Great Leaps Forward



There used to be a commonly held theory that broadcast advertising should be memorable at any cost. Smashing a repetitive message over the head of a captive audience was deemed to be fair play. If the viewer found the commercial annoying you could nod your head sagely that at least they remembered it. In todays multi media, multi channel environment it appears that this may no longer be the case.

The audience is no longer captive, indeed it’s now as easy to dispose of a commercial message as consume it. The onus is on the advertisers to engage rather than dictate. At the risk of stating the obvious people don’t like being shouted at or told what to do in their everyday lives and it’s now apparent that this attitude extends into their viewing lives as well. Whilst this tone of voice was tolerated and even grudgingly accepted in the past the power now clearly lies with the audience and ‘grating’ advertising may have a neutral or even negative effect.


The fine line between memorable and moronic is moving and advertisers need to make sure that they stay on the right side of it. Even if the ‘loud and proud’ approach still resonates with a section of the viewing public it seems to be disenfranchising in increasing numbers. This stance was substantiated in a comprehensive research project that we undertook on behalf of Safestyle Windows, who have built a hugely successful business, largely on the back of the iconic, if sometimes annoying ‘Windows Man’ a piece of advertising gold that was clearly ahead of it’s time. Feedback showed that nowadays, whilst people clearly recalled this advertising, it often left a negative (completely inaccurate) perception of the product and the company.

This has led to the gradual introduction of a ‘softer’ more customer centric creative approach which has succeeded in delivering results without assaulting the ear drums! Interestingly around the same time other notorious TV shouters DFS and We Buy Any Car have also ‘turned the volume down’ in some of their creative treatments. Go Compare have gone a stage further by apologising and asking for previous offences to be taken into consideration.

Clearly the desire to be remembered at all costs is being outweighed by the fear of causing offence to an increasingly fickle viewer.