Clinton Manson
Jun 13, 2013

People don’t hate all TV ads – just yours

If no one watches live TV anymore, creatives must design content that people are actually compelled to watch, says the author.

People don’t hate all TV ads – just yours

Many industry sceptics have written obituaries for TV advertising over the past few years. On-demand TV means we can watch what we want, when we want, skipping the ads. HBO Asia is airing a TV ad selling its new viewing package that is "100 per cent ad free". Yes, the irony is almost too painful.

A 2012 Nielsen study, Global Trust in Advertising revealed that we no longer trust the medium either. The global survey found a 24 per cent decrease in consumer confidence between 2009 and 2011. The same research however, found TV ad spending was up 10 per cent. Why?

Technology is changing. New generation TV ads are becoming more appealing than ever before. If no one watches live TV anymore, creatives must design content that people are actually compelled to watch. Streaming, online viewing, smart TV’s and apps are doing to television what the smartphone did to your old mobile. Advertising, like all other content, is becoming something people actively search for—if they’re interested.

Who’s doing it well?

Some of YouTube’s most watched ads include Volkswagen's 'The Force', in which a mini Darth Vader discovers the new Passat, which has more than 57.6 million views, and Old Spice's 'The man your man could smell like', targeting female viewers, with more than 45.4 million views. Nike's 'My time is now', the epic showdown between Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafa Nadal, was the most watched ad on YouTube in 2012 according to Adweek. All of these ideas blend entertainment into a product story (one that does not lecture, or lie).

TV advertising is bigger, better and more creative than ever. People don’t hate ads, they just hate yours. So how do you create ads that people want to watch? 

1. Don’t ask them

Disney, Ford, Puccini, Michelangelo and Steve Jobs didn’t. They trusted in their ability, skill and experience. They didn’t test their views with hundreds of consumers to find a common denominator, which may also explain why their success was not average.

2. Get the right balance between content and entertainment

While research companies are presenting focus group findings to marketers about what people like about their ads, TV manufacturers and content providers are improving technology and services that remove advertising altogether—because apparently, that’s what people really want.

3. Tell a story

People love stories and storytelling-ads. If you need proof, go read a rock-painting. Johnnie Walker’s brand story, 'The man who walked around the world' or Chipotle’s emotive 'Back to the Start' ad about the life of a farmer, are two great examples of completely different stories told beautifully from a brand’s perspective.

4. Watch one that irritates you and see what similarities it has with your last ad

Does your ad use fake science to explain chemicals that are cleverly disguised as products to boost confidence in any situation? There’s a difference between taking your brand seriously and taking yourself too seriously. If an ad makes you flip channels, cringe or say 'It has a job to do', then it’s probably an ad only your marketing team will like.

5. Get interactive

Shazam ads make it possible for viewers to access bonus content, extending brand engagement from 30 seconds to several minutes. Results of a case study were recently published in a report titled "Research Proves Shazam-Enabled TV Advertising Extends Engagement and Improves Effectiveness". They found that 68 per cent of people who tagged an ad went on to further engage with the brand by visiting its Facebook page, finding a retailer, or getting a quote.

(Clinton Manson is ECD at JWT Bangkok. This article first appeared on

Campaign India

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