America is the largest advertising market in the world.
Last year, our country spent nearly two hundred billion dollars on advertising, according to recent industry research.
The question is, for what?
Out of the thousands of marketing messages consumers are exposed to each day, how many of those ads actually cut through the clutter? And out of that small percentage, how many actually shifted perception? And out of that even smaller percentage, how many actually changed behavior?
Very, very few.
Because most advertising is just noise.
And for those of us who work in the industry, it’s hard not to become disillusioned and cynical about the supposedly declining influence of mass media.
What’s a marketer to do?
Insight first, transformation second
Several years ago, our agency was tasked with the challenging job of counteracting the food industry’s positive image based advertising of sweetened beverages. Turns out, sugary drinks are not only the single food item most closely linked to obesity and other health issues, but also the #1 item sold in American’s grocery stores. Who knew?
But for this project, we didn’t just want to grab attention with our ads. Or encourage people to require further information. Or entertain for the sake of entertaining. We wanted to educate. To launch a campaignable message that actually changed people’s minds and compelled them to take action on behalf of their health.
And so, the team got to work. As usual, we focused our initial research efforts around uncovering the key insight to drive the creative direction of the project. We began asking our standard vetting questions, which we challenge our clients to ask as well:
*What new value are we creating for the audience?
*Why should people give us their attention and become customers?
*What piece of information are we telling people that they didn’t already know?
*How do we make this campaign relatable for people and get the head nod?
That’s the level of insight this campaign deserved. Without it, our ads would have been no different than any other annoying subway poster. Just another piece of marketing that got people’s attention, but didn’t change their minds. Or their perspective. Or their behavior.
Changing behavior, starting with your own
And then we found it. The insight that cracked the campaign wide open:
Consumers had never thought about a liquid turning to fat. We all know a cupcake makes you fat, but the idea that a liquid can do the same? That was the new thinking. And so, the creative was designed to literally show them what they were pouring down their throats. It wasn’t a refreshing liquid, but instead a disgusting blob of fat.
That insight inspired us to create the most disgusting commercial of all time. Literally. Media outlets across the world labeled our work that way. After all, when you’re trying to educate consumers about their health, with very little budget, an advertising campaign that goes viral and earns millions in free media certainly helps get your message across.
More importantly, make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
By educating the public via creatively powerful messages and visuals, New York City has registered a dramatic decrease in sugary drink consumption. We’re equally pleased that our campaigns have also been adopted by public health organizations across the world, as they fight the same obesity epidemic.
But the most unexpected result was, since launching the campaign, the employees in our office stopped drinking sugary drinks. And in time, people even started losing weight. And bringing their own lunches to the office. And feeling more confident about their bodies. Bandujo’s team that created the campaign to make New York City healthier was, in turn, deciding what was right for their bodies too.
We took a dose of our own marketing medicine, and it worked. The office fridge doesn’t lie.
What is the one piece of marketing that has actually changed your behavior? Share your comments below.