Sometimes a whisper is louder than a scream

It seems that, in order to be heard above the mindless racket that passes for TV adverting these days, advertisers are becoming more and more hysterical in their approach.

The grotesque “You’re so Money Supermarket” dancers and the once slightly wittier but now just brash and crass “Go Compare” executions are just two examples of what their creators would no-doubt declare as ‘ironic’ advertising. Actually, it’s just boorish shouting.

What is actually ironic, is that often you get more attention on the telly when you whisper instead of scream.

There was a striking black and white ad for Adele’s latest outing just before christmas, for example. In virtual silence, it focused on her eyes, which then opened to striking and memorable effect. It stood out like a sore thumb amongst the stampede of not-funny, screeching nonsense that surrounded it.

And now there’s another example of a TV ad that stops you in your tracks, grabs your attention and keeps it for the duration of its sell. (You know, the stuff ads are supposed to do.)

It’s basically just a still screen showing text messages popping up on a mobile. The only sound is the gentle beep as the latest message arrives. You have to read each one. No voice over to help you.

It’s utterly captivating and, like the Adele ad, is an oasis of communicative calm in the maelstrom of nonsense we’re so used to being assaulted by.

So, well done

The same principle applies in press and online too. Shout loudly “I AM AN AD PLEASE READ ME”, and you’re actually saying “I AM AN AD. YOU SHOULD IGNORE ME IMMEDIATELY”.

Make your ad look like editorial, however, and you’ll get that extra nano-second of attention that allows your message (if it’s clear enough, and offers a benefit) to be more clocked by your target. Suddenly your ad starts to do its job.

There’s a reason that so many online advertisers use those tacky click-bait executions (universally sneered at by hipster, bearded advertising types) rather than ‘creative’ banners. They test one against the other.

And the editorial-style click-bait ones work better. Simple.

2 thoughts on “Sometimes a whisper is louder than a scream

  1. Jon Shallcross

    We ran an ad campaign starting Jan; 4 insertions so far, 2 ads in the campaign have run.

    Currently the client is reporting a 70% sales increase, by volume, compared with last year’s monthly average.

    The ads ran in good traditional media, admittedly – a trade broadsheet that’s still well read – and it’s a truly great product. But for a year the client had been running a shouty social media campaign prior to our appointment plus some confused shouty press ads, and had got nowhere.

    Good, restrained, clever press ads with longish copy still work.

    But these days you have to fight to get clients to believe that.

  2. admin Post author

    Well, there you go. One of the problems is that there are many people doing advertising that are essentially unqualified to do it…no understanding of how it works and how to write it and art direct it. As a result they do work which ‘looks like advertising’ and then it fails.


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