Posted April 8, 2010 6:35 pm by with 3 comments

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Branding is a sometimes-elusive concept in marketing. We all know we want to build consumers’ like, trust and respect for our brands, but there isn’t a set way to do that. It’s hard to quantify progress in branding (unless you’ve got the moolah to spend on large, brand-specific surveys). But a new Harris Poll may help us avoid negative branding tactics—to an extent. The bottom line: be careful who you choose as your spokesman.

Case in point: me and Local Company. I’m not sure what brand message LC is trying to portray in their commercials, screaming “WE LOVE YOU!!!” at the end of poorly made, increasingly obnoxious, obviously local spots. Probably that they may be clinically insane. (If you really loved me, you’d never make another commercial.) When I came across their ad on Facebook this week, I hit the little gray X in the corner of the ad, and gave FB the reason of “This company is so freakin’ annoying.” The Harris poll shows I’m not the only one who would do the same thing.

35% of Americans have chosen not to purchase a product because they found the company’s ads distasteful, and another 28% just because the spokesman was obnoxious (another 22% thought about each of those). 27% chose not to purchase because they didn’t like a brand-sponsored program or event.

The results held steady across most ages, although those over 55 were slightly more likely not to buy for those reasons. Men and women were roughly equal in not buying because of distasteful ads, but men were more likely to not buy for the other two reasons. Interestingly, distasteful ads were as much as turn off for 18-34 year olds as for 55+s.

Harris also found some correlation with income level and tendency not to buy because of annoying spokesman—a third of those making $75k+/yr chose not to buy for that reason, while a quarter of those making $35k or less a year gave the same reason. (The in-between range was in between: 28%.) Education level also showed some correlation: 29% of those with a HS diploma or less chose not to buy because they found the ads distasteful, while 43% of college grads gave the same reasoning.

Why People Choose NOT To Purchase Certain Brands (Education and Income; % of Category Saying "Ever Done So”)




Household Income



HS orless

Some college

College grad

< $35k




I found the advertisements distasteful.









I didn't like the spokesperson it used.









I did not like a program or event sponsored by the brand.









Source: Harris Poll, March 2010

What do you think? Have you decided not to purchase something because of its ads?

Photo by daves cupboard

  • My brand perceptions have definitely led me to not purchase certain product. For the longest time I actually did not purchase a MAC because of there PC vs Mac commercials. They didn’t appeal to me and I found them redundant. Eventually though my PC broke and I did consider the purchase but because of word of mouth. It seems like it is always the most annoying and repetitive ads that are the ones that we remember. I am sure anyone can sing the McDonalds jingle without thinking twice

  • Interesting findings. I walk out of buying a branded car after the spokeperson I met kept on criticizing their competitors instead of talking about what good benefit I would be getting from their brand.

    Its Toyota that I’m talking about 🙂

  • Jason

    Those with more money most likely feel that they have more choice in what company to go with than those with less money… the same thing goes for the education statistics.

    Even if there is no price difference, quality difference, etc., people with more money and more education (which also often go together) tend to believe that they have more freedom in what they choose than those with less.