization within conventional media like magazines & TV, it is surprising why we don't see them being tapped into more often - (perhaps because creatives in Pakistan aren't sure if such deviations from the norm are possible). For instance, I love how instead of publishing a simple print ad in the magazine, McDonald's chose to roll the magazine in a wrapper to make it look like a burrito. There must have been some coordination between the media department & the creative department to pull this off.
Lastly, as basic communication theory dictates, if a message is not encoded well by the sender, it won't be decoded well by the receiver and resultantly, lose its meaning & effectiveness. So even if you have identified & described the right target market to your creatives, please ensure your creative actually has the ability to create a message for that particular market; i.e. he/she can empathize with them, understand their needs & translate this into an effective advertising message. Not every creative person can relate to or have knowledge of every sub-culture that is targeted by advertising. A US/UK-born & raised copywriter might be great with the English language for instance but might not fully understand the nuances of Karachi's 'awaami' culture or Lahore's love for 'Basant'. For example, the following ad features 'Ginormica' from the cartoon movie 'Monsters Vs. Aliens'. Although it is an ad for flat screen TVs, I doubt many people in Pakistan know who this character is or what she signifies.
Of course, there are many other reasons for why advertising sometimes fails to achieve its intended purpose. The most prominent amongst them is the one-way nature of communication between advertisers & consumers; what we call talking 'at' the customer as opposed to talking 'to' the customer. A discussion of this however, calls for a dedicated post on the increasing need to tap into new & emerging media that allows an opportunity for dialog & interaction and I will get down to writing that post as soon as I am done with designing two final exams and grading 17 term projects this coming week!