The blog.

Blanding our way to the bottom – Part 3

How Ehrenberg Bass stopped me having to think.

Great advertising bypasses the brain and walks straight into your wallet.

Over the last two days, I’ve questioned the modern marketer’s reliance on Ehrenberg Bass.

Not because I have an issue with the institute’s findings.

But because I think it fosters lazy thinking in some marketers.

Let us consider the challenge of the constant battle for attention.

The institute has successfully sunk the idea of brand loyalty and brand love.

Good on them. I never liked Kevin Roberts anyway.

But “love” seems to be the neat little pigeon-hole into which some marketers have slotted the entire sweep of marketing to women.

According to Bloomberg3, women control 85% of all consumer purchases. They are the great juggernaut of the world economy.

And this critical mass of market spending is being cast to one side by marketers in the battle to make everyone aware of their brand.

The issue for marketers is, and always has been, the constant balance between rational messages and emotional attachment.

As Binet & Field have shown, rational messages have short term impacts.

The impacts of relevant emotional messages are hard to measure in the short term. But, over the long term, these messages develop incredible power in terms of salience and memorability with customers. They are like the compound interest of marketing.

The crux of the whole issue of marketing to women is salience.

Salience, made effective through the creation of memorable brand assets.

“Because you’re worth it” might seem trite to men, but it makes sense to women.

Or the Dove, “Real Beauty” campaign – which seems to be selling a truck load of product.

Or the recent “Like a Girl” campaign for Always. Part of its effectiveness was the 30-year history of puberty-education the brand had. It was a salient piece.

Compare these with the recent Audi “What do I tell my daughter” ad. By riding the coat tails of a societal trend, they ended up with a “nice to say, nice to hear” piece that has no real effect on the market because it doesn’t come from the product or draw a line of relevance between the customer’s day-to-day needs and the benefit (however general) of the product.

And, as the internet was quick to ask, “If equality is so important, why are there no women on Audi’s board?”

I’ve always like the OMO “Dirt is Good” campaign.

The insight was garnered from talking to their main market – mothers.

They asked them about their lives, not their laundry, and came up with a delightful campaign talking about happy healthy kids.

A campaign which didn’t alienate men. Or non-mothers. But which was salient to the mass of the market buying the product.

And which paid off for the business in spades.

Why am I going all “marketing to women”?
Not because I’m an expert. (If you want an expert in this, talk to Bec Brideson. Full disclosure. She’s a friend. Her husband and I tell lies to each other about fishing. She has spent ten years focused on understanding how to leverage a woman’s relationship with shopping. She knows stuff.)

I’m doing this because I’m disappointed with the myopic view of the marketing status quo exhibited by many marketers. How can they embrace the science of Ehrenberg Bass and ignore the data around the power of the principal purchaser?

If you want long-term success, build an emotionally relevant brand.

Start with great advertising, the stuff that bypasses the brain and walks into your heart.

A great ad will stop you having to think. And mass awareness just increases the power of piece.

But great marketing thinking doesn’t occur if we don’t ask the salient questions.

If 80% of your market is men, develop your marketing based around an insight gleaned from what men like and how your brand fits their life.

If 80% of your market is women, develop your marketing based around an insight gleaned from an understanding of women.

If your market is split 50/50, take a position and go all Ehrenberg Bass.

Go for mass awareness.

But always remember the battle is for mental and physical salience.

Capture my heart and my mind will follow.


3 July 22, 2016, Chart Attack

Blanding our way to the bottom – Part 2

How Ehrenberg Bass became a verb and destroyed the world.

In yesterday’s post, I started poking holes in the crutch that Ehrenberg Bass studies have become.

I have no fight to pick with the fine folk at the institute.

My beef is with those marketers who implement mass marketing campaigns because “We’re ‘Ehrenberg Bass’.”

Professor Byron Sharp very eloquently puts it, “The battle is for mental and physical availability.”

The endless morning meeting chants of “mass awareness” has given marketers all over Australia permission to target everyone in Australia with every communication.

The science is not wrong.

But the implementation seems to be short-sighted.

Interesting things start to happen when you couple the findings of the institute with another long term study (Field & Binet – The Long and the Short of It) which shows the power of emotional messaging. The study shows that relevant emotionally-based messages are twice as efficient as rational messaging and twice as profitable.

When it comes to the purchase decision, the emotional brain rules.

What Professor Sharp and his team have shown is, as long as you can be remembered, you’re more likely to be chosen at point of purchase.

What Binet and Field tell us is, emotions are better in the long run.

Be remembered.

Create powerful memory structures: simple, consistent brand assets that are easy to remember and, when seen or heard or smelled or touched or tasted, trigger instinctual responses.

Salience comes from availability, presence, immediacy, recency and insight.

It’s a balancing act between emotional relevance (how the customer becomes aware) and functionality (how they justify their decision).

There seems to be, for those of us in the cheap seats, battle lines being drawn between “mass awareness” and “mass targeting”. On one side, Lord Byron. On the other, leading the charge for the Targeteers, the ever-lovable Lord Potty Mouth, Professor Mark Ritson. (Who, yesterday, gave us this piece of scary future brilliance.)

Ehrenberg Bass has been kicking with the wind and seems to be winning.

Mass targeting got Trump elected. I think they may start fighting back.

And, while I can’t wait for the second quarter to begin, I can’t help thinking the marketers hoping for a knock-out victory from one side or the other (so they can then have more confidence in the media decisions they’re making) are watching the wrong game.

If science matters – whether the research findings of Ehrenberg Bass or the data minefield of the hyper-targeting army – why are so many marketers ignoring the really big numbers.

According to a Harvard Business Review article1 (by Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre) there is a market segment which dwarfs all others, including the opportunities presented by China and India combined, ($18trillion versus 10.6trillion + $2.8trillion2) and which requires targeted thinking, but which can be reached by mass awareness campaigns.

Given the very real and very immediate economic challenges being faced by so many businesses, I’m surprised I’m not seeing more marketers screaming for a piece of that action.

A market which feel underserved, and which has proven to be receptive to relevant emotional messaging.

A market segment which not only will reward you in the short term, but will continue to reward your marketing efforts in the long-term, as long as you continue to prove your relevance.

A market segment that is four times the size of any other in terms of purchasing power.

Imagine if your marketing efforts could be four times more effective, just by tweaking your message.

Four times.

Take your present profit and loss sheet. Have a look at money made from sales. And multiply that by four.

Be conservative. Just double it.

Then ask yourself, “Why am I not marketing to women more?”

“Why am I not going all-out Ehrenberg Bass to women?”

Is it because Ehrenberg Bass has become shorthand for “advertise to everyone”?

Or is blandvertising more effective than we care to admit?

Again, and I can’t emphasise this enough, I am not criticising the institute. I’m questioning the interpretation of the thinking by marketers. There seems to be an explosion of all-things-to-all-people advertising. The beige-ness of this vision makes me worry for the future of this industry. It’s this kind of unconsideration which fosters unthinking. And unthinking will, I’m sure, destroy the world.

Perhaps I’m being a little melodramatic.

I’m being melodramatic.

Maybe there’s an answer in tomorrow’s final and exciting instalment.

Thanks for reading.


1The Female Economy, Silverstein and Sayre, HBR, 2009

2 Figures show global female wages versus GDP figures from 2015