Ad, similar ad, another one, repeat

There is a wave of generic ad campaigns which echo similar values and end up reinforcing certain worldviews; but do they sell the brand’s products?

In a highly competitive market, brands must aim to discover a unique idea that they can use as their core messaging – something that communicates with their audience in a way no one else can. Unfortunately, the trend of recycling ideas by making a mish-mash of what has already been communicated by a thousand other campaigns by brands over the years, in an effort to desperately appeal to a category of self-absorbed, self-driven individuals in the contemporary world, continues.

But while these brands may just be giving into the pressure of having at least some core message (even if it isn’t original) and giving the nod to anything their commissioned agencies come up with, what’s even more disappointing is to see highly rated agencies come up with such run-of-the-mill concepts in the first place.

While these ad campaigns don’t lack in production value (in fact, this has only improved over the years with advancements in tech), merely an interesting visual doesn’t translate into direct brand association or recall. Companies, at the launch, create a lot of buzz by double speaking, but the real question is whether the customer buys into the message or not. But if the message is just a regurgitation of a thousand others, the customer will buy into the message, but not the brand. Then why should a brand pay for such an expensive campaign if it won’t even benefit them?

If the core message of an ad is similar to an individual’s worldview (that has been manufactured by their own consent, à la Noam Chomsky), it works very well for the message. It is simply a reinforcement, which will strengthen their view. But, it would do nothing to, say, boost sales of the product in question. For example, if one person is generally hedonistic, an ad campaign by a food brand urging people to give into their cravings would only make that person more hedonistic. It wouldn’t make that person buy food from that brand.

This is simply because the brand has, at most, a few seconds to capture a customer’s attention. If they spend it spewing a message that isn’t totally unique, the customer will be unable to tie the brand to the message. This lack of association will lead to a low brand recall value, which is the failing of any ad campaign.

Unfortunately, even today, brands still put out ill-thought campaigns. But more often than not, the norm of flattery (which insists on celebrating every development in the ad world) and the devastatingly low expectations of media reviewers gives them a pass. Only the few ads that are found outrageous by the public get scrutinized, but the hundreds of ineffective ones keep airing day in and day out on our screens, failing to make an impact and wasting both time and money of all the parties involved.

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