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Ad Frequency Irks Viewers

Nov 30, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Think how many times in the last few weeks you’ve been subjected to a modern Christie Brinkley reinserted into footage from the 1983 film “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” talking about DirecTV; or seen Sprint CEO Dan Hesse sitting in a diner talking about his company; or heard a reworked version of the Fixx’s 1983 hit “Saved by Zero” used to alert you to Toyota’s no-interest payment options.
The ubiquity of these and other ads have consumers fed up.
Exhibit 1: the creation of a Facebook group—8,979 people strong—organized to stop the Toyota ad from playing (“There have been worse commercials, and there have been commercials that were played this often; but never before has a commercial this bad been aired so much,” reads the group’s description).
In today’s world of fractured consumer attention and eroded ratings on broadcast TV, marketers can start to bore a potential consumer much more quickly than in the past. And while complaints about seeing TV commercials ad infinitum are as common as sightings of the Energizer Bunny, there’s something more sinister behind the current crop.
The new spate of repeat offenders ought to sound a loud alarm at agencies and media outlets, as it suggests that fewer marketers are ramping up production of new commercials, and it means the commercial break—so easily avoided with the aid of a DVR these days—will have even less appeal for viewers looking for captivating entertainment during tough economic times.
More than 26% of TV households will have DVRs by the end of this year, according to Interpublic Group’s Magna—that’s nearly one-third of potential TV buyers for a cell phone, credit card or can of soup. Savvy creative executives have long protested that viewers will stick around to see really clever ads, but chances are that even a Coke and a smile wear pretty thin when you see the same commercial for the 88th time.
In the ad world, the phenomenon is known as “wear-out,” the point at which consumers no longer listen to a message that’s being pitched to them because they’ve seen it so many times that it ceases to be new or interesting.
Consumers have grown much more sensitive to multiple showings of the same commercial, said Kate Sirkin, exec VP-global research director at Publicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest Group. A TV ad these days can cause the condition after only eight showings, down from 15 to 20 about a decade ago.
Consumers are more aware of a greater range of entertainment choices, she said, and are “all multitasking, less patient, and don’t like to have [their] time wasted.”
But in some cases, it’s a deliberate strategy.
Nissan Motor Co. decided in early November to move from its regular practice of running ads for several different cars in favor of putting all its ad time behind a message about how “Nissan delivers” 0% financing in a time of economic strife.
In order for the message to sink in, the goal was for the commercials, created with Omnicom Group’s Zimmerman agency, “to reach 75% of our target customer six times minimum,” said Erich Marx, director of marketing and media for the Nissan division.

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