Classic ads shows great creative is still key – but data is increasingly important

Classic ads shows great creative is still key – but data is increasingly important
Liz Morrell is a freelance business journalist and content creator with more than 20 years writing experience, including 15 in retail and associated sectors. She is a regular contributor to MarketingTech but also covers a number of other industries in her freelance capacity. Contact her via LinkedIn or at

Picture credit: consumerm1nkey/YouTube

Do you remember the Smash Martians (above), Yellow Pages’ JR Hartley and the PG Tips chimps? Such characters have become cult icons of the pre-Internet advertising days and could teach today’s internet marketers a thing or two, according to a new report from Acxiom.

The ads were amongst those most remembered by UK consumers in a poll of 2,000 people. The Smash Martians ad – for instant mashed potato no less – was remembered by 69.4% of those surveyed and was both the most remembered ad as well as the most enjoyed.

Such ads worked becauase of the emotional connection they provoked – something that is more relevant than ever in today’s advertising age as brands attempt to emotionally connect with their customers in an age of over messaging and brand fatigue according to the report Ad Campaigns Reimagined.

It’s certainly a hard task. In the consumer survey nearly a third (30%) of people said they didn’t think anything would make them positively respond to an ad.

The research however showed a redefining of what constitutes emotional engagement, claiming it’s not enough to simply make a consumer laugh or cry at an ad but instead to inspire them to more deeply engage with a brand – such as liking on Facebook, retweeting on Twitter or video views on YouTube. This requires brands to up the ante however on the sophistication of their ads’ emotional appeal.

Great creative still matters, but mastering data and technology is essential in ensuring brands identify and resonate with real people today

Personalisation the answer

Consumers are changing how they react to advertising and want genuine, interesting content rather than something that has been obviously created with the intention of making them buy. “Successful organic content goes viral because of peer pressure. It is preferred because it feels authentic and has gained attention in a natural way, as if it has been put out into the world without expectation,” says the report.

Whilst personalisation is the key to cutting through the news in a busier, advertising world, it’s not always an option accepted by consumers. The survey showed that more than a third of respondents (37%) said that they wouldn’t be happy if brands used what they knew about them to send better and more relevant marketing and offers.

However, consumers seem to accept that advertising is getting more targeted, whether they are aware of the personalisation or not. Only 17% of consumers disagreed with the fact they rarely see ads relevant to them online, with the remaining 83% suggesting that the number of personalised ads online is on the up and consumers are aware of them.

It’s also increasingly important that brands get a consistency to their messaging since more than half (51%) of those surveyed said that they would be frustrated if they saw different offers and messages from the same brand across multiple channels – a world away from the days of the Smash or PG Tips advertising days when brands only had to worry about one or two channels.

The report claims the age of the big ad – or “big splash” – is largely over. “Marketing is now more about the small moments of truth, taking the customer on micro journeys across a number of touch points,” said the report.   

The report goes on to re-imagine the classic ads mentioned earlier with the increasing importance of great data shining through the research. “People buy from people and great creative still matters, but mastering data and technology is essential in ensuring brands identify, understand, connect and resonate with real people today,” said Jed Mole, European marketing director of Acxiom. 

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