The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Try Before You Buy Increases The Odds They’ll Buy …
April 27, 2011, 6:01 am
Filed under: Comment

I get a bit pissed off at how snobby so many in adland are.

There’s a big group of people who regard anything other than double page spreads and television ads as beneath them.

They tend to be the same people who regard point-of-sale as a bunch of starbursts and promotions as the sort of work only suitable for village idiots.

Let’s get to the point … mainstream communication can only do so much.

Sure, there are times it can get someone to react and buy … but that is the exception rather than the rule.

Things like point of sale and promotions might seem painful, but they play an important and integral part of the sales process and to ignore them – or worse, disregard them – basically demonstrates to the client that our interest in their business goals are not nearly as high a priority as we claim they are.

The thing is, if done well, point of sale and promotions can be the foundation for the most interesting and effective part of the creative process as we’ve seen with such things as Tesco’s ‘Computers For School’ and Queensland’s ‘Best Job In The World’ promotions.

Then there’s sampling.

If there’s one thing that drives me nuts, it’s how agencies – and brands – approach their ‘sampling’ campaigns.

I remember once being handed a loaf of bread by some Australian company at 11 o’clock in the morning on a weekday.

A loaf of bread.

What the fuck did they think I was going to do with it, stop right there and then and start eating it?

All they had to do was turn the bread into some sandwiches and I might have walked away feeling more positive about the experience … but instead, by handing me a whole loaf, I went away thinking they were a bunch of twats who had no appreciation of the people they were trying to target.

Then there was the time a bank representative stopped me in the street and told me that if I agreed to have one of their mortgage advisors come to my house and give me a quote, they’d – I kid you not – give me a balloon.

A fucking balloon.

They seemed genuinely perplexed when I pointed out that any bank who thinks a balloon will [1] give people a positive impression of their financial organisation and [2] attract the right sort of customer … were fucking idiots.

While handing out free stuff may be be an easy way to get people to ‘try’ your product, it’s very important to remember how you offer it them plays a very significant part in both magnifying the experience and creating a positive frame of reference … and that’s why everyone in adland shouldn’t view ‘below-the-line’ campaigns or agencies as beneath them, because often they provide us with the information that tells us most about what will change consumers behaviour – at least in certain environments or situations – which is possibly why the best agency that ever existed – HHCL – included this discipline in their creative approach rather than turning their back on it.

29 Comments so far
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HHCL were pioneers in the approach to communication. Today we tend to see pioneers in the execution of communication. HHCL’s way was better.
I wish I had the chance to experience it first hand but I never made it. Fortunately for me, you were so indoctrinated in their ways, that in someways, I feel I did.

Comment by George

Great way to look at it George, hadn’t thought of it in those terms. That’s not to say there weren’t/aren’t other agencies who are pushing boundaries – W+K for one – however I can say that the HHCL approach was possibly more pragmatic and provocative than many of the ‘new news’ things that get hyped up these days, especially when many are simply old things in new clothes or a new technique to do an old ad.

Comment by Rob

3 words for you to elaborate on Robert.
Sampling Blackcurrant Tango.

Comment by George

Rob talking about hhcl and blackcurrant tango is like you limeys talking about your world cup soccer win before food was invented. Do something new to talk about. Oh that’s right, you can’t without creatives help can you. Eat our shit.

Copyright Andy Boucher 1997

Comment by Billy Whizz

You failed in your Andy impression Billy, he never questions HHCL or England.

Comment by George

To be fair George, I think Billy has a point …

Besides, it wasn’t “sampling” in the truest sense, it was a “what the fuck do we do given the sample size cans are going to be 2 weeks late and we can’t delay the campaign”.

And handing out blackcurrant flavoured donuts were the obvious choice.


Comment by Rob

Great point George, hadn’t thought of it that way.

Comment by Pete

I mean HHCL’s approach versus others in the industry.

Comment by Pete

The bread and bank examples are terrible but wouldn’t they have been managed by a below the line firm rather than the ad agency? Agree with your point about not dismissing promotions or promotion companies etc, but there’s a lot of very poor BTL companies out there. Then there’s a lot of bad agencies regardless of their area of focus. OK, point taken.

Comment by Pete

Excellent arguing with yourself Pete.

Comment by Bazza

It was rather special wasn’t it.

Comment by Pete

And you still lost Pete.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Feel better Pete? Ha.

Comment by Rob

Why are all the planner boys up so early?
You’re making me look like I’m neglecting my Andy duties. It’s not fair, you’re going to make me look a tool but never as big a tool as you lot.

Comment by Billy Whizz

It’s the only time you’ll ever be told you have a big tool.

Copyright Andy Boucher 2011.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I think it’s more a case of Andy isn’t here to make the first comment Billy, so don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re doing a sterling job – though the level of swearing and abuse has a lot of room for improvement.

Comment by Rob

Promotions are great. Without them I’d of never been able to afford to go to scores every night.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Not forgetting the time you attempted to put your bill on expenses.

Comment by George

It wasn’t me, it was Dave. Blamed for everything.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Actually it was Dave. But given he failed, I think that’s why Billy didn’t try it. Or it could be because we stopped Andy being able to sign off on things, ha!

Comment by Rob

I should sue.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Promotions and point of sale communication is as good or as bad as the imagination of the creator.

Comment by Lee Hill

Just like the definition of beauty eh …

Comment by Rob

I love working in below the line. It’s incredibly satisfying that the answer just can’t be a 30 second TVC and that the amplification POV is always ‘imagine what you would do if you couldn’t pay media to spread your message’.
As for ‘sampling’…if you’re not creating a positive context and a great brand experience you’re wasting your money- just like ATL really.

Comment by Katie Chatfield

I guess there will be good and bad BTL agencies just as in any area, but it’s always good for agencies think of the total picture.

Even if you do make a TV ad, you have to remember that BTL stuff comes between the ad and the purchase.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Of course you’re right Rob, but remembering the importance of BTL means nothing unless you incorporate it – and push it – in your responses to your clients needs.

Most don’t. That’s the issue.

Comment by Rob

i though BTL was bacon tomato and lettuce for a bit there. start talking about bread, chuck in some jargon and you could confuse a girl.

Comment by lauren

That means you’re still ‘normal’ … keep it that way before it’s too late.

Comment by Rob

I thought BTL meant bottle, probably of jagermeister, what does that say about me apart from being as hard and cool as fuck?

Comment by Billy Whizz

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