Sunday, February 20, 2011

When too much is too much

Lord Leverhulme, the founder of Unilever, once said long ago - "I know half my advertising isn't working. I just don't know which half". A century later, this still holds true. Throw helluva lot of advertising and hope that something sticks. That seems to be the motto of the lot who have made watching cricket on TV these days akin to root canal surgery.

For those unacquainted with the magic game of cricket, lets just say its a sport about which the billion plus people in India, Pakistan, etc are downright crazy about. Its world cup time (never mind that only 8 or so countries really play the game) and half the nation is glued to their TV sets. The game lasts some 6 hours and you get an advertising opportunity every 2 minutes or so. You can imagine the mayhem that is inflicted on the poor cricket fan.

The game seems to be secondary. They squeeze in more and more ads in between overs such that the first ball and the last ball of the over are considered superfluous . Now they have taken to showing the game on half the screen and running an ad all around it. And to compound the sacrilege, right in the middle of an over, the pitch seems to erupt and an ad comes out of the ground. This is not a cricket world cup. This is an advertisement world cup with cricket in there as a necessary evil.

Yeah; I understand the business behind it. After all , I slogged for a long time for the company that was the largest advertiser in the world. Yes, I know money is what drives the sport. Yes, I know , without this, there won't be a cricket world cup. But .....

There is something called the consumer. The idiot who watches the ad and hopefully goes out to buy your product. Is pissing him off, by bombarding him like a moron, any sensible strategy ? Sure , two billion eyeballs are watching and getting your brand in front of them is a great thing. But then does he even notice, or does he care ? I watched the game yesterday and can't recollect more than 2 or 3 brands although I watched 367 ads ( I actually did the math). Irritatingly the same ad repeats ad nauseum and I still can't remember the brand. One diabolical ad, doesn't even say what the product is - apparently its an attempt to create a mystery by saying "coming soon". Even the brands I notice, have done nothing to stimulate me to go and buy them. So what's the deal ?

The deal is a stupidity called 'opportunities to see'. An advertising metric that measures how many people saw your blasted ad. Of course a billion see it if you air it in the cricket world cup. The advertising manager is feted for hitting the largest number of eyeballs possible (this is the exact lingo used - they care two hoots if its a human or an animal as long as they can catch an eyeball !) They only care about the eyes - the brain behind is irrelevant.

How about a little class ? Don't yell too loudly. don't say the same thing again and again. Don't hit me with your product. Don't increase the volume level when the ads come on. Don't make claims that are laughably outrageous. Don't take me for a moron who has to be stuffed. Credit me with some intelligence. How about making a great product (like the iPhone) and then gently telling me once that it might be something I might like. And leave it at that and let me watch the game.

I may be in a minority, but I would rather not watch this monstrosity aired on TV. I would rather simply read the papers next day. Or else go and see a few matches live. One thing I am sure about. I am not going to buy a product because of that dumb ad they aired.