Gordon Euchler, Head of Planning, BBDO Germany

VIEWPOINT: The people’s advertising. How much can advertising contribute to salience? by Gordon Euchler

2021 Grand Jury member Gordon Euchler, Head of Planning for BBDO Germany joins AME's Effective Perspective. Gordon shares his insights and industry perspective on advertising for brands that contribute to salience in his blog post "VIEWPOINT:The People's Advertising." Gordon brings his strategic experience honed over the years working for prominent brands across Germany, Europe, and internationally. He has published extensively in the Journal of Brand Management, the German Harvard Business Review, McKinsey’s Akzente and more.

New York, NY | June 23, 2021

"People don’t like advertising?” That’s a lie. A harmful one.

People don’t like advertising. This sentence is so often pronounced, so often accepted, so often shared without being contradicted that it is easy to accept it. It is used by so many companies to take out a slice from the billions spent on advertising and redirect it towards whatever they are doing.[1]

However, that little sentence “people don’t like advertising” is two things:

A lie. And harmful to those companies who fall for it.

Advertising that moves people, moves the bottom line.

There is more than enough evidence that advertising that moves people is more successful. McKinsey have shown in a study of more than 125,000 customer journeys across 32 industries globally: brands that are in people’s mind when they come to purchase, are twice as likely to be chosen – compared to brands who are not on this list.[2]  Brands with a higher salience, have also a higher volume share.[3]And brands that are also meaningfully different in this, can triple this effect – says a study by Kantar.[4]

So, brands that are present in people’s mind, grow stronger. But which brands are this and how much does advertising contribute?[5] This question so far has not been answered by Professor Sharp, so we tried.

40% of the people like to watch advertising.

In a study by BBDO, APG and YouGov 10,000 Germans were asked over 12 months one simple question: Have you seen an ad recently, that you really liked. More than 39% of the people said ‘yes’. And this number did not even shrink significantly when people had clearly more important things to do, i.e. when the pandemic started, ebbed and started again. In short: even when people have much more important things to do, they enjoy a good ad.

Popularity you simply can’t buy.

All ads named here are not simply being seen, but people actively name them as the one ad – out of the thousands they have been exposed to – that they truly enjoyed. And these little ads did much more.

In subsequent questions those 40% could also name the brand, the product and even describe the ad they liked in one sentence. Just to prove our point: The best performing brand, Haribo, spend only a fraction of some of the other brands and yet was mentioned by far the most and rated best. And you will be glad to hear, that the campaign has its origins in the UK.

The most popular ads can be anything – but indifferent.

[1] And that argument is clearly self-serving. We will graciously ignore that.
[2] McKinsey “The new battleground for marketing-led growth”
[4] Kantar BrandZ Analysis; McKinsey “The quickening”
[5] Have you ever wondered

We moreover asked the people what makes these ads so likeable, memorable, and salient. And while all of these ads mentioned are immensely popular, they are at the same time different. There are funny one’s – like Haribo’s farmer’s talking with kids voices about gummi-bear-trees.[6] Or copulating insect to prove the love of the outdoors for DIY chain Hornbach.[7] Purpose driven ones, like Ikea’s where an employee has a rant that all of us need to do something for sustainability.[8] And ads that people admit to talk about to their friends – like Amazon’s Christmas ad with the girl’s canceled ballet audition[9] or Mercedes SUV ad: built for the wilderness, driven at home.[10]

These ads all work differently. And they can. But one thing they can’t afford: leave people indifferent.

If you want to be part of pop-culture. Be there!

So – perhaps surprisingly to the lover of the ‘people hate advertising’ idea – the 10,000 people told us a lot about advertising. Yet one sentence we never heard: “please stop advertising. It’s inappropriate.”

Not even during the first lockdown when people where most insecure about the future and many brands pulled their advertising. As a matter of fact, the number of people claiming they saw great advertising did not significantly decrease during the first lockdown. At most by 1.2%-points.

So, if you want to be part of pop culture, be there. In good times as well as bad times.

There are brands that do that. And there are brands that do that extremely well. And there are the best brands. Let’s look at those:

If the Germans get 39%, ….

So as a final word we would like to invite some healthy competition. If the Germans get 39% of the people to like an ad out there, shouldn’t you do better? Entertain more people. Charm them. Make them cry. And get that number up to 45% Or even 50%. We think that this is a competition that would make all of us happy. The people in the industry. And on the streets.

The methodology

Since Oct. 2016 we asked more than 10,000 Germans online, whether they saw recently an ad they really liked. If the person answers yes, we asked them further to name the brand and the product of the ads. Subsequently the respondents were asked to rate the ad creatively along 8 dimensions, BBDO developed together with McKinsey in a previous study: purpose, storytelling, humor, surprising, joyful, unseen, talked about among friends. The amount of mentiones and the score on the creative items combined make the ranking of Germany’s most loved ads.

[1] And that argument is clearly self serving. We will graciously ignore that
[2] McKinsey “The new battleground for marketing-led growth”
[4] Kantar BrandZ Analysis; McKinsey “The quickening”
[5] Have you ever wondered