Winking in the dark

In 1956 it was noted. in a New York Herald Tribune column, that "doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does." Some advertisers are trying to figure out what to do next these days and what kind of daylight to cast the brand in for the future, so consumers can see them wink. In the meantime, there are a series of spotlights around the world that illuminate the brand. These spotlights are called point-of-purchase advertising and for now, on a worldwide basis, they represent the major effort by these brands to create a unified identity.

Not everything is cereal

While ad agencies don't consider point-of-purchase (POP) advertising very sexy, manufacturers, distributors, licensees and licensors do. It is one of the most effective tools a marketer has in his box of tricks. In the 1980s, one study revealed that 74% of all buying decisions were made in the store. Even half that number would be impressive. Twenty years ago, 27% of cereal was purchased with in-store coupons. By the mid 90s, that number jumped to 45%. True, not everything is cereal, but the betting is that a lot of brand decisions are being made right in the store, where POP advertising is evident and effective.

Ripe fruit

Modern marketing strategies are based on recency. This holds that consumers who are ready to buy in your product category, are much more likely to be susceptible to your advertising, than consumers who are relatively complacent at the moment. Can you think of a consumer who is more ready to buy than one who has deliberately gone to the store to pick up a few pairs of sox? They are so ripe for a good message and so they are called low hanging fruit, ready to drop. Point-of purchase ads are the hook that can snag the customer into the brand basket.

Good money on a bad bet

Here's another interesting bit of information, which translates to most marketing efforts. Research shows us that some TV commercials have overnight recall scores that far exceed others. These are usually well-produced, very professional, high quality spots that embody the brand and project its identity to a ripe and even a complacent public. These high recall, high quality spots, which attain big numbers on the first airing, continue to accumulate an audience that remembers the message, thus making it the basis for a very effective campaign that is eventually remembered by most everyone. A low recall commercial will never be the basis of a campaign that will ever exceed 50% of the public in recall. Production quality counts, whether it is in a television commercial or POP advertising.

If people don't remember your advertising, you are wasting money, vast sums of money, because this investment is not advancing brand equity and identity. Put another way, a poorly produced ad, POP or otherwise, will never really be effective in the marketplace, no matter how many advertising dollars you put behind it. It's like playing poker and continuing to throw good money behind a bad bet.

The best possible light

Now let's go back into the store. Point-of-purchase advertising is left to the manufacturer or licensor, who traditionally takes it very seriously. It represents virtually the last chance to direct and inform a consumer to your brand. If it is not produced to the highest standards, we run the risk of losing our ripest customers, all day long, every day. It must be timely, in keeping with the season as well as the fashion and current sales. If we are going to wink at the consumer, we need to have the spotlight on and the light should be not just favorable, it should be flattering.

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© Media Directors Ink : July 2002


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