Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Consistency versus creativity

Published in Jul-Aug 2015
How consistency limits creativity leaving brands rather hungry.

The local marketing industry in Pakistan seems to be heading for a peak. The quality of work has improved and we have been gifted with some refreshing campaigns, as both mainstream agencies and hot shops challenge themselves. However, an area which needs further improvement is holistic communication. The prevailing practice is to create media executions that resemble each other through audio or visual repetition. I, as well as more competent writers, have often lamented the tendency of turning the TVC voiceover into the radio spot or reproducing the print ad as an OOH execution. We have all written about what is done, let’s now go a step further and examine why it’s done.

A possible reason is because this market is TV centric. TV is the only medium which has a measurement method in place; it has the highest reach and seems to be the darling of the advertising industry. All other media are reduced to a supporting role for the TV campaign, which is why media executions for print and radio are either based on the TVC’s still shots or the voiceover. Another factor that may come into play is the desire to reduce costs by cutting corners on what may be considered campaign components of lesser importance. There are several issues with this, the most important being a blatant disregard of the importance of each medium.

Every platform must work in unison as well as be able to stand alone. There is nothing wrong with a strategy that uses other media to support the TV campaign.


"However, if in trying to support TV, you cripple the effectiveness of the other media by not leveraging their strengths, you are not saving money – you are wasting your resources."


Another reason for TV-led creative executions is that brands assume that because of the extensive media spend on TV, the target audience will have seen the TVC by the time they are exposed to other media executions. On the whole this assumption is valid; a large proportion of the intended audience may well have been exposed to the TVC, but what about that small, yet probably significant, portion of the audience who has not? Do marketers think that assuming that 85% of their target has made the connection between the TVC and the other media executions is acceptable? Also whether the target audience sees the TV ad first or not is dependent on their media consumption habits and in our market, in-depth knowledge of media habits other than broad demographic classifications (age, gender, location) is limited.

Let me be clear; using the same visual for print and OOH based on the TVC is not wrong, it simply is not an optimal solution – although it may be an acceptable solution (and here I don’t need to remind anyone that in advertising we claim to place a great deal of emphasis on creating effective campaigns and not just acceptable ones).

To explain the subtle difference between what is done and what should be done, let me quote from a best practices guide on communication authored by a group of experts from the IPA and ISBA, two leading advertising and marketing bodies in the UK: “The most familiar form of integration is to create some form of executional consistency between all the bits of communication. This ‘matching luggage’ approach simply incorporates the same visual imagery and/or copy in all the channels. Using a celebrity to appear in both the PR and the advertising is a simple example. However, integration does not necessarily need executional consistency. Channels can be consistently about the same creative idea, without necessarily sharing the same imagery.”

The guide also addresses the need to integrate channels and reminds us that for categories with longer purchasing decisions (cars, for example), the focus should be on using the right media at the right time in the decision process rather than relying on similar imagery.

Hunger games: BBDO (Snickers’ agency) went in search of signage mistakes in New York. Leveraging the brand’s platform that hunger makes you make mistakes, the agency placed Snickers stickers next to these goof ups and used them to promote the brand
Hunger games: BBDO (Snickers’ agency) went in search of signage mistakes in New York. Leveraging the brand’s platform that hunger makes you make mistakes, the agency placed Snickers stickers next to these goof ups and used them to promote the brand

Recently, a Pakistani marketing group shared an amazing series of ads on Facebook. These were not print ads or slick TVCs – they were simple stickers. Snickers is a brand that has developed its own communication style and has taken to reminding people that they are not themselves when they are hungry. If you haven’t seen this brilliant OOH campaign, the premise is simple. BBDO (Snickers’ agency) went in search of signage mistakes in New York. For example, a door that says ‘enter’ while another sign says ‘don’t enter’. It is pertinent to mention that the agency selected only the most absurd mistakes. Leveraging the brand’s platform that hunger makes you make mistakes, the agency placed Snickers stickers next to these goof ups and used them to promote the brand. This is just one part of their campaign; they are using YouTubers to upload terrible videos to prove that people are not themselves when they are hungry. The brand also has a website, yourenotyouwhenyourehungry.com, full of deliberate typos in the copy. It would be hard to have seen the brand creating such powerful executions had they restricted their communications to executional consistency.

Using a consistent creative idea instead of executional consistency allows for more freedom and room to explore ideas, resulting in richer creative and more effective advertising. Whether or not Pakistani marketers will move away from old and tried ways of doing things and come to par with global trends will depend on their hunger for success.

Tyrone Tellis is a marketing professional working in Pakistan.

tyrone.tellis@gmail.com