Mythbuster: Replace ads before they wear out

Les Binet and Sarah Carter

Les Binet and Sarah Carter get a little bit angry about some of the nonsense they hear around them… like the idea that ads always need to be replaced before they wear out.

We were briefed on a new campaign the other day, but we couldn't understand why. The campaign to be replaced had only run at modest weights. And early indications showed positive effects on sales. Why think about changing so soon? We started thinking about this common dilemma: when to try something new, and when to continue building on what you've got?

Clients and agencies have powerful urges to make new work. Partly it's self-interest – clients make their name from new work. And agencies often do too. Partly it's a kind of restlessness – we all tire of our ads years before the public. But mostly it stems from a genuine concern about wear-out. If people stop responding to communications, we're wasting money. If people start getting annoyed by it, then we might end up damaging brands. But is wear-out really this common? Most ads don't get a chance to wear out nowadays. Most TV ads are only seen a handful of times. Prompted ad awareness scores are typically well under 40%.