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How big-brand ads attract attention, and hold it

Why crafty advertisers should strive to be prolific, not precious, in the age of social entertainment

Advertising is for people. And these days people want to take ownership of the brands they love and get involved in what they see—at least in some small way. To talk about how to build that interest and investment, the ICA invited Contagious’s North American editor, Nick Parish, to Toronto on May 10 for a talk called Engagement in the Social Entertainment Age. He says that in order to catch and keep the eyeballs of prospective consumers, an advertiser’s message needs to be at least one of the following: useful, relevant or entertaining. Ideally, it should be all three. Below are two other tips from Parish…

Social Entertainment and the full 365:

Companies are missing out on real opportunities to join their brand with the news. Events that get buzz like the Oscars or the royal wedding are opportunities for them to latch on and start a conversation.

As Tom Beckman, ECD of Stockholm-based agency Prime, wrote in one issue of Contagious: “That means you should focus on everything that’s going on, from trends to opinions to happenings to movements, and be prepared to seize opportunities when they arise. If you’re a shoe salesman, your window will be some guy throwing a shoe at President Bush. Then you’ll have a month or so to get your business message out.”

Beckman calls this tie to current events “the 365 strategy.” The brand has to be looking for ways to engage its audience every day. And when it finds a way, it should move quickly. The act of joining a product with the news that matters to people, and that they’re already talking about, will get people to repeat what they saw in the ad if it resonated with them.

Mass vs. Niche Communication:

Once upon a 1950s spot, it might have been acceptable for a company to get away with repeating the word “clean” 16 times in one commercial to convince consumers to buy a box of laundry detergent. Now it’s just as important to connect with consumers through more niche marketing efforts as it is to have mass campaigns that do a little more “telling” and less “showing.” This again comes back to the goal of opening up a dialogue between the consumer and the brand. One example Parish points to is Skittle’s “David Phoenix vs. Skittles fans” event. The candy company put martial artist Phoenix in a tank and page views to dropped Skittles on him, burying him. Hilarious commentary was also provided…for hours. The goal of this is not to reach the most people, but to have the people the campaign does reach be active participants in the event. It just goes to show that engaging with a consumer doesn’t have to be deep to be compelling.