Villing & Company

Media overkill: Where has the wear-out factor gone?

"If you have something pertinent to say, you ... (don’t) have to say it very often. If it is interesting, once is enough. If it is dull, once is plenty."
(Howard Gossage)

Back in advertising's wonder years, there was an expression you don't hear much any more. The term was "wear-out factor". And, simply, it referred to the point of repetition at which an advertisement has been seen so frequently, it no longer communicates effectively. At best, people tune it out. At worst, they start to resent it. By extension, they start to resent the supporting advertiser as well. That, in turn, devalues the advertiser's brand.

Although many marketers are guilty of running their ads ad nauseum, one of the worst offenders is the media, especially local television. And by far the most obnoxious examples are their own promos for weather. How many times do we really need to hear that this station has double or triple Doppler, or can track severe weather right to the street we live on - or that "severe weather isn't just inconvenient, it can be downright dangerous"?

OK, we get it already.

We also "get it" that weather programming is a strong driver of consumer news viewing habits. But the great thing about weather (at least here in the Midwest) is that there's always something new and unexpected. How about keeping promos fresh, too?

It isn't just weather promos. Overkill is evident in virtually all aspects of media self-promotion. News. Sports. Even those self-serving pseudo public service spots.

Unfortunately, many of those stations' advertising clients take their cue from their media vendor. They effectively waste thousands of dollars of their limited marketing budgets by running the same commercial long after its useful effectiveness.

It's time the media realized that their first obligation is not to their advertisers, but to their consumers. Advertising may pay the freight, but consumers are driving the truck. If they get bored and pull off the traditional media highway, everyone loses.

As I quoted Howard Gossage at the start of this discussion, if an ad is interesting, people don't need to hear it over and over. And if it's boring, they won't want to. Gossage also said...

"You don’t have to bruise an elephant all over to kill him. One shot in the right place will do."

Filed Under: media

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