Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ads – The Impact and Impact Measurement

  • "Thanda Matlab?______"
  • "Yehi hai right choice baby!_____"

Did I mention any name? Of course not! I didn't even complete the above sentences. But if I ask a single question – "What are the two words that come to your mind after reading the above two punch lines?" I am sure more that most of the Indians will have the same reply – Coca Cola and Pepsi. Are they products names? Basically No! They are brand names. The product is soft drink!

I can say with great confidence that amongst the people replying there would be a substantial number of people who might not have consumed either of the products.What I just mentioned is an example of Brand Recall.

One of the prime objectives of an advertisement is to embellish the brand it is promoting in the viewer/audience's mind. And this is the kind of Impact that ads create. There are a few more outcomes of advertising as listed below.

You can make a damn good product but when it comes to selling it, you need to brand it. And a brand requires the following:

  1. Brand awareness – people should at least know that your product exists and what it has to offer
  2. Brand Image – People's perception of your brand
  3. Brand recall – Your product name gets registered in their memory
  4. Brand value – The value or faith attached to your brand by the people

Here is a short analysis of two products - Surf – a product well advertised and Sadharan Powder (some arbid detergent never advertised)


Sadharan Powder

What creates the difference?


You Know it exists

You don’t know it exists

Brand awareness


You know its qualities

You don’t know its qualities

Brand awareness


You feel its superior and the company that makes it is bigger

You feel it’s some local product of low quality

Brand image


You think it is bought by others too

You wonder whom the product is kept for

Brand image


A punch line/jingle/ad comes to your mind

Nothing happens

Brand recall


When asked what detergents are available in market you’ll name it

When asked what detergents are available in the market, you won’t name it in the weirdest of your dreams

Brand recall


You might not know what a ‘detergent’ does but you certainly know what ‘Surf’ does

You check the packet for what the product actually is - that too if you are one of those curious kinds

Brand value


You call it Surf

You call it Local chaap Surf

Brand value


You might buy it

You might ignore it


What does the above example say?

  1. BRAND ING is damn important!!
  2. Ads help you in branding and branding well!!

They help you achieve the listed objectives.

Here while Brand Value and Brand Image are dependent upon the quality of the product too upto a large extent, they are influenced by advertisements substantially. On the other hand, Brand awareness and Brand recall are almost completely dependent upon effective ads.

But then why do Pepsi and Coca cola advertise? They don't need any of the above listed factors.

Well, this is a typical case where the ad is for nothing but brand reinforcement and brand visibility. These are ads not aimed at enhancing the brand value or the sales as an outcome but towards maintaining a certain brand already created and reinstating their niche in the market while remaining visible to people. In a way advertising becomes their duty. A good advertisement won't fetch them anything commercially but a bad one may harm their reputation.

So does it mean that effective advertisement will improve your sales for sure?

Well, not necessarily but they will certainly improve the probability of that happening! And in a market, we often find probabilities to be more important than certainties!!
But advertisements do have an impact on our perception of the product no matter what.
Actually sometimes a good advertisement can not only affect your buying but also your life to some extent. An ad can become a cult when It gets rooted in your daily language, your conversations and sometimes even your attitude. A big babol ad can teach you to make bubbles, a kit kat ad changes the way you unwrap a chocolate . In fact I distinctly remember the last words of a soldier in Kargil – "Yeh Dil maange More!"

Judging Advertisements (Measuring the impact)

The most important point to understand is the purpose of an advertisement. The basic purpose of making an advertisement is to let the people know you have made something or you offer some service, convince them that what you have to offer is useful and beneficial to them, and convince them that your product/service is unique in some way and to ensure that they remember your product/service when they need it.
Now the first few things that come to one's mind in relation to an effective advertisement are –

  1. Idea/storyboard
    e.g. chlormint ads, Sprite ads
  2. Effective Implementation of idea
    e.g. Coca Cola Aamir Khan ads
  3. Good Aesthetics
    e.g. Asian Paints ads
  4. Creativity - Powerful/catchy punch lines/tag lines/slogans
    e.g. Pepsi Dil maange more ads
  5. Penetration in daily life (as in how much they penetrate our daily conversations)
    e.g. Aaj Tak retro style ads
  6. Market effect

Okay, so we would all unanimously agree that these are certain parameters that do decide how good an advertisement is but then consider the following advertisements :

  1. The Sunil babu wala ad famous for its line – "Waah Sunil Babu!! Badhiya Hai!!"
    Can you recall the brand of the product the ad endorsed?
  2. An ad in which a mother used to shout " Rahul! Paani chala jaayega!"
    What was the product/brand endorsed?

Well, these are certain ads which had a good and innovative idea behind them, an effective implementation, relevant aesthetics, catchy lines and were damn popular. But then if you cant recall what product they were meant for, Is there any use? I guess – "No"

On the other hand there are many ads which do nothing but show you a woman humming an ordinary jingle containing the name of Super 555 virtually 555 times. But then it does register the name of the product in your mind.
So do I mean to say that the Super555 ad is better than the Sunil babu ad? May be, may be not!

Basically the whole prerogative of the ad changes depending upon the kind of product and the target audience. Thus first of all comparing the ads of two very different products and two different target audiences is extremely difficult. However if we add two more parameters to our list we can develop some sort of a system of judging advertisements. They are – Recall value and Brand pronunciation i.e how effective is the ad in maintaining the brand name in your memory and how effectively the brand name is used in the ad.

Ads that have scored well in these parameters :

  1. Mayur suitings – the audio is nothing but the name of the brand said multiple times with some good visuals and a small storyline
  2. Dairy Milk – Kya swaad hai Zindagi me- Every frame in the ad had a dairy milk well within the viewer's view. Thus without uttering the name a single time, without showing or saying anything about dairy milk at all, all that the ad showed you in 20 secs was Dairy Milk!!
  3. Vicks ki goli – The word khichkhich still reminds us of just one word – Vicks.There are many others too.....

Another point is – Impact on Brand image and effective communication. For example, we all know what happened to ibibo's image by releasing the balti ads in which no one was able to comprehend the meaning or motive. . Thus the public sentiment that got attached with the brand was a negative one. The ads reminded less of ibibo and more of stupidity.

These three parameters along with the ones listed above may help us distinguish good ads from bad ones to some extent.

But then comes another question –
So why were ads like Amul-taste of India (with no real innovative idea and average popularity),Vodafone ads (Low brand pronunciation), Airtel ads (low brand pronunciation, no catchy lines) , Lead India ad (no catchy lines, no brand pronunciation, average aesthetics) so successful?

The answer is: Because they touched a chord in the viewer's heart. Sometimes all an ad needs is an emotional factor that would affect the sentiments or emotions of the viewers to make it successful.

In case of Vodafone, one more factor is that it is a campaign and thus it getting repeated every 5-10 minutes effectively creates the same effect as good brand pronunciation does.

Thus an ad needs the right combination of factors to impact the Left as well as the right side of the brain! It needs that human factor!!!

Thus my final List contains:

  1. Idea/Storyboard
  2. Implementation
  3. Aesthetics
  4. Creativity
  5. Penetration
  6. Market effect
  7. Recall Value
  8. Impact on brand image
  9. Brand Pronunciation
  10. Human factor

I believe that if an ad does well on most of these parameters it can be called the one with good Impact. The measure of its impact still remains a somewhat subjective and dependent upon the product, target audience and nature of ad one but still quantifiable to some extent.

What I have used here are all examples of television ads but even when we talk about print ads and radio ads, the basic elements remain the same. Only the weightage and implementation of these factors may differ. Like in print ads aesthetics and creativity weighs more that brand pronunciation as the logo appears only once in most ads. In radio ads, catchy lines are more useful and aesthetics plays no role at all. But more or less the other factors remain the same.

P.S. The post is just a personal opinion and not a result of any detailed research.

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