Thursday, March 23, 2006

Talkback: Two words that matter: Target market

Talkback: Two words that matter: Target market

By Rachel Piggott

Last week's Talk Back writer, Mike Edgar, complained of having no idea what was being promoted during TV ad breaks. [He was confused about sack racers and singing car drivers bursting out of the goggle box].

Although I've never met Mike, I can picture him sitting in front of his TV, caught like a rabbit in headlights and unable to move as a rabble of skinny teenagers come rattling towards him falling left, right and centre out of giant hessian bags wearing odd T-shirts and with a hippy singing in the background.

Mike, to help you survive this scary ordeal, I have two little words for you: Target market.

Of course, these advertisements mean nothing to you. When was the last time you popped into Glassons (the sack race people) for a size 12 designer breast cancer T-shirt or splashed out on a new Mitsubishi (the singing drivers)?

If I've understood the nub of Mike's argument, it's that there's a lot of tripe out there masquerading as TV advertising and, on that point, I agree.

If I have to watch one more dire price and product-led replacement tyre advert, I will be driven to rip my TV off the wall and toss it out the window.

But I disagree with Mike's granny's comment that TV is purely a visual medium. If it was, why did they ever put sound on it?

I am proud to say that I played a role in taking New Zealand to the world as a "must see" destination via the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign.

How important was the soundtrack? Critical.

Our goal was to halt millions of Brits, Aussies and Yanks in their tracks as they fled their front rooms to put the kettle on. As soon as they heard Don't Dream it's Over, Neil Finn had won them over. Power surges were temporarily delayed as they rushed back into the parlour to lose themselves in the sumptuous visual feast of landscape that complemented Neil's spine-tingling lyrics. Visitation to New Zealand skyrocketed. Which leads me nicely on to those naughty little Aussies across the ditch.

How clever they are and how short our memories appear to be. It wasn't that long ago there was all that hullabaloo surrounding the "bugger" ads. Is "bugger" worst than "bloody"? Who cares - anyway you can always find a perfectly viable argument for using both of them in context.

The point is that a TV advertisement needs neither good visuals nor a recognisable soundtrack if it causes controversy and gets tongues wagging.

"Where the Bloody Hell Are You?" has achieved worldwide status without winning one advertising award.

A job bloody well done in the overcrowded, noisy and confusing media circus commonly known as life.

To Mike, I say there is a place for products but we live in a world where, logo or no logo, brand is everything.

Why? All products are fundamentally the same, albeit for the odd bell and whistle, but in today's crazy, competitive world it's the name and pre-defined associations that we buy into first that ultimately determine the product we choose.

Old school is fine, Mike, if you're "too cool for skool" - Vespas and Adidas trainers - but I can't imagine you wearing or riding either.

I say thank goodness for the Glassons and Mitsubishis of this world and their advertising agencies raising the bar of TV advertising in New Zealand. It gives me hope.

It might be time to go back to school and understand what the new kids are really doing. Millions of generation Y consumers can't be wrong.

* Rachel Piggott is a communications specialist and can be contacted at her website


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