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December 5, 2016
Three Reasons to Stop Shoveling Dirt on the TV Medium
“Marketer’s first responsibility isn’t to the product or sales curve, but to the consumer.” –Howard Gossage

TV advertising may now be more relevant than ever, despite user control. The convergence of brand advertising and social advertising make TV a powerful venue to increase brand share.

For anyone who tells you that old-fashioned advertising is dead, send this little retort. Nothing is dead. In fact, you know how far we’ve come in this business? We are right back at the beginning. With a twist. Isn’t it always that twist that grabs the consumer?

First, the old technique of integrating brand sponsorships directly into TV shows during the 1950s is now a potent device again. This time, however, it is more inclusive and involves the viewers in the messaging physically and emotionally, the same way Howard Gossage, the 1960s ad guru from San Francisco who invented interactive advertising, involved the audience in the brand’s life with his print advertising, which was a radical departure in his day. The only difference now is that we’re doing it through digital. It’s now less about blasting a broad message for all to see and more about serving an empowered audience. Howard would be proud. Sort of.

Consumer involvement with the messaging is the closest we can get to having a potential customer fall in love with our brand. But too much intrusion into their lives may push the consumer away, and that would not be helpful to brand growth. A balance is necessary and critical to success.

The AMA awards broadcast on ABC was the best example of integrating brand messaging with content I’ve seen in a while. T-Mobile was the main sponsor. They integrated the brand during the grand finale with a live performance featuring Justin Bieber by saturating the live in-house audience with handheld pink glow sticks. The stage was dressed with pink LED lights, and pink laser lights fired from the stage, integrating the musical performance with the brand color for T-Mobile. Now consider the commercial breaks, with T-Mobile brand messaging, which were bookended with a live host showing a Twitter feed of AMA and T-Mobile sponsored tweets in real time on a social media wall on the side of the stage, becoming part of the content. By showing tweets during the show, users are incentivized to tweet more, for a possible gazillion views of their tweet. That’s what consumers want, isn’t it?

The power of this strategy belongs to the consumer. The user now has the ability to engage with content they like and opt out of things that they couldn’t care less about. So, as always, the content has to be relevant, inventive, and memorable.

Secondly, the broadcast medium is not just watched on TV anymore. In fact, more and more Millennials are watching this content on mobile devices. Many choose to watch on TV with an iPad in their lap, creating a multi-screen experience so they can be connected socially. TV isn’t dead. It’s merely been forced to change to match consumer viewing habits.

Lastly, some shows are now even creating social media–based TV shows to integrate content with more broadcast viewing, creating additional opportunities for relevant brand messaging if consumers choose to participate. Look at the TV show Talking Dead, which follows the mega hit The Walking Dead. It’s merely a talk show about the TV show, giving the viewers an opportunity to participate through social media. So, in effect, it's a TV show based completely on the involvement of the consumer audience. Now, that’s a concept Gossage could get behind.

When the audience wins, the brand wins.

And we know the audience likes to participate through social media while watching their favorite TV shows.

The same way brands liked to participate during their favorite shows…way back when.

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Steve Biegel develops transformative ideas through persuasive communications programs to help change consumer behavior, and has done so throughout his career. Steve is a battle-tested thinker with a broad perspective on the industry who can infuse others with creative energy while applying it to the details of the craft. Steve helped hatch some of the most effective campaigns for brands of all sizes and shapes. His ambidextrous approach to creative problem solving through digital, social, and traditional mediums is built on provocative ideation that surprises, informs, and rewards audiences. Steve is co-founder and Creative Director at Scarlet Heifer, a NYC digital communications boutique. Contact him here
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