One of the most vexing challenges facing marketers today is commercial wear-out. It’s the negative effect of having a video ad or spot appear on TV or online for too long, or just playing it so often and in so many places that it not only stops selling the product or service, but also starts to annoy the viewer.
The worst part about commercial wear-out is that it usually happens to some rgreat creative executions. A marketer gets a favorable response from a new commercial; sales start to move; and customer kudos and likes start to pour in. That’s when the trouble starts. The brand pumps up the volume, the spot’s rotation gets increased, and the channel distribution grows, as well.
The next thing you know, sales stop growing; customers send emails of annoyance; and all those great indicators turn negative.
To illustrate what can happen, let’s take the case of two competing Insurance companies. For our purposes, let’s call one Insurance Company SF and the other, Insurance Company P. Company SF spent a ton of money to get a well-known and polished football MVP to do a classroom careers day spot. The commercial was charming, with some great dialogue. (My favorite line was “that’s not a job”).
The spot appears everywhere, on every sports channel, multiple times per week, and on every playoff game, again sometimes twice in the same game. It gets so bad that Company SF has to go into uts out-take footage to splice together two other “versions” of the same spot, although the similarity is so striking you would hardly notice that it’s a different commercial.
Now let’s take a look at Company P, who has been using a well-traveled female actress / spokesperson, in her plain white uniform. Company P has produced a ton of different videos, promoting the brand and also promoting all of the different insurance coverages provided by Company P. The spots range from a savings message, to a spoof on a dramatic love scene in the pouring rain, to a fast-paced moment in an Asian food cart assembling orders.
Because of the extensive number of videos available and effectively rotated, the brand comes across as interesting, entertaining, and inviting even though the media levels for the overall Company P campaign are probably quite similar ti Company SF.
Many companies have their own wear-out measures. At a previous company of mine, once a commercial hit 600-800 TRPs (Target Rating Point – GRP method) on TV, it was time to pull it down. In general, TV commercials begin to show signs of wear out at about three times the TRP level of the awareness plateau for a particular commercial. For example, if a spot starts to plateau at 400 TRPs, it will begin to show signs of diminishing impact at about 1,200 TRPs.
Clearly, one important option is to have the discipline not to over-air or over-distribute a spot, no matter how great it might be. The second working solution is having more videos in-the-can for each campaign. The challenge on this front is to do it affordably. In previous columns, I shared three ways of increasing the number of spots for your campaigns:
You can do batch shooting, where you plan on doing multiple spots in a single shooting session, even if it stretches out over a couple of days. As another option, you can crowdsource your video. Crowdsourcing can generate dozens of great videos to utilize, all written to your creative brief. Or, you can bring production in-house, allowing for your own editing and production capabilities to generate more videos for more channels.
Whichever direction you choose, be sure to remain cognizant of the wear-out factor on video usage. After all, annoyed customers do not contribute to a positive ROI!