Can Media Placement Destroy a Commercial?

By January 21, 2007

I am sure I am not the only one that has seen the new “Rock em’ Sock em’ Dodge Ram Truck” Commercial. Initially I thought, not a bad commercial. It was funny, had some cool graphics and got the message across that a Dodge Ram is a tough truck. Mission accomplished, as a whole a pretty positive reaction.

So what am I writing about? At what point can media placement destroy a commercial and start to take a good idea and positive feedback and make it negative. During the past bowl season the commercial was played excessively, basically in every commercial break, and the trend has not stopped. Within a two hour span tonight I saw the commercial 3 times on the same network. At this point I am so tired of the commercial that I now feel that Dodge is not creative enough to provide the viewing public with something new.

You are most likely saying, who is this guy to make such a judgment? Maybe, but within my circle of friends and around the office the sentiment is the same and you do not even have to bring up the conversation, it gets brought up for you.

Lets forget Dodge and turn to the question, can media placement, especially excessive media placement, destroy a commercial? The TV advertising industry is obsessed with one thing, number of people watching your commercial, called an impression. Is this a good measuring stick anymore. Would a client prefer 1 million good and valued impressions, or 2 million good and 1 million bad? I do not have the answer to that question, but I figured it is a question worth debating.

If by some small chance you have not seen the commercial:

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Jay Waters January 31, 2007

I think that there are two issues raised in this post.

There is the idea of media placement and the idea of commercial wearout.

In my view, “media placement” would refer to the idea of matching the content and target of the ad to the content and target of the programming in which it would run. I do agree that poor placement can hurt an ad — for instance, occassionally you will see an ad clearly targeted to women running on a show with a predominantly male audience or programming. More often, you hear it happen on radio — where ill-informed media buyers simply place ads on top stations in a market, without any thought as to the format of the radio station.

But in the context of this post, I would substitute “commercial wearout” with the phrase “media placement” to address the particular criticism of the Dodge ad. Commercial wearout is that time when a specific creative execution or group of similar executions either (1) quit being effective or (2) actually begin to become harmful to a brand’s image or sales.

There has been some scientific work in this area, and to boil it all down to a quick rule of thumb — a commercial is generally thought to have be “worn out” when the heaviest 20% of those reached by your commercial have seen the spot on average 20-25 times or more.

It is a pretty easy question to ask most media planners — “how many spots do you think we need for the media weight you have planned?” Apparently the folks at Dodge’s creative agency didn’t ask that of the folks at Dodge’s media agency.

The idea of commercial wearout is growing in greater importance as we have more and more targeted media outlets — which means we have more and more consumers who spend a lot of hours watching just a few cable channels, or listening to just one radio program. It is very easy to quickly accumulate a lot of exposures vs. an audience that is only watching ESPN or only or mostly watching OPRAH, if those are one of your key media vehicles.

To me, the long-term implications of this “micro-casting” trend is that creative production will necessarily have to become less expensive, as advertisers will need multiple, cheaper executions to meet the media planners need for multiple spots to keep a spot from wearing out against the key target audiences.

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