Scene: A train, or a pub, or an office. A few years ago.
“Have you seen that ad with the gorilla?”
“The one with the gorilla playing the drums.”
“Oh! That one! It’s funny.”
“I couldn’t tell you who it’s for.”
“No, me either. Bit pointless if you don’t know who it’s for.”
“Is it a chocolate bar or something?”
“Oh right yeah, Dairy Milk.”
“Dairy Milk! That’s it! What’s a gorilla got to do with Dairy Milk?”
“No idea. It’s stupid. It’s a funny ad though.”
“Nobody’s going to buy Dairy Milk because of a gorilla.”
The face that launched a thousand posts.
You might have had a conversation like this. It needn’t have been about a gorilla, of course. It might have been about a pony, or rollerskating babies, or a kid dressed up as Darth Vader.
But chances are you’ve had a conversation in which somebody says that they don’t know who an advert is for, so what’s the point of it? Next to “I never buy anything because of an advert”, it’s one of the things you hear people say most.
Researchers often encourage this line of thinking, by filling up surveys with questions about things like recall, or link to the brand.
We don’t, though. Because if you look at that conversation above, the people are mentioning the brand four times. If you’ve got an ad that makes people feel good enough to talk about, what you’ve effectively done is changed the rules of recall and brand linkage. “Who the advert is for” becomes a piece of information about an ad, rather like “what’s the song in the ad?”.
And it only takes one person in a conversation to know that information for everybody to be reminded of it. Organically reminded, at that. And the act of reminding – being the person who knows the brand, or the song – is a nice bit of social currency. So everyone wins!
Basically, if you’ve made a fame ad – the kind of ad people want to talk about – you’re outsourcing recall and brand linkage to the crowd. You can – in fact, you should – worry about it a great deal less.
(EDIT: Just to clarify, we’re not saying adverts should feature NO branding. We’re saying that in a fame ad, light branding will work just as well as heavy branding – and see here for more on the emotional trouble with heavily branded ads.)