SA advertising needs to change with the times

Think about things differently

The creative and marketing quality of South African television advertising will continue to decline unless some creative way is found to reverse the current trend of embracing mediocrity.

A lot of people tend to blame this decline of great TV advertising on the brain drain of creatives from South Africa. But I disagree. Local South African creatives are world class and as good as ever.

What is lacking, however, is quality market research. Here I’m referring not only to pre- and post-testing of commercials, but the reluctance of brand custodians to invest sufficiently in meaningful consumer research.

This was highlighted more than a decade ago when the two biggest advertisers and buyers of market research in the world, Procter & Gamble and Unilever, backed efforts to incorporate online chatter into their research.

Local marketers should have taken note of this ten years ago. The vast majority of them haven’t changed their ways and continue to waste their clients’ money by ignoring online research.

This lack of research, I believe, is evident in the decline of TV advertising, which is under threat of becoming irrelevant as the rapidly diminishing classified sections of newspapers.

The ad industry has for a number of years been threatening to actually do something about improving ad quality and selling itself to both business and the public as important contributors to the economy. But, so far it has just been talk and more talk.

Perhaps it is time for the TV channels to get involved. After all, they cannot simply sit back and watch their lifeblood ebbing away. For example, an easy way for TV channels to improve ad quality is to insist that all TV commercials carry the ad agency’s name for at least a few seconds at the end.

If agencies were shamed into owning up to bad commercials, maybe this could arrest the slide into mediocrity.