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Money is Tight but People Still Prefer to Laugh or Cry Over Advertising



The economic state of the world has an obvious correlation to the level of consumer spending. And in turn, consumer spending effects ad spending because everything has to stay in balance.

But did you know that there was a correlation between the economy and the kinds of advertising that make people spend? Apparently, there is because Nielsen says so! Check this out.

Let’s begin with some clarification of eras. The study defines Pre-recession as 2006-2007, during is 2008-2009, and post is 2010 – 2011. Nielsen then took 4,000 CPG ads from those combined periods, categorized them and evaluated their effectiveness. How they did that last part, I don’t know, but I trust that they got it right or darn close.

What they found out was that Funny was as entertaining then as it is now. Humor has a way of connecting with folks. They laugh, they remember the ad, and they share it with their friends. Only problem here is that funny is hard. It takes real talent to create an ad that makes you laugh without insulting the product or the consumer. And if funny turns into stupid, then you’re cooked.

Sentimental is easier to achieve and is almost as effective as Funny. But note how it’s come into vogue since the recession. My son says this is because, as a nation, we’ve become more interested in our fellow man. His take is that people have gone from jaded, to “hey, if we work together we can fix this,” and that’s opened them up to sentimentality. I like his take, so I’m claiming it as my own.

What’s really fascinating is the category of Price / Promo. You would think, with times being tough, people would relate to adds that talk about low prices. Nielsen says it isn’t so. Pre-recession, okay, people aren’t worried about money. During, they gain interest out of necessity then lose it when things get better? More likely, we’re all sick of scrimping and saving and these ads just keep reminding us that we have bills to pay.

The current leader in this category is Walmart. They’re running ads that show how much you can save on your grocery bill if you shop with them. The emphasis is on cheap, cheap, cheap. Good for the household’s bottom line, but I wouldn’t call that a “feel good” ad.

We know that people want low prices and great promo deals but if Nielsen is right, they don’t want to hear about it until they’re ready to checkout. If it’s simply brand attention you’re after, funny trumps savings every day.