A young curler who is a marketing student sent the plea below to me.
by Andrew Denny
We can’t take it anymore.
The madness has to end at some point. Is it so much for us to ask that you may spare us? I don’t think it’s unreasonable. In fact, it’s a little cruel and especially unnerving that you continue to subject us to this.
Have you no sympathy? Have you no conscious? Because if I see that flippin’ AMJ Campbell commercial with Russ Howard one more time, my head just might explode.
Not to pick directly on AMJ Campbell, but many others are guilty of this “marketing crime” as well. I’m looking at you World Financial Group, M&M Meat Shops, Tim Hortons, Scotties and others who I may have missed. You’re all just as guilty of taking us for suckers.
Not that condoning curling sponsors is the right thing to do. Without these companies supporting the game, it would remain stagnant and would have never grown in to the popular sport that it is today. The fault lies in how the engage their target markets.
Seeing the same ads over and over again during every single curling broadcast is probably the least effective way to go about branding your company, and it’s a damned shame to see all this potential ad revenue go to waste.
In fact, when I see Jennifer Jones slide across that grocery store floor with that stupid straw broom in her hand just to go snatch up another box of Scotties facial tissues, I turn the channel while suppressing the urge to launch my remote control through my TV.
Times have changed, and for some reason, everyone who chooses to advertise in curling is still in the Stone Age of marketing practices.
In marketing, there’s a little something called “effective frequency” which in English terms, means “the amount of times you see something while still retaining its message”. This is a very popular tactic and widely used in many different facets of the marketing world. It’s entirely unavoidable, as you see it online, in print media and even through some distribution channels like third party retailers.
Thomas Smith, author of a guidebook called “Successful Advertising” is said to have coined the term and wrote a little poem about the process:
The first time people look at any given ad, they don't even see it.
The second time, they don't notice it.
The third time, they are aware that it is there.
The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they've seen it somewhere before.
The fifth time, they actually read the ad.
The sixth time they thumb their nose at it.
The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.
The eighth time, they start to think, "Here's that confounded ad again."
The ninth time, they start to wonder if they're missing out on something.
The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbors if they've tried it.
The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The thirteenth time, they start to feel the product has value.
The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.
The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can't afford to buy it.
The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product.
The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.
The nineteenth time, they count their money very carefully.
The twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy what is offering.
Seems effective enough right? If you pound a message in to people’s brains enough, they’ll eventually listen.
As effective a strategy as this may seem, you have to note that this was written back in 1885 and Thomas Smith is long dead – and so is his theory about effective frequency.
Consumer’s today have a different approach towards purchasing and ad retention. We are more connected than ever and treat each transaction with any company like a relationship. Mutual respect between any company and its current clientele is a must and most people trust a referral from a friend more than any advertisement.
Consumers want to be engaged and unlike 20 years ago, they’re willing to show their displeasure with any company with their purchasing habits.
Companies no longer call the shots. The power is in the consumer’s hand. Welcome to 21st century marketing, ladies and gents. Isn’t it beautiful?
Now, back to JJ and her little Scotties facial tissues plug: why did we see this commercial play during every single ad break during a curling broadcast during the 2012 Scotties? Effective frequency has something to do with it, but some marketing executives actually believe this still works.
In fact, it makes the assumption that consumers are stupid.
How difficult is it to make a series of commercials that can be played within the same frequency? Budget surely isn’t a problem because TV advertising is incredibly expensive that the additional production costs would be a fraction of the total media purchase.
Are the marketing executives who make the decision to play the same ad over and over again lazy? Well no, it’s not like they’re the ones going out and filming, directing and editing the footage.
Surely those who purchase air time and sponsor the events have an exclusivity clause, so it’s not like they have any real competition within their product category.
So why? Why do they do this to us? Why play the same ad over and over?
The simple answer is that these companies believe that we’ll buy in to it, no matter what. They still believe that consumers are cattle who can be herded with the same message being pounded in to our skulls until we remember it.
Think of it this way: Russ Howard still had hair in those AMJ Campbell commercials. Who are you fooling, really?
Frankly, I get angry at those damned commercials now and it deters me from purchasing those products. This doesn’t stop with just me either – many of my fellow curlers agree that it’s time for a change.
And who better to make change than the CCA? They’ve had a massively successful marketing communications campaign with their “Feel Like A Pro” series of commercials featuring characters like Jonny “The Hammer” Chow and Mary “Bulls Eye” Dobbins all getting their own sets. Who doesn’t love those ads?!
Not to mention the CCA continues to show their understanding of modern marketing practices with the launch of their “All Started With A Click” campaign, trying a call to action with an experiential website visit.
It’s not a difficult change to make, and yet so many commercials aired during curling events constantly make the same mistakes time and time again, unknowingly destroying the effectiveness of their messages.
It’s sad to see, but it’s not too late to make a change. We can have effective, engaging advertising during curling events that actually motivate us to purchase a sponsor’s products and support the financial side of curling during our lifetime.
So please, if any marketing exec big wigs are reading this, spare us. The change is so easy to make and you’ll be happy you did.
It’s the least you can do.