MARKETING BLOG Issue 03

Reading between the lines

Why a company owner admits his advertising is bad – and pays for the privilege

Advertising consumers like...
Advertising consumers like...

You can learn a lot by reading between the lines of a radio script – and there is no better example than the current radio campaign by a major Toronto diamond retailer, a leading destination marketer with locations across Canada that relies heavily on radio advertising, featuring the company owner, and a great web site that has everything except top-to-bottom search engine optimization – SEO. This is a winning marketing strategy that keeps the company in front of the customer all the time and builds awareness of the diamond retailer's brand.

Many other retailers could take a page out of this company's advertising playbook, which is also followed by a select group of Toronto retailers such as Korry's Clothiers for Gentlemen and Bay Bloor Radio.

Advertising consumers don't like.
...and don't like.

Now back to the diamond retailer. One of the most recent radio ads features two rather surprising admissions:

  • people don't like the ads
  • the perceived low quality of the ads had an unintended result – and it is not good

You can make the argument that it doesn't really matter whether someone likes an ad campaign – it is only important that they remember the advertising. You might even take the position that the ad can be so bad that it is good. I don't buy either marketing strategy – or how the diamond retailer tries to deal with these issues.

Beware the unintended result of
perceived low-quality radio advertising

For example, the diamond retailer's radio ad tries to explain away the perceived low-quality of its ad by saying the marketing strategy is to spend as little as possible on the radio creative – and pass on the savings to the consumer. On the surface that appears to make sense, but here is what you need to know: the cost of radio creative represents a tiny fraction of the total cost of a radio campaign, especially if you are buying a lot of radio time. Worse, when you go cheap on radio creative – or appear to go cheap – the listener can assume that your product or service is also cheap, and that is exactly what happened with this company.

We know this because the announcer (the company owner) admits as much right in the radio commercial. This unintended consequence is damaging for the brand because the diamond retailer's locations are anything but cheap. They are, in fact, a huge step up from the local jewelry store and, as such, are well worth the drive. Too bad the radio ad delivers the exact opposite message.

The lesson: how you advertise is just as important as what you advertise. Don't go cheap on the script, the talent or the producer. The resulting chaos far exceeds any savings.


Wolfgang Franke is President & Creative Director of Words at Work Advertising & Marketing, a full service communications company established in 1988. Our growing list of valued clients are found throughout our local market, Markham and the Greater Toronto area, across Canada in cities such as London, Ontario, and Edmonton, Alberta, and an expanding list of international locations ranging from The Big Apple in New York to Kanturk, Ireland.



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