Product Placement — You Can’t Escape It!

Laura Petrecca at USA Today penned a nice story today on the ad-clutter wasteland and consumers fighting back. (OK, I contributed a few zingers for this one.) Here are some notable quotes and passages:

  • "I’ve never seen things changing as much as they are now," says Rance Crain, editor-in-chief of trade magazine Advertising Age and a 40-plus-year observer of marketing. "Advertisers will not be satisfied until they put their mark on every blade of grass." Ad-zapping devices — and a decrease in consumer attention spans — have created doubts about the effectiveness of traditional TV, radio and print ads. In response, marketers have become increasingly invasive…"Advertising is so ubiquitous that it’s turning people off," Crain says. "It’s desensitizing people to the message."

  • Most marketing executives know they have a problem. Many of the firms that buy ads are the same ones that put out research reports on the dangers of deluging and angering consumers. "Advertisers love to talk about advertising clutter," says [James Twitchell, consumer culture expert and author of Branded Nation and Adcult USA]. "That’s like the doctor shooting a patient up with amphetamines and then saying that the patient is acting really frenetic."
  • In its search for salvation, the marketing industry has glommed onto the concept of "engagement" — a quality-over-quantity idea. The basic theory: Instead of, for example, running dozens of radio ads, create messages that the consumer seeks out, such as an entertaining Web video, and perhaps even passes on to friends. "Message clutter is not going to go away. If anything, it’s going to proliferate," says Mike Donahue, executive vice president, American Association of Advertising Agencies. "If you’re looking at 10 messages and two of them really involve you, engage you and connect with you, those ads will be less annoying and a lot more effective."
  • BuzzMetric’s Kalehoff says marketers have to stop pitching so hard, fast, loudly and frequently. Kalehoff says they need to understand — and respond to — gripes from frustrated consumers such as Hertz. Only then will they be able to produce marketing that sells, he says. "If you want to make friends with your customers, you have to stop hitting them over the head."

This story raises a key point: When will the advertising industry start to become, foremost, a champion of the consumer – one that respects consumers above all else? Right now, in aggregate, advertisers are acting more like blood-thirsty mosquitoes versus friends of the consumer.

(This is a cross-post with Engagement By Engagement.)

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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