Yesterday evening I attended an event to launch new research by the IPA, the UK ad agency trade body – in association with Thinkbox, which represents the UK commercial TV sector –examining the differences between emotional and rational campaigns and their short and long-term effects on marketing strategy. The report, by Les Binet, Head of Effectiveness from adam&eveDDB, and Peter Field, a marketing consultant for the IPA, is an update on their landmark 2007 effectiveness study, Marketing in the Era of Accountability.

This latest research, ‘The Long and the Short of it: Balancing the short and long-term effects of marketing’, draws on 996 advertising effectiveness case studies, from 700 brands, across 83 sectors, spanning over 30 years of IPA Effectiveness data. And the authors found there is a recipe for advertising effectiveness, but the choice of ingredients will determine whether a brand achieves short-term or long-term effects.

The 10 key principles of success, according to Binet and Field, are:

  1. Support volume and price
  2. Build sales and saleability
  3. Talk to all your prospects
  4. Balance head and heart
  5. Aim for fame
  6. Creativity increases efficiency
  7. Share of voice matters more than ever
  8. Integrate brand and activation
  9. Balance brand and activation share of voice
  10. Measure short and long-term effects

Elaborating on principle number three, Field argued that, for a brand to achieve long-term success, marketers should talk to all prospects and resist the trend to implement “laser targeting” strategies. Adopting “broad thinking” will deliver bigger paybacks and while the results may be slower, they will achieve long-term effects. As such, the findings suggest that loyalty marketing is not profitable marketing.

The trend for big data marketing strategies was also challenged by the authors. As Field put it, "if you measure success over the short term, as big data will push you to do, you will select marketing and communication strategies that deliver best results in the short term: unfortunately these will not deliver best long-term results and in many important ways will undermine long-term success". This suggests that campaigns based on big data emphasise the quick sell and ignore the benefits of building long-term relationships with consumers. Worse, implementing rational strategies that encourage instant gratification is also in danger of killing off creativity.

To principle number four – balancing head and heart – the authors found that rational strategies, while delivering quick results, are for the most part, not memorable. Over the long-term, it is emotional advertising, such as this award winning John Lewis campaign, that will deliver long-term success, build brand fame, drive price elasticity, and therefore profit. As Binet put it, “emotions affect the prices people are willing to pay as much as they affect the volume that gets sold. And [the effects] last much longer. In the long run, emotion is where the really big profits lie.” While Field continued, “emotional priming is a lethal force in marketing… consumers will pay more for a brand they feel good about”. Yet brands need to have patience; effects or “emotional halos” will not appear overnight.

Warc subscribers can see how other brands have used emotion and storytelling in their campaigns.

The study also revealed that, of the 996 cases analysed, all of them used TV to some degree. This, the authors conclude, means that despite the digital revolution, TV is still a force to be reckoned with in relation to building long-term growth. (Warc subscribers may find this paper, Integration across the decade: New models of marketing effectiveness, useful reading on this point.)

With reference to principle number nine – balance brand and activation SOV – the study revealed that there is an average 60/40 split in terms of advertising spend with 60% of the budget spent on brand advertising and 40% on activation strategies.

Binet referred to “Polo Dad”, an ad for automotive maker Volkswagen, to illustrate an emotive, long-term brand building strategy while the campaign for Volkswagen’s configurator app demonstrates a more short-term activation/instant response strategy. This campaign, he said, adhered to the 60/40 rule.

In other words, there's a lot of food for thought for agency planners in the new Binet and Field report. It certainly contains some useful advice to follow when planning a campaign:

  • Be careful with short-term metrics as they do not predict long-term success.
  • Big data encourages targeted and rational campaigns as opposed to emotional, creative campaigns. The former will deliver short term effects, but the latter will lead to brand fame and hence long-term success.
  • In the digital age, marketers are overwhelmed with choice – the number of channels available to reach consumers is exploding. The authors urge marketers to be wary and not to let too much choice kill creativity.

The report is available to purchase now. You can order your copy from the IPA bookstore