What P&G’s TV advertising cuts mean to you

Consumer goods giant P&G has announced they’re slashing the amount of money they spend on TV advertising. And at least some of the savings will go into product placement.

What do you think this says about advertising from the perspective of a company that knows as much about it as anybody?

What does it say about the value of awareness? Recall? Positioning?

What it says is that P&G feels something else is out there influencing consumer decisions. And that something else is “relevance.”

When you take the advertising out of the product and insert that product into a program or a movie you are subtracting the sell and adding the relevance.

People use and buy what the people they admire use and buy. People use and buy what makes them feel like they’re a better version of whatever they want to be.

That is why Hip Hop artists have thriving clothing lines. It’s why Reeses Pieces sales exploded when they were used by a little extra-terrestrial we loved like he was our own playmate. It’s why sales of one liquor skyrocket just because it’s the one Tom Cruise orders in a movie. It’s why Adam Sandler’s reference to XM Radio in The Longest Yard was anything but accidental – or anything but free.

Are JACK stations taking off because of their seemingly anti-listener positioning (“We play what we want”) or because a music-oriented station without all the B.S. is a match for the way listeners see themselves? One of JACK’s great “secrets” is that its broad music strategy gives it room to ebb and flow. It will never be “stuck” in an era the way 80’s stations were designed to be stuck, for example.

Oldies stations are declining because their music focus is not relevant to the audience Madison Avenue wants most. Active Rock and Alternative stations are declining in part because they are wed to a music “box” rather than an audience relevance “box.” And as goes that music, so go those stations.

Radio stations need to stop obsessing on communicating their attributes and start obsessing on proving their relevance.

And “relevance” is about the heart, not just the mind. It’s about people, not “positions.”

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