Take Your Ads Off TV Completely? Will You Disappear?

What's the damage if you're a big consumer brand that spends fewer media dollars on TV? Apparently none. How about zero TV dollars? In this economy, it might have consumers guessing the worst.

A couple of years ago, Mitsubishi Motors made a stand and stopped advertising on network TV completely -- a major deal for any automaker. What happened? Fewer sales, and eventually the departure of the company's chief marketing officer, who had touted that radical marketing decision publicly.

Other big marketers will threaten, but many can ill afford to be completely off television -- especially network television, especially if they are really big consumer brands. As bad as the problems are at General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, they won't be totally leaving the biggest marketing platform behind -- despite erosion, despite problems with audience metrics, despite content-related problems.

Many niche, young-skewing brands can't afford the high price of television. But as they grow, they'll need big media platforms at some point -- even if they pull back later on. (Nike comes to mind). Eventually TV buys like MTV, Spike, or "Gossip Girl" will be a traditional lure or temptation for those brands.

This economy does change things. But all that might mean is some cutbacks. Hewlett-Packard, for example, cut its TV advertising by about 34% last year -- but 66% remained. Best Buy pulled back TV spending by 40% -- but kept 60% on TV.

Hundreds of media and marketing decisions go into media plans. Take media dollars from TV and throw them into staffing, Internet, customer service, mobile, or outdoor, and FSIs. Do you feel better?

But take them away from TV completely -- after you grabbed big awareness from your big brand?  Only for the bold, brave -- or bankrupt



7 comments about "Take Your Ads Off TV Completely? Will You Disappear? ".
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  1. James Willard from Cherry Creek Radio, January 27, 2009 at 11:22 a.m.

    Radio is the perfect alternative to TV...It will maintain your name/brand awareness for less money in a forum that is less segmented than TV programing. As we are all aware consumers have favorite TV programs and favorite Radio Stations. So while a company is searching the TV program schedules for the best area in which to nationally target their market, they could look to the local dealer/distributor to buy the radio station(s) that best affect that market. This will be much less expensive and much more efficient and use the agency to coordinate the creative.

  2. Paul Van winkle from FUNCTION, January 27, 2009 at 11:27 a.m.

    Good, catchy article - thanks Wayne.

    The phrases "integrated marketing" and "splintered media" still send chills up spines.

    Fact: big and small cross-channel integrated strategies have always been around and used by smarter brands.

    Media plurality is good. Change is (hard, but) good. No one channel solves awareness, brand, and growth issues. People are all moving in and out of multiple channel and media universes. Time for the dinosaurs to get some quantum planning brain on.

  3. Uwe Hook from BatesHook, January 27, 2009 at 11:55 a.m.

    TV continues to be a very important awareness tool. It's efficiency has dropped dramatically over the years but to just go with one medium to market your mass product is still very silly.

    That said, applying broadcast tactics to the Internet is even sillier. People are ignoring display ads and want to be engaged on a much more personal level.

  4. Monica Bower from TERiX Computer Service, January 27, 2009 at 11:56 a.m.

    A lot of it comes down to marketers getting micro-focused on ROI and TV metrics being notoriously difficult to gauge. On paper it made perfect sense for Mitsubishi to get out of the expensive TV game, but clearly their savings didn't make up for the losses - even though you would be hard pressed to say that a given multi-million dollar campaign directly resulted in the purchase of multiple-multi-millions of dollars worth of Mitsubishi vehicles. I find myself watching Coke commercials during the Superbowl and asking 'just how many bottles of soda do you have to sell to make that ad worthwhile?' Three or four million, on straight ROI, but the reality is that "Brand is Life" for consumer products. Your article is dead on that a consumer brand virtually ceases to exist without TV. Mitsubishi dealers most likely were still buying radio hand over fist, but the truth is if people don't see it, then they don't remember it, and people watch a lot of TV.

  5. Joel Swanson, January 27, 2009 at 4:42 p.m.

    I agree totally with fellow "Creeker" Jim Willard (see above). RADIO is PERFECT, period! The perfect alternative to TV; the perfect alternative to newspaper; even perfect INSTEAD of any other medium.

    The efficency and effectiveness of RADIO can give auto dealers (and any other business), a Return On Investment (R.O.I.), that tv and newspapers can only dream about!

  6. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 27, 2009 at 8:47 p.m.

    To date, TV programs (watched on the large screen in a comfy position in a comfy seat) or on line are still culturally iconic like references to classic literature. So TV is still honey to the bees. Also, the fewer shows and more forefront the viewing , the easier to remember vs the millions of videos and the background of radio. So no poo pooing.

  7. Matt Martin from Jumpstart Automotive Media, January 28, 2009 at 11:08 a.m.

    Interesting idea on the power of television. I have no doubt that T.V. is an incredible medium to express a brand message though the two most engaging human senses. Personal feelings aside, though, I have a hard time believing that "Brands will cease to exist without T.V. Advertising." Google and Anthropologie immediately come to mind as companies who would argue a different way to succeed: know your customer and their needs completely, and you'll never need to spend a dime on T.V. advertising. Mitsubishi Motors didn't lose market share just because they stopped advertising on T.V. They lost because they did not focus on the quality of their product. Some may even argue that their advertising was the only thing keeping their lower quality product moving out of showrooms.

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